CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Billy Bitter had a career-high five goals and Gavin Petracca added four goals as eighth-ranked North Carolina routed Robert Morris 16-4 Saturday afternoon at sunny Fetzer Field, giving the Joe Breschi Carolina coaching tenure a positive start. The Tar Heels ran out to an 8-1 halftime lead and then had a late fourth-quarter run to pull away for the 12-goal win.
It was the first game for the Tar Heels under new Tar Heel head coach Joe Breschi, Class of 1990, who took over the coaching reins last June after 11 seasons as the head coach at Ohio State.
Carolina outshot the Colonials 63-27 and won the ground ball battle 56-38 while attackmen Bitter and Petracca had outstanding offensive games and the defense played solid in front of goalkeeper Grant Zimmerman who had 12 saves while allowing only four goals in 56 minutes and 59 seconds of play.
Besides Bitter and Petracca, who each also had one assist, senior midfielder Ben Hunt had two goals and single goals were scored by Kevin Federico, Bart Wagner, Matthias McCall, Sean Delaney and Bobby McAuley. Sean Burke had three assists to lead the Tar Heels in that category while Federico had two and Hunt, McCall, Petracca, Wagner, Bitter and freshman Thomas Wood and midfielder Shane Walterhoefer each had one.
Four different Colonials scored goals with Dan Kerch, Corbyn TaoBrambleby, Dave Morton and Rob Marasti each getting one.
Carolina outshot the Colonials 12-3 in the first quarter while racing to a 3-0 advantage after the first 15 minutes. Sean Delaney took a pass from Sean Burke and put the Heels up for good with 7:22 left in the first period. Just over a minute later, Ben Hunt scored the first of his two goals on the day and then Petracca scored the first of his total of four goals off Burke's second assist of the first quarter with 1:40 left in the period.
The Tar Heels had the first three goals of the second quarter to build a 6-0 lead in the game. The first goal of the period was a man-up tally by Hunt, off an assist by Wagner, with 11:49 left. After winning the ensuing face-off, the Tar Heels scored just 18 seconds later on an unassisted goal by Wagner. Bitter then began a span in which he scored four of Carolina's next five goals with a score off Petracca's assist with 8:02 left before halftime.
RMU got its first goal of the game on an man-up goal by Dave Morton with 4:23 left in the first half. UNC answered just 11 seconds later as Bitter fed Petracca for a 7-1 lead. The last goal of the half came from Bitter off Sean Burke's third assist in the first 28 minutes. The Heels went to the locker room up 8-1 after outshooting the Colonials 28-12 in the opening half. Zimmerman made seven saves in the first half, allowing only one goal.
For much of the second half, the Colonials were able to slow down the Tar Heel offense and stay within striking distance of UNC. After Bitter scored an unassisted goal 4:05 into the second half to make it 9-1, the Colonials scored three of the next four goals. Dan Kerch had a goal assisted by Kevin Buchanan with 3:37 left in the period but Bitter answered that with 1:10 left in the quarter.
The Colonials had the first two goals of the fourth quarter as Rob Marasti and Corbyn TaoBrambleby each had unassisted goals. Carolina finally began clicking on all cylinders beginning with 5:25 to play in the game and its surge resulted in six goals in a span of only 3:30. The passing game was working during this span of time as all six goals were assisted. Petracca scored from Federico, followed by another Petracca goal assisted by freshman Thomas Wood. Bitter got his fifth goal with 4:31 to play off an assist by Walterhofer and then Ben Hunt fed Kevin Federico with 3:55 left. The final two tallies came from Matthias McCall assisted by Federico and then a Bobby McAuley goal from McCall with 1:55 left in the game.
Bitter had career highs for goals with five (he had three versus Cornell last year) and points with six. Petracca was one short of his career high with four goals (he had five against Vermont in 2007).
Shane Walterhoefer won 15 of 22 face-offs for the Heels as he began his senior year in impressive fashion as the preseason All-America face-off specialist. Walterhoefer also had a team-high eight ground balls. The Tar Heel defense was outstanding as Robert Morris committed 20 turnovers, including 13 caused turnovers. Zimmerman gave way to freshman James Petracca in goal with 3:01 to play with the novice Tar Heel saving the only two shots on goal he faced.
For Robert Morris, starting goalie Sal Barcia made 19 saves and allowed 15 goals in 56:59 of action. He was replaced by Dillion Pope for the final 3:01 of action.
The Tar Heels will be back in action again next Saturday when the Tar Heels host No. 16 Denver at 1 p.m. at Fetzer Field.
North Carolina vs. Robert Morris
|Billy Bitter||(5, 1)|
|Gavin Petracca||(4, 1)|
|Sean Burke||(0, 3)|
|Ben Hunt||(2, 1)|
|Kevin Federico||(1, 2)|
|Matthias Mccall||(1, 1)|
|Bart Wagner||(1, 1)|
|Bobby Mcauley||(1, 0)|
|Thomas Wood||(0, 1)|
|Shane Walterhoefer||(0, 1)|
|Sean Delaney||(1, 0)|