CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--The eighth-ranked University of North Carolina men's lacrosse squad thrived on its highest scoring output in the ACC Tournament since 2000 as first-year head coach Joe Breschi led his Tar Heels into Sunday's championship game of the 2009 ACC Men's Lacrosse Championship. The 16 goals were the most scored by the Tar Heels in tournament play since April 21, 2000 when Virginia defeated the Tar Heels 17-16 in a tournament semifinal game in College Park, Md.
That championship game will be played at 3:30 p.m. Sunday after the Tar Heels whipped 11th-ranked Maryland 16-10 in the first semifinal game at Kenan Stadium Friday evening. A crowd of 3,675 fans was on hand for the game.
Carolina, the tournament's No. 4 seed and ranked No. 8, improved to 11-4 on the season heading into Sunday's title game against No. 2 seed Duke (11-3). The Blue Devils defeated No. 3 seed Virginia 16-5 in the second semifinal game Friday night. Duke, ranked No. 6, defeated the Tar Heels 12-8 in the regular season at Kenan Stadium on March 14. That is UNC's only home loss this season. Virginia, the nation's No. 1 team, fell to 13-2 with the loss.
Sunday will mark UNC's first title-game appearance since the 1996 season as the Tar Heels broke a 12-game losing streak in ACC Tournament action Friday with its first win in tourney play since April 21, 1996 when the Heels beat Virginia 13-11 in the championship game at Charlottesville, Va. Maryland, the tournament's No. 1 seed and ranked No. 11 in the Inside Lacrosse/Nike media poll, fell to 8-6 on the season and will play its final regular-season game next Saturday at Yale at 1 p.m.
The Tar Heels shot with great accuracy Friday in scoring 16 goals on only 39 shots, including 24 which were on net. The 16 goals tied for the third highest total Carolina has scored in a game in 2009.
Carolina had four different players score three goals apiece as sophomore attackman Billy Bitter, senior midfielder Ben Hunt, senior attackman Bart Wagner and junior attackman Gavin Petracca all racked up hat tricks. All four of those players also had assists with Bitter recording two and Hunt, Petracca and Wagner each having one. Senior attackman Matthias McCall, freshman midfielder Jimmy Dunster and junior midfielder Sean Burke each had a goal and an assist for the victorious Tar Heels. Junior midfielder Sean Delaney had the other Carolina goal and senior midfielder Bobby McAuley had an assist.
The 16 goals were the most scored by the Tar Heels against the Terrapins since March 23, 1996 when Carolina downed the Terps 17-16 at Fetzer Field behind an eight-goal game by Jason Wade. Going into the game, Maryland was ranked seventh in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 7.31 goals per game.
The Terrapins were led by Joe Cummings who had three goals while Travis Reed added two tallies for head coach Dave Cottle's team. Ryan Young had a goal and two assists for the Terps and Scott Tompkins and Warren Hansen each had a goal and an assist. Jeremy Seiverts and Jeff Reynolds added goals for Maryland. Dan Groot had two assists for the Terps while Grant Catalino and Adam Sear each had single assists.
The Tar Heels outshot the Terrapins 39-34 on the game and for the 15th time in 15 games this season the Tar Heels won the ground ball battle by a margin of 42-34. Midfielder Shane Walterhoefer led the Tar Heels with eight ground balls while goalkeeper James Petracca had six.
Each team won 14 face-offs in the game as Maryland's Brynn Holmes did a good job neutralizing Carolina's Shane Walterhoefer, the No. 2-ranked face-off man in the country. Holmes finished with 14 face-off wins in 26 tries while Walterhoefer had the same number of wins for the Tar Heels in 27 attempts.
True freshman James Petracca went the whole way in goal for the Heels as he played 60 minutes and made nine saves while allowing 10 goals. Maryland alternated two goalkeepers during the game with starter Jason Carter playing 33:25 and allowing 10 goals while making four saves. Brian Phipps started the second half for the Terrapins and made four saves and allowed six goals in 26:35.
Maryland committed 19 turnovers compared to 15 for Carolina. The Terps were successful on 10 of 14 clears while North Carolina was 15 of 18. Sophomore Ryan Flanagan was huge on the defensive end with four of UNC's eight caused turnovers. Both teams scored one extra-man goal in two chances.
Photos: Mark Abbott
|Billy Bitter||(3, 2)|
|Ben Hunt||(3, 1)|
|Bart Wagner||(3, 1)|
|Gavin Petracca||(3, 1)|
|Matthias Mccall||(1, 1)|
|Sean Burke||(1, 1)|
|Jimmy Dunster||(1, 1)|
|Sean Delaney||(1, 0)|
|Bobby Mcauley||(0, 1)|
|James Petracca||9 (0.474)|