BALTIMORE, MD. - Steven Rastivo made 16 saves to earn Most Valuable Player honors of the 2012 Konica Minolta Face-off Classic as eighth-ranked North Carolina defeated 14th-ranked Princeton 9-8 at M&T Bank Stadium. Princeton outshot the Tar Heels 43-22 in the game but Rastivo proved to be a stone wall in the cage to keep the Tigers at bay, including a seven-save performance in the fourth quarter alone.
The win was a needed one for the Tar Heels who had lost back-to-back games to Lehigh and Penn. UNC improves to 5-2 on the season while Princeton fell to 2-2 on the campaign. The win was the first ever for the Tar Heels in a current NFL Stadium as UNC is now 1-5 all-time in neutral site games played at professional venues.
The Tar Heels featured a balanced offensive attack with Duncan Hutchins scoring twice, including the game-winner with 6:09 to play after Princeton had rallied to time the game at 8-8. Graduate student Jack McBride, who played at Princeton from 2008-11, had two goals for Carolina while Marcus Holman, Jimmy Dunster, Nicky Galasso, Davey Emala and Ryan Creighton each scored once. R.G. Keenan led UNC with two assists, while Pat Foster, Holman, Hutchins and Greg McBride each had a single assist.
Alex Capretta led the Tigers with three goals while Kip Orban scored twice for Princeton. Capretta also had an assist while Tom Schreiber had three assists. Tucker Shanley had a goal and two assists.
UNC led at halftime 6-4 but the second half was a struggle offensively for the Heels as they were limited to six shots while making 11 turnovers after halftime. UNC was opportunistic, however, as it scored three goals on its six second half shots. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels defense weathered repeated long possessions by the Tigers. Princeton outshot Carolina 13-3 in the fourth quarter but Rastivo's seven saves in the final 15 minutes proved to be the defense. UNC's man-down defense was also a key element in the game as it shutout the Tigers on three possessions.
Carolina struck first when Marcus Holman dodged two defenders going to the goal and beat Princeton goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito with 14:22 left in the quarter. After Princeton went ahead 2-1, UNC scored two goals 10 seconds apart late in the quarter to take a 3-2 lead. UNC never trailed after that point. Nicky Galasso scored his first goal of the year on a fast break off Greg McBride's assist with 1:33 left in the quarter and off a face-off scramble Davey Emala tallied 10 seconds later off R.G. Keenan's assist.
The two teams traded goals for most of the second quarter with the Tar Heels taking a 6-4 lead to the locker room. McBride had the first of his two goals with 14:01 to play in the quarter off an assist by Hutchins before Mike MacDonald answered less than a minute later for Princeton. McBride scored at the 10:12 mark during a delayed flag down situation. Kip Orban then scored his second goal for Princeton before Jimmy Dunster's unassisted tally 3:25 before halftime put Carolina up 6-4.
Princeton got the first two goals of the third quarter to tie the game at 6-6 with 7:16 to play in the third quarter. Carolina answered with an outside bounce shot goal by Hutchins, assisted by Foster, with 6:01 to play and then five seconds later it was Ryan Creighton scoring on a low hard shot off Keenan's second assist of the game. This is the first time Keenan has had multiple assists in a game.
For the next 20 minutes UNC played a lot of defense and Princeton capitalized by scoring late in the third quarter and then getting the tying goal by Tucker Shanley with 8:20 to play.
Rastivo saved a shot by Mike Grossman with 7:10 to play in the game and the Tar Heels scored on the ensuing possession. Jimmy Dunster's laser like shot went high but Marcus Holman caught the ball on the fly behind the goal and fed Hutchins on the right wing for the game-winner with 6:09 to play.
Princeton had a long possession from the 5:14 mark to the 2:43 mark but Rastivo twice saved point blank shots, stopping Alex Capretta at 2:47 and Jeff Froccaro off the rebound at 2:43.
The Tigers got the ball back with 1:32 to play but the Tar Heel defense blocked a shot by Tom Schreiber. UNC cleared the ball successfully and the Tar Heels called a timeout but the officials did not grant it and the Tigers got the ball back. That set up a final flurry where Capretta had shots at 15 seconds and four seconds before the final seconds ticked off the clock.
The Tigers outshot the Tar Heels 43-22 and had a slight edge in ground balls 28-27. Rastivo made 16 saves for UNC while Tyler Fiorito had two saves for Princeton. The Tigers committed 13 turnovers while the Tar Heels had 19.
R.G. Keenan had an excellent day at the X, winning 12 of 21 draws and leading the Tar Heels with five ground balls. Charlie McComas had four ground balls for UNC and Greg McBride and Mark Staines had two each.
The Tar Heels return to action next Friday when they play at Duke at 5 p.m. The game will be played at Koskinen Stadium and will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
North Carolina vs. Princeton