CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – With five All-Americans graduated, the 2016 edition of the North Carolina Tar Heels showed that they could still score at will as 10 different players contributed to a 20-10 win over the Michigan Wolverines at Fetzer Field on Saturday.
Chris Cloutier’s five goals and Steven Pontrello’s four along with multiple-goal efforts from Luke Goldstock, Will McBride, and Timmy Kelly powered North Carolina’s offense in its season opener in front of 2,006 in attendance.
The Tar Heels’ high-tempo offense overpowered both Michigan goalkeepers Gerald Logan (3 saves) and Robbie Zonino (3 saves), who split time between the first and second halves and faced 43 shots throughout.
At the other end, the Wolverines current career goals leader, attackman Kyle Jackson’s impressive five-goal effort along with Ian King’s two goals kept it respectable during the first half against a Tar Heels defense that showed it had some work to do early on.
Brian Balkam made five saves for North Carolina while facing 25 shots in going the distance in his season-opening start.
The Tar Heels won 20-of-34 draws at the faceoff-X with Stephen Kelly (12-of-21) and Charles Kelly (7-12) getting the advantage over the Wolverines’ Brad Lott (9-21) and Mike McDonnell (5-13).
UNC dominated the ground ball game by a 44-24 margin, while its special teams play scored twice on three man-up opportunities and successfully defended six man-down situations.
Leading 10-6 at halftime, the Tar Heels shut out the Wolverines throughout the third quarter and cruised to their first win of the season in convincing fashion.
“It is a strong start,” Tar Heels head coach Joe Breschi said.
“Michigan’s a much improved team after talking to a lot of teams in the Big 10. The beauty of it and the anxiousness of the start of the season with a lot of new faces in different places was a little nerve-wracking. I think we showed that in the first half, but we settled in and everybody did a good job and made plays and put points on the board.”