CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The sixth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels held off the top-ranked Maryland Terrapins and posted an 11-8 win in front of 6,135 in attendance at Kenan Stadium on Saturday.
The Tar Heels (7-2, 1-2) earned their first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) win by handing the Terps (7-1, 2-1) their first loss of the season powered by an offense comprised of eight different scorers.
Joey Sankey, Pat Foster, and Shane Simpson scored two goals apiece while the Tar Heels defense, led by goalkeeper Kieran Burke who made 12 saves, helped to extend North Carolina’s current regular season win streak against Maryland to five games.
“Overall, just a great team win,” North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi said.
Maryland’s offense was led by Connor Cannizzaro and Colin Heacock who each scored a pair of goals to keep the Terps no further than two goals behind the Tar Heels for most of the game, while goalkeeper Niko Amato made eight stops in the losing effort.
Three different Tar Heels players (Brent Armstrong, R.G. Keenan, Frankie Kelly) took turns at trying to beat Charlie Raffa off the draw, but struggled as he continually earned ball possession for Maryland.
In winning 16 of 23 faceoffs, Raffa put the Terps’ in a position to stay close after relinquishing the lead during the first half.
Maryland led 4-3 with 7:16 remaining in the second quarter when Simpson tied the game for the Tar Heels.
With an ensuing EMO a minute later, North Carolina took the lead 5-4 on Walker Chafee’s lone goal and stayed ahead for the remainder of the game.
The Tar Heels’ consistent defensive effort led by Ryan Creighton and Mark McNeill forced Maryland to commit a total of 16 turnovers.
“They certainly played better than we did to get the win,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said.
“We certainly showed our youth a little bit today. Just some little plays – droppin’ the ball – some decisions that I think the kids would love to have back.”
Leading 6-4 at halftime, North Carolina lapsed early to allow Maryland’s leading scorer Mike Chanenchuk to post his only goal of the game.
Both teams traded goals and the Tar Heels continued to hold on to a two-goal lead, 9-7, to start the final quarter of play.
“To win that fourth quarter was something we were chomping at the bit for,” Breschi said.
The Tar Heels pushed their lead to three goals, 10-7, as Sankey and Jimmy Bitter scored less than a minute apart.
Maryland tried to get closer, but couldn’t during the final 10 minutes of play.
In the end, North Carolina’s ability to communicate effectively allowed it to execute its defensive plan and facilitated another double-digit scoring performance at the other end of the field on the offense.
“This was a huge win for us,” Sankey said after finishing with a game-high four points.
“We were 0-and-2 in the ACC and we knew that we couldn’t go down 0-and-3. Just for a momentum for the season mentality, we needed this win. We were confident all week that we had a good shot against Maryland.”