No. 3 Tar Heels lacrosse to open at home on practice field

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels men’s lacrosse team will hold its home-opener a day later and on its synthetic practice field, playing the Manhattan Jaspers at Navy Field with a Noon start time on Sunday.

Originally scheduled to be played on Saturday, a snow and ice storm earlier in the week rendered the Tar Heels’ Fetzer Field unplayable, so the game will now be played on the cleared synthetic surface that they put in their daily paces on.

Call it going back to basics – a field, some balls, two teams, and game officials is all that will be needed to get the game recorded in the books.

Though it shouldn’t affect the players much, minimal amenities for fans and media alike will leave them without bleachers and the comfort of sitting with minimal standing room existing around the playing surface.

“It’s exciting – we’re thrilled to be at home,” head coach Joe Breshci said regardless of the circumstances.

“It really doesn’t matter where we play.  It’s a great opportunity to play at home and have a routine down.”

The Tar Heels (1-0) are coming off their 16th straight season-opening win last weekend, a decisive 19-3 road performance against new NCAA Division I program the Furman Paladins led by UNC alum and Team USA coach Richie Meade.

In a game that was played at Paladin Stadium before a crowd of 1,456 fans – an impressive crowd for a campus that serves 2,700 total students – the Tar Heels worked in many players and 14 different scorers posted their names on the score sheet.

“We were very unselfish offensively,” Breschi continued.

“We played for 60 minutes.  We played hard and with intensity.  We had a great opportunity to play 38 guys.  Everyone who was healthy got to play in the game.  That’s very positive.”

Junior attackman Joey Sankey led all scorers with a hat trick, the ninth of his career, while extending his current point streak to 22 straight games.

The Tar Heels outshot the Paladins 48-20 and won the ground ball battle 34-12 and took a 16-9 advantage at the face-off X as senior faceoff specialist R.G. Keenan won 11 face-offs and passed the 600 mark in career face-off wins.

Breschi gave three goalkeepers playing time led by Kieran Burke who made his 18th career start and finished with seven saves while allowing two goals in 45 minutes of game action.

North Carolina’s defensive play led to 16 Paladin turnovers and held their opponent to the fewest goals against since March 2008 when the Tar Heels defeated Marist 12-3 at Fetzer Field.

With the Jaspers (0-1) coming off a 13-5 loss to Rutgers in their season-opener last week, Breschi expects them to travel to Chapel Hill ready to give the Tar Heels an energetic and focused effort.

“I expect them defensively to mix in some zone,” Breschi said.

“They played a lot of zone against Rutgers.  The can shoot the ball offensively.  They have some players who can shoot with precision.  We expect their best shot and look forward to the challenge.”