CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Even while not playing a game in 15 days, the fourth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels posted a 19-12 win over the 12th-ranked Colgate Raiders in opening-round play of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship Tournament at Fetzer Field on Sunday.
Led by Luke Goldstock’s four-goal performance that established a new UNC single-season goal scoring record, the Tar Heels (13-3) shared the ball and success amongst nine different players who contributed to the victory.
Fellow attackman Joey Sankey scored four goals and added an assist, while Steve Pontrello (3 goals, 1 assist), Jimmy Bitter (2 goals, 4 assists), and Walker Chaffee (2 goals, 1 assist) were next in the line ahead of four others who scored singles.
Ryan Walsh and Chase Wittich each posted hat tricks to lead Colgate (10-6), who presented an offense that never slowed, but couldn’t match the Tar Heels’ scoring depth.
In goal, it was a battle of the Burkes, as North Carolina’s Kieran Burke went the distance and finished with 11 saves to earn the win, while Colgate goalkeeper Brandon Burke made 14 saves in the loss.
Winning faceoffs and dominating the ground ball game were keys to success for the Tar Heels.
Faceoff man Stephen Kelly won 20-of-32 draws, and maintained the advantage over Colgate’s Alex Kinenealy (12-31), while North Carolina’s 43-28 margin of success on claiming loose balls was critical.
“It was a hard-fought battle,” North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi said.
“I think the difference for us after the first quarter, I thought we settled down a little bit and played our game. I thought the faceoffs were a huge part of our success – getting possessions.”
“They’re a very gifted offensive team,” Colgate head coach Mike Murphy said.
“In a game like this, it’s two good teams that are playin’. It’s gonna’ come down to the fundamentals and they out-fundamentaled us on ground balls today .”
The win earned the Tar Heels a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2013 to face Maryland, the tournament No. 6 seed, in Annapolis, Md. on Saturday.
A former Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) foe, the Terrapins beat North Carolina 10-8 back on Mar. 21 in a neutral site game in Santa Ana, Calif.
It’s a game the Tar Heels need to win in order to earn a spot in the Final Four for the first time since 1993.
“We’re lookin’ forward to that opportunity,” Breschi concluded.
Notes: Kelly’s faceoff performance was a significant one as it marked only the eighth time since 1949 that a UNC draw man won more than 20 faceoffs in a game. Kelly also claimed 22 draws in the Tar Heels’ 15-14 win over Duke earlier this season…Goldstock’s 48th goal of the season topped the previous UNC season goal-scoring record held by Dennis Goldstein. Breschi’s former college roommate set the mark of 47 goals during North Carolina’s 1991 NCAA-championship winning season…Even while the Tar Heels posted 19 goals, midfielder Chad Tutton wasn’t a part of it. He didn’t connect on eight shots taken throughout the game, and finished with an assist.