No. 5 North Carolina runs past UMass, 20-8

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

CHAPEL HILL, N.C – Fifth-ranked North Carolina overwhelmed the visiting UMass Minutemen and put together a 20-8 win in front of 954 at Fetzer Field on Saturday.

Joey Sankey (3 goals, 4 assists) and Jimmy Bitter (3 goals, 3 assists) led 10 different Tar Heels scorers while Luke Goldstock and Peyton Klawinski also posted hat tricks to go along with multiple goal efforts from Chad Tutton and Duncan Hutchins.

Brian Balkam (6 saves, 4 goals against) earned his third win, while Duncan Saunders (2 saves, 2 goals against) and Kieran Burke (3 saves, 2 goals against) also helped to fortify the cage for North Carolina.

Stephen Kelly won 17-of-28 draws for the Tar Heels while North Carolina (3-0) won the ground ball game by a 43-31 margin.

The Tar Heels outshot the Minutemen, 40-35, and finished with 29 shots on goal compared to UMass’ 19 making it through.

Nick Mariano and Peter Lindley scored three and two goals respectively, while UMass (0-2) goalkeeper Zach Oliveri made nine saves while going the distance in the losing effort.

An experienced Tar Heels squad faced a young UMass team that only trailed by two goals, 4-2, following the opening quarter of play.

The Tar Heels spread their offense around during the opening quarter as four different scorers kept the UMass defense busy.

North Carolina turned up the heat early in the second quarter with a quick three-goal run to take a 7-2 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the opening half.

The young Minutemen attack didn’t go away and posted two goals as Mariano’s drive coming off a pick from X beat Balkam to pull UMass to within two goals.

North Carolina soon pushed the lead back up to five goals as Tutton and Goldstock finally got on the board late in the half.

Quick faceoff wins by Kelly were keys to North Carolina picking up its offensive pace while effective defensive play held off a UMass EMO late in the quarter.

The Tar Heels led 10-4 at the break.

“Our guys were just fightin’,” UMass head coach Greg Cannella said.

“I think it’s probably more the athletes – they’re much more athletic than us. Every time we made a play, we couldn’t come up with the ground ball on defense, in between the lines and in the midfield. On offense, we took some quick shots that we probably shouldn’t have. We probably should have possessed the ball and just played.”

Tutton scored his second early in the third quarter which was followed up a few minutes later with defender Austin Pifani scoring off a fast break he started with a ground ball pickup in his end.

The Tar Heels led 12-5 with 12 minutes to play in the quarter before Lindley scored his second of the game to end a 10-minute scoring drought for the Minutemen.

Both teams traded goals during the third quarter, but UMass couldn’t generate enough pace to overcome the deficit it faced throughout the game.

Burke made his season-debut in goal for the Tar Heels after sitting out the first two games of the season recovering from dental surgery (wisdom teeth).

North Carolina led 17-7 with ten minutes remaining and cruised the rest of the way to its eventual 20-8 finish by the end of regulation time.

“They’re a good team,” Tar Heels coach Joe Breschi said.

“I was proud of our guys. I think our guys played hard. We improved on the faceoff and our wing play got better. I think Stephen Kelly did a nice job there. Our attack is a seasoned group and they took advantage of some opportunities. Really starting to come together chemistry-wise at this time of the season.”