Feb. 20, 2010

Courtesy of UNC

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The North Carolina men's lacrosse team saw its offense take a huge step forward Saturday afternoon as the fourth-ranked Tar Heels beat Lehigh 17-5 at Fetzer Field before a crowd of 752 on a sunny day. UNC attackmen Billy Bitter, Gavin Petracca and Thomas Wood combined to produce 14 of UNC's 28 points on the day and sophomore midfielder Jimmy Dunster had career highs for goals and points in a game with three and four, respectively.

With the win, the Tar Heels improve to 3-0 on the season heading into their nationally televised game at Navy next Thursday against the Midshipmen. Carolina put 17 goals up on the board, one more than UNC had scored in its first two games combined against Jacksonville and Bryant.

Junior attackman Billy Bitter had two goals and four assists to lead the Tar Heels in points with six while sophomore attackman Thomas Wood had career-high five points on two goals and three assists. Petracca, seeing his first significant action after returning from surgery, had three goals on the day, including back-to-back tallies in the early minutes of the second quarter when the Tar Heels broke the game open. Tyler Morton had the first two goals of his UNC career and senior midfielder Sean DeLaney also added a pair of goals. Adam Johnston led the Lehigh scoring with a pair of goals.

UNC outshot the Mountain Hawks 45-17 for the game and limited Lehigh to five shots in the first half. Carolina also dominated the ground ball category, winning 48 to Lehigh's 29. Defenseman Charlie McComas led the Tar Heels in ground balls with eight, while goalkeeper Chris Madalon had six grounders and Thomas Wood had a career high five.

UNC face-off man Michael Burns, back after missing the Bryant game with a hip flexor, won nine of 16 face-offs and had three ground balls and two caused turnovers. Sophomore Mark Staines won four of his six face-off attempts for UNC. The Tar Heels caused 18 turnovers and Lehigh had 29 turnovers overall. Senior defenseman Michael Jarvis led the Tar Heels in caused turnovers with three.

UNC jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 1:16 into the game as Billy Bitter dished out assists on goals by Chris Hunt and Tyler Morton, the first of his career, at 13:54 and 13:44 of the first quarter. Lehigh came back to tie the score at the end of the first quarter. The Tar Heels than broke the game open with four goals in the opening five minutes of the second quarter. Jimmy Dunster started the scoring run 57 seconds into the quarter, followed by goals by Morton at 13:22, Petracca assisted by Sean Jackson at 12:46 and Petracca again assisted by Bitter at the 10:23 mark. Sean DeLaney ended the scoring run for UNC with 8:48 left in the quarter. The UNC lead stood at five and Lehigh would never get closer than four goals after that.

Bitter gave the Tar Heels a 9-4 lead seven seconds before halftime and that started a long scoring run of seven straight that eventually put the Heels up by a 15-4 with 11:24 to play. Carolina outscored the Mountain Hawks 5-0 in the third quarter with five different players -- DeLaney, Chris Layne, Marcus Holman, Petracca and Dunster scoring the goals. Senior Cryder DiPietro assisted on the goal by Dunster with three seconds left in the third quarter to put the Heels up 14-4.

UNC outscored the Mountain Hawks 3-1 in the final quarter as Wood scored two of his three goals.

Carolina will have five days before meeting the Navy Midshipmen next Thursday at 7 p.m. at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.