CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Thomas Wood scored three first quarter goals to power North Carolina to a 6-1 lead after the first 15 minutes as the 15th-ranked Tar Heels went on to beat No. 9 Pennsylvania 12-6 at Fezter Field Tuesday night, handing the Quakers their first loss of the season. UNC won its third consecutive game to improve to 4-1 as Carolina won its 17th match in a row at Fetzer Field dating back to the 2009 season opener.
Pennsylvania, now 3-1, had allowed only 15 goals this season and no more than six in a game. But by the end of the first quarter the Tar Heels had matched that total, taking a 6-1 lead. From that point on, UNC led by at least four goals through the remainder of the match. Four times the Quakers pulled within four goals but UNC scored quickly to put separation between it and Penn each time.
The win gives the Tar Heels momentum heading into Friday’s ESPNU national telecast against seventh-ranked Princeton at Class of 1952 Stadium in Princeton, N.J. Game time is 7 p.m.
Key to the game was Carolina’s dominance in the ground ball area as the Tar Heels had 42 to Pennsylvania’s 18. Face-off specialist R.G. Keenan led the team with seven ground balls as he won 12 of 21 draws. Attackman Billy Bitter had six ground balls and midfielder Michael Burns had five. Defensively, the Tar Heels had 12 caused turnovers led by senior Ryan Flanagan, who matched his career high with five. Penn had 18 turnovers overall while the Tar Heels committed 14.
Sophomore midfielder Marcus Holman and Thomas Wood both had three goals for the Tar Heels while freshman midfielder Duncan Hutchins added two goals. Both senior attackman Billy Bitter and freshman attackman Nicky Galasso had a goal and two assists. Jimmy Dunster and Ed Prevost each scored once and Holman and junior defenseman Charlie McComas were credited with assists. The assist marked the first career point for McComas.
For Penn, Al Kohart represented most of the offense as he scored three goals and added an assist. John Conneely, Terry Kennedy and Will Koshansky each had goals for the Quakers and Rob Fitzpatrick and Corey Winkoff had assists for UPenn.
The Tar Heels outshot the Quakers 33-21 overall. Brian Feeney had 10 saves for the Quakers while Chris Madalon made seven for the Tar Heels. Carolina had a slight edge in face-offs, 12-9. UNC cleared successfully 20 of 22 times while the Quakers were 15 of 19. UNC cashed in on three of four extra-man chances in the match. Carolina was penalty free, providing the Quakers with no man-up chances.
Carolina came out on fire right from the opening whistle. Thomas Wood drove to the cage and scored unassisted just 17 seconds into the match as he sped by at least three defenders to score past Feeney. Just 1:48 later, Carolina made it 2-0 as Nicky Galasso scored on a bounce shot from the right side, dodging a defender and finishing from in close. Penn got on the board at 11:08 of the first quarter as John Conneely scored off an assist by Al Kohart.
The rest of the quarter belonged to the Tar Heels as they pushed the issue, outshooting Penn 12-3 in the opening frame and capitalizing on six Quaker turnovers. Marcus Holman scored the first of his three goals at 9:27 just 13 seconds after Maxx Meyer of Penn was whistled for slashing. Billy Bitter fed from the top of the box to Holman who went high and hard over Feeney’s right shoulder. The next goal by the Tar Heels was a backbreaker. After Mark Staines caused a turnover, Charlie McComas led the clear for UNC. McComas was defended well at the top of the box and appeared to be looking for a teammate to dump the ball to. When help was not forthcoming he spun around his defender and sidearmed a pass to Thomas Wood who rifled a shot past Feeney for a 4-1 lead at 4:38 of the first quarter. UNC stretched the lead to 6-1 with two more quick goals. Billy Bitter finished on the crease at 1:36 after taking a pass from behind by Holman. Just 39 seconds later, Bitter earned the assist as he found Wood for the junior attackman’s third goal of the opening period.
After the torrid start by the Tar Heels things settled down in the second quarter as the two teams traded goals. After Will Koshansky scored for Penn at 14:53, UNC answered just 1:04 later as Duncan Hutchins drove the left alley for a strong left-handed putaway. Kohart’s first of three goals pulled Penn within 7-3 at 8:53 but again UNC answered quickly with senior Ed Prevost scoring just 1:05 later on another strong dodge down the left alley.
Neither team scored for the next 16:22 of the match. Kohart broke the scoring drought for Penn at 6:26 of the match to pull the Quakers within four goals once again. Moments later UNC possessed the ball and was quickly given a stalling warning but Jimmy Dunster drove from behind the cage and pinged one past Feeney just 1:21 after the Penn goal to restore the five-goal lead. The Quakers pulled within four goals one last time with 1:46 left in the third quarter as Kohart scored his third unassisted goal in a row.
The Tar Heels went on to outscore the Quakers 3-1 in the fourth quarter. Holman and Galasso were instrumental in two of the scores, both on the extra-man. Meyer was banished for an unsportsmanlike conduct call at 11:01 and 22 seconds later Galasso threaded a pass to Holman alone on the crease to make it 10-5. With 4:46 left in the game, Hutchins scored his second goal of the match, against on a strong drive, this time from the right side. At the 3:30 mark, UNC made it 12-5 as Galasso again assisted on the extra-man, finding Holman for the sophomore’s third tally of the night. The Quakers finished off the scoring with two seconds to play on a goal by Terry Kennedy bringing the final tally to 12-6.
UNC now leads the all-time series with Penn 8-4. The Quakers had actually beaten the Tar Heels in three of their last five visits to Chapel Hill, most recently a 13-4 rout of Carolina on March 7, 2006.