Feb. 23, 2009

Courtesy of North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Despite letting an early 6-0 lead slip away, the No. 5-ranked North Carolina men's lacrosse team made the plays it needed to in the third and fourth quarters to down No. 17 Colgate 11-9 before 1,122 fans on a sunny, chilly and windy day at Fetzer Field. The win allowed head coach Joe Breschi's team to start the season 4-0 after beating 2008 Patriot League regular-season champion Navy Friday night and 2008 Patriot League Tournament champion Colgate Sunday afternoon in a span of just 41 hours.

Just as against Navy on Friday night, the face-off X and the ground ball battle were key elements in the win for the Tar Heels. Senior Shane Walterhoefer won 16 of 24 face-offs Sunday against the Red Raiders (1-2) after winning 16 of 20 against the Midshipmen on Friday night. After outgroundballing Navy by 13 Friday night, the Tar Heels won the grounders battle Sunday 51-30.

The rest of the stat battle was fairly even with UNC outshooting the Red Raiders 39-38 while each team committed 17 turnovers. Colgate failed on four clears and the Tar Heels on six clears. Both goalkeepers played the entire way. Tim Harrington had 15 saves and 11 goals allowed. He came up particularly big in the third quarter for Colgate when he made six of his 15 saves. Grant Zimmerman played all 60 minutes for UNC, allowing nine goals and making nine saves.

For the second straight game, Bart Wagner and Sean Delaney had multiple goal games for the Tar Heels with Wagner totaling three just as he had against Navy and Delaney scoring twice. Freshman midfielder Jimmy Dunster had his first two career goals, both in the second half as the Tar Heels broke away from a 6-6 tie to outscore the Red Raiders 5-3 the rest of the way.

Chris Zielinski led the Red Raiders, who lost in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament at Notre Dame in overtime, with four points on two goals and two assists. Kevin Colleluori also had four points for coach Jim Nagle's team as he had three goals and an assist. The Tar Heel defense was able to hold 2008 Patriot League Player of the Year Brandon Corp, who had 40 goals and 14 assists last year, to a single goal on nine shots. Defensemen Jack Ryan and Ryan Flanagan double-teamed the athletic Corp through much of the game but his teammates picked up the slack to make the game go down to the wire.

Walterhoefer's 16 face-off wins give him 15 or more in a game for the 14th time in his career and he also led all players in the game with 11 ground balls. Grant Zimmerman and Bart Wagner each had five ground balls and junior long-stick defensive midfielder Michael Jarvis led the Tar Heels with three caused turnovers.

Just as Duke had down in its 9-8 win over Colgate on Friday, the Tar Heels jumped to a six-goal lead in the game but just as in their game against the Blue Devils, the Red Raiders rallied to twice to tie the game in the second half.

The first quarter was all Carolina as the Heels led 6-0 after the first 15 minutes. After Ryan Flanagan forced Brandon Corp into a turnover, Flanagan scooped up the ground ball and led a fast break which resulted in freshman long-stick midfielder Mark Staines' goal 1:38 into the match. It was the first career goal for Staines and the first career assists for Flanagan. With 9:14 left in the quarter, Sean Delaney, who had three goals Friday versus Navy, scored the first of his two unassisted goals of the opening period. Bobby McAuley, who has now scored a goal in each of the first four games for UNC, tallied off an assist by Cryder DiPietro with 6:17 left in the quarter to make it 3-0. Carolina tacked on three goals in the final 2:35 of the first quarter with Delaney scoring the first, DiPietro scoring off an assist by Wagner at 1:33 and then Wagner taking an assist by Ben Hunt to score an extra-man goal with 20 seconds left in the quarter.

After that goal, the Colgate defense clamped down and did not allow a UNC goal for the next 22:53 of the match. In the meantime, the Red Raiders ran off six goals in a row to tie the game. Colgate dented the scoreboard for the first time with 12:22 left in the second quarter on a goal by Zack Craumer, assisted by Kevin Colleluori. Zielinski and Colleluori scored goals just 34 seconds apart to make it 6-3 with 6:41 left in the period. Corp then rolled the crease to score under Zimmerman's stick with 46 seconds left in the half to make it 6-4 Tar Heels at intermission.

Colgate scored twice in the opening 4:02 of the third quarter to tie the game as Chris Zielinski and Nick Monastero tallied unassisted goals. UNC retook the lead with 7:27 left in the period on the first of the two goals by Dunster as he took the ball behind the cage, beat his defender and dunked the ball past Harrington. Colgate got one last tie in the game with 6:18 left in the third quarter as Colleluori scored off an assist by Zielinski.

It was Billy Bitter who made the play to put the Tar Heels ahead in the game for good. Bitter had the ball on the left sideline goal line extended and he beat his defender and with no slide coming he went in and scored unattended past Harrington with 4:52 left in the quarter. The Tar Heels then went up by two goals as Michael Jarvis stripped Rob Bosco of the ball and then fed Bart Wagner for a fast break goal with 2:24 left in the period.

One last time the Red Raiders pulled within a single goal as Bosco took a feed from Zielinski and beat Zimmerman with 11:55 to play. Just over a minute later, Bitter was stripped of the ball by a Colgate defender but Wagner pounced on the ground ball directly in the front of the net and had an easy putaway for a 10-8 Carolina advantage.

The Tar Heels padded their lead with 9:28 left as McAuley fed Dunster on the right side and the freshman midfielder finished high and hard into the upper right corner of the twine for an 11-8 advantage.

Neither team got much traction the remainder of the game. On Colgate's last possession, the Red Raiders' Rob Bisco missed wide right but Colleluori seized the ground ball and scored on the right side the crease with 24 seconds left. Colgate won the final face-off but turned the ball over with two seconds left to play and the game ended 11-9.

The Red Raiders and Tar Heels will both be in action next Saturday in the Baltimore area. UNC will meet another Patriot League foe, Lehigh, at 1 p.m. at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Md., while Colgate plays at UMBC at 1 p.m. in Catonsville, Md.