No. 7 North Carolina scores season-high total in win against No. 19 Brown
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- R.G. Keenan had a solid game at the X and UNC's attack continued its potent performance as seventh-ranked North Carolina beat No. 19 Brown 18-12 on Wednesday before 1,145 fans at Fetzer Field.
Joey Sankey scored four goals for the third consecutive game, Jimmy Bitter had a six-point night and Marcus Holman had eight points, including six assists, matching his career high.
The 18 goals scored were a season-high total for the Tar Heels and the most since beating Michigan 19-5 on May 5, 2012.
The teams traded goals through the first 21:40 before the Tar Heels ran off four goals in a row to take an 8-4 lead late in the second period. After Marcus Holman scored an unassisted goal at 7:39 of the period to give the Tar Heels the lead for good, Davey Emala, Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey scored in succession to make it 8-4 with 3:21 left in the half. Holman assisted on both Emala's and Bitter's goals to give the Tar Heels separation.
Brown notched the final goal of the first half and then scored again on Henry Blynn's first of five goals to make it 8-6 with 13:47 left in the third quarter. The Bears then got an extra-man opportunity with a chance to cut it to one and won the ensuing face-off, but Kieran McDonald intercepted a pass by Johnny DePeters 36 seconds into the one-minute opportunity for the Bears. Carolina then went on to score seven of the next nine goals.
McDonald finished the game with six ground balls and four caused turnovers as well as his first career goal. The four caused turnovers matched his career high in a game and he was one short of his career high in ground balls.
Leading 8-6, the Heels ran off three goals five minutes into the quarter. Pat Foster scored on the EMO from Holman at 10:18. Bitter scored at 9:07 off Sankey's assist and six seconds later he scored again off a R.G. Keenan assist. After a Brown goal, Chad Tutton scored on an outside shot at 7:21. Then with 4:30 left and Brown in a 10-man ride, McDonald scored on a 60-yard bounce shot into the empty net giving the Tar Heels their biggest lead of the game 13-7.
Sankey's successive goals late in the third quarter made it 15-8 but Blynn then scored twice in a row for Brown to cut its deficit back to five. Eventually, the Tar Heels sealed the deal with goals from Ryan Creighton and Jake Matthai. The Bears fought back with two more of their own before Davey Emala rounded out the scoring with a timer-on goal at 4:16 of the final period.
Carolina won its third game in a row and improved to 6-3. Seven of Carolina's first nine games this season have come against top-20 teams and its next three opponents are also ranked. Brown saw its five-game winning streak end. The Bears are 5-2 on the year.
Keenan was a key factor in the game for Carolina as he helped keep the ball away from the Bears' offense. He won 19 of 31 face-offs, had 11 ground balls and also assisted on two goals. He was one short of his career highs in both face-off victories and ground balls and matched his career best for assists and points in a contest.
UNC's shooting accuracy was top shelf with 18 goals on 38 shots, a shooting percentage of 47.4 for the game. The Bears used two goalies against the Tar Heels with freshman Jack Kelly making nine saves and allowing 15 goals in three quarters, while Will Round played the last 15 minutes and made two saves while allowing three goals.
Burke started for the Tar Heels and went all the way in goal, making 14 saves, just one short of his career high, and allowing 12 goals. He also had four ground balls.
Carolina's starting attack combined for 19 points with Marcus Holman scoring two goals and passing for six assists, Bitter scoring three goals and adding three assists and Sankey scoring four goals and adding an assist.
A pair of Brown attackmen had strong performances for the Bears as Henry Blynn scored five goals, all in the second half, and Nick Piroli scored four times. Seven different Brown players recorded assists in the game.
Holman's eight points give him 176 for his career as he moved past Billy Bitter, Mac Ford and Jed Prossner on Wednesday into seventh place in all-time scoring at Carolina. His six assists give him 70 for his career. His 106 career goals are sixth best in Tar Heel history.
For the game, UNC outshot the Bears 38-37 and had a 47-40 edge in ground balls, including a career-high seven by Marcus Holman. UNC finished with a 20-14 edge at the X and a 14-11 advantage in saves. Brown committed 19 turnovers and Carolina had 18, including seven in the fourth quarter for the consecutive game. Brown's high pressure ride forced Carolina into six failed clears (20 of 26 for the game) while the Bears were 21 of 25 in the clearing game.