March 11, 2009

Courtesy of North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.  —  Senior midfielder Shane Walterhoefer tied the school record for ground balls in a game with 15 and won 20 of 23 face-offs, only the fourth time in school history a player has won 20 or more in a game, as the sixth-ranked University of North Carolina men’s lacrosse team overcame a sluggish start to defeat Providence College 14-7 Wednesday afternoon at Fetzer Field.  Senior attackman Bart Wagner scored three goals, the fifth time in eight games this season, he has matched or exceeded that total, and the Tar Heel defense limited the Friars to only two goals, one on an extra-man, in the final 34:38 of the game.
UNC improved to 7-1 overall while Providence fell to 0-4.  Next up for the Tar Heels is No. 9-ranked Duke Saturday at 2 p.m. at Kenan Stadium in a game to be nationally televised by ESPNU.  The Tar Heels will be seeking to end an 18-game losing streak against Atlantic Coast Conference teams when they face the Blue Devils while at the same time rewarding their first-year head coach, Joe Breschi, with his 100th overall career collegiate coaching victory.  The Tar Heels last ACC victory came on April 10, 2004 when Carolina beat Virginia 11-9 at Fetzer Field.  Breschi, who coached for 11 seasons at Ohio State before coming to Carolina this season, has a 99-64 overall coaching ledger including his first eight games as Tar Heel head coach.  The national telecast on ESPNU will mark the first of four straight Saturday games the Tar Heels will play on the network.
Walterhoefer’s 20 face-off wins marks the 15th time in his career he has won 15 or more face-offs in a match.  It was only the fourth time in Tar Heel lore that a player has won as many as 20. Walterhoefer has done it two of the other three times as well.  He set the school record with 23 face-off wins against Ohio State on April 12, 2008 and he also won 20 against Hofstra on April 19, 2008.  The other occasion came when Todd Oudemool won 22 against Towson on May 13, 1989.
Walterhoefer’s 15 ground balls marked the sixth time in school history a player has achieved that school record total.  Walterhoefer has accomplished it twice now.  The following players have claimed 15 ground balls in a game: Michael Burnett against NC State on May 2, 1981;  Todd Oudemool against Towson on May 17, 1989;  Jude Collins against Duke on April 23, 1995;  Jude Collins against Virginia on April 6, 1986; Shane Walterhoefer against Ohio State on April 12, 2008;  and Shane Walterhoefer against Providence on March 11, 2009.
Ten different Tar Heel players tallied goals in the match led by Wagner’s three.  The senior attackman from Glen Arm, Md. has now scored three or more goals in a game five times this season.  Wagner also had an assist in the match, giving him four total points.  Both junior midfielder Sean Delaney and junior attackman Gavin Petracca scored twice for UNC. Both Delaney and Petracca added assists and in the case of Delaney it was his first of the campaign.
Junior midfielder Sean Burke had a pair of career highs in the game as he had four assists and five points overall.  The four assists bettered the three he had against Robert Morris on February 7, 2009.  The five points by Burke exceeded his previous career high of four against Navy on March 2, 2007.
Sophomore attackman Billy Bitter had another big day for the Tar Heels as he had a goal and three assists.  Adding single goals for the Tar Heels were junior midfielder Cryder DiPietro, senior midfielder Ben Hunt, freshman midfielder Jimmy Dunster, freshman midfielder Thomas Wood and senior midfielder Bobby McAuley.
The Friars were led offensively by Bobby Labadini and Colin Tigh who each had four-point games, scoring a goal and passing for three assists.  Evan Olsen was Providence’s leading goal scorer with two while Evan Helda, Mike Feldberg and Danny Ryan also had goals.
The Tar Heels won the ground ball battle for the eighth straight game this season by a 53-29 edge.  UNC is averaging 50.75 ground balls per game this season.  UNC outshot the Friars 48-31, just short of their average of 49.0 shots per game.  The 14 goals scored just exceeded the team’s average of 13.75 goals scored per game.  The Tar Heels won 20 of 24 face-offs overall and they are winning 64.9 percent of their face-offs this season (124 of 191).
In the clearing game, UNC was successful on 20 of 21 clears, improving their season percentage to .843.  The Tar Heel ride was successful nine times, including forcing five failed clears in the fourth quarter as the Friars attempted to make a comeback.
Robert Bryan made 12 saves and allowed 11 goals for the Friars in 42:12 of action.  He made four saves in the first quarter and another five in the second.  Tim Finnegan played the final 17:48 and made three saves while allowing three goals.
Grant Zimmerman went all 60 minutes in goal for Carolina and made 10 saves while allowing seven goals. After making only four saves in the first three quarters combined, he had six stops and allowed only one goal in the final quarter and that goal was on a man-up opportunity.
For the second straight season, the Tar Heels found themselves having to rally past the Friars to claim the win.  In last year’s game at Providence, the Friars led 5-4 heading into the fourth quarter before a 4-1 scoring run by UNC in the final 15 minutes lifted it to an 8-6 win.
Wednesday’s comeback was not so dramatic but necessary nevertheless.  After Bart Wagner opened the scoring off an assist by Billy Bitter 2:39 into the match, the Friars came back to score the next two goals.  Evan Olsen scored off an assist by Colin Tigh at 7:18 of the quarter and just 1:13 later, PC went ahead 2-1 on an unassisted goal by Bobby Labadini on a crease roll.  The Friars would maintain that lead until there 1:53 left in the opening period when Wagner scored his second goal of the period, assisted by Sean Delaney who sent a pass over the top to Wagner who was open on the crease for the put away.
UNC briefly took the lead 49 seconds into the second quarter as Sean Burke found a cutting Jimmy Dunster who found himself unmarked with an unimpeded path to the goal for the put away.  Providence responded by scoring three unanswered goals with Olsen scoring his second of the match at 12:54, Mike Feldberg giving the Friars the lead at 7:16 and then Tigh taking a pass from Labadini to make it 5-3 with 4:38 left in the half.
From that point on, the Tar Heel defense tightened and allowed only two goals the rest of the way as UNC ended the game on an 11-2 scoring run.  The Heels were able to score to score the final three goals of the half to take a 6-5 lead at intermission.  Cryder DiPietro pounced on a ground ball and scored past Bryan at 3:43 and then 1:02 later, it was Billy Bitter who made a dodge around the crease to tie the game.  Delaney then took a pass from Burke and scored 10 seconds before halftime to give Carolina the lead for good.
The Tar Heels ran off the first five goals of the third quarter to get some separation in the game at 11-5.  At 12:27, it was Delaney again, assisted for the second straight goal by Burke to make it 7-5. Forty-nine seconds later, Wagner notched his third goal of the match off an assist by Petracca  Then at 8:52, the Tar Heels scored on the extra-man with Ben Hunt rifling a shot Bryan off Billy Bitter’s assist.  At 3:25, Bobby McAuley lasered one in from the top of the box off an assist by Wagner and then Burke bullied his way in to score from close range just 37 seconds after that.
Providence’s scoring drought ended with 1:54 left in the quarter, 17:44 since its last goal. Evan Helda scored off an assist by Colin Tigh to make it 11-6.
The fourth quarter began with a three-minute unreleasable penalty on UNC’s Bart Wagner for illegal equipment.  The Friars had a great chance to get back in the game but instead found themselves outscored 1-0 on their own three-minute EMO.  Zimmerman twice saves shots by Labadini in the first 29 seconds of the EMO and after successfully clearing while a man-down with sophomore defenseman Kevin Piegare carrying the ball into the attacking zone, Bitter found Petracca for UNC’s first man-down goal of the season at 13:52.  Providence was able to get off only one more shot in the remaining 1:52 of the penalty as the Tar Heels killed clock successfully.
Providence did eventually get an extra-man goal at 9:41 with Danny Ryan scoring from Bobby Labadini after a slashing call against the Heels.  UNC answered that goal quickly with Thomas Wood scoring off Burke’s fourth assist of the game 29 seconds later.  Petracca then finished off the scoring with 3:37 left on an unassisted goal in transition.
Providence had a two-man advantage after back-to-back penalties on the Heels with less than three minutes remaining but Zimmerman would go on and make two more saves to keep the Friars off the scoreboard.