Feb. 13, 2010

Courtesy of North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Fourth-ranked North Carolina avoided an upset in men's collegiate lacrosse action Saturday afternoon as it prevailed against Bryant University 5-4 before a crowd of 1,009 at Navy Field. The game marked the home opener for the Tar Heels who improved to 2-0 on the season while the Bulldogs lost their season opener.

For the second straight week, Thomas Wood and Sean DeLaney led the Tar Heel offense as Wood had two goals and an assist and DeLaney added two goals. Wood had the game-winning tally with less than 13 minutes left on the clock. Bryant's four goals came from four different players.

Also for the second game in succession, the Tar Heels ran into a red-hot goalie. Jacksonville's Brad Hester saved 17 shots against UNC last Saturday and Jameson Love had 20 saves for Bryant Saturday while allowing only five goals. Love made nine of his 20 saves in the first quarter when the Heels outshot the Bulldogs 15-5. But Love's superb netminding kept the game at only a one-goal edge for UNC after the first 15 minutes.

Chris Madalon had a solid performance for UNC, making nine saves and allowing only four goals. Madalon had three of his saves in the fourth quarter as the Tar Heels protected their one-goal lead.

UNC outshot the Bulldogs 44-22 and had a slight 33-31 edge in ground balls. UNC committed only 15 turnovers as compared to 25 for Bryant. UNC also forced nine failed clears by Bryant.

But the Bulldogs were never out of it because of the stellar play of Love in the goal and the work of Andrew Hennessey at the face-off X as he won 11 of 13 draws. UNC played without regular face-off man, junior Michael Burns, and relied on freshman William Scroggs to fill in for the veteran.

UNC scored the only goal of the first quarter as freshman attackman Marcus Holman took a pass from junior attackman Billy Bitter and scored with 11:34 left in the quarter.

Three times UNC attained two-goal leads in the second quarter, going into intermission leading 4-2. Sean DeLaney made it 2-0 off an assist by Thomas Wood with 10:19 left before halftime. Just 48 seconds later, however, DeLaney was flagged for slashing and the Bulldogs took advantage with Gary Crowley scored an unassisted man-up goal with 8:56 left.

Carolina retook a two-goal lead with 6:41 left in the second quarter as Thomas Wood scored his first goal of the game, assisted by Marcus Holman. Bryant answered that tally with a goal by Ben Sternberg, assisted by Travis Harrington, with 3:46 before the half. DeLaney finished off the scoring in the opening 30 minutes as he was assisted by Billy Bitter on a goal with 1:03 left in the half. It was a man-up goal for DeLaney after Evan Roberts of Bryant had been called for slashing with 1:22 left in the period.

Bryant shut out the Tar Heels in the third quarter while scoring two goals of its own to go into the fourth quarter with the game tied at 4-4. Bryant Amitrano scored an unassisted goal with 9:34 left in the quarter and Travis Harrington tied the game off an assist by Ben Sternberg with 3:16 to play.

The game-winner came off the stick of Wood with 12:50 to play off an assist by UNC senior midfielder. It proved to be the only goal of the fourth quarter as Carolina held on for the victory and improved to 4-3 in one-goal games under head coach Joe Breschi, now in his second year. Carolina had won only a single one-goal decision between 2004 and 2008 before Breschi's arrival.

Billy Bitter led the Tar Heels in ground balls with six while defenseman Matt Murnane also had six for Bryant. Junior defenseman Ryan Flanagan had a three caused turnovers for UNC to lead a team effort of 16. Murnane led Bryant with four caused turnovers out of the Bulldogs' total of eight.

UNC will have a week to prepare for the arrival of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks of the Patriot League next Saturday in Chapel Hill for a 12 Noon game at Fetzer Field.