Feb. 25, 2010

ANNAPOLIS, MD. - It was a night for milestones for fourth-ranked North Carolina as the Tar Heels defeated 16th-ranked Navy 11-4 in men's lacrosse action Thursday night at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Playing before a national TV audience on CBS College Sports Television, the Tar Heels jumped out to a 6-0 lead and led by as many as nine goals at the end of the third quarter.

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Chris Madalon had a career-high 13 saves while allowing only four goals on 26 shots by the Midshipmen, who fell to 1-2 with the loss. Madalon also had a career-high six ground balls in the game. The Tar Heels, who improved to 4-0, got a career-high four goals by freshman attackman Marcus Holman, a career-high five assists from senior attackman Gavin Petracca, a career-high five points by senior midfielder Sean DeLaney while sophomore attackman Thomas Wood chipped in which at least two goals for the fourth straight game and junior attackman Billy Bitter added three assists. Navy had goals from four different players in the game.

So adept and crisp was the Tar Heel passing game that all 11 goals for the Tar Heels were assisted. Carolina took good care of the ball, turning it over only 13 times and failing on only two clears.

The win was only the fourth in history for Carolina over Navy in Annapolis and the first win for the Tar Heels there since the 2001 season. UNC's defense limited Navy to only four goals, marking the fourth straight opponent this season the Tar Heels have held to five goals or less. That has never happened before in UNC history. Carolina did hold three successive opponents to five goals or less in 1991.

The victory was also the 400th in school history and the Tar Heels now take the lead in the series with the Midshipmen 13-12.

Overall, the Tar Heels outshot the Naval Academy 43-26 and had a slight edge in ground balls at 38-36. Navy's R.J. Wickham made 14 saves for the Mids while Madalon had 13 for Carolina. Navy had the edge on face-offs 11-5 but UNC had only 13 turnovers compared to 24 for Navy.

Neither team scratched in the first 14 minutes of the game before the Tar Heels stuck two in the back of the twine in the final 49 seconds of the first period. Gavin Petracca took a feed from Cryder DiPietro to give the Tar Heels a lead they would never relinquish with 49 seconds to play in the first quarter. UNC then made it 2-0 with only one second left in the first quarter as Sean DeLaney took a pass from Petracca and powered a shot by Wickham as time was expiring in the period. It was the first of five assists for Petracca, exceeding his previous career high of four against Denver on February 14, 2009.

Excellent play by the Tar Heels allowed them to extend the lead in the second quarter, giving UNC separation from Navy. Billy Bitter would come up big in the second period as he assisted on the first three goals UNC had in the frame as the Tar Heels pulled away to a 5-0 advantage. Thomas Wood was the recipient of an assist by Bitter at 12:38. Freshman Marcus Holman then scored his first goal of the game at 8:18 off an assist by Bitter. Carolina then struck for two goals in a span of 54 seconds later in the quarter to make it 6-0. Bitter assisted on Petracca's second goal exactly three minutes before halftime and then at 2:03, Holman scored his second goal off an assist by Sean DeLaney. Navy dented the scoreboard for the first time with 16 seconds left in the first half as Evan Sullivan scored an extra-man goal assisted by Patrick Moran.

Carolina did not settle, however, for its five-goal cushion as the Tar Heels came out and outscored the Mids 5-1 in the third quarter, including a three-for-three performance on the extra-man. After an offside penalty on Navy to stand the third period, UNC's DeLaney scored 17 seconds into the stanza on an assist from Petracca to give Carolina its first extra-man goal of the game. DeLaney finished the game with five points, his career high. He previously had had four points in a game on five occasions.

Carolina extended the lead to 8-1 on Marcus Holman's third goal of the game, assisted by Sean DeLaney at 12:25 of the third quarter. After a pushing infraction by Navy's Marty Gallagher, the Heels made it 9-1 with just 4:39 elapsed in the third period as Thomas Wood scored on the extra-man with due credit to Petracca's third assist of the game.

Neither team scored for the next seven minutes before Holman scored his final goal of the contest, again off a Petracca assist with 3:22 left in the frame. Navy responded with an unassisted goal by Taylor Cook with 2:47 left in the third quarter before the Tar Heels scored their final goal of the game with Sean DeLaney scoring on the man-up from Gavin Petracca with 1:01 left in the quarter.

Navy had both goals of the fourth quarter. Basil Darastos scored an unassisted goal at 10:20 and Navy then finished off the scoring at 2:14 as Joe Lennon took a pass from Patrick Moran for the fourth and final Navy tally.

UNC will have nine days off before heading backing to the state of Maryland to play UMBC on Saturday, March 6 at noon at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville, Md. The Retrievers are ranked 20th and are 0-1 heading into a game Sunday at Rutgers. The two teams last met in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament when the Tar Heels prevailed 15-13 in Chapel Hill.