PRINCETON, N.J. -- Pat Foster recorded his first hat trick since his freshman year and Chad Tutton also had three-goal game, including the game-winner with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter, as No. 8 North Carolina won a barnburner at No. 14 Princeton 13-11 Friday night before 1,717 fans at Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium.
In the nationally-televised ESPNU contest, the Tar Heels twice had three goal leads in the game, once in the first quarter and again in the third quarter, but Princeton rallied with four consecutive goals to take an 11-10 lead with 14 minutes left in the game. From then on the Tar Heel defense shutout the Tigers and goals by Shane Simpson and Tutton put the Heels ahead for good and Jimmy Bitter added on a late tally to ice the win.
Carolina improves to 4-1 overall on the season while Princeton fell to 2-2. The Tar Heels have won each regular-season meeting against the Tigers in the past five years with four of those wins by a one-goal or two-goal margin. A year ago, the teams played a 16-15 slugfest in Chapel Hill that was decided by a goal by Tutton with three seconds to play.
Tutton finished the game with three goals and one assist, running his career hat trick total to 10. When he scored with 9:50 left in the first quarter, he ran his streak for games with a goal to 18 in a row dating back to March 9, 2013. That's the seventh longest goal-scoring streak in Tar Heel history.
Pat Foster came off the bench to score three goals, posting his third career hat trick and his first since April 17, 2011 versus Lehigh.
Jimmy Bitter had a five-point night with two goals and three assists and Joey Sankey added a goal and two assists. Bitter has now recorded points in 31 successive games for Carolina dating back to March 16, 2012. Sankey has a 26-game points streak that goes back to April 20, 2012.
Freshman Stephen Kelly was also a huge factor in the game for the Tar Heels as he won 15 of 26 face-offs and recorded a game-high 13 ground balls. That's the most face-offs won in a game by a Tar Heel since R.G. Keenan won 15 against Lehigh on May 11, 2013. The 13 ground balls by Kelly were the most in a game by a UNC player since Shane Walterhoefer had 15 against Providence on March 11, 2009.
UNC needed the play of its offensive heroes as well as Kelly yeoman work at the X to overcome a balanced and potent Princeton attack. Tom Schreiber, 2013 Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, had a six-point game with three goals and three assists to lead Princeton. Kip Orban also had a hat trick for the Tigers and attackman Mike MacDonald had a goal and four assists.
Carolina outshot the Tigers 36-30 on the night and had a 15-13 edge at the face-off circle. Matt O'Connor played the whole way in goal for Princeton and made 12 saves. It was a tough night in goal for Kieran Burke of Carolina as he made just five saves. But Burke's save on a point blank shot by Ryan Ambler with 1:42 remaining in the game preserved a 12-11 lead for the Tar Heels who then went on to run off most of the remainder of the clock before Bitter scored the insurance goal with 13 seconds to play.
Carolina's riding unit was also particularly effective as it forced the Tigers into five failed clears, including three in the third quarter. Altogether, Princeton committed 14 turnovers while UNC limited its turnover output to just 10, another key in the game.