CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The 10th-ranked North Carolina men’s lacrosse team outscored No. 8 Johns Hopkins 5-0 over the last 8:16 of the game to earn a 15-11 victory over the Blue Jays before a crowd of 3,605 at Homewood Field and a national television audience on ESPNU.
Both teams were looking to bounce back from tough losses last weekend and it was the Tar Heels who accomplished the task, improving to 3-1 on the season heading into a home game next Saturday against defending NCAA champion Denver. Hopkins fell to 1-2 on the season with the loss.
Chris Cloutier had a four-goal game for the Tar Heels, just one shy of his career high for goals in a game, to lead the Tar Heels. Steve Pontrello had three goals for the Heels as he recorded his third hat trick of the 2016 season. Michael Tagliaferri matched his career high for goals in a game with his hat trick. Shane Simpson had two goals and a career high three assists while Patrick Kelly had two goals and an assist and Luke Goldstock scored a goal in his 21st successive game. That’s the fifth longest active goal scoring streak in the nation.
Johns Hopkins featured a balanced scoring attack with Ryan Brown scoring three times and adding an assist and Shane Stanwick scoring twice and passing for five assists. Cody Radziewicz had two goals for the Blue Jays.
UNC outshot the Blue Jays 40-37 and had a 36-29 edge in ground balls. Stephen Kelly had a tremendous day in the face-off circle for UNC as he won a season-high 17 of 25 draws, scooped up a game-high nine ground balls and also assisted on a goal. The only negative on the stat sheet for both teams was the turnover total where UNC committed to 18 and Johns Hopkins had 17 miscues. Otherwise, the offenses played at a high level and shot the ball extremely well.
The game also featured a contrast of offensive styles as UNC notched 15 goals, 10 of which were unassisted. Hopkins scored 11 goals, 10 of which were assisted.
Carolina came out ready from the opening whistle, jumping to a 4-0 lead. Chris Cloutier scored the first of his four goals 17 seconds into the match, off an assist by Stephen Kelly. Just 51 seconds later, Patrick Kelly scored for the Heels to make it 2-0 and unassisted goals by Tagliaferri and Kelly stretched the lead to 4-0 with 2:26 left in the first quarter.
After Hopkins scored twice, UNC bounced back with goals by Cloutier and Goldstock, making it 6-2 with 8:27 left in the first half. But the Blue Jays went on a three-goal run to pull within 6-5. Simpson finished off the scoring for UNC with 1:25 left in the period, giving the Heels a 7-5 lead 30 minutes into the game.
Hopkins came out strong in the third quarter to twice tie the game. Stanwick and Brown scored goals to even things at 7-7 six minutes into the second half. Pontrello then tallied unassisted goals at 4:20 and 3:58 to give the Heels a two-goal lead again.
Late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter, the momentum swung to the Blue Jays who scored four of the next five goals in the game. Back-to-back man-up goals by Johns Hopkins by Holden Cattoni and Shack Stanwick made it 11-10 with 11:22 to play, the first lead of the game for Johns Hopkins.
Carolina tied the game with 8:16 to play as Cloutier scored off a Blue Jay turnover to tie the game at 11-11. Stephen Kelly would go on to win the next two face-offs and the Tar Heels scored on both possessions. Tagliaferri gave the Tar Heels the lead 12-11 off an assist by Shane Simpson with 6:57 to play. Simpson then notched an unassisted goal 38 seconds later to up the UNC lead to 13-11.
Pontrello scored his third goal of the second half to give the Tar Heels separation at 2:04 and Cloutier finished off the scoring off an assist by Patrick Kelly with 22 seconds to play to give the Tar Heels a 15-11 victory.
Denver is next up for the Tar Heels. The defending NCAA champion Pioneers will visit Fetzer Field next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game on ESPN3.
The Johns Hopkins-North Carolina series continues to be one of streaks by both teams. Hopkins leads the all-time series 24-20 but UNC has now won five in a row versus the Blue Jays as well as nine of the last 10 meetings. UNC has also won four in a row over the Blue Jays at Homewood Field. The 15 goals scored by Carolina were the most by a UNC team against Hopkins since May 29, 1993 when the Tar Heels won 16-10 in the NCAA semifinals in College Park, Maryland.