CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Behind balanced scoring and standout defense, the fourth-ranked North Carolina men's lacrosse team earned a 12-10 win over No. 2 Notre Dame Sunday afternoon on Senior Day at Kenan Stadium. UNC is now 10-2 overall and 3-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play with the most overall wins and most ACC wins since 2016.
Senior Chris Gray and junior Henry Schertzinger each finished with two goals and an assist for a team-high three points. The Tar Heels also got two-goal games from seniors William Perry and Justin Anderson and two assists from senior Alex Trippi.
"It's a huge win for us, one we really needed, and on Senior Day," Gray said. "It means a lot to the upperclassmen and the guys on the team in general. I think the underclassmen did a great job of playing for the upperclassmen and the upperclassmen did a great job of leading. We got a complete game from everyone. It was a nice team win for sure."
It was all about the goalies early, with both UNC's Collin Krieg and Notre Dame's Liam Entenmann picking up six saves in the first quarter. Fifteen minutes in it was 2-1 Carolina, equal to the Tar Heels' lowest first-quarter output this season. Both goalkeepers finished the day with 13 saves. For Krieg, it was his sixth game in a row with double-digit saves.
The visitors scored just under five minutes into the second quarter to tie the game at 2-2 and the teams went back and forth from there, with UNC scoring two, then Notre Dame two to make it 4-4. With 2:58 to play before halftime, Anderson got free of his defender and scored a diving goal from in front of the cage to put the Tar Heels up 5-4 at the half.
Notre Dame got the first one out of halftime, with Will Yorke scoring 1:20 into the third quarter to again tie the game. Tar Heel senior Tanner Cook's goal, assisted by junior Jacob Kelly, at the 12:04 mark put UNC up 6-5 and the home team maintained an advantage for the rest of the game. Cook's man-up goal was the first of four in a row for the Tar Heels, who outscored Notre Dame 5-3 in the quarter to take a 10-7 lead into the final 15.
After a Trippi-to-Schertzinger goal to start the half, Notre Dame scored two in a row to pull within two, 11-9, with 7:54 remaining in the game. After neither team scored for more than five minutes, Perry came up with an unassisted goal off a failed Notre Dame clear to again give UNC a bit of breathing room, up 12-9 with 2:26 to play. The Fighting Irish got one more from Yorke, scoring a man-up goal with 1:08 to play, but Carolina was able to run out the clock and preserve the 12-10 win.
"I thought it was just a great performance overall," Krieg said. "We really played hard. Had a good week of practice and that's the result you get, a hard-fought win against a great team."
The win was made even more special by of the day's focus on the seniors. When his team met on Sunday morning, however, UNC coach Joe Breschi reminded his team that Senior Day didn't mean the end for this group. The Tar Heels will host Duke next Sunday in their final regular season game and then look ahead to NCAA play. (There is no ACC Tournament for men's lacrosse this year.) But even with plenty of season left, the game provided an opportunity to recognize players — 18 in all, including players set to depart after this season and some planning to return as grad students — who have been leaders on and off the field throughout their time at UNC.
"You can't ask for a better group of young men to lead your team — that's been the beauty of this," Breschi said. "These are guys who love each other, appreciate each other and enjoy every moment they have on the field together."