February 25, 2012

Carolina Comes Back in Fourth Quarter to Beat Navy

from press release | Related: Postgame audio with Holman

Marcus Holman (right) had two goals and four assists as the Tar Heels beat Navy, 9-8, to avoid an upset in Annapolis.
© Josh D. Weiss (file photo) 

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Fourth-ranked North Carolina scored four unanswered goals in the fourth quarter including the game winner by Thomas Wood with 1:16 to play as UNC rallied past Navy 9-8 in men's lacrosse action before 1,801 fans at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Wood saw his first action of the year and scored three times and team captain Marcus Holman had two goals and four assists as Carolina took the best shot from a Navy team coming off a 13-7 loss at Jacksonville and survived to go to 4-0 on the season. It was UNC's second successive win over Navy in Annapolis and its fourth in a row over Navy overall.

Carolina trailed by four goals on two occasions and rallied to overcome its biggest deficit in a game since May 8, 2010 when the Tar Heels were down to Ohio State four goals in the first half before eventually winning 19-13. The win was also the first time Carolina has trailed at halftime of a game and come back to win since May 9, 2009 when the Heels were down to UMBC 8-6 at halftime of an NCAA Tournament first round game. Carolina rallied in the second half of that one to prevail 15-13.

Wood and Holman led the way for UNC and Davey Emala had a goal and an assist while Joey Sankey, Pat Foster and Duncan Hutchins had UNC's other goals. R.G. Keenan was huge again for Carolina in the face-off circle as he won 18 of 20 draws. That was one win shy of his personal high of 19 and his 90 percent tally was the best percentage of his career in a game.

Navy was led by Bryce Dabbs with three goals while PatDurkin and Taylor Reynolds each scored twice. Sam Jones had a goal and two assists and Tucker Hull had three helpers for the Midshipmen (1-2).

The Tar Heels fell behind early with two Navy goals by Dabbs in the opening four minutes of the game. The Mids led 3-0 after the first quarter as goalkeeper R.J. Wickham was huge in the opening frame, making six of his 12 saves in the match and keeping UNC off the scoreboard.

Carolina finally got on the scoreboard at 12:59 of thesecond half as Wood scored off an assist by Holman. Navy got the next two goals, including Dabbs' third of the game, and led 5-1 with 10:35 left in the second frame. The teams traded goals before halftime with Holman's unassisted goal pulling the Tar Heels within 6-3 with 2:01 left before halftime.

With 19 seconds left in the second period, Pat Durkin his the cross bar denying the Mids a four-goal lead at that point. But UNC's Holman and Wood were both called for penalties and Navy went a man up for the last 15 seconds of the first half and the first 45 seconds of the third period.

Carolina killed off the two-man down situation when Kieran McDonald forced a turnover but the resilient Mids retook a four-goal lead on Durkin's unassisted goal with 12:20 to play in the third quarter.

The Tar Heels got the next two markers. Joey Sankey scored off Jack McBride's assist 34 seconds later and then Pat Foster scored on an extra-man situation with 3:17 left in the third quarter off an assist by Holman.

Navy seemed to get a backbreaking tally with four seconds left in the third quarter after Wood turned the ball over with 14 seconds left. At the other end of the field Sam Jones scored on a fast break, assisted by Hull, to make it 8-5 Navy with four seconds left in the period.

North Carolina then awoke in the fourth quarter and played its best 15 minutes of the season to date, outshooting the Mids 15-1, winning the ground balls 9-3 and taking all five face-off wins in the final frame. Navy also committed seven turnovers in the fourth quarter to help out the UNC rally. Wickham had four saves in the final frame but Carolina continued to pepper the ball at him and it finally paid off.

After a failed clear by Navy, Emala scored with 12:12 left in the game to cut the Mids' lead to 8-6. During a Navy extra-man, UNC dodged a bullet when a shot by Erik Hoffstadt hit the cross bar with 9:17 left. A little over a minute later Wood scored off an assist by Holman to make it 8-7 at the 7:44 mark.

Wickham made two big saves for Navy including one on an extra-man shot by Holman with 5:58 left but the Tar Heels got the ball backafter a turnover by Nikk Davis and scored on the other end with 4:33 to play with Holman getting the tying tally, assisted by Emala.

UNC won the ensuring face-off but turned the ball over with 3:57 to play. Navy's clear attempt failed when they were whistled for a 30-second violation with 3:27 to play. After a shot by Emala went wide, UNC called a timeout at 2:19. Jimmy Dunster's shot at 141 was blocked but UNC got the ball back and Wood scored from the right side of the crease, assisted by Holman with 1:16 to play.

Keenan won his 18th face-off on the next draw and UNC called time with 1:02 to play. The Tar Heels were then able to kill the clock and emerge with the win.

R.G. Keenan led UNC with 11 ground balls, just one shy of his career high of 12 set last year in both the Navy and UMBC games.

Keenan has won 66 of 81 face-offs this season, a percentage of .818.


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