March 24, 2013

Tar Heels Hang On, Topple Top-Ranked Terps

from staff reports

Freshman Kieran Burke made a career-high 15 saves as North Carolina upset No. 1 Maryland 10-8 on Saturday.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The last of the unbeatens has fallen. After bolting to a big lead early, the No. 14-ranked North Carolina men's lacrosse team held on Saturday to defeat No. 1 Maryland 10-8 at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. It marked the Tar Heels' fourth straight victory in the regular-season series.

North Carolina (5-3) jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the first quarter and led 9-3 midway through the third quarter before weathering a late run by the Terps, who scored five of the last six goals in the game. But freshman goalkeeper Kieran Burke repeatedly came up big in the cage for the Tar Heels, matching his career high with 15 saves. Maryland outshot North Carolina 15-4 in the fourth quarter. Burke made six fourth-quarter saves.

"That's why he earned the job. He's a fantastic goalie," North Carolina coach Joe Breschi said of Burke, who beat out senior Steven Rastivo for the starting nod in preseason. "He's had some ebbs and flows this year. He played up at Notre Dame, the triple-overtime loss, had 15 saves there, and really commanded the defense. It's him who we rely on to run the defensive end of the field."

Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey scored three goals apiece for the Tar Heels, who also got two goals and two assists from Marcus Holman. Bitter added two assists, as the North Carolina attackmen combined for 12 points.

"We were waiting for all three of those guys to play well together in a game, and they did," Breschi said.

Holman said the early momentum helped, as the Tar Heels took down a top-ranked team for the second straight season. They defeated Johns Hopkins when the Blue Jays were ranked No. 1 in 2012. Prior to that win, North Carolina had gone 16 years without a win over a top-ranked team.

"They had all the pressure on their shoulders," he said. "We were able to play loose and fast, and we're going to continue to play that way for the rest of the year."

Maryland had three different players -- Kevin Cooper, Owen Blye and Jake Bernhardt -- score two goals apiece in the game. The Terps finished with a 37-30 edge in shots and a 37-27 margin in ground balls. Niko Amato finished with 11 saves.

Maryland opened the scoring on an Owen Blye goal 47 seconds into the match.  North Carolina responded in quick manner, notching the next two scores. Chad Tutton scored on an outside bounce shot, with an assist by Holman, with 11:45 to play in the quarter and, just 57 seconds later, Jimmy Bitter put the Heels up when he converted a fast break off an assist by Greg McBride.

Maryland tied the game at 2-2 on Blye's unassisted goal with 9:30 left in the first quarter. But that would be the Terps' last score for 33:16. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels went on a 6-0 scoring run to go up 8-2 with 10:15 left in the third quarter.

Joey Sankey scored on a wrap around with 8:02 left in the first quarter to put the Heels up for good. The Tar Heels then went up 4-2 as Holman scored from eight yards out on the right side off an assist by Bitter with 4:59 left in the period. Fifty-four seconds later, the Heels made it 5-2 as Spencer Parks dodged out front and found the back of the net from 10 yards out.

The only goal of the second quarter came on a busted play during a timer on situation. The Tar Heels gathered in a loose ball, and with the defense out of position Bitter fed Holman for the second time in the first half. The goal gave UNC a 6-2 lead 8:21 before intermission.

Carolina came out in the second half and scored a pair of goals in the first five minutes, attaining an edge the Terps eventually would not dig out from. Sankey beat two defenders goal line extended to score into the upper right corner at 10:58 left and then 43 seconds later Pat Foster fed a wide open Sankey on a fast break to give the Heels a six-goal cushion.

After Cooper scored for Maryland with 6:14 left in the period, Bitter notched his second goal, converting a fast break with 4:43 to play.

Before the end of the period, Jake Bernhardt scored back-to-back unassisted goals and the Terps had some momentum entering the fourth quarter down 9-5.

Maryland dominated possession for the opening 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, but only dented the scoreboard at the 12:01 mark on an extra-man tally by Mike Chanenchuk.

Bitter responded with a goal on a high, hard shot from the right side with 5:04 to play to restore a four-goal lead. John Haus answered that goal with an extra-man tally at 3:28 and the Terps scored again with Kevin Cooper capitalizing with 26 seconds left.

The Terps won the ensuing faceoff but Burke notched his 15th save, and the Tar Heels salted away the victory.


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