Fourth-seeded North Carolina Topples Top-seeded Maryland, 16-10
April 24, 2009
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Four North Carolina players each scored a hat trick to lead the eighth-ranked Tar Heels to a 16-10 victory past top-seeded Maryland in semifinal action of the 2009 ACC Men's Lacrosse Championship, held on the grounds of the University of North Carolina Friday evening.
As the fourth seed in the two-day event, North Carolina advances to the championship contest on Sunday at 3:30 p.m., and will face the winner of No. 2 seed Duke vs. No. 3 seed Virginia semifinal. The Tar Heels have won seven ACC Championship titles, but have not captured the league’s tournament title since 1996.
With the win, North Carolina improves to 11-4 on the season and marks its first victory against an ACC team since 2004. Maryland drops to 8-6, yet returns to regular-season play as the Terrapins travel to Yale on Saturday, May 2.
North Carolina jumped to a 2-0 lead thanks to junior attackman Gavin Petracca, who scored the first of his three goals, and senior midfielder Ben Hunt. The two teams traded goals the rest of the quarter giving the Tar Heels a 6-5 advantage.
“I’m happy for the seniors and how much effort they’ve put into getting an ACC win over the past four years,” Joe Breschi, North Carolina head coach stated. “One of the things the coaching staff wanted to focus on was not dwelling on the past and getting better each week. I think there’s more conversation about the ACC losing streak from others. For us, it’s more about how get better as a team and as a program and continue to work hard. And I think these guys, including this senior class, did a great job. “
The Tar Heels extended the lead to 10-7 in the second stanza, including a 4-1 run headed into halftime. UNC was led by Hunt and sophomore Billy Bitter, who each record their hat trick in the first half, while Maryland, which had eight turnovers in the first half alone, were led by freshman Joe Cummings’ pair of goals.
The Tar Heels won the ground ball battle 42-34, while the key to the game was the time of possession, which North Carolina controlled throughout the second half. The Tar Heels wrapped up the contest with a 6-3 scoring effort.
Bitter, who was recognized earlier in the week as a 2009 All-ACC selection, added two assists and two ground balls, while Hunt added one assist and had three shots on goals.
Commings led all Maryland players with three goals on the day. Senior Dan Groot and sophomore Ryan Young, who were both named to the All-Conference team earlier in the week, both led the Terrapins with two assists apiece.
“I give Carolina a lot of credit,” said Maryland head coach Dave Cottle. “I thought they played great offense today. We knew we had to go into it and we had to stop players like Ben Hunt and Sean Delaney. They did a great job today and we just couldn’t stop them. I thought the first half we played pretty well offensively, but we just couldn’t keep up.”
All-ACC member Shane Walterhoefer, who owns the Tar Heel record in face-offs won in a season, career and a game, won 14-of-27 face-off attempts against the Terrapins. Junior Bryn Homes finished 14-of-26 in face-offs for Maryland.
In the cage for the Tar Heels, James Petracca made nine saves in 60 minutes of action, while Maryland’s Brian Phipps, who relieved senior Jason Carter, collected four stops against an aggressive North Carolina squad.