CHAPEL HILL — North Carolinas trek toward a national mens lacrosse championship continues after the Tar Heels upended Lehigh 16-7 Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Fetzer Field.
After a slow first period, the Tar Heels showed why they are the No. 1 team in the country with a vicious offensive attack and a stifling defense against the two-time Patriot League champion and All-American goalie Matt Poillon.
The margin of victory is the largest since the Tar Heels 15-point win against Harvard in 1990 led by current head coach Joe Breschi.
We hadnt played in two weeks (since the ACC championship) so we were a little rusty, but we continued to keep to the game plan and play our game, said Breschi, whose team has won 10 straight games, its second-longest winning streak since 1993. I am extremely proud of our defense. They played a full 60-minute game for our guys.
The No. 5 seed Tar Heels (13-3) outshot the Mountain Hawks (12-5) 53-30. Eleven players scored on offense, including hat tricks by midfielder Chad Tutton and attackman Jimmy Bitter the eighth of the season for both against the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation.
We just got outplayed, Lehigh coach and Duke alum Kevin Cassese said. There is a reason why they are ranked No. 1 in the country. When they play with that much veracity, its pretty tough to compete with them.
Despite outshooting Lehigh 13-6 in the first period, UNC trailed 2-1. Then the Tar Heels offense came to life.
Senior attackman Marcus Holman tied the game on an assist by Greg McBride three seconds into the second period.
The Tar Heels then scored five goals by five players in less than four minutes to take a 6-2 lead.
Ryan Creighton gave UNC its first lead on Tuttons assist. Davey Emala scored on an unassisted play before McBride and Spencer Parks both nailed goals on assists.
But the Mountain Hawks didnt fold. Patrick Corbett broke the drought with 7 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first half, and teammate Dante Fantoni cut the lead to two on a controversial goal there was question the ball actually went into the net.
UNC midfielder Chafee Walker halted Lehighs brief momentum with a goal from a Holman assist to give the Tar Heels a 7-4 halftime advantage.
We got our offense going in the second quarter and stuck to what were good at, said Holman, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year. We did a good job of sharing the ball and drawing double teams.
Lehigh drew first blood in the third period to pull to within two, but that was as close as the Mountain Hawks would get.
The victory sends UNC to next weekends quarterfinals in Indianapolis.