The No. 4 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team may have started their season 3-0, but when the team’s first ranked opponent, the No. 9 ranked Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, came to Chapel Hill, that didn’t matter.
Getting their first real taste of true competition, the Tar Heels beat the Blue Jays 13-11.
“Anytime you play North Carolina-Johns Hopkins, it’s a battle,” UNC coach Joe Breschi said.
This battle UNC would take control of from the start with sound defense, going up 4-1 after the first period and 7-3 at halftime.
“We were pretty confident going into it with the game plan our coaches gave us,” defenseman Jake Bailey said. “We were slow to slide, and basically we were making them beat us one-on-one.
And they weren’t doing it early on.”
Adding in a peppering of the cage by one of the strongest attacking corps in the nation, the Tar Heels couldn’t be stopped.
With attackmen Joey Sankey, Jimmy Bitter and Luke Goldstock each recording hat tricks for the third time this season, the Tar Heels showed that their offensive domination wasn’t reserved for games against lesser opponents.
While a few runs by the Blue Jays in the second half pushed the score to its final two goal differential, the Tar Heels never lost the lead despite going man-down eight times and only winning 44.44 percent of the game’s faceoffs.
“We’ve all played lacrosse our entire lives. We know lacrosse is a game of runs,” Bitter said. “You just have to be patient, especially on offense (when they go on runs like they did), because if they’re on a run, that means we’re playing a lot of defense.
“We just had to slow it down.”
Breschi added: “When things started going one way or the other, (Sankey and Bitter) were very poised in the huddle. They were very poised on the field in organizing us, and they were able to stop that run.”