Attackmen Luke Goldstock and Joey Sankey are just two of the reasons that the North Carolina offense strikes fear in their opponents. (Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey A. Camarati/University of North Carolina)
With the paint still drying on Maryland’s victory, we’ll take a look at the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team in advance of Sunday’s quarterfinal matchup.
The two teams did battle back on March 21 in the Pacific Coast Shootout, which the Terrapins won 10-8. With Maryland topping Yale and North Carolina beating Colgate, the two teams are on a collison course in Annapolis. Below, I’ll take an early look at the Tar Heels with some thoughts on next weekend’s matchup.
- Boy can the Tar Heels score – If you watched any of Sunday’s First Round game against Colgate, you know just how lethal North Carolina’s offense is. This is a unit that is ranked third in the NCAA as the Tar Heels are averaging 14.81 goals-per-game. Part of the reason for that type of success is the talented trio of attackmen Jimmy Bitter (36, 40), Luke Goldstock (48, 17), and Joey Sankey (31, 37). North Carolina’s top three scorers compiled 10 goals and six assists against Colgate on Sunday afternoon. Goldstock is one of those players that opposing defenses always have to account for as he has an absolute cannon and he showed it against the Raiders. After Sunday, Sankey has 225 career points, which is already a school record. Bitter leads the Tar Heels in points (76) and is as shifty a player as you’ll see in the ACC. Bitter also has 205 career points, which puts him just behind Sankey and former Gilman standout Marcus Holman (graduated in 2013).
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- Ground balls are huge – In the first meeting between Maryland and North Carolina, the Terps had a 38-29 advantage in ground balls. Against the Raiders on Sunday, the Tar Heels had a 43-28 edge in that same category. After trailing 4-3 after one quarter, North Carolina scored seven of the first eight goals of the second quarter. Part of that success was due to being successful at the ‘X’ and scooping up those key ground balls. In that first game against the Tar Heels, midfielder Charlie Raffa had one of his more successful performances of the season as he won 15 of 22 face-offs in California. Face-offs that are translated into ground balls could prove to be huge in terms of the outcome of Sunday’s Quarterfinal matchup.
- Very patient in their offensive attack – On several occasions, Colgate played very smothering defense and didn’t allow North Carolina to get off any quality shots. However, the Tar Heels were usually very patient and waited for the right shot to become available. Much like Maryland, North Carolina has very talented attackmen that aren’t afraid to wait for the shot to present itself. This is a veteran group that doesn’t just take the first shot that is available. With the Terps having such a talented defensive unit, next Sunday’s game could be a chess group between two very elite groups.
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