February 12, 2011

On Heels of Eventful Offseason, UNC Defeats Robert Morris; Galasso Sparkles in Debut

by Kelly Parsons | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Marcus Holman scored three goals Saturday in North Carolina's 14-11, season-opening victory over Robert Morris.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The No. 3-ranked North Carolina men's lacrosse team has dealt with a plethora of offseason issues, but Saturday at Fetzer Field, no one would have ever guessed.

In his collegiate debut, freshman Nicky Galasso registered four goals and helped lead the well-composed Tar Heels to a 14-11 win against Robert Morris.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Tar Heels in their season opener.

During the second quarter, Robert Morris rallied back from a two-goal deficit to tie the score at six. That's when sophomore Billy Bitter decided to heed the advice of UNC coach Joe Breschi.

"A lot of time coach says, 'Never let up. Just because a team comes back and ties it up, don't give up there. It's a 60-minute game.'" Bitter said. "I really thought we fought hard and played well throughout the whole game."

With four minutes remaining, Robert Morris' Kevin Brownell scored to bring the Colonials within one goal. But the Tar Heels scored twice in the final three minutes of the game to seal it.

Redshirt senior Chris Madalon (11 saves) started in goal for the Tar Heels against Robert Morris, and Breschi said he expects the All-ACC standout to keep that role all season.

Redshirt sophomore goalie Steven Rastivo has been declared ineligble, and Breschi said the New York native is currently working things out with the NCAA. Rastivo, who transferred from Penn State after his freshman season, played backup to Madalon during the 2010-campaign.

In his redshirt freshman season, Rastivo played in three games and earned the win in UNC's 19-13 victory against Ohio State.

North Carolina now only has two eligible goalkeepers on the roster, but Breschi didn't seem to be fazed by the lack of depth at that position.

"I think Chris Madalon is a terrific goalie," he said. "You're not All-ACC and an all-conference goalie and expect to lose your position."

The North Carolina roster looks a little different from the 2010 season after Ian Braddish and Chris Layne transferred in the offseason. Braddish is now on Hofstra's roster, and Layne transferred to Loyola and is expected to compete in 2012.

Breschi didn't want to go into details about their departures, but implied that those players lacked discipline.

"I will say we run a disciplined program here, and if you don't follow the rules you won't be around," he said. "We are a focused bunch of guys who want to compete for the University of North Carolina and represent the athletic department well. If one guy doesn't do that, they won't be here."

As if North Carolina has not dealt with enough road blocks in the offseason, the injury bug hasn't been kind to the Tar Heels, either.

Breschi said five Carolina players have endured season-ending injuries already. While dealing with these absences might leave some teams in a pickle, Breschi simply doesn't see it that way.

For the determined coach, it's just another opportunity to get more guys out on the field.

"When you bring in the number one recruiting class in the nation, we expect them to play right away," Breschi said. "That's the beauty of a place like UNC."

Galasso, the nation's top-ranked recruit, led all players with four goals. Bitter and Marcus Holman scored three goals apiece. Freshman Mark McNeill scored two goals, both in the fourth quarter. RG Keenan, another freshman, won 13 of 23 faceoffs for the Tar Heels.

Trevor Moore scored four goals for Robert Morris.

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