North Carolina Pulls Away Late to Top High Point
from Press Release
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Chad Tutton, Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey combined for nine goals and Kieran Burke made 13 saves as sixth-ranked North Carolina outlasted High Point 12-8 Friday night before a crowd of 1,897 fans at Vert Stadium. The crowd was the second largest for a home High Point lacrosse match, exceeded only by the crowd of 2,004 which saw the Panthers against Delaware on February 2, 2013.
North Carolina improved to 10-3 on the season heading into next Saturday's ACC Showcase Game against Virginia in Chester, Pa.. while High Point fell to 8-5 on the campaign. The Panthers, who won only three games in their initial varsity season in 2013, have won eight games this year and they lead the Atlantic Sun Conference standings at 4-1.
UNC scored only one goal in the first quarter and was held scoreless in the third quarter but it exploded for six goals in the second and five in the fourth period. The Tar Heels took the lead for good on a Joey Sankey goal with 10:09 left in the second quarter although the Panthers twice pulled within a single goal in the second half of play.
Chad Tutton had a season-high four goals for the Tar Heels as he recorded the 12th hat trick of his career. He matched his career high for goals in a game set originally against Duke on April 26, 2013. Jimmy Bitter had three goals for Carolina as he recorded a hat trick for the second straight game and now has 13 for his career. Joey Sankey had two goals and two assists for Coach Joe Breschi's team while Steve Pontrello had a goal and an assist.
Seven different Panthers scored in the game led by Raleigh native Mitchell Dupere who had two goals and an assist. Matt Thistle, the Panthers' leading scorer, had a goal and two assists.
The game was fairly even statistically with UNC holding a 35-32 edge in shots and a 38-33 advantage in ground balls. High Point led at the face-off circle, winning 14 of 24 draws. Both goalkeepers – Kieran Burke for UNC and Austin Geisler of High Point – had 13 saves in the match.
Jame Piluso won 14 of 24 face-offs for the Panthers and he had a game-leading 10 ground balls. Jimmy Bitter led the Tar Heels with six ground balls. High Point had 16 turnovers in the game, including 13 that were forced by UNC players. Eleven different Tar Heels had caused turnovers, led by Evan Connell and Ryan Creighton with two each. Carolina committed 12 turnovers. The Tar Heels were 21 of 22 in the clearing game while High Point was 15 of 18.
There were only two goals scored in the opening quarter of the game. Tyler Cook scored at 11:12 off an assist by Dupere before Chad Tutton tied the game 58 seconds later.
The Tar Heels took their first lead of the game on Jimmy Bitter's goal's high velocity goal at 11:26 of the second quarter but Matt Koerner scored the equalizer for the Panthers just 35 seconds later off the first of Thistle's two assists.
Carolina then went on a five-goal run to gain its biggest advantage of the game at 7-2. Sankey gave the Tar Heels the lead for good 42 seconds after Koerner's goal. Bitter scored exactly one minute later at 9:09, assisted by Sakey, and the Stowe, Vt., junior added another goal at 7:54 to make it 5-2.
Carolina tacked on two more goals before the half with Ryan Creighton converting on a quick restart off an assist by Sankey at 6:27 and then Sankey tallying unassisted at 1:01.
High Point's Mitchell Dupere scored nine seconds before halftime to spark a rally by the Panthers. He scored his second goal of the game 55 seconds into the second half and after goals by Adam Seal and Michael LeClair, the Panthers had pulled within 7-6 with 5:29 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers had several chances to tie the game but UNC forced six turnovers overall in the third quarter and Burke made four saves in the period. Geisler made four saves in the third quarter for High Point as Carolina was blanked in a quarter for the first time in 13 games this season.
The Tar Heels regained the momentum in the fourth quarter as it scored five of the first six goals of the period to equal its largest lead of the game at five goals with 1:37 to play.
Tutton scored off an assist by Steve Pontrello at 13:47 but High Point answered that tally with an unassisted goal by Bucky Smith at 12:11. Tutton scored on a rebound at 11:10 to start a run of four straight Carolina goals. He scored again at 7:42 off an assist by fellow Canadian Shane Simpson. Pontrello scored from goal line extended on the left side at 5:38 and Jake Matthai finished off the scoring with an unassisted goal at 1:37.
Carolina will have eight days to prepare for its game against Virginia scheduled for next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The game is schedule as part of the initial ACC Showcase in association with the 2014 ACC Tournament. High Point, currently ranked at the top of the Atlantic Sun Conference standings at 4-1, finishes off its regular season with a home game against Drexel next Friday at 8 p.m.
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