BALTIMORE, MD – The fifth-ranked North Carolina men’s lacrosse team used a 6-0 run that bridged the second and fourth quarters to turn a 7-4 deficit into a 10-7 lead and the Tar Heels never let ninth-ranked Johns Hopkins closer than two goals in the final quarter of a 13-9 victory at rain-swept Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. North Carolina picked up its third straight victory and improves to 8-2 on the year, while the Blue Jays drop their third consecutive game and slip to 5-3.
Johns Hopkins led 7-4 after the second of Brandon Benn’s two goals with 5:27 remaining in the second quarter and the Blue Jays still led 7-5 at the half after Chad Tutten’s unassisted goal with 90 seconds remaining in the first half for North Carolina.
Johns Hopkins had a golden opportunity to push the lead to three with an extra-man opportunity early in the third, but the Tar Heels held them off and sliced the deficit to 7-6 at the 11:19 mark as Ryan Creighton got loose down the middle and Shane Simpson hit him in stride for an easy goal.
The Blue Jays held the one goal lead for just under five minutes before Jimmy Bitter fired one home to tie the score. Joey Sankey assisted on the goal after he fired a pass from behind the cage with the Blue Jay defense caught out in front.
When Sankey scored while diving from behind the goal at the 3:02 mark, the Tar Heels had their first lead since early in the first quarter; a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Steve Pontrello and R.G. Keenan scored back-to-back goals in a span of just five seconds to give UNC a 10-7 lead the end of three quarters. Keenan’s goal came after he cleanly won the faceoff following Pontrello’s goal.
Johns Hopkins had a chance to get one back in the final 10 seconds of the third quarter, but Kieran Burke went low to stop Benn from eight yards out. Still, JHU trimmed the deficit to 10-8 less the two minutes into the fourth quarter whenConnor Reed dodged and drew a slide before dishing to Ryan Brown, who wasted no time lifting a shot past Burke.
Any hopes for a Blue Jay comeback were dashed in the middle of the quarter when Sankey scored twice in a three-minute span with both goals coming with the stall warning on. A Simpson goal into an empty net while the Blue Jays were chasing was answered by a Holden Cattoni strike in the final five minutes to account for the final scoring.
A back-and-forth first quarter saw the Blue Jays grab leads of 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 with the first of Cattoni’s three goals with 22 seconds remaining giving the Blue Jays the 4-3 lead at the end of the opening 15 minutes.
A Pontrello goal less than two minutes into the second quarter forced the fourth of four first-half ties before Cattoni’s second goal of the game ignited a three-goal run for the Blue Jays that gave them the 7-4 lead. The first of Benn’s two strikes came just 38 seconds after Cattoni’s as Wells Stanwick found him alone behind the defense in transition and his second goal four minutes later from in tight closed the three-goal run.
Tuton’s goal came four minutes later and ignited the six-goal run that turned the game in the Tar Heels’ favor.
Sankey scored a game-high five goals and added two assists to match his personal best with seven points, while Pontrello (2 goals) and Simpson (1 goal, 1 assist) were UNC’s other multi-point producers. Burke posted 10 saves, including several key stops, including the one on Benn late in the third quarter.
Cattoni led the Blue Jays with his first career hat trick, while Benn (2g), Stanwick (1g, 2a) and Brown (1g, 1a) all added multi-point games for the Blue Jays. Junior Drew Kennedy was again spectacular on faceoffs for Johns Hopkins as he won 20-of-26 with 13 ground balls.
Johns Hopkins will return to action on Friday, April 4 as the Blue Jays will welcome Albany to Homewood Field for the second of three straight home games.
Notes: Kennedy and Sankey each earned the Chris Gardner Player of the Game award. The award is given each year at a selected home game in honor of Gardner, a member of the 1996 Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team who was diagnosed with cancer while on the team. He lost his battle in 1997 and his mom, Kaki Van Haverbeke, returns each year to present the awards in his honor. An extra dollar is added to the cost of all tickets for the game with the money raised donated to the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, where Gardner received his treatment.
#5 North Caorlina (8-2) 3-2-5-3/13
#9 Johns Hopkins (5-3) 4-3-0-2/9
Goals: N: Sankey-5, Pontrello-2, Simpson, Bitter, Creighton, Tutton, Keenan, Matthai. J: Cattoni-3, Benn-2, Stanwick, Brown, Crawley, Castronova. Assists: N: Foster-2, Sankey-2, Simpson. J: Stanwick-2, Brown, Guida, Radziewicz, Reed.Saves: N: Burke-10. J: Schneider-7. Shots: N-29, J-40. EMO: N: 0-for-1. J: 2-for-6. Attendance: 1,857.