With his hat turned backwards, and a smile stretching from ear to ear, UNC head men’s lacrosse coach finally got a chance to say what he’s been waiting to say since taking the job back in 2009.
As he hugged the TV interviewer, Breschi couldn’t hold it back.
“We just won the National Championship, baby!”
In a thrilling game that saw each team rally from multiple goal deficits, sophomore attacker Chris Cloutier delivered the knockout blow in overtime–giving the Tar Heels a 14-13 upset over top-ranked Maryland at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
UNC (12-6) picks up its fifth national title and first since 1991–on the same day that 1991 team was honored at halftime for their 25th anniversary.
It also marks the second day in a row the Tar Heels have won a lacrosse championship at the expense of a No. 1 ranked Maryland team.
The Terrapin men (17-3) saw their 16-game win streak come to a stunning halt on Monday, much like their women’s team watched a 26-game streak fall by the wayside on Sunday.
Cloutier’s goal–his fifth of the game–was the final moment of a thrilling comeback that saw UNC rally from two goals down in the final four minutes of regulation just to tie the game.
A questionable penalty on Luke Goldstock with just seconds to play forced the Tar Heels to then hold off the Terrapins’ man-advantage opportunity in overtime.
Maryland looked to have found the game-winner during that tense first minute of the extra period, but a a miraculous save by goalie Brian Balkam–who stopped 13 shots in the game–somehow kept UNC alive.
The rest, as they say, is history.
UNC earned a man-advantage of its own soon after Balkam’s save, which led to the goal heard all throughout Chapel Hill.
After scoring nine goals in the semifinals on Saturday, Cloutier again led the team in the biggest game of his career–finishing the Final Four with 14 goals.
The Ontario native also set a new NCAA Tournament record with 19 goals in UNC’s four games.
Goldstock had a hat trick for the Tar Heels in the first half, before eventually finishing with four goals.
Brian Cannon and Steve Pontrello each chipped in two goals apiece, while Patrick Kelly scored the goal that eventually sent the game to overtime.
The Terrapins were led by Matt Rambo’s three goal, three assist performance–as well as four goals from Connor Kelly.
Their effort helped Maryland fight back from an early 4-0 deficit to go ahead 8-7 at halftime.
Also key was the faceoff battle, as UNC won three of the first four faceoffs as it built the lead–before losing 10 of the next 13 while the Terrapins mounted their comeback.
During one stretch spanning the second and third quarters, the Tar Heels went over 17 minutes without scoring because they simply couldn’t get the quality possession time they had become accustomed to during the tournament run.
Breschi, in an attempt to gain some momentum, benched his faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly midway through the third quarter in favor of freshman Charles Kelly.
The move didn’t end up making much of a difference, leading to Stephen Kelly’s return during the crucial fourth quarter run.
Despite playing from behind for most of the final 15 minutes, UNC never lost focus–finding a counter for every punch Maryland threw until it was able to finally tie the game for good.
Goldstock’s late penalty, however, which came for retaliating against a push from a Terrapin defender, looked–for a moment–like it would surely doom the Tar Heels.
However, a resilient defense–and a save for the ages from Balkam–killed the penalty and delivered UNC the momentum it needed to finish the job.
Facing a Maryland squad that had won back-to-back national championships–and won their last 26 games–it would have been easy for the No. 3 UNC women’s lacrosse team to be a bit intimidated.
The Tar Heels were never fazed, though, as they handily defeated the No. 1 Terrapins 13-7 in Sunday’s NCAA Championship Game at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania.
It’s the second national title in program history for UNC (21-2), which clinched the rubber match in the third championship meeting between the two schools over the last four years.
Senior attacker Aly Messinger tallied two goals and a career-high four assists to help the Tar Heels hand Maryland (22-1) its first loss since May 1, 2015.
Molly Hendrick added three goals for UNC, while Sammy Jo Tracy, Ela Hazar and Carly Reed each chipped in two.
The Tar Heels’ most important player, however, was senior goalie Megan Ward, who recovered in the best possible way after being benched in the first half of the team’s semifinal win over Penn State–a game where she allowed five goals on five shots.
Against the Terrapins, Ward was lights out. She saved a career-high 14 shots while limiting Maryland, which scores an average of nearly 16 times per game, to a season-low seven goals.
As impressive as she played, it wasn’t just Ward that was incredible defensively for the Tar Heels.
The UNC defenders combined to hold Maryland midfielder Taylor Cummings–a two-time Tewaaraton Award winner as the nation’s best player–to just a single goal.
The Tar Heels were simply too much for their opponents in every aspect of the game.
Despite scoring first, the Terrapins fell victim to the precise passing of Messinger and the Tar Heel offense the rest of the way.
Looking like former NBA point guard Steve Nash in his prime–dishing the ball all over the yard– Messinger had each of her four assists during a 20-minute first-half stretch. In that time, UNC scored the next six goals to go ahead 6-1.
For a brief period, it appeared as if Maryland had enough fight left to claw back from the biggest deficit it had faced all season.
The Terrapins unleashed a quick flurry of goals before halftime to make it 6-4, then later pulled within 7-6 early in the second half.
But the Tar Heels snuffed out the comeback with goals from Reed and Messinger within 15 seconds of one another–a sequence which kick-started a late 5-0 run that put the finishing touches on the finest season in the program’s history.
Each team would score only once more during the final 10 minutes, as the Tar Heels–just like in Friday’s win–were content to play stall-ball until the clock hit triple zeroes.
The result this time, though, was a national championship.
In front of an electric, packed house at the Dean Smith Center on Tuesday night, senior point guard Marcus Paige returned to the UNC starting lineup and scored 20 points to help lead his No. 9 ranked Tar Heels past the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins 89-81.
Now a member of the Big Ten, Maryland made its first trip to Tobacco Road since leaving the ACC before the beginning of last year.
But the Terps came away empty-handed, as head coach Roy Williams’ team improves to 6-1 on the year, while Maryland will join the Tar Heels at 6-1–having just picked up its first loss.
“That had the feel of an old ACC Tournament game,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said afterwards. “It had the feel of an NCAA Tournament game. Just fortunately for us, it was in our building.”
Right from the opening tip, Paige played as if he was never gone with the broken hand that caused him to miss the season’s first six games.
He hit a three-pointer on the team’s second possession and almost completed an alley-oop from teammate Brice Johnson in the first half–before tossing it back up to Johnson, who slammed it home.
What he showed is that he’s clearly back to normal, as he also ended up with five assists and two steals to go along with his 20-point performance.
“I felt better than I thought I would,” Paige said. “I didn’t necessarily care about how many points I scored or anything like that, so I can’t say I played better than I thought I would. But my body felt better than I thought it would coming off of that break.
“I was worried about how I’d be conditioned because I only had one true practice of like full contact up-and-down.
In the understatement of the night, he also added that, “I think I handled it alright.”
The Tar Heels led for the majority of the first half–including by as many as 13–in a game where both teams shot above 50 percent, but combined for 37 turnovers.
In the second half, Maryland rallied behind its star sophomore guard Melo Trimble, who finished with 23 points and 12 assists.
His four-point play midway through the second half gave the Terps a 59-58 lead—but everything he did, Paige had an answer for down the stretch.
UNC sophomore wing Justin Jackson, who had nine points of his own, had an on-court view of the duel that took over the night.
“Sometimes great players just make big shots,” Jackson said. “In that second half [Trimble] came out and was just on fire. We were lucky to have Marcus on the other end hitting shots too.
“So going against a guy like [Trimble] showed that we really can play defense,” he continued. “Even whenever he’s getting his.”
Joel Berry started alongside Paige in the backcourt and contributed 14 points, while big men Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson combined for 28 points and 12 boards battling down low against Maryland’s hyped-up freshman center Diamond Stone.
But the real story of the game was Paige, and the way he was able to play at his peak—which didn’t seem to surprise his head coach one bit.
“If I’d had to bet, I would have said [Paige would] play very, very well because he was so anxious to play,” Williams said. “You don’t ever know because sometimes kids like Marcus are so conscientious and care, they put too much pressure on themselves.
“But, I had a feeling the little rascal would be pretty good.”
The Tar Heels will return to action on Sunday at the Smith Center, where they’ll host the Davidson Wildcats–the alma mater of current NBA MVP Stephen Curry.
Freshman pitcher Zac Gallen earned his second win of the year and Chris McCue remained perfect in his save opportunities this season to defeat the Terrapins and hand them their sixth loss at 11-6 on the year and 2-4 in the ACC.
Carolina spurted out to a 5-0 lead thanks to some solid hitting, but Maryland rallied back, closing the gap down to 5-4 as the clubs headed to the ninth inning.
But the Tar Heel bats lit it up in the final inning to close out the Terps in emphatic fashion thanks to hits by Michael Russell, Parks Jordan and Korey Dunbar.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a return back to Chapel Hill to take on Princeton at Boshamer Stadium Tuesday at 6 p.m.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-trump-terps-college-park
It’s starting to get serious over here in Greensboro. Here are my quick reactions so far:
GAME ONE: #8 Maryland vs. #9 Florida State
I strolled into the Greensboro Coliseum for an interesting matchup between the Terps and Noles. I was impressed with the Maryland contingent. They were vocal and you could sense their fans were desperate not to leave their final ACC Tournament without a victory.
Everybody else…they wanted nothing more than to see Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles crush the ACC traitors and give them a rude parting gift out the door. ACC purists, including many seated next to me in press row, were licking their chops at the possibility of a Maryland loss.
All in all, it was a competitive first half, however sloppy. Maryland’s Allen tallied 13 points. The Terps held the 34-32 edge. Both teams were shooting at a 43-percent clip from the floor.
Okaro White stepped up with an athletic block that resulted in a sprint to the basket in the other end. There’s no questioning the athleticism of the Seminoles – and their cheerleaders, oh my! But that’s another story for another day.
There were some great spikes in this one. It seemed like a volleyball match at time out there on the court. Mark Turgeon was his usual disgusted self on the sidelines for the Terps. I must say, I’ll miss his sour looks when he departs for the Big Ten next year.
Florida State was smartly getting out on the perimeter, limiting the Maryland three-point shots to perfection and forcing the drive inside – right into the Seminole wheelhouse.
Ian Miller and Thomas were both solid scoring options for Florida State. Dez Wells was doing his best to keep the Terps in the contest. But ultimately, it was the farewell party Maryland never wanted – falling on a last second Bojo dunk. Bojo, the Turtle Slayer!
FINAL: FSU 67 – MD 65
GAME TWO: #5 Pitt vs. #12 Wake Forest
There would be no slow start for Pitt in this one. The Panthers got off to a roaring start – 15-5 with 14:32 to play.
It was a heavy dose of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna for the Panthers. Tyler Cavanaugh sniping three-pointers is a necessary ingredient to the Demon Deacons. And speaking of Demon Deacons, their mascot has some sick dance moves!
Wake Forest’s players, however, were not quite as enthusiastic as the mascot and cheerleaders. They seemed lethargic, sluggishly getting back on defense and not running solid offense.
Zanna and Patterson duo were proving too much for the Deac defense to handle. At the intermission, the Panthers held the 39-25 lead.
It was an epic halftime show. The mascots of all the ACC teams took over the floor and put on a zany, entertaining display of hoops. The Pitt dance team wasn’t too bad either.
The pace definitely quickened in the second half of play. The energy was ratcheted up for both squads, but again, Patterson was still Patterson. And his speciality was shredding the Demon Deacon defense.
The game got uglier and uglier by the minute, with Wake trailing by as many as 26 points midway through the second half. Head Coach Bzdelik’s funeral procession had begun.
Things got so out of hand that the fans all left for early happy hour and dinner. You could hear individual shouts from the crowd. Patterson finished with 24 points and sat the bench the final minutes.
In the end, Pitt advanced seamlessly on to the quarterfinals and a date with North Carolina.
FINAL: Pitt 84 – Wake Forest 55
The No. 13 North Carolina baseball team, 12-4 on the season, will enter its second ACC series of the year off two midweek victories when it travels up to College Park to face a Maryland club sporting a 9-4 record.
The Terrapins handed Delaware a 10-1 defeat in their last outing.
The Tar Heels will be looking to continue to ride their stable rotation of Trent Thornton, Benton Moss and Zac Gallen to another series win. UNC hasn’t dropped a series since opening weekend in Charleston, going down 2-1 to the College of Charleston.
Head Coach Mike Fox will be hoping the Tar Heel bats continue to heat up in ACC play.
Game one first pitch is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. and live audio can be found on GoHeels.com.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-travel-face-terps-college-park
The No. 13 North Carolina women’s basketball team exacted some revenge on No. 8 Maryland Friday night in Greensboro, defeating the Terrapins 73-70 to improve to 24-8 on the season and advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals, where the Tar Heels will face No. 10 Duke.
With the loss, the Terrapins dropped to 24-6 on the season and finished their final ACC Tournament in disappointing fashion. Next year, Maryland will join the Big Ten.
The game featured two of the conference’s premier players in UNC’s Diamond DeShields and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas. The pair lived up to their billings.
Freshman sensation DeShields put up 22 points while three-time ACC player of the year Thomas scored 24 points of her own to set the career scoring record for the Terps.
“Outstanding job by Carolina on the defensive end. Offensively we did some more things today. Again, you see the talent of Diamond DeShields going in the post and taking advantage of her outstanding skills also in the post. She’s not showed a lot of that this year, but she showed a variety of moves tonight,” Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder says.
Carolina used impressive defensive intensity to stymie the Maryland offensive attack early on and claim an 11-point advantage at halftime.
But Maryland came roaring back in the second half thanks to some inspiring play by Thomas that trimmed UNC’s lead down to a mere one point with under a minute remaining in the contest.
Crucially, Carolina’s Brittany Rountree hit two free throws with 16 seconds left to push the margin back out to three. And when Thomas missed a wide open three-pointer for the tie in the final seconds, the Tar Heels escaped with the win.
Allisha Gray provided a 17-point contribution while Xylina McDaniel posted 10 points for Carolina.
Next up for the Tar Heels is an opportunity to record a third win over their bitter rivals, the Duke Blue Devils. That semifinal is slated to tip off at 7:30 p.m. from the Greensboro Coliseum.
N.C. State and undefeated Notre Dame meet in the afternoon semifinal matchup. The winners will meet in Sunday night’s championship game.
***Listen to the story***
With the loss, the Terrapins dropped to 13-10 on the season and 5-5 in conference action.
The Tar Heels spurted out to a quick 11-0 lead just over two minutes into the game and never looked back from there with the sharp 18-point second-half performance by Marcus Paige, which is becoming a theme of the season. Paige’s 25 point output on the night was his highest ever total in an ACC game.
UNC Head Coach Roy Williams said after the game he really couldn’t explain the disparity in Paige’s first half to second half performances.
“I think he’s really a tough competitor. I asked him two times tonight if he needed a break, and I didn’t take him out of the game in the second half. There were a lot of timeouts, so I hope that was good. I can’t explain it, except for he’s really a tough competitor,” Coach Williams said.
***Listen to Roy Williams’ postgame press conference***
Maryland and UNC came into the contest as the top two rebounding teams in the conference, and it showed with some physical play in the paint. But Carolina took it to another level in the second half by not allowing Maryland a single offensive rebound and picking up five of their own.
Brice Johnson tallied 19 points and delivered some solid defensive stops for the Tar Heels.
Maryland’s Dez Wells led his team in scoring with 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Carolina in the Terrapins’ final appearance in the Smith Center as ACC members.
McAdoo won the opening tipoff for the Tar Heels and he immediately score inside. Paige ran inside on the following possession and McAdoo finished the bucket.
Carolina was off to a roaring start when J.P. Tokoto got a shot to go to push the lead out to 6-0 with 18:50 to play in the first half. The crowd was sent in a frenzy when McDonald hit a three-pointer.
Mercifully, Maryland called a timeout with 17:56 on the first half clock. Carolina had the impressive 11-0 advantage.
It was about as clean of a start to a contest as any basketball team could imagine, and with another McDonald three-pointer, the Tar Heels claimed a 17-3 advantage with 15:44 left in the first half.
Nick Faust ran coast-to-coast for a powerful slam dunk that closed the gap to ten points at 19-9 with 12:40 to play in the half.
An 8-1 run for the Terrapins cut the Tar Heel advantage down to nine points at 20-11 with 11:48 to play. A questionable foul call on Joel James upset Coach Williams.
Brice Johnson entered the scoring fray to push Carolina out to a 22-11 margin, but Maryland’s Dez Wells answered with a quick jumper on the other end.
Charles Mitchell for the Terps was making his presence known in the paint, gobbling up rebounds to get Maryland back in the contest, only trailing 22-16 with 8:22 on the first half clock.
Kennedy Meeks grabbed an important rebound and put the ball back through the nets to give UNC the 24-21 lead with 7:12 to play in the opening half.
Seth Allen found some space inside and made a layup that cut the lead down to a mere three points yet again at 26-23 with 6:07 to go in the half.
The play degenerated into sloppy at best for the next couple minutes as both teams scrambled for loose balls and gave up easy turnovers.
With 3:28 left in the half, Carolina was clinging to a 28-23 lead over Maryland.
Paige delivered a beautiful pass to an on-the-run Johnson for a score that lifted the rejuvenated the Tar Heels. Carolina scored again thanks to a Johnson jumper that made it through the nets. Maryland called a timeout with UNC up 32-25.
Paige knocked down an electric shot from outside the arc to extend the Carolina advantage out to ten points with under two minutes remaining in the half.
Another Johnson field goal coupled with a pair of Paige free throw makes handed the Tar Heels the 39-27 lead at halftime.
The halftime stat sheet told the tale. Carolina was shooting 45 percent from the floor while Maryland managed a mere 28.6-percent clip.
It was a case of good offensive balance for the Tar Heels with Paige netting seven points, Johnson contributing eight and McAdoo leading the way with nine of his own.
Evan Smotrycz was the leading scorer for the visiting Terrapins with six points.
Paige and McDonald scored for the Tar Heels early to get off to a 4-0 start. Maryland answered with a basket of their own to place the scoreboard at 43-32 with 17:39 remaining in the game.
McAdoo missed a pair of free throws, but slammed home a furious dunk to ignite Dean Dome crowd. The Tar Heel lead was 46-36 with 15:54 to play.
Johnson netted a jumper to maintain a ten-point Carolina advantage while the defense continued to display some tough guarding.
Maryland’s Jake Layman worked his way to the rim to put 40 points up on the scoreboard for his team. But with 11:37 to play, UNC held the 50-40 lead.
Smotrycz knocked down a jumper to close the margin down to seven points with 10:2o to go in the contest.
Paige answered by downing a three-pointer.
***Listen to the call by Jones Angell and Eric Montross of THSN***
But Wells responded with a physical make inside. With 9:17 remaining, Carolina held a tenuous 54-47 advantage. The game was tightening up.
A four-point play for Paige proved vital to extend the UNC lead back out to 11 points.
The Maryland offense was starting to find its groove with Wells doing a number on Paige to trim the advantage down to six points with 7:34 to play.
Paige slashed his way to the rim and lobbed a ball off the glass and through nets. Johnson made another alert play to score on a second-chance opportunity and stake the Tar Heels out to a 62-52 lead with 5:30 left in the game.
***Listen to the call***
Paige was left wide open and drained the long-range three-pointer to give UNC a 65-56 lead with under four minutes to play.
McDonald worked his way to the free throw line and converted on one of the attempts..
Marcus Paige continued his impressive second half play to guide the Tar Heels to the victory in the waning minutes.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a road trip up to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday.
Click here for the game photo gallery.
***Listen to the story***
But Head Coach Roy Williams says he will always consider Maryland an ACC school. He also says there is no rest for the weary in conference play as the Tar Heels hit the hardwood for the fourth time in the last nine days.
“This is a pretty tough league. Playing three games in a week is not conducive to being fresh I guess,” Coach Williams says.
UNC’s Brice Johnson says the Tar Heels never gave up on the season despite the less than desirable 0-3 start in the ACC. Johnson says his teammates doubled their efforts to rally back to respectability.
“It’s all about everybody in that locker room. We’re the ones that are out there sweating, going to practice every day, going to weights every other day, and battling with each other every day just to go out on that court and produce. At the end of the day, it’s about us,” Johnson says.
Carolina came out with an aggressive mindset against the Wolfpack on Saturday. And Johnson says that’s the brand of basketball we can expect to see more of from the Tar Heels.
“That’s the way we need to play all the time. Coach always tells us we need to get the other team’s big men in foul trouble. At the end of the game, when they need those people, they won’t be in there. That’s the way we need to play. We need to attack at all times,” Johnson says.
Junior forward James Michael McAdoo identifies two keys to Carolina’s success: playing with a sense of urgency and avoiding any lapses in concentration.
“We’re emphasizing lately to play with a sense of urgency for 40 minutes and not having long letdowns when other teams make their runs – just staying together out there on the court and relying on each other,” McAdoo says.
UNC leads the all-time series against Maryland 121-57 and downed the Terps 79-76 in their last meeting a year ago in the ACC Tournament semifinals in Greensboro.
In fact, the Tar Heels have won seven in a row in the series, last dropping a contest to Maryland way back in 2010 after a massive snowstorm in College Park.
The Tar Heels could certainly use a win on Tuesday. UNC will play four of its last six regular season games on the road.http://chapelboro.com/unc-mens-basketball/acc-farewell-tar-heels-welcome-terps-chapel-hill-final-time-conference
CHAPEL HILL – Strong three-point shooting and an early second-half run pushed the No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball team past No. 10 North Carolina, 79-70 Sunday afternoon in the ACC tipoff.
Free throws kept the Tar Heels in the game early. UNC shot 10-13 from the charity stripe in the first half.
Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough couldn’t be stopped in the first 20 as the two combined for 24 of the 40 first half points. The Terrapins also out rebounded the Tar Heels 22-15 taking the 40-31 score into the locker room.
Maryland went on a 17-9 run to open the second half in which Carolina had to burn two timeouts. That run also included a 13-2 run in three minutes resulting in the second of the timeouts.
***Listen to the Call by Walter Storholt on the Tar Heel Sports Network***
However, UNC came out of that timeout with a 9-0 run of its own.
***Listen to the Call by Walter Storholt on the Tar Heel Sports Network***
The Tar Heels brought it all the way back to a six-point hole, but didn’t have enough time to stay out of the fouling game, and the contest came down to free throws.
Just as Carolina was so strong from the free-throw line in the first half, it struggled in the second. UNC only shot 10-23 in the second frame. Maryland connected on 20 of 23 from the charity stripe in the game.
Stephanie Mavunga led the Tar Heels for the second-straight game with 15 points and seven rebounds. Latifah Coleman added 13 points; Diamond DeShields had 12.
With the loss, Carolina fell to 12-3, 0-1 in the ACC; Maryland improved to 13-1, 1-0.
The Tar Heels host the NC State Wolfpack Thursday at 6:00 p.m. closing their four-game homestand that spans more than two and a half weeks.