PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY — PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- It was all in the timing, right? Never a problem, all lined up. Right? Wrong? What was it then?
"It was luck," said Chuck Breschi, a North Carolina defenseman. Fair enough. Whatever it was, it was the biggest play in one of the best lacrosse games of the early season.
Breschi came up big to help the Tar Heels to a 7-5 victory over Princeton yesterday in front of 2,287 at a game moved to Rutgers University because of last weekend's snow. It was a matchup of the last two national champions, in which 1991 king North Carolina emerged 6-0 while 1992 champ Princeton slipped to 2-1.
It was fitting that the key play was made by a long-stick, too. This was a game that belonged to the defenses.
"We held Princeton to five goals," said UNC coach Dave Klarmann. "I don't know if we can play better defense than that."
Breschi's play came with six minutes to go in the third quarter and Carolina ahead, 5-4. Carolina goalie Billy Daye was caught out of the net, but Breschi came out of nowhere to deflect Jeff MacBean's shot at the open cage. Carolina then built its lead to 7-4 midway through the
fourth quarter to take control.
"I was just trying not to be afraid of the ball," said Breschi. "I was lucky to get a piece of it with my leg."
The defenses were totally dominant in this game. The Tar Heels came in averaging 19 goals per game and had put up 25 in a win over Penn State, but nobody would come close to those numbers this day.
"They scored 16 goals on us last year in the semifinals," Breschi said of Princeton's 16-14 win. "That was the most embarrassing thing I've ever dealt with in sports. I've seen the tape all the time since then. We wanted them to know that that wasn't our best effort."
Princeton was down 5-1 in the third before rallying, and it was 7-5 after Scott Reinhardt's second goal with 6:31 to go. Princeton had two man-advantages after that, but North Carolina came up defensively both times. Daye made 12 of his 17 saves in the second half, and four of those came in the final six minutes.
"It was a great game," said Princeton coach Bill Tierney. "It was two tough defensive teams. Our goalie was great, and their goalie was great. I think we'll see them again down the line."
North Carolina 2 1 2 2 -- 7
Princeton 1 0 3 1 -- 5