North Carolina rises to occasion vs. UMBC

With `backs against wall,' Heels surge in 2nd half, put away Retrievers, 11-5

College Lacrosse

April 17, 2005|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament seemingly out of the question, UMBC had little to gain - at least on paper - from yesterday's home finale against struggling North Carolina.

After all, the only way the Retrievers will make the tournament is by winning their conference, the America East.

But it was another story for the Tar Heels, now 4-7 after yesterday's 11-5 win.

"We know our backs are against the wall, and this was a must-win for us," said North Carolina attackman Mike McCall, whose team must win the remainder of its games to reach the .500 mark and become tournament-eligible.

"They played us real tough in the first half, and it was kind of a wake-up call."

The Tar Heels answered the call with the win on a day when coach Don Zimmerman's UMBC team finally set foot on its new field following four months of renovations.

With the game tied at 4, North Carolina took over in the second half, dominating ground balls, forcing turnovers and scoring seven of the final eight goals to turn a close game into a rout.

"In the second half, I thought we fell apart a little bit," said Zimmerman.

"We got out-ground-balled, we kind of lost our poise ... and we got away from our game plan. I just told the guys, `We've got to figure out a way, when the pressure turns up, to stick to our game plan and execute,' and we didn't."

Led by McCall (four goals) and Jed Prossner (three goals, three assists), the Tar Heels played at a different level after halftime, winning the battle for ground balls, 28-17, and holding UMBC (5-6) to just eight for 13 on clears.

"Sometimes, when you're 3-7 and you're tied at halftime, you can tend to get negative," said North Carolina coach John Haus. "But we came out in the second half and moved the ball much better. We made a few adjustments on the defensive end, then at the offensive end we just talked about being a little more unselfish."

Much of the Tar Heels' success on attack was a direct result of the play of Prossner, who often drew double-teams before dumping the ball to cutting teammates for open shots.

"Jed was able to get the ball to the next guy, and once that happened, we had some openings," said Haus.

Andy Gallagher scored two goals and Brendan Mundorf had a goal and two assists for the Retrievers, who were unable to capitalize on their return to UMBC Stadium, which had been unavailable all season while workers installed a state-of-the-art turf field.

"It's great to finally play a true home game," said Retrievers goalie Kevin Cepelak, who has had to play his home games this season at Johns Hopkins, Loyola or on UMBC's soccer field.

"Hopefully, we'll have a couple more games here," said Zimmerman, adding that, to get to that point, his team needs to significantly improve its focus. "If you lose and you play well, that's one thing. But we lost and we didn't play well."

UNC 2 1 4 4 - 11

UMBC 1 2 1 1 - 5

Goals: UNC-McCall 4, Prossner 3, Tintle 2, Driscoll, Blair; UMBC-Gallagher 2, Mundorf, Westervelt, Fatseas. Assists: UNC-Prossner 3, Henderson, Spellman, Staines, Tintle; UMBC-Mundorf 2, Westervelt. Saves: UNC-Spellman 15; UMBC-Cepelak 18.

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