Freshmen help push No. 7 North Carolina past No. 6 Maryland

Boys' Latin grad Foster leads way for Tar Heels in 11-6 win over Terps

  • Maryland's Owen Blye keeps the ball as he faces pressure from North Carolina's Kevin Piegare in the first quarter.
Maryland's Owen Blye keeps the ball as he faces pressure… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim…)
March 26, 2011|By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — Earlier in the week, North Carolina coach Joe Breschi told Pat Foster it was his time to shine. On Saturday, the freshman attackman delivered with three goals and an assist in the No. 7 Tar Heels' 11-6 win at No. 6 Maryland.

Foster (Boys' Latin) was making his first start on attack, filling in for the injured Thomas Wood. Foster felt some pregame jitters playing in front of a home crowd of 3,176 at Byrd Stadium, but those anxieties soon faded as he scored his first goal late in the first quarter, and his last one early in the fourth to push North Carolina's lead to 10-5.

Foster, 6 feet 3, 195 pounds, had gotten some playing time earlier in the season in North Carolina's injury-plagued midfield. But he was back home at attack Saturday.

"I was told I was going to start three or so days ago, and I was going to take the opportunity and run with it," Foster said. "I was getting some runs at midfield, and I liked it because it was different and I was just trying to get on the field. From the fall, I have just tried to work on being consistent and keeping my composure. I didn't text my mom or dad until [Friday] that I was starting."

Foster is part of a youth movement for North Carolina (7-2), a team that plays nine-to-ten freshmen regularly. This was a showcase game for the Tar Heels, who draw a lot of talent out of the Baltimore area.

There were a lot of reasons to be impressed with North Carolina. Besides getting outstanding play from freshmen like Foster, attackman Nicky Galasso (two goals, four assists), Duncan Hutchins (1, 2), and sophomores Marcus Holman (1,1) and goalie Steven Rastivo (13 saves), the Tar Heels rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the first ten minutes of the game.

"That's why we recruited them — to come in and make an impact," Breschi said of his young players. "These freshmen have been playing since the beginning of the year, and they've had some peaks and valleys, but they fought through them and we continue to encourage them."

The loss of the big lead was what disappointed Maryland coach John Tillman the most. The Terps had a four-goal advantage, and they also won 15 out of 20 faceoffs against North Carolina's R.G. Keenan. But the Tar Heels outscored Maryland 5-0 in the second quarter for a 6-4 lead at the half.

At one point, Maryland went nearly 26 minutes without a goal, and by then North Carolina had an 8-5 lead with 9 minutes and 44 seconds left in the third period thanks to third-quarter goals from Galasso and junior defender Mark Staines.

The turning point in North Carolina's second-quarter run was a three-minute penalty on Maryland attackman Ryan Young for an illegal stick. The Tar Heels scored only one goal during the penalty, but that allowed them to move the ball around and gain some comfort in their offense.

"The penalty helped us get our groove a little bit, it helped relax us," Breschi said. "At first, I thought it was our freshmen trying to get their feet on the ground. This was a new stadium for those guys. We wanted them to be patient, to play within the scheme."

Tillman was trying to deliver the same message after North Carolina rallied, but the Terps didn't answer.

"We didn't make that counter punch," Tillman said. "We threw a couple of punches and they threw a couple of punches, but we didn't answer them. We needed just one goal in that five-goal run to slow them down a little bit. I think we forced things at times, trying to make things happen. We don't have one selfish guy on the team, but we have players who think it is their responsibility to make some things happen. Again, I commend them for that, but maybe it wasn't the right time or right look."

Maryland also had trouble with North Carolina's zone defense. Terps senior attackman Grant Catalino had three goals, but the Terps never found any offensive rhythm even though they outshot North Carolina 33-26 and had a 27-20 advantage in ground balls.

North Carolina midfielder Jimmy Dunster scored a 15-yard bomb midway in the third quarter to put the Tar Heels ahead 9-5 at the end of the period, and Foster nearly put the game out of reach with his third goal with 11:07 left in the game.

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