May 22, 2016

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North Carolina put eight consecutive goals on the scoreboard and shut out third-seeded Notre Dame in the second period and most of the third en route to a 13-9 victory Sunday afternoon at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, in an NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship quarterfinal game.

From a tie at 2-2 after Matt Kavanagh’s goal for the Irish with :19.7 seconds remaining in the opening period, the 12th-ranked Tar Heels (10-6) took control with eight straight goals over a 25:41 timespan-one late in the first period, three in the second and four in a row to start the second half.

Notre Dame sophomore Mikey Wynne finally broke the drought with a score (the second of his team-high four goals-his ninth game in 2016 with at least three scores) at 1:52 of the third period. But, at that point, North Carolina led 10-3 and would go on twice to build final-period, nine-goal advantages at 12-3 and 13-4.

The Irish gamely battled back to score the final five goals of the game and six of the last seven. Kavanagh notched a pair of scores in his final collegiate game, while Drew Schantz, Ryder Garnsey and Brendan Collins had one each. Schantz, Garnsey and senior Eddy Lubowicki had the Irish assists.

“It starts with face-offs and possessions-but take the flow of the game out and it came down to shooting in a huge way,” said Irish coach Kevin Corrigan. “We just did not hit the goal and they did. They put a lot of pressure on our goalie and we did not put a lot of pressure on theirs.”

Carolina put 13 of their 23 shots on goal into the net.

“At halftime every stat is even or us except shooting,” added Corrigan. “That’s a pretty important part of the game. It had a feel at halftime like we were getting out played, but I don’t think we were. We were just getting outshot.”

“Then it was maybe the six-minute mark of the third period before we had our first possession (of the second half). It was just one of those days-a very frustrating day.”

The Tar Heels outshot their opponent 16-7 in the third period, before Notre Dame rebounded late with a 19-3 edge in shots in the final 15 minutes.

Carolina held Notre Dame (11-4) to a pair of first-half goals, matching the lowest-scoring first half of 2016 for the Irish (also two goals against Maryland, Denver and Virginia in successive early-season games).

The Irish outshot North Carolina 43-34. The Tar Heels won the ground-ball battle 26-23 and claimed 17 of 25 face-offs.

Senior Steve Pontrello led the Tar Heels with four goals, all of them in a span of just over seven minutes late in the third and early in the fourth period. Carolina sophomore Chris Cloutier had a hat trick less than 22 minutes into the contest.

The four-goal victory margin ended a streak of seven contests in a row (and eight in nine games) between the Irish and Tar Heels decided by two goals or fewer. The game was a battle between the two teams that shared the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title.

The Irish were making their 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship-tied with top-seeded Maryland for the longest active streak. Notre Dame’s appearance in the quarterfinal round marked its seventh straight at that level–the best current streak in the country.

Kavanagh started his 62nd career game, tying the all-time Notre Dame record held by Conor Doyle (2012-15). He finished his career with 122 goals and 103 assists for 225 points, good for second on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring chart (and third in both career goals and assists).

The Irish seniors finished their Notre Dame careers with a combined 46-18 record, four NCAA appearances (one in the title game, one in the semifinals, two in the quarterfinals), a 7-4 mark in NCAA play, plus an ACC Championship and two first-place ACC regular-season finishes (one shared).

North Carolina advanced to NCAA Championship Weekend for the first time since 1993.

–by John Heisler, senior associate athletics director

Score by Period 1 2 3 4 F #12 North Carolina (10-6, 3-1 ACC) 3 3 5 2 13 #5 Notre Dame (11-4, 3-1 ACC) 2 0 1 6 9

North Carolina Scoring:
Goals: Steve Pontrello 4, Chris Cloutier 3, Luke Goldstock 2, Michael Tagliaferri 2, Patrick Kelly 1, Timmy Kelly 1
Assists: Chris Cloutier 3, Steve Pontrello 2, Stephen Kelly 1, Timmy Kelly 1

Notre Dame Scoring:
Goals: Mikey Wynne 4, Matt Kavanagh 2, Ryder Garnsey 1, Drew Schantz 1, Brendan Collins 1
Assists: Drew Schantz 1, Ryder Garnsey 1, Eddy Lubowicki 1

North Carolina: Brian Balkam, W, 60:00, 9 goals against, 14 saves
Notre Dame: Shane Doss, L, 60:00, 13 goals against, 10 saves

Team Stats NC ND Shots 34 43 Ground Balls 26 23 Face-offs 17-25 8-25 Clears 18-25 12-13 EMO 1-2 1-4 Saves 14 10 Penalties 4/3:00 3/3:30