Jack Hannah scored (No. 7) Denver’s (1-2) first goal forty seconds into the game before the (No. 4) North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0) rained goals on the Pioneers in the first quarter, nine in all. North Carolina used the first quarter blitzkrieg to coast past DU in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
North Carolina buried their first five shots against two Denver goalies and cruised to victory in Chapel Hill, North Carolina Sunday morning. DU starting goalie Jack Thompson was pulled after the Tar Heels tallied four quick goals in two minutes on its first four shots on goal. Cole French then went into the cage to face the UNC barrage. French had no better luck than Thompson, allowing five more goals in the quarter. Schuyler Blair added DU’s second goal with two minutes remaining but it was too little, too late. The Denver goalie duo had given up 9 goals on 12 shots and DU trailed 9-2.
Welcome, Connor McCarthy! His first in Carolina blue has been one of SIX Tar Heels goals so far in this game! 🤯👏 pic.twitter.com/egJHegMqJJ
— UNC Men's Lacrosse (@UNCMensLacrosse) February 7, 2021
UNC opened the second quarter with three consecutive goals in the first five minutes initiated by a shot and a goal from Jacob Kelly followed by tallies from William Perry and Ryan O’Connell to go up 12-2. UNC’s Chris Gray and Jacob Kelly added two more goals to contribute to the rout as DU trailed 14-2 with five minutes remaining in the FIRST HALF. Jack Hannah ended the half with a goal in the final minute but DU faced their worst deficit ever in the Tierney era.
The rout continued in the second half as North Carolina put two more goals into the bank before DU’s Jackson Morrill found twine to make it 16-4. In the final ten minutes of the third period, UNC added five more goals to Denver’s two goals, 21-6.
Adding insult to injury, early in the fourth quarter UNC’s Ryan O’Connell canned a mid-field goal as he caught DU’s third goalie, Kaleb Stroman, out of position to make the score 22-6. DU’s Jack Hannah picked up a hat trick on the day at 10:59 of the fourth period as the teams traded goals, 23-8. It took until the final five minutes of the game for DU to match their number of shots-taken (24) to the total number of goals scored by the Tar Heels (24) on the day.
This game marked DU’s worst D1 lacrosse loss since 2009 against the same North Carolina side. DU had a good look at Chris Gray, the Tar Heels preseason First Team All-American. He single-handedly torched the Pioneers with 7 goals and 1 assist in a game that was essentially over after the first quarter.
Theories abound on why Denver athletics have gotten off to such a slow start this spring. Some theorize it has been the stringent COVID-19 protocols that have kept student-athletes safe (the right thing to do, btw) but compromised overall preparation and conditioning. Or, it could be the academic load combined with COVID-19 restrictions that have contributed to slow starts. Either way, on this morning, credit goes to North Carolina as they raced out of the gate against a flat-footed DU side and dominated the game.