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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #36 North Carolina Tar Heels

For the first time since 2006, the Tar Heels failed to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

UNC Athletic Communications

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’ve already begun looking back to 2018 with some team recaps thus far and continued our series last week with Monmouth, Sacred Heart, Harvard, Colgate, and Stony Brook.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#36 North Carolina Tar Heels

Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 7-7 (1-3 in ACC play)
Head coach: Joe Breschi (10th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Chris Cloutier (31)
Assists: Andy Matthews (26)
Points: Chris Cloutier (41)
Faceoffs: Charles Kelly (98-of-196; 50%)
Ground balls: Charles Kelly (35)
Caused turnovers: William McBride (13)
Goals against average: Jack Pezzulla (10.66 GAA)
Save percentage: Alex Bassil (50.8%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Chris Cloutier (31 Gs, 10 As, 23 GBs), D Ryan Macri (24 GBs, 8 CTs, 1 G), SSDM William McBride (32 GBs, 13 CTs, 3 Gs), LSM Kyle Mathie (5 GBs, 4 CTs, 1 A), D Joe Kenna (1 GB, 1 CT), M Brian Cannon (4 Gs), A Matt Cunningham (9 Gs), FOGO Riley Graham (36.4% faceoff draws, 18 GBs)
Senior scoring departing: 59 of 236 points (25%)
Senior starts lost: 37 of 140 (26.4%)

Season Summary

Remember when UNC went 4-10 in 2006? You probably don’t want to if you’re a Tar Heel fan. But despite not being under .500, North Carolina was very unimpressive in 2018 just two years after winning a national championship.

Just by looking at the record to start the season, you may have thought things were going well with a 6-0 record and a two-goal road win over Johns Hopkins. But during that win streak, the Tar Heels won overtime games against Furman and Lehigh and a one-goal game over St. John’s with a few seconds left in the game.

Then the losing began. The Heels lost games to Denver, Hofstra, Richmond, and Maryland before entering ACC play at a surprising 6-4 record. In their conference opener against Duke UNC led by two goals late in the third quarter. But Joe Robertson’s buzzer beater with a second left in the quarter started a four-goal Blue Devil run which gave Duke the lead and eventually the win. After giving Virginia their first ACC win in 1,498 days, the Heels appeared to have their first conference win in reach with a three-goal lead over Syracuse with 7:22 left in regulation. But Cuse tied it late and eventually won the game in overtime. A win over Notre Dame didn’t do enough to put the Heels in the ACC Tournament.

For his final season, Chris Cloutier put up 31 goals and 41 points, with sophomore Andy Matthews being the main passer with 26 helpers. Sophomore William Perry also finished the season with at least 30 points, with junior Timmy Kelly, sophomores Tanner Cook and Justin Anderson, and freshman Alex Trippi also recording double-digits in points. It looked like Cook would be a main playmaker, putting up 16 points in his first six games, including two five-point efforts. But he cooled down considerably in the second half of the year with a five-game pointless streak before scoring four points in his final three games, with another scoreless dud against Syracuse.

On defense, senior Ryan Macri and juniors Jack Rowlett and Michael Nathan were starters for the majority of the season. Joe Kenna suffered a season-ending injury after starting in the team’s first two games, which was a big blow to the unit. Jake Peden also got some time on defense. Jack Halpert and Kyle Mathie were the team’s long poles, while William McBride led the shorties that also included Cam Macri and Cole Haverty. At the faceoff X, Charles Kelly got the better of Riley Graham, 50% to 36.4%, after both started out slow.

The biggest problem was in goal. Freshman Luke Millican started the first two games of the season, but suffered a concussion and never returned. Sophomore Jack Pezzulla played in 12 games, starting seven of them (Lehigh until Richmond), before giving way to junior Alex Bassil for the rest of the year. Bassil was the only netminder who had at least a 50% save percentage out of the three keepers.

Looking Ahead

It should be an easy season to forget if you’re a UNC fan. There was no late-season push from the Heels, and injuries and bad shooting games also played a role. Along with Cloutier, Ryan Macri, and McBride, assistant Joe Martin left to take the head coaching job at D3 Skidmore.

As always, Joe Breschi is bringing in some talented kids, many of whom were Under Armour All-Americans. Expect to see many of them getting considerable playing time next year, along with Matthews and Kelly at attack, Anderson and Cook at midfield, and Rowlett and Nathan at defense. With Graham graduated, Charles Kelly should get one final shot at being the definite #1 FOGO on the team, while the goalie battle is still up in the air between Millican, Pezzulla, and Bassil, along with Patrick Sasser.

Here’s who the Tar Heels will be adding to their roster for next year.*

North Carolina’s Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Will Bowen Defense Boston College HS (MA)
Brian Cameron Attack Bishop Guertin (NH)
Evan Egan Defense Torrey Pines (CA)
Caton Johnson Goalie Manheim Township (PA)
Jacob Kelly Attack Calvert Hall (MD)
Connor Maher Midfield Calvert Hall (MD)
Chris Nicholas Midfield Chaminade (NY)
Will Nicklaus Midfield Benjamin School (FL)
Harrison Schertzinger Midfield Summit Country Day (OH)
Henry Schertzinger Midfield Summit Country Day (OH)
Nicky Solomon Attack Centennial (GA)
Zac Tucci Midfield/FO Avon Old Farms (CT)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will North Carolina get in 2019?

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  • 17%
    (11 votes)
  • 36%
    (23 votes)
  • 36%
    (23 votes)
  • 9%
    (6 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now