March 3, 2018
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Taking one of the nation’s top teams to the wire, the St. John’s lacrosse team fell, 9-8, to No. 10/10 North Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Kenan Field.
With the game tied at eight, William Perry broke the deadlock with an incredible shot from a next-to-no angle with just 6.8 ticks remaining on the clock to give UNC (6-0) the victory.
The victory was the first time since Feb. 25, 2008 at Quinnipiac that St. John’s lost a game on a goal in the final minute of regulation.
Matt Hanley was dominant in-between the pipes for the Johnnies (2-2), turning aside 15 shots and collecting four groundballs in the loss.
Colin Duffy and Joe Madsen led the way offensively for the Red Storm, each striking for a pair of goals. Duffy added his first assist of the season for a three-point outing.
Mike Madsen, Paul Tornatore, Mackenzie Iacocca, and Ryan Schaeffer also tallied a goal for the visitors, with Madsen recording a two-point afternoon.
Tornatore saw a majority of the action at the X for the Johnnies, finishing 6-for-12 (50%). Overall, North Carolina finished with a 12-9 advantage.
Despite battling an illness, Luke Roediger grabbed four groundballs to match Hanley for the team lead. UNC used a 12-7 third quarter to post a 32-26 lead in groundballs.
Facing the nation’s second-best man-up team, St. John’s did well to stay out of penalty trouble, committing only one foul. The Tar Heels finished 1-for-1 on the man advantage, while the Johnnies went 0-for-1.
North Carolina fired 45 shots towards goal, including 15 in the opening quarter, for a 45-28 shot advantage. On goal, shots favored the Tar Heels 24-13.
After a pair of early saves by Hanley, the Johnnies went to work offensively. Mike Madsen found Duffy alone in front of the net and the junior found the lower corner to put the visitors up 1-0 just five minutes into play.
The senior goalkeeper turned away another pair of shots before Chris Cloutier tied the game for his 26th-consecutive game with a goal with 5:25 remaining in the first.
UNC kept up the attack as the first quarter wore on, striking a trio of goals in just over a minute to quickly build a 4-1 lead.
The Johnnies answered on the following possession when Iacocca scored his second goal of the season with a nice move to the net, bringing the lead down to a pair.
Despite the 4-2 hole after a quarter, Hanley proved to be the difference through the opening 15 minutes. The senior turned aside five shots and collected two groundballs.
The Tar Heels restored their three-goal cushion on the opening possession of the second period, but St. John’s answered again with a nifty goal by Mike Madsen as the sophomore found the five hole to cut it to 5-3 with over 11 minutes to play in the half.
Getting its first man-up opportunity of the game, the Red Storm held the ball for nearly the entire minute, but a DeBenedictis shot from his office was stopped and the man was released.
Moments later, UNC scored on its man-up chance after a wacky sequence of events allowed William Perry to find the ball alone at the side of the crease to add its sixth goal of the contest.
Trailing 6-3, the Johnnies started to crank up the offensive attack with back-to-back goals in quick succession.
Duffy scored his second goal of the morning to cut the score to 6-4, and then collected his first assist of the season just under a minute later with a sweet feed to Joe Madsen to bring the deficit down to one for the first time since the Tar Heels led 2-1 early in the first quarter.
North Carolina scored late in the first half to head into the locker room with a 7-5 lead. The Tar Heels also held a 23-14 shot advantage, including 14-8 on goal.
Following an early strike by the Tar Heels to resume play in the second half, Tornatore answered with a beautiful goal. The junior won the faceoff, collected the groundball, carved through the defense, and beat the goalkeeper for his first-career goal and brought the score to 8-6 just three minutes into the half.
Action picked up in the middle portion of the third quarter with both sides generating great scoring chances.
Mike Madsen worked himself free with a great move near the sideline, but rifled a shot off the far post to start a counterattack for the Tar Heels.
Hanley came up huge again with a pair of in-tight saves, and sent a long pass ahead to Joe Madsen to spring a 3-ond-2 break. Unfortunately, Duffy’s pass was just behind the trailing DeBenedictis for a turnover.
North Carolina regained possession and continued to pepper the St. John’s net, firing six shots in a 1:34 span, but could not break through.
St. John’s cut it to 8-7 late in the third when Joe Madsen collected the groundball at the side of the net and scored for his second of the game heading into the final quarter.
The Johnnies had a pair of looks to tie the game to open the fourth, but a DeBenedictis shot labeled for the lower corner was snagged by Pezzulla.
After Hanley’s 13th save of the contest, Schaeffer knotted the game at eight after beating two defenders with a spin move at the side of the cage and beating Pezzulla on the far side with 7:08 to play.
The senior goalkeeper made one of his best saves on the day with just three minutes to play, robbing Timmy Kelly with the arm to keep the game tied at eight.
With just over a minute on the clock, Pat Smyth made a great defensive read to intercept a pass and gave the Johnnies possession with a chance to take the lead.
DeBenedicits found the look he wanted, but fired the shot wide with 18.5 to play to give the Tar Heels an opportunity with the ball.
With time ticking away, Perry scored from a near-impossible angle to give North Carolina the 9-8 lead with just 6.8 left on the clock.
UNC won the ensuing faceoff and melted away the final seconds to survive the upset.
St. John’s returns to action on Wednesday with a visit to the City of Brotherly Love against Saint Joseph’s.