NCAA Lacrosse: UNC Cruises Past Lehigh 16-7 in 1st-Round Tournament Game
UNC was the No. 1 team in multiple polls at the end of the regular season yet ended up as the No. 5 seed when the tournament brackets were revealed last week.
North Carolina clearly took issue with that and showed up in a big way on its home turf in the first game of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Lehigh had a tremendous season, winning the Patriot League and being highly regarded as a threat to pull the upset. Unfortunately for the Mountain Hawks, UNC's deep roster and absurd athleticism got the best of them today.
The Tar Heels got 16 goals from 11 different goal scorers, while Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Marcus Holman lead the way in the scoring column with a goal and four assists. UNC's ability to push the pace of play was the difference, and the Tar Heels' intensity on loose balls and man-up opportunities made them unstoppable.
Carolina also saw contributions from Jimmy Bitter and Chad Tutton, who recorded four points apiece.
Lehigh showed glimpses of brilliance, as it started the game well. Attacker Dave DiMaria, a Long Island native, lead the Mountain Hawks with two goals and three assists as he dodged powerfully from behind the cage.
Lehigh finishes the season at 12-5, with a lot to be proud of. The Mountain Hawks were tremendous within their conference, and coach Kevin Cassese has set them up for success in the future. They have proven their consistency over the past few seasons. Now they must work to build on it next year in an improved Patriot League.
As for Carolina, the Tar Heels will face the winner of the Albany-Denver game being played Saturday evening. Carolina has been on a hot streak and looked like a team that is ready to rumble with anyone that comes its way.
In a tournament format, deep rosters make the difference in close games. Today, UNC didn't need to show its depth, but it did anyway. By showing its ability to spread out the scoring attack, it will certainly be a challenge to opposing defenses moving forward.
The Tar Heels may be the No. 5 seed, but they sure don't act like it. The win over Lehigh is a great feat, but next weekend's game will certainly be of higher importance.
Check back for more results and reactions from the first round of the NCAA lacrosse tournament on Bleacher Report.
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