CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Upstart Army tried to run with top-ranked North Carolina yesterday afternoon at Kenan Stadium. Chuck Breschi liked that.
"I don't think there's too many teams that can run with us," Breschi, a junior defenseman, said after his team's 14-5 victory -- sent the Tar Heels to their fifth straight NCAA lacrosse Final Four. "Once we get our running game going, we're pretty hard to beat."
With Breschi (Loyola) and friends sealing off the crease and keying the fast break, North Carolina overcame a sluggish start to advance to its 12th Final Four in 14 years. North Carolina (13-1) will meet fourth-seeded Johns Hopkins on Saturday at Maryland's Byrd Stadium, with the winner to meet either third-seeded Syracuse or defending champion and second-seeded Princeton on May 31 for the championship.
Army, making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1987, ended its season at 12-4. The Cadets beat Maryland, 15-11, in the first round.
"Army came out aggressive . . . like bats out of hell," said North Carolina assistant coach Rob Russell, who filled in while head coach Dave Klarmann served a one-game suspension for "inappropriate behavior" in a shoving incident after last year's semifinal loss to Princeton. "They played us like we play people. That surprised us. Some people think we have great team speed."
The Tar Heels, playing for the first time in 27 days, only began to flash that speed in the second quarter, and even then only in spurts. Trailing 2-1, senior attackman John Webster worked free to beat goalie Rick Aguilar (19 saves) from close range. That goal, coming at the 11:48 mark, was North Carolina's only extra-man score of the day.
Dan Levy put the Tar Heels ahead for good at the 5:07 mark, scoring off an assist from Alex Martin.
Goals by Webster and Ousmane Greene gave the Tar Heels a 5-2 advantage at the break.
Army 2 0 3 0 -- 5
North Carolina 1 4 4 5 -- 14