No one can accuse Ryan Moran of not thinking big.

Even before his debut as head coach at UMBC, Moran agreed to open the season on Saturday by taking on 2016 NCAA champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The matchup pits the Retrievers, who went 4-10 a year ago, against the Tar Heels, who capped a 12-6 campaign by becoming the first unseeded team to win a national title.

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Moran said he, his coaches, and his players are intent on trying to collect a win, not just stay competitive with North Carolina.

"We're going down to North Carolina with the utmost respect for their coaching staff and their players, and we're going to compete in a lacrosse game just like we would in any other lacrosse game," he said Thursday. "We're going to step onto the field and we're going to try to win. … I'm excited and pumped for the opportunity to compete against them, and I think our guys are, too. But there are no moral victories. We're going down there to compete and see where we are at the end of the game. I think it will be a great litmus test of the progress that we have hopefully made."

The team has participated in scrimmages against Loyola Maryland, Virginia, Bucknell in the past two weekends to prepare for Saturday. But a regular-season game has a different feel compared to a preseason exhibition, and Moran said he is fully aware that the players might show some rust against the Tar Heels.

"That stuff doesn't bother me because I understand that's part of the game," he said. "And I don't think kids feed off of that really well. They know they messed up. They know they threw a bad pass. They didn't want to throw a bad pass. Stuff happens, and we'll look at the reasons why, and then we'll correct it, and then we'll drill it."

Moran said he and his staff are still tinkering with the starting lineup and admitted he could use another week of practice to get some clarity. But he noted that the players are eager to play in a game that counts.

"I think we did our best as a staff to put our guys in positions that they're going to be in for this upcoming Saturday," he said.

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