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No. 8 Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse loses late lead in 15-11 loss to No. 11 North Carolina

The coaches for the North Carolina and Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse teams were a case study in opposites in their postgame news conferences Sunday afternoon.

Joe Breschi whooped loudly after the No. 11 Tar Heels' 15-11 upset at Homewood Field. The victory was the program's fifth straight and ninth in the past 10 meetings with the No. 8 Blue Jays, but was especially gratifying after a stunning 10-5 loss to previously unranked Hofstra on Feb. 20.

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"We worked our tail off," Breschi (Loyola Blakefield) said. "Kids are in February listening to all the noise about how we're not tough enough, how we don't have guts. They're hearing it on TV with the announcers saying, 'They're soft, they don't have guts.' These guys responded like men."

Johns Hopkins' Dave Pietramala, meanwhile, spoke frustratedly and candidly about his team's mistakes in back-to-back setbacks against No. 6 Loyola Maryland and the Tar Heels.

"We're playing some really talented teams," he said. "Carolina is a talented team, but right now, I just feel like we can't get out of our own way. And I feel like while we're playing good teams, the fact that we're beating ourselves and doing it against quality opponents is making it even more challenging. I give our guys credit for crawling back in it and fighting. Again, we started slow. We've got to overcome those big moments. Today, we got over the hump, but we just can't seem to get out of our own way."

A sun-soaked announced crowd of 3,605 watched the Blue Jays (1-2) fall into a 4-0 hole before the end of the first quarter. They trailed 7-5 at the end of the second quarter, their second straight game with a halftime deficit.

But Johns Hopkins got goals from sophomore attackman Shack Stanwick (Boys' Lain) and senior attackman Ryan Brown (Calvert Hall) to tie the score at seven in the third quarter. After senior attackman Steve Pontrello scored twice to give North Carolina (3-1) another two-goal cushion, sophomore midfielder Brinton Valis (McDonogh) assisted junior midfielder Cody Radziewicz's goal with 2:17 left in the period, then scored off a feed from Stanwick with 11 seconds remaining to knot the score at nine.

Redshirt junior midfielder Michael Tagliaferri converted a pass from junior midfielder Shane Simpson to help the Tar Heels reclaim the lead, 10-9. But the Blue Jays scored twice on extra-man opportunities — senior midfielder Holden Cattoni from Stanwick at 11:48 and Stanwick from junior midfielder John Crawley 26 seconds later — to take their first lead of the game.

The excitement, however, was short-lived: North Carolina closed out the game on a 5-0 run. Sophomore attackman Chris Cloutier scored twice during the spurt, and Simpson contributed a goal and an assist.

Stanwick led all scorers with seven points on two goals and five assists, and Brown had three goals to move past Jeff Cook and into fifth place in program history with 129 career goals.

Stanwick said the team thought momentum was on its side after taking its fourth-quarter lead.

"We felt like we were in a pretty good spot," he said. "We battled back, but there was still a lot of time left. You could see that North Carolina's a pretty good team and that if you give them many chances, they're going to capitalize on them. It felt good at the time, but we should have stayed focused, and it ended up hurting us."

The Tar Heels' midfielders sparked their offense. Simpson, who had two assists in his first three games, finished with two goals and three assists; Tagliaferri matched his season total of three points coming into Sunday with three goals; and senior Patrick Kelly (Calvert Hall) added two goals and an assist.

North Carolina also got a huge outing from junior faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly (Calvert Hall). He outdueled senior Craig Madarasz to win 17 of 25 faceoffs and scoop up a game-high nine ground balls.

Facing the Tar Heels' 10-man ride, Johns Hopkins (season-high 17 turnovers) was 17-for-23 on clears, which North Carolina turned into three goals, according to Breschi.

"I know this week, we just focused on getting back to the basics," Tagliaferri said. "Last week, I think we had a lot going on, especially with some new guys. The best thing for us this week was just to focus on simplifying the offense and what we do well, which is dodging, moving the ball, working as a whole unit. I think we really did that out there today."

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