February 11, 2012

UNC Takes Down PSU in Southern Showdown

from press release | Related: Joe Breschi Post-Game Audio

KENNESAW, Ga. - Steven Rastivo made a career-high 18 saves and R.G. Keenan won a career-high 21 face-offs to power sixth-ranked North Carolina to a 14-10 victory over 17th-ranked Penn State Saturday before a crowd of 6,913 in the fourth annual Southern Showdown played at Kennesaw State University's Soccer Stadium. The game marked the 2012 men's lacrosse opener for both teams.

After a brief tie at 1-1, North Carolina led the rest of the game but the Nittany Lions always stayed within striking distance, twice cutting the lead to three goals after Carolina achieved its initial five-goal cushion at 8-3.

Ryan Creighton celebrates with Marcus Holman (3g, 1a) during the Tar Heels' season-opening win over Penn State at the fourth-annual Southern Showdown.
© Josh D. Weiss

Several newcomers were involved in UNC's 14-goal outburst as junior transfer Davey Emala led the Heels with four goals while freshman Jimmy Bitter and junior tri-captain Marcus Holman each had three goals. Graduate student transfer Jack McBride also scored twice for the Tar Heels, who will play Mercer Sunday at the Lovett School in Atlanta at 1 p.m.

Sophomores Pat Foster and Duncan Hutchins had three and two assists, respectively, as Carolina registered assists on 10 of 14 goals. Three different Nittany Lions scored two goals each - Matthew Mackrides, Kyle VanThof and Nick Dolik. Jack Forster led PSU with a trio of assists.

Rastivo was brilliant in goal for the Tar Heels as he made a career high 18 saves and had a career high eight ground balls. He had 12 of his saves in the second half as Carolina protected an 8-5 halftime lead. Rastivo's previous career high for saves was 13 which he achieved twice last season, against Maryland on March 26, 2011 and against Notre Dame on May 6, 2011. His previous career high for ground balls was four. R.G. Keenan was equally instrumental in the victory as he won 21 of his 29 face-off attempts in the match while snaring seven ground balls. Keenan's previous high for face-offs won was 18 which he accomplished three times last season. He was only two face-off wins shy of the school record of 23 by Shane Walterhoefer against Ohio State on April 21, 2008.

Overall, UNC outshot the Nittany Lions 44-37 and won the key ground ball battle 40-28. UNC won 21 of 30 face-offs overall. UNC committed 15 turnovers to only 13 by the Lions.

Austin Kaut went all the way in goal for Penn State and made 15 saves and had two ground balls.

Carolina was whistled for six penalties and Penn State took advantage by scoring three extra-man goals. UNC scored one extra-man goals on two tries.

This marks the 14th straight year that Carolina has won its season opener. The last time Carolina failed to win its opener was February 22, 1998 when it lost to Butler 13-12.

North Carolina attackman Nicky Galasso, who is coming off offseason foot surgery, did not play.


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