Bitter's Big Day Powers #3 UNC Past #14 Johns Hopkins

BALTIMORE, MD The third-ranked North Carolina men's lacrosse team got a game-high four goals from junior Billy Bitter (Stowe, VT/Deerfield Academy) and the visiting Tar Heels outscored Johns Hopkins 5-2 in the second half as UNC posted an 11-7 victory before 4,012 fans at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. The win is the fourth straight for North Carolina against Johns Hopkins and the Tar Heels improve to 10-0 for the first time since 1991 with the victory. Johns Hopkins dropped its fourth straight and slips to 4-5.

After a back-and-forth first half that saw the Tar Heels take a 6-5 lead into intermission, UNC got some breathing room with a pair of goals in a two-minute span early in the third quarter. A Jimmy Dunster (Cos Cob, CT/Greenwich) goal off an ally dodge opened the second-half scoring for the 'Heels, who added an extra man goal by Gavin Petracca (Manhasset, NY/Manhasset) a short time later to make it 8-5. As is turned out, JHU was never close than two in the final 26 minutes.

Photos courtesy of Ben Mackey

The 8-5 lead held until JHU's Kyle Wharton (Garnet Valley, PA/The Haverford School) scored on a behind-the-back bouncer with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter, but the momentum was short-lived five seconds to be exact. After a procedure call on the ensuing faceoff gave possession to the Tar Heels, Michael Burns (Medford Lakes, NJ/Shawnee) raced into the offensive zone and blew home his fourth goal of the game to make it 9-6.

Bitter added his fourth goal of the game with 6:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, a goal that was answered by JHU's John Ranagan (Yorktown, NY/Yorktown) less than a minute later, but Cam Wood (Chatham, NJ/Chatham) scored an empty net goal in the final 90 seconds to account for the final scoring.

North Carolina jumped out to a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter as Bitter scored three times in the first 10 minutes. Wharton had opened the scoring with his 11th goal of the year just over two minutes into the game, but Bitter answered with an unassisted strike just over three minutes later and added his second goal 32 seconds after that off an assist from Dunster.

Senior Max Chautin (Northport, NY/Northport) drew the Blue Jays even midway through the period when pinged one home off the post, but Bitter's opportunistic goal a short time later made it 3-2. Ranagan rang one off the post with 5:20 remaining in the opening period, only to have the ball shoot back to midfield, where Bitter scooped up the ground ball and out-raced the Blue Jay defense into the offensive zone, where he bounced one home from eight yards out.

Hopkins grabbed a 4-3 lead early in the second quarter on back-to-back goals by senior Steven Boyle (Derry, NH/Pinkerton Academy) and Wharton, but Ian Braddish (West Islip, NY/West Islip), Chris Layne (Downingtown, PA/Malvern Prep) and Marcus Holman (Baltimore, MD/Gilman) all scored in a five-minute span midway through the period to give UNC a 6-4 lead. A Chautin goal with 2:59 remaining in the first half accounted for the 6-5 halftime score, but Dunster's goal came 1:55 into the third quarter and the Tar Heels never let the Blue Jays make it a one-possession game down the stretch.

Bitter's four goals led the Tar Heels, who also got one goal and one assist each from Dunster, Holman and Petracca. Chris Madalon (Darien, CT/Darien) posted nine saves in goal for North Carolina, which has held nine of its 10 opponents this season to seven goals or less.

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