Cloutiér, teammates lead UNC to the National Championship game

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Philadelphia, PA — The underdog is moving on. The North Carolina Tar Heels have defeated the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds, 18-13, in the first Men’s Lacrosse semi-final at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Tar Heels will now move on to the National Championship game, its first since the 1993 season. It’s their sixth appearance in the game overall.

“We had terrific energy,” North Carolina head coach Joe Braschi said. “Obviously, jumped on them early. Not overly thrilled with how we finished the game, but credit Loyola for obviously a great season. But a terrific effort as well. Overall, we talked about ground balls. We won the ground ball battle. I was happy with the way we cleared it. These just shared the ball at the offensive end.”

Steve Pontrello being hugged by Chris Cloutier after a goal (Getty Images)

Steve Pontrello being hugged by Chris Cloutier after a goal (Getty Images)

The Heels received a huge boost from Chris Cloutiér, who had a breakthrough game with nine goals, which is also a new career-high. His goal total was also historic, as he tied the record for any round in the NCAA Tournament.

He also broke the record that was previously seven goals in an NCAA Championship weekend game.

“Started out early,” Cloutiér said. “Started with these guys, especially Steve (Pontrello), who really taught me, him and Luke (Goldstock), I made the transition from middy, and him and Luke taught me all-year really teaching me the ways of attack. And (on Saturday), it was just working.

“We were running our offense to a T. And luckily, I was just getting open and getting open shots that I was able to put in the back of the net.”

Besides Cloutiér’s nine goals, the Heels also received two goals each from Steve Pontrello, Luke Goldstock and Timmy Kelly. Patrick Kelly, Brian Cannon and William McBride had a goal each.

Loyola received three goals each by Tyler Albrecht, Zach Herreweyers and Brian Sherlock. Romar Dennis had two, while Pat Spencer, Nick Mazza and John Duffy had a goal each.

The Greyhounds outscored the Tar Heels in the second half, as they scored 8 goals compared four goals. They began the third quarter with three goals, then began the fourth with four goals.

Albrecht had three of the eight goals in the second half. They also had 22 shots on goal in the second half compared to 12 by Carolina.

It was all the Tar Heels in the first half, as they led 14-5 at halftime. They scored nine goals in the first quarter, which was the most goals in a quarter since 2003.

That’s when Johns Hopkins had nine goals against Syracuse during the fourth quarter.

The 31 goals were the most in a Championship weekend semi-final since 1997 when Syracuse the 35 that Syracuse (17) and Maryland (18) had. Also, Loyola freshman Pat Spencer had six points and tied Gary Hanley’s 1981 record with 89 points in a season.

“I think I started to recognize that the other way when I was down at Johns Hopkins,” head coach Charley Toomey. “I’m watching McDonogh and Boys’ Latin play and I remember sitting there a year ago watching Pat — thinking this kid might be able to help us next year. I don’t know how much but he might be able to step on the field and be our quarterback.

“To watch his development from the fall through the course of this season, what takes you back is just his composure with the ball. Right-handed, left-handed, being able to be physical and then step away, look through the defense, has handled every situation that’s been thrown to him. A press out, an early slide, a physical game, nothing fazes the young man.”

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