Navy Lax Eyes 3-0 Start with Friday Night Battle at North Carolina
Matt (Navy) and Billy (North Carolina) Bitter will square off against one another in Chapel Hill Friday evening.
Feb. 19, 2009
• Ninth-ranked Navy (2-0) will look to earn its sixth-straight regular-season victory against North Carolina (2-0) when the Midshipmen travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. to battle the No. 6 Tar Heels on Friday evening ... action is set for 7:30 pm at Fetzer Field ... due to the extensive construction taking place around the complex, admission is free of charge.
• The Midshipmen are coming off a hard-fought 8-6 win over 19th-ranked Ohio State played last Saturday in Annapolis ... the Mids held Ohio State scoreless for the final 15 minutes of the contest to help secure their fourth consecutive win in the series.
• Like Navy, North Carolina is also undefeated, earning a 16-4 win over Robert Morris in the opener, followed by a 20-7 rout over No. 14 Denver a week ago ... the Tar Heels are in their first season under head coach Joe Breschi, a North Carolina grad who spent the last 11 years as the head coach at Ohio State.
• Friday’s Navy-North Carolina contest will NOT be carried on the radio, however, fans can follow the action via Gametracker (live stats) which is available online at NavySports.com.
A Win Over North Carolina Would ...
• give the Midshipmen their 100th win over an ACC team ... Navy owns a 99-88-1 record against teams from the four-team conference.
• give head coach Richie Meade his 150th win in his 19-year coaching career ... he owns a 149-98 record overall, including a 122-75 mark in his 15 seasons at Navy.
• extend the Mids’ regular-season winning streak to six in a row over North Carolina.
• give the Mids a 3-0 start to their season for the fouth time in the last five years ... last year, an 8-7 overtime loss to Cornell dropped the Mids to 2-1.
Previewing North Carolina
• Former longtime Ohio State head coach Joe Breschi returned to his alma mater over the summer to take over the coaching reins from John Haus.
• Breschi is coming off his most impressive season as a head coach guiding the Buckeyes to an 11-6 record and an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament ... facing eighth-seeded Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. in the opening round of the tournament, Ohio State dominated the Big Red to produce the school’s first NCAA Tournament win (15-7) and advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
• North Carolina, meanwhile, opened the Breschi coaching era by stringing together back-to-back aggressive scoring outputs ... the Tar Heels opened the season with a 16-4 win over Robert Morris, followed by an impressive 20-7 victory over No. 14 Denver.
• Nine different players scored goals for the Tar Heels last week, including junior attackman Gavin Petracca who punched in four goals and added another four assists to the cause ... to date, he leads the team with 13 points on eight goals and five assists.
• Meanwhile, second-year attackman Billy Bitter, brother of Navy senior midfielder Matt Bitter, turned in a seven-point effort against the Pioneers that featured four assists.
• Faceoff extraordinaire Shane Walterhoefer returns for his senior season ... the Preseason First-Team All-American has won 29 of the 48 draws (.604) this season.
• The Tar Heels also return Preseason All-American Grant Zimmerman in goal ... the fourth-year starter has given up 10 goals in the 110 minutes of action he has seen this season, while stopping 18 shots for a 64.3 save percentage.
Carolina On My Mind
• Navy head coach Richie Meade is a 1976 graduate of North Carolina where he played lacrosse for current UNC associate athletic director Willie Scroggs ... Scroggs hired Meade as an assistant in 1979 and again in 1989-90.
• First-year North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi was a two-time All-American for the Tar Heels’ defense in 1989 and ‘90, the same seasons Meade spent as an assistant coach in Chapel Hill.
• Navy senior midfielder Matt Bitter and Carolina sophomore attackman Billy Bitter are brothers.
Navy vs. North Carolina — The Series
• Last May Navy took a 12-11 series lead after eliminating North Carolina, the fourth seed, from the NCAA Tournament behind an 8-7 decision in Chapel Hill ... ironically, it was the Tar Heels who bounced the Mids from the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
• Six of the last 10 games in the series have been decided by one goal.
• Navy and North Carolina have traded wins in the last two meetings, though the Midshipmen owned a five-game winning streak over the Tar Heels prior to their 2007 NCAA Tournament loss.
• The two teams had met during the regular season every year since 1996, however a scheduling glitch last spring prevented Navy and North Carolina from their annual contest ... in terms of regular-season meetings, Navy has won each of the last five, including a 19-8 rout over the Tar Heels in Annapolis in 2007.
• North Carolina owns an 8-4 advantage in games played on its home field ... four of the last six games played in Chapel Hill have been decided by one goal, including three which have gone into overtime.
The Last Time
• Tim Paul scored a career-high four goals to lead Navy to a thrilling 8-7 victory over fourth-seeded North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Fetzer Field.
• The Tar Heels were the highest seeded team Navy had defeated in the NCAA Tournament since 1981 when the Mids upset No. 3 seed Army, 16-8.
• It was the Mids’ first NCAA Tournament win since defeating Delaware, 9-7, in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
• The game was a back-and-forth affair with huge momentum swings on both sides. Navy dominated play for most of the first half, jumping out to a 4-1 lead on two goals by Paul and a goal each by Zack Schroeder and Gregory Clement.
• Clement's goal came with 3:33 left in the second quarter and, after winning the faceoff, it looked like the Mids would go into the locker room with at least a three goal lead. Navy, however, would turn the ball over twice on unforced errors and the Tar Heels responded with goals by Gavin Petracca and Nick Tintle to cut Navy's lead to 4-3 at the intermission.
• The Tar Heels opened the third quarter with Petracca scoring his second goal of the game just 36 seconds in to tie the game at four.
• The game did not stay tied for long as 2:16 later Paul put Navy back up for good at 5-4 off an assist from Patrick Moran and then pumped his fourth goal on an unassisted shot four minutes later to make it 6-4. Terence Higgins completed Navy's run with an unassisted goal off a wild scramble for a loose ball.
• Carolina answered with Petracca’s third of the game and then Bart Wagner pulled the Tar Heels to within one at 7-6 with 7:32 left.
• Navy won the ensuing faceoff, but quickly lost the ball on an errant pass that was picked off by Jack Ryan, who turned to throw a pass behind the goal to Tar Heel goalie Grant Zimmerman. Instead, Navy's Nick Mirabito stepped in front of the pass, picking it off at point blank range, and turned and fired the ball into the empty net to give Navy an 8-6 lead with 5:14 left.
• UNC made one final run at the Mids as Ben Hunt netted his first goal of the game with 44 seconds left to make it 8-7. The Tar Heels won the faceoff and got off three shots against a stout Navy defense, but none came close to scoring.
• Phelan was sensational in goal for the Mids, making 12 saves, several from point blank range. The Navy defense forced 12 Carolina turnovers, while the Tar Heels were a dreadful 14 of 26 on clears.
Navy vs. The ACC
• The Midshipmen own a 99-88-1 record (.529) against the four-member Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
• Navy has faced all four teams multiple times, including long-standing rivalries with Maryland and North Carolina.
• Navy, who owns a 12-11 record (.522) against North Carolina, has faced the Tar Heels every year since 1996 ... the series first began in 1975.
• The Mids, who battle Maryland on April 3, have faced one another 83 times and have played one another every year since 1946 ... the series first began in 1924 .
• Though Navy and Virginia met in the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2005, the two programs haven’t met on a regular basis since 1995 ... Virginia owns a 31-18 advantage.
• Navy leads the series with Duke, 24-9, however the two teams have not met since 1999.
Meade Closes In On Milestone
• Head coach Richie Meade opened the chapter on his 19th season as a collegiate head coach, including his 15th season at Navy, by directing his squad to a 13-5 win over VMI on Feb. 7 in Annapolis.
• Meade is just one win away from joining the 150-win club.
• He is ranked 36th all-time in wins (149-98, .603), while he stands 12th among the nation’s active coaches.
• Meanwhile, Meade has turned in a 122-75 (.619) record since taking over the Navy program in 1995.
• He follows in a long line of legendary Naval Academy coaches, including Willis Bilderback (1959-72) who remains the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach by percentage (31-26-2, 8302), while George Finlayson (1911-35) is ranked No. 2, winning 82.9 percent of the 175 games he coached (140-25-10) ... amazingly a third Navy coach is also among the NCAA’s winningest coaches, that being Dinty Moore, who won 75.8 percent of his games (159-50-2).
• After playing its first two games at home, Navy will play its next three contests away from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
• As if playing the three games on there road weren’t enough, the first two are against nationally-ranked foes North Carolina (Feb. 20) and Bucknell (Feb. 28).
• The last time the Midshipmen played three straight road games was in 2004 ... Navy beat No. 9 Army (18-10), No. 4 Georgetown (7-5) and No. 1 Maryland (9-6) on the road in what turned into a magical season.
• Since the beginning of the 2004 campaign, the Mids have lost just eight of their 29 true road games ... that does not factor in neutral site contests.
• After suffering back-to-back knee injuries, senior attackman Bruce Nechanicky has returned to the Navy lineup.
• Nechanicky originally tore the ACL in his left knee on March 31, 2007, at Georgetown ... his attempt to return later that fall failed after suffering a second tear in a scrimmage.
• Following the second injury, he underwent a second surgery and went on convalescent leave to rehabilitate his knee.
• He did not participate in any of the Mids’ fall scrimmages, however, he was able to participate in practice by the end of fall ball.
• Nechanicky has scored four goals this season, two in each game, including the final two markers that led to the Mids’ 8-6 win over Ohio State last week.