If Johns Hopkins and North Carolina end up being half of the men's lacrosse Final Four Memorial Day weekend, then the Princeton Tigers will look back on their two early-season losses a little differently.
In the present, however, they both sting.
Princeton fell 9-8 to North Carolina in the opening game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium, evening the Tigers' record at 2-2 after consecutive losses to Hopkins and Carolina.
The Tigers trailed by two goals four times and ended up tying it twice before Carolina took the lead for good with 6:09 to play. Princeton had five shots the rest of the way but couldn't tie it.
UNC goalie Stephen Restivo made 16 saves.
On a day when Princeton outshot Carolina 43-22 and forced nearly as many turnovers (19) as shots allowed, the fact that UNC has as good a chance as any team to being playing deep into May was hardly a consolation.
In fact, Princeton ran into UNC on the wrong day, as the Tar Heels were coming off consecutive losses to Lehigh and Penn after a 4-0 start, not to mention a full week of practice during spring break that resulted in a revamped lineup.
Among the changes was the first start on attack for Jack McBride, the Princeton graduate who missed almost all of his senior year with a groin injury and is now a grad student with the Tar Heels. McBride scored two goals in the first half for UNC, which erased the Tigers' only lead of 2-1 and built leads of 4-2, 5-3, 6-4 at the half and 8-6.
Each time, Princeton would come back, but the Tigers would never take the lead.
The game ended in a frantic fashion, as Princeton threw three shots at the goal and also forced two turnovers by Carolina in the final two minutes. In the end, the last chance saw Princeton unable to get a shot on a restart with five seconds left.
Alex Capretta had a career-high four points and tied his career high with three goals, while freshman Kip Orban had his first career two-goal game.
Tucker Shanley, who tied it at 8-8 with 8:20 left in the fourth quarter, had a goal and two assists. Tom Schreiber had three assists and now has at least three points in every game.
Princeton is at Villanova Tuesday.