North Carolina got hot at just the right time last year on its way to the men’s lacrosse national championship. This year, the Tar Heels’ postseason run ended almost before it had a chance to get started. Coach Joe Breschi’s defending champions were ousted in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Saturday with a 15-12 loss at eighth-seeded Albany. Duke, by contrast, put on an overwhelming performance in upsetting No. 6 Johns Hopkins 19-6. It’s a result handed the Blue Jays their first home postseason loss since 1991, ending a streak of 17 straight NCAA tourney wins at Homewood Field. The Blue Devils (12-4) fell behind early, but after surrendering the game’s first two goals, came roaring back to score seven of the next eight to open up a lead they would never relinquish. Junior Justin Guterding led Duke’s offensive onslaught with four goals and four assists. Teammate Joey Manown also scored four times and Sean Lowrie added three goals while goalkeeper Danny Fowler added eight saves while limiting Hopkins to only a single goal in the second half. The Blue Devils, who earned their first NCAA tournament victory since winning the national title in 2014, will advance to next Satuirday’s quarterfinals where they will play third-seeded Ohio State at noon in Hempstead, N.Y. UNC, which had to win last week’s ACC tournament just to sneak into the NCAA field, spent nearly the entire game at Albany on Saturday trying to dig out of the early hole it dug for itself. After last year’s Final Four MVP Chris Cloutier opened the scoring with a one-handed behind-the-back goal five minutes in, the Great Danes responded by reeling off the next six goals. They increased their lead to 14-3 by halftime. Although the Tar Heels (8-8) battled back gamely — outscoring Albany 6-0 in the third quarter and 9-1 in the second half — their rally ran out of gas when they were unable to score over the final 5:49. Cloutier led UNC with five goals while Jack Rowlett and Luke Goldstock added two each.In the Division II bracket, Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne both suffered opening round losses with Wingate dropping a 14-5 decision to Limestone and Lenoir-Rhyne suffering an 11-8 defeat at the hands of Tampa.
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