North Carolina close to returning to full strength
When No. 3 North Carolina and No. 5 Maryland tangle Friday night in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at Byrd Stadium in College Park, the Tar Heels could almost be back at full strength.
Sophomore attackman Thomas Wood and sophomore defenseman Charlie McComas are close to returning in time for Friday’s contest. Wood, who is tied for third on the team in goals (19) and ranks third in points (28), has missed the last three games due to a fractured finger. McComas, a Parkton native and Boys’ Latin graduate who is tied for third in groundballs (34) and caused turnovers (12), did not play in North Carolina’s 17-14 shootout with Robert Morris last Saturday due to an injured shoulder.
"We’re hoping that they all come back for Friday night," coach Joe Breschi said.
The news is less optimistic with regards to senior midfielder Sean DeLaney, who has not played since suffering a left shoulder injury in the third quarter of a 9-7 victory over the Terps on March 27. Despite missing three contests, DeLaney is still tied for the team lead in goals (20), but Breschi didn’t sound hopeful that DeLaney would suit up against Maryland.
"Sean, I’m not too sure," Breschi said. "He’s still a work in progress. But the other two, we’re hoping to get back at full-go."
If Wood does return, the Tar Heels will have to find playing time for a crowded attack unit that includes junior Billy Bitter (19 goals and 20 assists), senior Gavin Petracca (20, 15) and freshman Marcus Holman (17, 7).
Freshman Chris Hunt is expected to join sophomore Jimmy Dunster (11, 10) and senior Cryder DiPietro (10, 9) on the first midfield.
But Breschi seemed most enthused about having McComas back, especially since McComas will shadow Maryland junior attackman Ryan Young.
"There’s no question that we missed him [McComas] last weekend," Breschi said. "We struggled in general defensively last week. I think having Charlie back, he’s such a great groundball guy, he’s a seasoned veteran as a sophomore, and he just brings a different element. This will be the fourth time he plays Ryan Young, so it’s huge that he comes back and is healthy."