Chris Cloutier took his time. In the middle of the second quarter, the North Carolina attack stood in front of Loyola goalie Grant Limone and faked for a few seconds before slinging the ball into the back of the net.
"Today it was just working. We were running our offense to a T," Cloutier said. "I was just getting open."
The sophomore led the Tar Heels with nine goals, a championship-weekend record, in the first Division I men's lacrosse semifinal game Saturday, an 18-13 North Carolina win over seventh-seeded Loyola (Md.) at Lincoln Financial Field.
"He's a load when he turns the corner. He'll run through you," UNC coach Joe Breschi said. "It's not always pretty, but at times we're not pretty."
The Greyhounds defense was overpowered by unseeded North Carolina (11-6) throughout the first half.
Loyola (14-4) came out of halftime energized, scoring three goals in five minutes, and then managed a fourth-quarter push that cut its deficit to four with four minutes to go.
But it wasn't enough to make up for the defensive woes that plagued the team in the first 30 minutes. UNC goalie Brian Balkam halted Loyola's efforts with two key saves in the final minutes.
All-ACC attack Steve Pontrello, a St. Augustine Prep graduate, chipped in for UNC with two goals and three assists. His last came with less than two minutes to go, leaving goalie Limone sitting on the ground, head hung.
For Loyola, Zach Herreweyers and Tyler Albrecht led the team with three goals apiece, and freshman Pat Spencer tied the university's single-season goal record of 89 with his one score Saturday.
Loyola coach Charley Toomey said he expected his team to have more success shooting on the Tar Heels.
"It just didn't happen in that first quarter," Toomey said. "The game slipped away from us a little bit."