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North Carolina's Owen Duffy in action against Johns Hopkins

NCAA Rewind: Duffy, Pietramala Capable Centerpieces for UNC

July 1, 2024
Patrick Stevens
Jeffrey Camarati/UNC Athletics

Before USA Lacrosse Magazine looks ahead to what’s to come in 2025 — look out for our NCAA Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings later this summer — our team of staff and contributors decided it was worth taking a last look at the 2024 college lacrosse season.

To do that, we’re taking a journey through 30 of the top teams in men’s and women’s lacrosse to see what went right, what went wrong and how we should feel about the season.

North Carolina

USA Lacrosse preseason/final ranking: 19th/20th
2024 record: 7-7 (1-3 ACC)

What went right: Owen Duffy was every bit as good as advertised. He had 32 goals and 22 assists in 12 games to earn the ACC’s freshman of the year honor. Redshirt freshman Dominic Pietramala (32 G, 11 A) also enjoyed a strong debut season, and grad student Logan McGovern (25 G, 29 A) complemented the young duo with aplomb. The Tar Heels have a keeper in faceoff specialist Brady Wambach, who won 61.1 percent of his draws while getting about two-thirds of North Carolina’s attempts at the X.

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What went wrong: It’s tough to ignore the big-picture trend. North Carolina missed out on the postseason for the sixth time in seven NCAA tournaments, the exception being the Tar Heels’ trip to the semifinals in 2021. There wasn’t much effective depth on offense, with Carolina’s three stars the only players to amass at least 20 points. A 6-2 start to the season was derailed when the Tar Heels gave up the final seven goals in a 12-11 loss to High Point on March 23.

Season highlight: Without an injured Duffy, North Carolina summoned a stellar performance to dispatch Duke 15-12 on the final day of the regular season. Pietramala scored four goals as the Tar Heels led by nine with eight minutes to go before a late Duke surge. Carolina lost out on an ACC tournament berth on goal differential, but it still closed out the spring with its most impressive showing.

Verdict: The Tar Heels were extremely new — both on the field and on the sideline — at the start of the year, and they wound up right in line with external preseason expectations. Duffy and Pietramala established themselves as capable centerpieces on an ACC team, and the closing defeat of Duke is a source of optimism. But moving forward, North Carolina needs to develop more offensive threats to keep pace with its conference brethren on most days.