Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bitter Taste After UNC Loss To Orange

When someone thinks about North Carolina senior attack man and Tawaaraton nominee Jimmy Bitter, They typically think about the undersized, speedy sharpshooter pinging corners and frustrating goalkeepers.

If someone were to tell a lacrosse fan or analyst that Bitter had 12 shots and eight shots on goal against Syracuse Friday night in the ACC Tournament, a guy like Quint Kessenich or Ryan Flanagan would expect that the lefty, averaging 3.9 points per game, had at least a pair of goals. Heck, they'd probably guess he ended up with a hat trick. 

But with a chance to play in the ACC title game on the line, Bitter took 12 shots, hit one pipe, and was saved by keeper Bobby Wardwell seven times. Seven of Wardwell's 14 saves came from Bitter shots. 

Prior to the game at PPL Park, Bitter recorded a point in 55 straight games. That was good for the second longest active streak in Division I lacrosse, and now, that streak is over. 

Bitter managed to record at least a point in every game he's played since the middle of his freshman season, but against the Orange, despite ample opportunity to net a goal, he came up just short every time. 

During the game, Bitter got hounded by ESPNU announcers who claimed he was telegraphing shots that were low-to-low worm burners. They claimed he wasn't shooting efficiently. 

But hindsight is always 20-20. 

For all the times Bitter could have thrown a better fake or changed planes, he made a spectacular cut or submarined a ball to the upper left corner. 

Bitter clearly didn't have his best game, but a lot of that credit should go to Wardwell who seemed to have it out for Bitter from the start.

The last time these two teams played, Wardwell played 31 mins and had four saves. This time around he almost doubled that mark against Bitter alone. 

It's easy to say that, if UNC is going to bounce back from this game and make a deep run, the Tar Heels will need Bitter to perform to his Tawaaraton level potential. 

But the easy thing to say isn't always the right thing to say. 

Bitter didn't lose them the game, nothing about Bitter's approach to the game was wrong, and he'll be just fine come tourney time. 

Bitter likes to live by the mantra "shoot to get hot, shoot to stay hot." That's never changed and it never will. 

So for anyone doubting Bitter or wondering what he needs to do to get ready for the NCAA tournament in two weeks, Bitter wont be looking back thinking "what if."

He's just going to keep shooting. 

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