By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/19/21
Defenseman Grant Pierce, the Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year who led Radnor to the PIAA Class AAA championship in June as a senior and then decommitted to Fairfield later in the summer, has committed to play at North Carolina and will enroll for the spring semester.
Pierce, a USA Lacrosse All-American and Delco Times Player of the Year, will report in early January and be eligible to play for the Tar Heels in the 2022 campaign.
Pierce’s decision to decommit from Fairfield came as the fall semester was starting in late August. He learned that some bigger schools were interested in him and after decommitting he visited North Carolina and even had Tar Heels head coach Joe Breschi at his home for dinner.
“We kind of flirted with the idea (of exploring options) a couple weeks after the championship,” said Pierce, who said Radnor coach John Begier was a huge supporter. “I was just trying to get the best opportunity.
“When I was first looking at the whole recruiting process, Fairfield was the best opportunity. I let my big school dream go, but after the state championship some bigger schools became interested so I thought maybe I better try and look elsewhere for the fall if it’s not too late.”
Pierce said due to the timing he had to accept sitting out the fall semester to go through the process of applying and making a visit to Chapel Hill in September. He was accepted to UNC Thursday night.
“It was a leap of faith,” he said. ‘That was part of the deal. But we all thought it was well worth it to bite the bullet and miss my fall freshman year to go to Carolina for the next 3-and-a-half years.
“Coach Breschi couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. He came here and had dinner with us and I visited down there in September and got to see a football game.
“It was awesome, seeing the whole Carolina family. It made my decision super simple. The coaches are great. I couldn’t have been happier with the process
What attracted Pierce to UNC?
“One of the things coach Breschi does is stress family, academics and the team,” he said. “That togetherness is super important. He treats every player like it’s his own kid.
“I love the coaching staff, it‘s super supportive. And he does home visits for all the guys on the team. That was crazy. The only time I heard of that was in (the movie) Blind Side when the coaches came to see Big Mike (highly recruited football lineman Mike Oher)..
“Probably the biggest thing is the campus. It’s amazing. It’s a big school but everything is close and accommodating to freshmen because everything is within 5 minutes. I couldn’t complain about everything.”
Piece said he has many friends on the team already – the freshman class also includes All-Phillylacrosse picks Cooper Frankenheimer (Malvern Prep, SSMF), Antonio deMarco (Penn Charter, midfield) and Evan Bullotta (Central Bucks East, defenseman).
Pierce has been working hard on his conditioning during the fall. understands he will need to work even harder when he reports for practice the first week of January since he missed Fall Ball. “I think I can get caught up pretty quickly,” he said. “I think the adjustment will be the same for all the freshmen. It’s a good group of guys who will have my back.”\”
Pierce said he was happy his talents and leadership skills got noticed, even if it took until the end of his senior year. Begier said repeatedly during the season that his impact on the team as a co-captain was critical to the team’s success.
“It is a very satisfying ending (to the recruiting process) and a lot of credit goes to the (Radnor) coaching staff for the state championship game.” said Pierce. “It is satisfying to be recognized for what I can do on the field.
“I am happy to go to one of the greatest schools in the country and get to play at the highest level.”