The No. 17 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team (6-6, 1-2 ACC) dominated No. 1 Syracuse for the majority of Saturday’s match, but the Orange came back from five goals down to hand the Tar Heels a stunning 11-12 overtime loss.
Neither the Tar Heels or the Orange seemed in the mood to start the action in the highly-anticipated matchup between the ACC rivals. A sluggish start to the first quarter — which featured four turnovers, nine missed shots and just two total goals in the first 10 minutes — left the crowd with little to cheer for.
With the levy waiting to break in one direction or the other, UNC’s push to slow down top-ranked Syracuse faltered. The Orange rattled off three goals in just under 2:30 to jump out to a 4-1 lead.
The Tar Heels seemed on the verge of falling on the wrong side of yet another blowout. Just then, North Carolina woke up.
UNC responded with a 9-1 run of their own through more than 25 minutes of play, including a shutout of the high-powered Orange offense in the second quarter.
But just as suddenly as they turned it on, the Tar Heels came to a screeching halt in the face of a valiant Syracuse push. Looking to avoid the upset, Syracuse battled back to tie the game in the final minutes of regulation. In overtime, with a chance to ruin UNC’s final regular-season game at Fetzer Field, the Orange scored in sudden death to cap off the comeback.
Who stood out?
UNC’s Luke Goldstock was phenomenal in the loss, showing flashes of his 2014-15 campaign, where he broke the UNC single-season scoring record with 50 goals. Goldstock powered UNC’s comeback, after the Tar Heels fell behind.
The attackman tallied three goals and three assists, leading all players. Goldstock helped UNC build its commanding lead, but was held in check in the final period as Syracuse fought back to win it.
The senior, for the second time in his collegiate career, finishes the regular season as UNC’s top scorer. Goldstock totaled 24 goals and 10 assists for North Carolina this season, proving to be the most important part of the Tar Heel attack.
When was it decided?
Once the Orange scored to tie the game with just 1:19 left to play, UNC looked completely out of sorts. The Tar Heels had given up four unanswered goals in less than 11 minutes, and Syracuse was firing on all cylinders.
Just minutes later, after winning the faceoff to begin overtime, Syracuse scored on its first shot of the extra period to seal the victory.
Why does it matter?
With a win on Saturday, UNC had a chance to keep pace with Duke for the No. 2 spot in ACC standings and prevent Syracuse from claiming the ACC regular season title with a game to go. But the game meant much more than that to the players.
Saturday’s match was likely the final home game for UNC’s seniors. And with Fetzer Field gearing up for renovations, it was also likely the last time the team would play at the historic stadium for a while.
In an emotional game from start to finish, which included a visit from UNC’s 1981 and 1982 national champion lacrosse teams, the Tar Heels failed to end their tenure playing at Fetzer on a high note.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to South Bend, Indiana, to take on Notre Dame next Saturday, April 22 at noon to cap off the ACC regular season.
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