The North Carolina men’s lacrosse team defeated No. 15 Notre Dame, 10-9, on senior day in the season finale.
The first half consisted of an offensive back-and-forth struggle between the Tar Heels (7-7, 1-3 ACC) and the Fighting Irish (6-5, 1-3 ACC).
UNC struck first with a quick unassisted goal from sophomore midfielder Tanner Cook. Notre Dame responded just as quickly with its own unassisted goal from Bryan Costabile just over a minute later.
The Tar Heels came back with another unassisted goal, this time from first-year Alex Trippi. Again, Notre Dame tied it up with a goal from Ryder Garnsey, assisted by Pierre Byrne. This made the score 2-2 at the end of the first quarter.
After a slow start to the second quarter, UNC started it off with an unassisted goal from junior attackman Timmy Kelly. Just like the first quarter, Notre Dame responded with a goal from Brendan Collins, assisted by Brendan Gleason.
In the back half of the second quarter, UNC scored its first back-to-back goals — the first a man-up goal from sophomore midfielder William Perry off an assist from junior attackman Andy Matthews. The second was a goal from Cook, assisted by Matthews.
Notre Dame came back with a goal from Garnsey, making the score 5-4 UNC at the end of the first half.
The third quarter started as slow as the second, with the first goal coming at the 5:06 mark from Notre Dame’s Costabile on a man-up possession. After four more scoreless minutes, the Fighting Irish scored again, this time from Byrne, assisted by Gleason.
With this sixth goal from Notre Dame, due to the tiebreaker scenario dependent on goals allowed, the Tar Heels were successfully eliminated from ACC tournament consideration even with a win in this game.
This didn’t stop the Tar Heels from competing, though — UNC came back with two quick goals, the first from junior midfielder Cole Haverty, assisted by Matthews, and the second goal from Matthews. This made the score 7-6 UNC at the end of the third quarter.
Notre Dame came back with an equalizer from Mikey Wynne, making the score 7-7 with 11 minutes left in the game. UNC quickly responded with an unassisted goal from Trippi less than a minute later.
This was followed by two quick Notre Dame goals — the first a man-up goal from Costabile, assisted by Jordan Walter, and the second an unassisted goal from Thomas McNamara, giving the Fighting Irish the lead with 8:25 remaining in the game.
With 4:31 remaining to play, senior attackman Chris Cloutier scored his first of two consecutive goals in less than a minute. The first came off an assist from Cook and the second was a man-up goal assisted by Perry. The second goal proved to be the game-winning one for the Tar Heels.
Who stood out?
For UNC, both Trippi and Matthews were big offensive threats throughout the game with Trippi scoring twice and Matthews assisting on three goals. But it was Cloutier, despite being quiet for the first three quarters, who stepped up for the Tar Heels when it mattered. In his last game for UNC, the senior scored the final two goals of the game to give his team the win.
Defensively, junior goalie Alex Bassil, who started the season as the fourth-string goalie, stepped up big for the Tar Heels. The Durham native ended the game with 14 saves on 23 shots, as well as a big game-winning save in the final seconds of competition.
When was it decided?
The game was decided with Cloutier’s second goal at 3:53 in the fourth quarter. This put the Tar Heels up with little time remaining, leaving the defense and Bassil to hold strong against a barrage of Notre Dame attempts.
Why does it matter?
Technically, after Notre Dame’s sixth goal from Byrne, this game didn’t matter for the Tar Heels as their season was effectively over. With each team standing at 1-3 in ACC play after this game, the tiebreaker came down to goals allowed, with UNC having allowed more goals this season than the Fighting Irish.
However, this win did matter for the team — who played for pride in the final half of the game. Although their season was over, UNC still fought to honor the seniors with a win in their final game as Tar Heels.
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