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Late goal from Chris Gray gives UNC men's lacrosse 14-13 win over Syracuse

UNC graduate attackman Chris Gray (4) looks for an open pass during a men's lacrosse game on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, against Johns Hopkins University.

A game-winning goal from Chris Gray gave the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team a 14-13 win over Syracuse. 

What happened?

The Syracuse Orange made the trip down the coast to try and get a much needed win in ACC action against the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

Between the two teams, 26 players were from the state of New York. Whether from the Long Island area or Upstate New York, New York lacrosse was on display today. Syracuse senior midfielder Jacob Buttermore scored right out the jump for the Orange.

Less than 45 seconds later, North Carolina’s sophomore midfielder Cole Herbert split-dodged down the left alley causing a defender to go the complete opposite way, which drew a slide from the defense. Herbert dumped the ball to Lance Tillman who kicked it to Dewey Egan that got them on the board. 

The rest of the first quarter was dominated by the Tar Heels with the team going on a 4-0 run after Egan’s goal to end the first quarter. 

Syracuse completely flipped the switch in the second quarter. After the Orange “big three” of midfielders Owen Seebold, Brendan Curry and Tucker Dordevic went scoreless in the first quarter, the trio put together four goals in the second quarter to cut the lead to 6-5 UNC at halftime. 

Lacrosse is a game of runs and that never disappoints. Just when North Carolina gained control up 10-5 with 6:30 minutes left to play, Syracuse put together three goals to close out the third quarter to make it 10-8 UNC. 

The fourth quarter was textbook April lacrosse, with every player smelling May with the NCAA Tournament on the horizon. After a two minute non-releasable cross-check, Syracuse scored two man-up goals to cut the lead 12-11.

With 2:16 left in the contest Curry ripped a shot past UNC sophomore goalie Collin Krieg to go up 13-12. After a failed clear from Syracuse, Tillman scored from an assist from Kelly. 

All tied at 13-13, Zac Tucci won the faceoff, and UNC took the ball behind. Kelly got a defender to slide and reversed the ball to Gray. Gray drove around the right side of the goal, got the defender to bite and took a jump shot and scored to go up 14-13 with 15 seconds left.

Who stood out? 

North Carolina senior attackmen Chris Gray did Chris Gray things today with five goals and an assist. The plays in his repertoire are unmatched to any other player in college lacrosse. Defenses have to slide to him, which causes so much havoc on offense.

Senior attackmen Jacob Kelly recorded four assists and Nicky Solomon finished with three goals and an assist to propel the Tar Heels. Running midfield allowed Kelly and Solomon to match up against short stick defenders coming out of the box, every attackmen dreams. This made Syracuse defenders slide extremely quickly and freed up other UNC players.   

For the Orange, Dordevic, one of the best players in college lacrosse, showed fans why he is at the top. Defenses can’t stop him, and rolling back to his dominant hand – his right hand –  is a score almost every time. He moves without the ball which causes the defense to move, and opens up the offense. 

When was it decided?

The game was neck-and-neck the whole time until Gray scored with 15 seconds left to give the Tar Heels the victory. 

Why does it matter?

Both teams were in need of a win in Chapel Hill. Syracuse lost its last three games, but UNC’s win gave the team its first conference victory of the season.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to action on Thursday against No. 10 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. at 6 p.m. 

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