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The Daily Tar Heel

Big second quarter propels UNC men's lacrosse to 19-13 win over Syracuse in ACC opener

UNC senior attackman Lance Tillman (0) passes the ball during the men’s lacrosse game against Mercer at Dorrance Field on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. UNC won 25-3.

The No. 12 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team (3-1, 1-0 ACC) beat No. 19 Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 ACC), 19-13, in its conference opener at the JMA Wireless Dome on Saturday afternoon.

What happened?

In their first ACC matchup of the season, the Orange got on the board just over a minute into the game with a goal from Owen Hiltz. UNC graduate midfielder Henry Schertzinger answered quickly on the Tar Heels’ next possession to tie up the game early. 

North Carolina’s next score came quickly after a Syracuse turnover, with a goal scored by graduate midfielder Harry Wellford, just his second of the season. The Tar Heels capitalized off another turnover by Syracuse’s Saam Olexo, resulting in a score by first-year attackman James Matan. Syracuse’s response was a quick score off a ground ball pick up to trim UNC's lead to 3-2.

A penalty on graduate defenseman Andrew Geppert, produced an extra-man opportunity and a goal for Syracuse. A similar play had the same result about three minutes later, resulting in another Syracuse score to put the Orange up one with 2:55 left in the first period. A pair of goals by sophomore midfielder Antonio DeMarco and senior attackman Lance Tillman 39 seconds apart put the Tar Heels up one at the end of the first.

Graduate attackman Logan McGovern’s score for the Tar Heels brought North Carolina up one after a quick Syracuse goal at the beginning of the second period. A response from graduate attackman Sean Goldsmith extended the Tar Heels’ lead by two. Ending a three-minute scoring drought for both teams, Henry Schertzinger added another goal to North Carolina’s lead. Senior defenseman Matt Wright scored a fourth unanswered goal to make the score 9-5, UNC. 

The Orange ended their offensive struggle with a behind-the-back goal from Griffin Cook. North Carolina brought its lead up to five with two straight goals — one from Goldsmith, North Carolina’s first man-up goal, and one from McGovern, who capitalized off Syracuse goalie Will Mark stepping out of the goal. DeMarco closed out the half with a last-second goal to double Syracuse, 12-6.

McGovern scored right out of the half for the Tar Heels, but three unanswered goals from the Orange showed clear offensive improvements after a lacking second period. Tillman was the first to end the seven-minute scoring drought, where junior goalie Collin Krieg and Mark combined for six saves.

Three minutes into the final period, Tillman capitalized on a ground ball pickup to score for the Tar Heels. A third straight goal was scored by sophomore midfielder Johnny Schwarz. Syracuse followed up aggressively scoring two unanswered goals in three minutes. North Carolina was up five again with another Tillman goal. The Tar Heels responded to another Syracuse goal with a score from DeMarco on an assist from McGovern. McGovern added a final goal to seal the 19-13 win.

Who stood out? 

Krieg’s skill in the box helped the Tar Heels’ defensive efforts. His 12 saves kept Syracuse from taking over the lead.

Nine different Tar Heels scored against the Orange. However, it was the offensive efforts of Tillman, McGovern, and DeMarco that gave the team clutch goals in key situations, combining for nine goals in the afternoon.

When was it decided?

In the second period, North Carolina held Syracuse to only two goals. This offensive show helped the Tar Heels’ change the momentum of the game. Despite Syracuse’s best efforts, the Orange couldn’t make up the deficit. 

Why does it matter?

In North Carolina’s first ACC matchup of the season, they proved that they are a legitimate contender for the ACC title. Beating out a ranked conference opponent on the road shows that the Tar Heels can compete, but also can make changes to come out with a win. 

When do they play next?

North Carolina will take on Denver next Saturday in Chapel Hill at Dorrance Field. The game is an early matchup at 11 a.m. and can be streamed on ACCNX.


@dthsports |

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