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'Really proud of the effort': late push for UNC men's lacrosse isn't enough for loss to No. 7 Syracuse

20240413_Liu_Mens-lax-game-vs-Syracuse-103.jpg
UNC goalkeeper Collin Krieg gaurds the goal during a men's lacrosse game versus Syracuse on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Dorrance Field.

Trailing by six goals to No. 7 Syracuse with less than six minutes left in the third quarter, North Carolina nearly mounted a comeback.

All week, the coaching staff had told them, “Control what you can control.”

The Tar Heels couldn’t change the fact they were down six goals, but they could control how the next 21 minutes would go. For the remainder of the game, that’s what they did. North Carolina controlled the game on both ends, shutting down Syracuse’s offense while slowly chipping away at the deficit.

With 1:48 left in the game, graduate attackman Logan McGovern scored to bring UNC to within one. The Tar Heels won the ensuing face-off and had two opportunities to score, but their comeback fell short in a 10-9 loss.

“You’re down 10-4, and these guys kept battling and momentum shifted," head coach Joe Breschi said, "And we had our opportunities, and we had an opportunity to tie the game late. It’s unfortunate but really proud of the effort and the battle.” 

It was the team’s fourth straight loss and third consecutive time losing by a single goal at Dorrance Field. Despite the team’s quick start to begin the game, going up 3-0 in the first nine minutes, North Carolina allowed Syracuse to go on a 10-1 scoring run, putting the Tar Heels in the six-goal hole they found themselves in.

“You can’t afford to give up runs and obviously teams are going to go on runs," first-year attackman Owen Duffy said, "but against a good team you can’t have droughts like that."

The Tar Heels endured two separate scoring droughts of nearly 21 and 11 minutes, a trend that has plagued North Carolina during its losing streak.

UNC couldn't afford to go on sustained droughts against Syracuse. Not against Orange goalkeeper Will Mark, who ranks top-25 in the NCAA in both goals against average and save percentage. Not against Syracuse's attackman Joey Spallina, who leads the country in total points

“[Syracuse] has a good defense, has a really good goalie,” McGovern said. “I thought we had great shots in the first half in general. He made a couple good saves. We were getting our looks.”

In addition to the inability to score, the Tar Heels couldn’t hold onto the ball. They turned the ball over 21 times — the second-largest total of the season and the second straight game with 20-plus giveaways.

But Breschi remained optimistic in spite of the loss.

“[I’m going to tell them] how proud I was of them and that they can beat anyone in the country. It’s just a matter of finishing out those opportunities,” Breschi said. “Just incredibly proud of the fight down 10-4 and coming back and having a chance to tie it. They’re battling.”

North Carolina is 1-5 against ranked opponents this season and may go a third straight season without an NCAA tournament appearance.

With impending games against No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 4 Duke, and a trip to the ACC tournament on the line, there are still more giants left to face and opportunities for the Tar Heels to boost their resume.

“When you have three one-goal losses, you’re 6-6 when you could be 9-3," Breschi said, "and that’s a fact."

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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