By James Anderson Photo by Kerry Bretti SYRACUSE, N.Y. – After yet another heartbreaking overtime loss on Tuesday to Cornell for the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team, and its four loss in five games, it was understandable to assume that the Orange were in a low place. With 11th ranked ACC opponent North Carolina coming in to […]
By James Anderson
Photo by Kerry Bretti
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – After yet another heartbreaking overtime loss on Tuesday to Cornell for the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team, and its four loss in five games, it was understandable to assume that the Orange were in a low place. With 11th ranked ACC opponent North Carolina coming in to town, and a loss to the Tar Heels meaning Syracuse falling further behind in the conference standings, Syracuse was in need of a rebound.
And the Orange did just that, fending off a second half-long UNC rally to pick up the win over the Tar Heels, 13-7 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon. Nick Mariano and Sergio Salcido both notched hat tricks for the Orange, with Michael Tagliaferri notching four goals in the counterattack for North Carolina. Tim Barber and Jordan Evans knocked in two for Syracuse in the winning effort, and goalie Evan Molloy pulled in nine saves in net for the Orange.
“I thought these guys, our guys just had a tremendous effort today,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “I thought we came ready to play, sensed it in the locker room that there was a lot of energy there, and to come out and get that lead in the 1st half was big for us.”
Strong SU start, long Tar Heels’ drought
Syracuse established a lead as big as six in the first half, proving to be the difference maker as North Carolina did not overcome the deficit; despite a hard charge in the second half to battle back, the lead never shrank below two for the Orange.
22:42 minutes of game time passed during North Carolina’s long drought, with a Luke Goldstock goal finally breaking through and jump-starting a strong third quarter for the Tar Heels.
“I thought the defense was very, very stingy, and we slid into cover better than we have all year…we’ve been working on that, so it’s nice to see that pay off.” said Desko.
Dominant Orange first half
The squads traded goals to open the contest, with Barber and Salcido starting up their productive days with a goal apiece, and two goals from Tagliaferri for North Carolina in response. However, Syracuse locked in after UNC’s score making it even at two, and ripped off six straight goals for the rest of the half to take a solid lead into halftime, 8-2. Nick Mariano picked up two goals of his hat trick during this stretch, Salcido and Barber scored for their second goals each, and Joe Gillis and Dylan Donahue joined in on the run. Donahue lead the game in assists with four dishes for Syracuse.
UNC Closes Gap, But Can’t Overcome
As mentioned, the Tar Heels ended their drought quickly in the third quarter, but actually started up a run of their own on the Orange, outpacing Syracuse 4-1 in the quarter to draw within three with the final quarter remaining. Syracuse’s only tally in the 15 minute stretch on Salcido’s hat trick-completing goal, but the Tar Heels wrestled control and momentum away in a four goal run, carrying into the fourth quarter.
Tagliaferri was the prime motivator, splashing in two more goals to up his total to four, and trimming the lead down to two with 12:23 left. Goldstock picked up his second score, and Jake Matthai joined in with a strike, but despite the run, the Tar Heels did not come any closer.
“I think what we saw in this game is that when our defense kind of needed something, our offense and Benny (Ben Voigt) put on for us, they got us the ball, they put the ball in the net, and then you know, if the offense is having trouble at times, we get the stops, and that’s a great team win,” Syracuse goalie Evan Molloy said.
Syracuse slammed home four goals in a row of its own to put it away for good, shaking off previous issues of the Orange finishing games, and more importantly, avoiding going to overtime, where Syracuse has been snake-bitten three times this season. Jordan Evans piled up his two goals for the day in the rally, with Mariano racking his third, and Nick Weston joining in, giving the Orange the decisive 13-7 win.
“Well, I think the game started to play out in the second half like some of our overtime losses, where the other team came back, we weren’t able to sustain the lead.” Desko said.
“And tonight I thought between some of the faceoffs, it was great, and our defense really, you know, holding them and playing good defense keeping the goals down, and our offense able to counter and put some goals up to create a bigger lead going down in the 4th quarter, that’s something that we haven’t had in those losses, so just the way it played out, we were challenged again, they got within a couple and we were able to overcome that, which we hadn’t done earlier.”
With the victory, Syracuse qualified for the upcoming ACC Tournament in its last ACC conference game of the season, and with one final game remaining on the schedule.
Desko was asked about the team needing the win after the tough losses prior, and interjected with a smile, “Well, you guys keep saying that”, referring to the media coverage during the week.
Syracuse moved to 7-4 and finished even in the ACC schedule at 2-2. as North Carolina dropped to 6-5 for the year, and its first ACC loss. (2-1) The Orange is at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday, hosting non-conference opponent Binghamton. ACC tournament play begins Friday, April 29th. Syracuse has one more home game after the ACC tournament, with Colgate coming in on Saturday, May 7.