Trailing by three with under five minutes to play and man-down, the No. 6 Syracuse men's lacrosse team (7-4, 4-0 ACC) looked to have little chance of finishing a perfect season in ACC play.
However, Syracuse did what Syracuse does, completing a furious comeback to down North Carolina (6-7, 0-3 ACC) 13-12 in overtime. The win extended their conference winning streak to nine games, extending 742 days. The Orange are the ACC regular season champions and earned the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament.
Brendan Curry and Brendan Bomberry provided the late spark. After Stephen Rehfuss pulled Syracuse to within two with 4:26 remaining, it was the true freshman who the Tar Heels had no answer for. Curry scored with 1:34 remaining, dodging his way down the alley from the midfield line and scoring on the run to pull Syracuse to within a goal and give the team life. Danny Varello won the ensuing faceoff (he claimed 16-of-27 on the day and led the team with eight ground balls) and it was Curry again who equalized it. The rookie fired a rocket past UNC goalkeeper Alex Bassil to tie it at 12.
After another Varello faceoff win in the extra frame, Curry inverted to X and found Brendan Bomberry on the doorstep to win it.
The game-winner: Curry to Bomberry pic.twitter.com/L10b5H8lBs— Syracuse Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) April 14, 2018
In addition to Varello's 16-of-27 day at the X, Nate Solomon's four-goal day led the way for 'Cuse. Curry (3-1), Brendan Bomberry (2-1), Rehfuss (1-1) and Matt Lane (2-0) all had multi-point days for the Orange as well. Nick Mellen caused two turnovers to lead the defense, while Dom Madonna made seven saves.
"I thought it was a great lacrosse game," head coach John Desko said. "I wasn't feeling too good when we were down three and they were man up with not a lot of time left, but it was a great experience for us to fight through that and come back to win the game in overtime."
'Cuse also won the ground ball battle 34-31 and went 2-of-5 on man-up opportunities.
College lacrosse rankings: Albany ranked No. 1, Villanova safely in Top 10
Despite fast back-and-forth action to start the game, 'Cuse and North Carolina finished the first quarter tied at one after Pat Carlin and Timmy Kelly scored for each team in the frame.
The Orange opened things up in the second, with Solomon and Lane (twice), each scoring. However, a goal by Matt Gavin with nine seconds left in the half, evened things up once again after William Perry, Gavin and Chris Cloutier added tallies for UNC.
Carolina scored the first two of the second half, with Perry and Steven Schneider scoring to lead 6-4 at the 8:53 mark of the third, but Bomberry's low-to-high blast and a David Lipka tally knotted things at six 2.5 minutes later.
The Tar Heels wouldn't let the Orange get the lead however, as Kelly and Alex Trippi scored back-to-back goals to continue to distance themselves. But Solomon wouldn't let them get away. The junior scored three of the game's next four goals to notch the game at nine apiece with just under 13 minutes left in regulation.
A 3-0 Tar Heel run from Jack Rowlett, Gavin and Trippi made the Orange's chances look bleak, but the 'Cuse comeback marked the 15th one-goal game in Syracuse's last-26 games. SU holds a 13-2 record in those contests.
Syracuse returns to action on Saturday, hosting Navy for Military Appreciation Day in the Carrier Dome. Faceoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET, with the game to be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.