CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Trailing by three goals with less than four minutes to play, the unranked University of North Carolina men's lacrosse team staged a stunning late rally to defeat seventh-ranked Syracuse in the first round of the 2019 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Lacrosse Tournament before 942 at UNC Lacrosse Stadium Thursday night.
The victory kept UNC's NCAA post-season hopes alive as it improved to 8-6 on the season while Syracuse saw its four-game winning streak come to an end. The Orange is now 9-4 on the campaign.
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UNC, seeded fifth in the tournament, will play top-seeded Virginia Saturday at 2 p.m. in the semifinals of the tournament followed by second-seeded Duke against third-seeded Notre Dame at 4:30 p.m. The two winners Saturday play for the ACC championship on Saturday, May 4 at the home site of the highest remaining seed.
4️ goals in 4️ minutes— UNC Men's Lacrosse (@UNCMensLacrosse) April 26, 2019
Call it a comeback! pic.twitter.com/86v690S9Nh
The late Tar Heel comeback marked the first time UNC has ever trailed the Orange in the fourth quarter of a game and come back to win in the 27-game history of the series which dates back to 1981. Thursday's win was the ninth for the Tar Heels in the series compared to 18 wins over Syracuse.
Syracuse broke a 7-7 deadlock on Jacob Buttermore's third goal of the game with 11:43 to play in the fourth quarter. Bradley Voigt followed with his fourth goal of the game at the 8:31 mark to make it 9-7 in favor of Syracuse and when Brendan Curry tallied a man-up goal with 6:12 to play in the final period the Orange had a three-goal lead and had all the momentum on its side.
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After a media timeout, Syracuse had three possessions but Michael Nathan, Brian Cameron and Nicky Solomon forced turnovers to keep the Tar Heels alive in the match. Solomon forced a turnover by Orange goalkeeper Drake Porter with 4:13 to play and Andy Matthews seized the ground ball. Sixteen seconds later Matt Gavin drove around the crease from right to left for an unassisted goal with 3:46 to play in the match.
Carolina's Zachary Tucci won the ensuing face-off for Carolina and freshman attackman Brian Cameron scored off an assist from freshman attackman Nicky Solomon 39 seconds later to cut the Tar Heel deficit to 10-9. Carolina then made it three goals in a span of just 45 seconds as Tucci won another face-off, claimed the ground ball on his own and sped down the middle of the field to score high and hard past SU goalkeeper Drake Porter with 3:01 to play. It was just the second goal of the season for Tucci.
Syracuse won the next face-off but Caton Johnson made his 11th save of the game for the Tar Heels on a shot by David Lipka with 2:09 to play. After a successful clear, Gavin was again Johnny-on-the-spot for the Tar Heels as he dodged toward the crease from the right side and scored a second unassisted goal in the fourth quarter with 18 seconds left on the shot clock.
After Syracuse won the ensuing face-off both teams turned the ball over and the Orange called a timeout with 26 seconds to play after clearing the ball. Jamie Trimboli's shot with eight seconds left went wide and the Tar Heel defense clamped down and did not allow another shot by the Orange.
Carolina had eight different goal scorers in the game with Brian Cameron, William Perry and Matt Gavin each scoring two goals. Nicky Solomon, Justin Anderson, Tanner Cook, Zachary Tucci and Jacob Kelly all scored single goals for UNC. Anderson, Cameron, Timmy Kelly, Perry and Solomon had assists for UNC.
Bradley Voigt had four goals and an assist for Syracuse while Jacob Buttermore had three goals and an assist. Brendan Curry, Jamie Trimboli and Nate Solomon all scored for the Orange. Stephen Rehfuss led all players in the game with four assists while David Lipka had two helpers for the Orange.
It was a very even game statistically as the Tar Heels outshot the Orange 38-32 and had a 32-31 edge in ground balls. Drake Porter made 12 saves for Syracuse and Caton Johnson had 11 saves for the Tar Heels. Syracuse had 15 turnovers, five on failed clears, while UNC committed 16 turnovers and was 12 for 13 in the clearing game.
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UNC won 14 of 24 face-offs as Zachary Tucci was 10 of 19 at the X and Ryan O'Connell was four of five. Attackman Andy Matthews led UNC with five ground balls while O'Connell and Tucci each had four ground balls for the Tar Heels. Syracuse defenseman Tyson Bomberry had eight ground balls to lead all players in the game in that category.
After Syracuse jumped on top 2-0, UNC answered with back-to-back goals by William Perry, the second on an EMO, to tie the score at 2-2 with 6:17 left in the first period. Trimboli's unassisted goal put Syracuse up 3-2 at the end of the period.
Goals by freshmen Nicky Solomon and Brian Cameron gave the Tar Heels their first lead of the game with 11:11 left in the half before a goal by Voigt at 10:24 proved to be the last goal of the opening 30 minutes.
Syracuse outscored the Tar Heels 3-2 in the third quarter. Nate Solomon's unassisted goal with two seconds to play in the quarter gave the Orange a 7-6 lead heading into the final 15 minutes. Justin Anderson drove from behind the goal to score unassisted with 12:49 to play to tie things up again at 7-7. Just 1:06 later Syracuse began its three-goal scoring run, setting up the wild finish over the final 12 minutes with momentum swinging strongly to Syracuse and then back to Carolina.
- William Perry had three points in the game. He now has 78 career points and is tied for 60th in UNC history in the category with Dan Levy
- Timmy Kelly has recorded at least one point in 19 straight games dating back to March 24, 2018.
- Nicky Solomon has now scored a goal in each of his 14 games as a freshman.
- Timmy Kelly increased his career point total to 104. He is 40th in career points at Carolina.
- William Perry has 60 career goals. That's tied for 45th in Tar Heel history.