No. 17 Syracuse men’s lacrosse challenges No. 11 North Carolina
No. 17 Syracuse men’s lacrosse (7-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) is on an upward trend, following a 16-13 victory over then-No. 15 Princeton last week. The Orange have also bumped up eight spots in Inside Lacrosse’s national rankings since the win.
“We needed a road win against a ranked opponent,” head coach Gary Gait said following the victory. “It’s something we haven’t had all year.”
The Orange were up 15-13 at the end of the third quarter. They kept the Tigers scoreless in the final frame. SU freshman Joey Spallina tallied four goals total, marking his third four-goal game this year. The attacker also had five assists. His nine points against Princeton marked a new career high.
Following the win, the Long Islander was honored as ACC Offensive Player of the Week. He leads the Orange in scoring with 32 goals.
Also on the rookie side of things, SU freshman Finn Thompson secured three goals. Graduate attacker Cole Kirst matched that energy with a hat trick.
Syraucse recorded its first win on the faceoff front since Johns Hopkins in early March. The Orange beat the Tigers 20-13 in faceoff challenges.
“That’s a nice surprise to be on the upside of the faceoff game, especially against a ranked team,” said Gait.
This is all great news for SU, but its upcoming tests aren’t walks in the park. Syracuse takes on No. 11 North Carolina (7-4, 1-2 ACC) on Saturday in a neutral location, Olney, M.D.
The Orange have the best of the Tar Heels when it comes to all-time series history. Dating back to 1981, Syracuse leads North Carolina 18-12 in total wins. In recent years, however, UNC has defeated SU in the last four meetings.
The two squads also played each other back in February. The Tar Heels came away with a 19-13 win. UNC was SU’s first conference opponent this year. Nine different Carolina players got on the scoreboard, six of them tallying multiple goals.
Attackman Logan McGovern paced the Tar Heels with four goals. Senior Lance Tillman and sophomore Antonio DeMarco followed with three scores each.
McGovern and Tillman are two of only three UNC players who total 20-plus goals each this season. McGovern leads the team with 29 goals and Tillman records 21.
The third Tar Heel is grad student Sean Goldsmith and he has 22 goals to his name. The North Carolinian scored twice against Syracuse back in February.
That day on the Orange side, Spallina recorded three goals and two assists for SU. Owen Hiltz, Alex Simmons, and Cole Kirst each tallied two goals.
In net, senior goalie Will Mark saved under 48 percent of UNC’s shots. This was his second worst performance all season, after Notre Dame just this month.
Since then, both teams have struggled to find consistent wins. Syracuse has been North Carolina’s only conference victory. Saturday is one of only three chances left for SU to get a conference win under its belt. Following North Carolina, Syracuse takes on No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Duke to close out the regular season.
“We’ll be well prepared,” said Gait on the upcoming challenge. “We’ve seen them once this year already and we’ll get to play them down in Maryland. It will be good.”
The Orange and the Tar Heels go head to head Saturday in Olney at 4 p.m. WAER’s coverage begins at 3:30 with McClurg Team Countdown to Faceoff.