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No. 2 seed Syracuse women's lacrosse falls 15-9 to No. 3 seed North Carolina in ACC semifinals

girl running with lacrosse stick and ball
SU's Meaghan Tyrrell enters the offensive zone against North Carolina.

With Syracuse's defense scrambling to cover, Kaleigh Harden found Caitlyn Wurzburger behind the cage. Wurzburger swiftly moved the ball to Melissa Sconone in front of the net, and the senior did the rest. As the ball flew past Delaney Sweitzer and into the goal, North Carolina took a commanding 8-0 lead.

It was a brutal beginning for No. 2 seed Syracuse (16-1, 8-1 Atlantic Coastal Conference) in its 15-9 loss to No. 3 seed North Carolina (13-3, 7-2 ACC) in the ACC semifinals. The Tar Heels opened with eight straight goals spanning over 20 minutes. Freshman Carolina Godine led all scorers with six goals and sunk the Orange for the second time in their last three games. With the win, UNC advances to face Boston College in the conference championship game on Sunday afternoon.

After Syracuse's opening possession came up empty, North Carolina's Sconone and Wurzburger found themselves in a 2-on-1 breakaway. The pair passed back and forth before Sconone fired a shot past SU goalkeeper Delaney Sweitzer for the game's first goal less than a minute in. A few minutes later, two fouls from defenders Katie Goodale and Hallie Simkins set up the Tar Heels with two free position attempts. Marissa White converted the first shot, then Reilly Casey followed suit, increasing UNC's lead to 3-0.

Already down three despite winning all three draws, SU's deficit only worsened after its only advantage disappeared. North Carolina won three of the following four draws, turning in three more goals to make the score 6-0. Sierra Cockerille had the Orange's best chance to score with three minutes left in the first, but a defender whacked the ball out of her stick as she attempted a shot. On its next attempt, Maddy Baxter was triple-teamed by the UNC defense, forcing its fourth turnover. SU failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this season.

The Tar Heels continued to extend their lead into the second quarter. Goals by Alyssa White and Sconone put SU in an eight-goal hole. The Orange had their best scoring chance when Savannah Sweitzer hit Emma Ward with a nifty pass at the 10-minute mark, but Ward smacked a shot off the post to keep her team scoreless.

With 9:12 remaining in the second, Sierra Cockerille finally got Syracuse on the board when she beat Alecia Nicholas, making it 8-1. Both teams traded goals over the next nine minutes. Then, Caroline Godine ripped a shot past Sweitzer with four seconds left to put UNC up 10-2 at the break. The Orange entered the game with the nation's highest shot percentage (.516) but only converted 2-of-17 attempts after two quarters.

But SU fought back in the third period, tallying four straight goals to cut the deficit to five. After Meaghan Tyrrell's first score made it 12-4, Ward found Olivia Adamson cutting toward the cage. The sophomore finished in the top right of the net, getting within seven. Megan Carney added her first goal to the Orange's run less than a minute later. Ward would score the fourth in a row for Syracuse after snapping the ankles of defender Livi Lawton, who tripped in the net and allowed the junior to finish bottom left.

Godine would get one back for the Tar Heels, who led 13-7 after three.

In the fourth, Nicole Humphrey and Godine helped seal the victory for UNC, scoring the first two goals of the final quarter. Meaghan Tyrrell and Savannah Sweitzer would each strike twine for SU, but it was too little too late in a 15-9 Tar Heels win.

While the Orange will not receive an automatic qualifying bid, they will undoubtedly receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. SU finds out its first opponent during the Selection Show on May 7.