SU lacrosse can’t catch up to No. 16 UNC in physical matchup

SU LAX can't catch up to UNC in physical matchup

No. 18 Syracuse's defense lacks in 19-13 home loss.
Published: February 25, 2023
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Syracuse's Joey Spallina (22) attempts a shot on goal as multiple UNC players defend during an ACC men's lacrosse game on Feb. 25, 2023 at the JMA Wireless Dome.

The Syracuse Orange began ACC play on Saturday hosting No. 16 University of North Carolina, and it’s safe to say the physicality picked up in this one proved to be much too for SU. The Orange fell to the Tar Heels 19-13.

Despite being called for 11 penalties compared to SU’s four, the Tar Heel defense was physical and tough, which enabled them to handle the game situations when they were a man-down.

UNC head coach Joe Breschi was impressed with how his team handled the pressure of being in the JMA Wireless Dome. The Tar Heels were able to block out the noise, and instead just went out and executed.

“We had that same mentality this week of backs against the wall,” Breschi said. “We came out fighting and scrapping, and I think that’s what we did today.”

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Syracuse's Griffin Cook (2) works his way through midfield.

It wasn’t just defensively where UNC outplayed No. 18 Orange, but also on the offensive side. The Tar Heels were led by the trio of Logan McGovern (four goals), Lance Tillman (three goals) and Antonio DeMarco (three goals). UNC also outshot SU 49-42 in the game. 

The Tar Heels had an advantage in the goalie department making 17 total saves compared to Syracuse goalie Will Mark’s 12 saves.

SU head coach Gary Gait pointed out that it can be very difficult on a goalie when he’s facing 49 shots in a game.

“(Will Mark will) bounce back,” Gait said. “ He’s a competitor and he wants to be successful, but it takes an entire defense to help make those saves.”

Regardless of the loss, the stars for the Orange still showed up offensively, it just didn’t happen to be enough this afternoon. Freshman phenom Joey Spallina led the way with three goals to give him 15 total on the season. Meanwhile, attack Owen Hiltz showcased this versatility in the game scoring two goals to go with three assists. 

Although Syracuse didn’t come out with the win, Hiltz discussed how there were many positives to take away from the game.

“We didn’t quit after the first half. We came back out and showed some fire and grit,” Hiltz said. “We’re definitely not quitters here.”

The Orange certainly showed fire in the third period when they scored four unanswered goals in a row. But, UNC still managed to have a 13-10 lead while this sequence occurred.

Anytime that Syracuse would come close, UNC would always have an answer. It got to the point where SU just couldn’t keep up. The Orange lost to UNC by a final score of 19-13. The next time these two teams will face each other will be on April 15 in Olney, Maryland.

The Orange’s schedule will not get any easier. Next up is the No. 1o team in the country Duke, who will visit the Dome Sunday at 4 p.m.

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Syracuse's Luke Rhoa (8) shoots and scores as UNC attempts to block.