The No. 11 Syracuse men's lacrosse team (8-3, 2-2 ACC) dominated the third quarter and scored 10 of the game's final-12 goals to defeat No. 18 North Carolina 12-9 (7-5, 1-2 ACC) on Saturday in the conference finale by a score of 12-9.
Senior Nate Solomon was the Orange's offensive leader on a day where he'd face his younger brother Nicky, who starts for the Tar Heels, scoring three goals and adding an assist. The Orange defense was stout once again, holding their opponent under double-digits for the third-straight contest. Drake Porter made 12 saves in cage to chair that effort.
"Good to come down here and get the win today," said head coach John Desko. "I thought we started off good, but Carolina came roaring back in the first and we were able to do the same in the second quarter to make it a game. In the second half we played Syracuse lacrosse, I thought our defense was stingy and Drake Porter was good all game long and we had some really good possessions. Obviously, Danny Varello came in and did an outstanding job to give us all those possessions to help us get back in the game.”
'Cuse got contributions from eight scorers on the day. Behind Solomon's hat trick, Stephen Rehfuss (2-1), Brendan Curry (1-1), Bradley Voigt (1-2), David Lipka (1-0), Jacob Buttermore (2-0), Pat Carlin (1-0) and Peter Dearth (1-0) factored in the scoring. Danny Varello was stout at the faceoff X, winning 13-of-18, including a 10-for-10 start to the game.
The first half featured back-and-forth action as neither team could pull away. Syracuse scored on its first two shots by Dearth and Curry to take the early lead. Nicky Solomon scored on an assist from Andy Matthews to put North Carolina on the scoreboard and spark the Tar Heels on a 6-0 scoring run. Nicky Solomon and Matthews connected twice during the run, which spanned the final 11:12 of the first quarter and 1:07 of the second and gave North Carolina a 6-2 lead.
Jacob Buttermore halted the run with his first goal of the day on an assist from Voigt at the 12:30 mark of the second quarter. Buttermore's goal was the first of four-straight for the Orange as the game was tied at 6-6 with 6:13 to go before halftime. The Tar Heels scored a man-up goal to re-take the lead, but Rehfuss picked up the rebound on Lipka's shot that hit the post and scored as the teams went to the locker rooms at intermission tied at 7-7.
The third quarter was all Orange. Carlin broke the tie with his second goal of the year. Lipka and Voigt also found the back of the net before Nate Solomon scored with .9 seconds on the clock to give Syracuse an 11-7 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Orange outshot the Tar Heels, 12-5, in the period as Syracuse shutout its opponent in a quarter for the fourth time this season.
Nate Solomon extended the scoring run with the first goal of the fourth quarter as the Orange took their largest lead of the day at 12-7. North Carolina recorded the final two goals of the game for the 12-9 final. The win is the third straight for Syracuse as it improves its record to 7-3 overall, 2-2 in ACC play.
'Cuse will conclude their regular season next Saturday when they travel to Annapolis, Md. to play Navy. The Orange will then play in the ACC Tournament, where their seeding will be determined based on the result of the Notre Dame and North Carolina game next Saturday. Currently, the Orange are tied for second with Duke (2-2) and Virginia (4-0) owns the No. 1 seed, but the Tar Heels (1-2) and Fighting Irish (1-2) result will determine where teams fall in the tiebreak scenarios.
GAME NOTES: This is the 58th game in a row that the Orange are victorious when holding their opponent to less than 10 goals ... John Desko passed longtime Maryland Head Coach Jack Farber for 18th on the NCAA Division I wins list with 252 ... The Orange have finished .500 or better in the nation's top conference in five-straight seasons.