CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina’s men’s lacrosse team gained a bit of revenge Thursday night as it knocked Syracuse University out of the Atlantic Coast Conference playoffs.
The fifth-seeded Tar Heels stormed back by scoring four unanswered goals in the fourth quarter to edge the fourth-seeded Orange, 11-10, in a conference first-round playoff game at UNC Lacrosse Stadium.
North Carolina (8-6), which lost to Syracuse, 12-9 on April 13, advances to play top-seeded Virginia in an ACC semifinal on Saturday, also in Chapel Hill.
In this meeting, the Orange led 7-6 heading into the fourth quarter and expanded the advantage to a seemingly commanding 10-7 lead with just over seven minutes to play.
But the Tar Heels responded by generating the next four goals, including Matt Gavin’s unassisted tally with 1 minute and seven seconds remaining, to take the lead for good, and Syracuse was unable to get a good look as time expired.
This also marks the third straight year Syracuse has lost its opening game in the ACC Tournament, including a 16-15 loss to North Carolina in a semifinal in 2017.
“I thought Carolina played really well tonight,” Syracuse coach John Desko said. “They were a team that had to win and they showed it.”
Syracuse, which had its winning streak snapped at four games, stands at 9-4 on the season.
Gavin finished with two goals for North Carolina, and William Perry and Brian Cameron each contributed two goals and an assist.
Bradley Voigt led the way offensively for the Orange with five points, including four goals, and Jacob Buttermore registered a hat trick and an assist.
Brendan Curry, Jamie Trimboli and Nate Solomon scored a goal each for Syracuse.
Goalie Drake Porter made 12 saves for the Orange.
“We had a lot of turnovers in the first half and I thought we worked our way through it,” Desko added. “Then when we finally got the three-goal lead I think we felt too comfortable too early.”
Tyson Bomberry tied a career-high by totaling eight ground balls for the Orange, while Nick Mellen caused three turnovers.
Syracuse, which is ranked No. 7 in the nation, will now wait to see if it will qualify for the NCAA Tournament as the field will be announced next Sunday.