Syracuse got things going a little too late.
Down by as many as seven in the second half, and 17-11 with 9:17 left, No. 2 Syracuse pulled to within two goals with just over 90 seconds left. But a key turnover ended any hopes of an SU comeback, and No. 4 North Carolina came away with a win in SU’s first trip to Chapel Hill since 1993.
The Tar Heels immediately put Syracuse in a hole, racing out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, and took a 10-6 lead into halftime. At half, the Orange benched goalie Bobby Wardwell, who only had three saves on the afternoon.
Junior Warren Hill started the second half, and ended up with five saves, but it wasn’t enough, as the Tar Heels built a 14-7 lead in the third quarter. It was the largest deficit the Orange had faced this season.
But SU did make things interesting, scoring four straight goals as part of a six-goal fourth quarter. Tom Grimm’s with 1:52 remaining pulled SU to within 17-15.
The Orange appeared to have momentum on its side at that point, with a 30 second man-up opportunity and possession. Syracuse coach John Desko called timeout with 1:20 left to set up a play, but the Orange appeared discombobulated, and never got off a shot coming out of the break.
Instead, Kevin Rice turned the ball over with 29 seconds left, effectively ending the game.
Dylan Donahue led Syracuse with five goals and an assist. Ben Williams won 21 of 35 at the faceoff X, but only won seven in the second half.
Joey Sankey led North Carolina with three points, and in the process, became the all-time leading scorer in UNC history with 214. He broke the previous record (213) held by Marcus Holman from 2010-13.