Chester, Pa. – A quick take on Syracuse’s late 9-8 ACC semi-final victory over North Carolina Friday evening at chilly PPL Park in suburban Philadelphia:
WHAT HAPPENED: In the expected back-and-forth affair, after UNC rallied late in the second quarter to tie the game at halftime 5-5, the Orange opened up an 8-6 lead heading into the final period, before UNC came back to tie the game 8-8 with 11:00 to play, and the Orange finally ended a nearly 24 minute second half scoring drought on Kevin Rice’s goal with 1:48 to play to win it.
WHAT IT MEANS: Syracuse avenged its 17-15 regular season loss to the Heels on April 11, and SU will play for the ACC championship for the second straight season. The Orange also looks to raise its seeding in the upcoming NCAA Tournament by winning twice in this event.
STAR GAZING: Goalie Bobby Wardell more than made up for his poor showing in SU’s regular season loss to the Heels by finishing with 14 saves, many from point blank range. On offense, Nicky Galasso had another strong game against UNC with three goals, while Ben Williams won 14 of 21 faceoffs.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange advance to the ACC Final Sunday afternoon against No. 4 seed Duke. The Blue Devils upset No. 1 seed Notre Dame in Friday’s first semifinal, holding off a late Irish comeback to win 13-8. SU dominated Duke in the regular season 19-7 at the Dome on March 22. Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPNU.