After trailing by as many as nine goals in the second quarter, Syracuse nearly mounted an improbable comeback, pulling to within a single goal after Brendan Bomberry’s man-up goal with 27 seconds left.
Ben Williams won the ensuing faceoff, setting up a potential tying possession. But North Carolina’s defense held, and the Orange was eliminated from the ACC Tournament, 16-15.
The second quarter proved to be fatal for the Orange, as it was outscored 9-3. The story was of course in the faceoffs, with the Tar Heels dominating the Orange 8-4 in that category.
Williams responded with a brilliant third quarter, winning 8 of 9, while the Orange outscored UNC 8-0 in the period. For the game, the Tar Heels had an 18-16 advantage.
But the lead proved insurmountable, as the Orange would pull to within one goal three separate times in the second half, but could never equalize.
When I spoke to SNY’s very own, Eamon McAnaney, prior to the ACC Tournament, he made a good point about Syracuse’s matchup with UNC.
“I think Carolina finds a way to beat Syracuse because they are the more desperate team,” McAnaney said. “I think the fact that Carolina has to go there and win out gives them an added edge that Syracuse will have a hard time matching.”
And it was true.
North Carolina wasted no time getting ahead of the Orange, and despite the second half rally from SU, the Tar Heels played with an intensity of a team that needed to win out to make the NCAA Tournament.
Despite that, Syracuse remained resilient, making perhaps the greatest comeback in program history, at least, since the statistics have been recorded. And even though SU lost a one-goal game for just the second time this season after having played 10 of them, you have to feel pretty good about the Orange heading into its final tuneup against Colgate before the NCAA Tournament.
“I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world for Syracuse if they lost a game this weekend down in Durham,” McAnaney said, “and got a clean slate going to the NCAA Tournament.”