Syracuse men’s lacrosse opponent preview: What to know about No. 17 North Carolina

first_imgThe North Carolina report: The defending national champions and preseason No. 1 Tar Heels burst out to a 3-0 start, twice scoring 15 or more goals. In late February, Johns Hopkins stormed into Chapel Hill and broke out for a 13-5 victory, the start of a stretch during which it has won only three of its last eight. North Carolina lost back-to-back games to Hofstra and Richmond, smoked Dartmouth by 11, then dropped two straight to Maryland, 15-7, and Duke, 12-8.“It’s been kind of a rollercoaster season for us,” Breschi said.UNC lost top offensive initiator Steve Pontrello, who scored three goals and had two assists in UNC’s 10-7 ACC tournament loss a year ago. Much of the offense ran through the senior. The Tar Heels reloaded with talent in the wings and the No. 3 recruiting class, featuring Will Perry, the No. 8 recruit with 10 goals and three assists. North Carolina’s top threats are Chris Cloutier (20 goals, nine assists) and Luke Goldstock (21, seven). Both are physically strong and experienced.Daily Orange File PhotoAt the faceoff X, Stephen Kelly has had good support from the wings to post a 59.3 percent success rate. Kelly also can push the ball ahead to himself and score in transition — he has three goals. After a season-best 76 percent winning percentage against Cornell, SU’s Ben Williams bumped his rate to 56.1. Kelly, like Williams, has played through a nagging injury or two, Breschi said.In four games, Williams owns a 62.4 percent advantage over Kelly. In last year’s ACC title game, Wiliams won 12-of-21 faceoffs. The fifth Williams-Kelly matchup will unfold on Saturday.The Tar Heels and Orange share three common opponents in Johns Hopkins, Duke and UVA. SU beat all three teams, while the Tar Heels beat only the Cavaliers. On the defensive end, much of what UNC does revolves around senior Austin Pifani, who ranks among the nation’s best.“As Pifani goes, the defense goes,” Breschi said. “He’s the ring leader of the defense. If he’s flying around and communicating, good things are happening for the D.”How Syracuse beats UNC: In what will be SU’s first game on real grass, there are many ways the Orange could pull away with its eight consecutive victory. A balanced scoring offense, transition game or continued man-up success could seal a win. More solid play from Evan Molloy in the cage and the defensive line — Scott Firman will cover Goldstock or Cloutier — could hold UNC’s fledgling offense, which ranks 30th (10.7 goals per game).Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo EditorAn almost surefire way for SU to win would be for senior faceoff specialist Williams to have another dominant outing, as he did Tuesday night against Cornell. The injury that sidelined him for SU’s only loss (Army, Feb. 25) and dragged down his winning percentage to a career low may be wearing away.“I think the faceoff X is going to be big for both teams,” said UNC’s Breschi, in his ninth year. “Williams and Kelly will go at it. It’s going to be a huge challenge. We’ll have to play our best game all year to win.”Numbers to know:0.286 — North Carolina’s winning percentage at home. The Tar Heels are only 2-5 at Fetzer Field (4-0 away from home).58.7 — UNC’s faceoff success rate, ninth in the country4 — Number of goals Evans scored in two games against UNC last yearPlayer to watch: Luke Goldstock, attack, No. 1The cousin of Syracuse women’s lacrosse freshman Asa Goldstock, UNC’s 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior attackman presents the greatest challenge for Firman and the defense. As as sophomore in 2015 he scored 50 goals, including four on SU. He hung two more on SU last year in the Carrier Dome, but was held scoreless in the ACC semifinal. This season, Goldstock dodges more, leads the offense and facilitates in both transition and the six-on-six. Chalk him up as UNC’s top threat. Comments Published on April 14, 2017 at 10:29 am Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 Top-ranked Syracuse will trek down to Chapel Hill for a Saturday matinee with No. 17 North Carolina (6-5, 1-1). In SU’s final regular-season conference battle, the Orange could be the first No. 1 in over a month to keep the top spot in back-to-back weeks.The Tar Heels have lost four of six, though a win Sunday over Virginia clinched them a spot in the ACC tournament and marked head coach Joe Breschi’s 100th career victory. SU has won seven straight and is 5-0 against teams ranked in the Top 20.Here’s what you need to know ahead of the game, which will air Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 15-7Last time they played: The Orange downed UNC twice in 2016. In the first meeting, Nick Mariano and Sergio Salcido scored three goals, and Jordan Evans chipped in two. Two weeks later, Evans and Nate Solomon scored two apiece to help SU advance to the ACC title game with a 10-7 win. The Tar Heels converted on each of their four extra-man opportunities, two of which came in the fourth quarter. But SU’s defense buckled down late to preserve the win. Two days later, Syracuse grabbed its second straight ACC title.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more