What You Need to Know: No. 18 Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse vs. No. 16 North Carolina

Friday, Feb 24, 2023 at 9:42 pm by Sports Editor

By: Ryan Bridges | @RyanBridgesTV
CitrusTV Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter

Syracuse men’s lacrosse suffered many close losses during its abysmal 2022 season. However, arguably the heartbreaking loss of them all came on April 16th when the Orange traveled to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.

With about two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, SU midfielder Brendan Curry slashed to the right side of the goal and fired a shot from 15 yards away that flew into the top-left corner of the net. Curry’s goal gave Syracuse a 13-12 lead.

However, with about a minute left on the clock, UNC junior Lance Tillman faked a shot to move a Syracuse defender out of his way and found the back of the net. Then, with 15 seconds to go, star attacker Chris Gray rifled a low shot that went between the legs of Syracuse goalie Bobby Gavin. The Orange fell to the Tar Heels 14-13.

The No. 18 ‘Cuse has a chance to avenge last year’s loss this Saturday against the 16th-ranked Tar Heels.

This matchup consists of two great defenses and two young offenses still trying to find their way.

Starting in net, Syracuse goalie Will Mark has been lights out to start the season. The LIU transfer has a 64.3% save percentage which ranks seventh in the country. However, he has been outdone this season by North Carolina goalie Collin Krieg, who has saved 67.3% of the shots thrown his way.

Mark and Krieg have been the anchor for their team’s defenses as well. In their first three games of the season, SU and UNC held their opponents to under 10 goals in each game.

On the flip side, both of these young offenses are looking to find their footing following disappointments last week. The Heels only managed five goals in a loss to No. 10 Ohio State, and the Orange had 12 goals in a loss to No. 9 Maryland.

To be fair, Syracuse’s offense was handicapped by a lack of possessions last week. SU’s faceoff specialist Johnny Richiusa won just seven of his 30 faceoffs against Maryland’s Luke Weirman.

If Richiusa isn’t on his game Saturday, the ‘Cuse could be in serious trouble. North Carolina’s faceoff specialist Anthony Tyeryar ranks top 20 in the nation in faceoff win percentage at 63.2%.

When zooming to look at this game, both of these programs are also in very similar positions when it comes to the landscape of college lacrosse. Both of these historic programs are trying to return to the tournament after missing it last season. Both teams also picked up their first loss of the season last week to a top-10 opponent.

With all this being said, it’s very possible that the Orange and Heels will be competing for a spot in the NCAA tournament this season. The loser of this matchup is going to have a much harder case to make to the selection committee come May.