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College lacrosse: Syracuse upends UNC for berth

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SYRACUSE — Syracuse University’s men’s lacrosse team is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament courtesy of a comeback effort against the University of North Carolina.

Facing its biggest game in the conference to date, the No. 7 Orange rallied to tie the game in regulation and went on to edge the No. 4 Tar Heels, 11-10 in double overtime on Billy Ward’s deciding goal Saturday night before a crowd of 6,684 at the Carrier Dome.

Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Kevin Rice scored the tying goal with eight seconds remaining in regulation.

After a scoreless first overtime, Ward tallied the game-winning goal by finishing off a feed from Randy Staats with two minutes, 57 seconds left in the second overtime.

On the strength of the victory, Syracuse (8-3, 2-3 ACC) moves on to face No. 1 Duke in an ACC Tournament semifinal on April 25 in Chester, Pa.

Ward’s game-winner was the first of his career. Following an Orange timeout, Staats curled around the cage and spotted Ward on the left wing. Ward collected the pass, set his feet and fired from 10 yards to beat UNC goalie Kieran Burke.

“I saw Randy had the ball and I know he loves going up the right side and he started doing that,” Ward said. “The way they had been sliding all day was when the attackers were coming up, they would slide down from us (midfielders). I saw my guy go and I knew Randy would find me. He did and I let it fly.”

Rice totaled six points, including three goals, and Ward finished with three goals and an assist for Syracuse, which is in its first season in the conference.

Dylan Donohue and Nicky Galasso each contributed two goals for Syracuse and Scott Loy tallied a goal in the first meeting between the two teams in the Carrier Dome in 20 years.

“I thought it was a great game for college lacrosse today,” Syracuse coach John Desko said. “The overtimes, the back-and-forth, the goalie saves. My hat is off to North Carolina. This is a tough place to play (Carrier Dome) and they did a great job.”

Jimmy Bitter scored four goals to pace the Tar Heels (9-3, 2-3) and Chad Tutton tallied three goals.

With the game tied at seven through three quarters, Bitter scored 3:01 into the fourth for a North Carolina lead, but SU responded to take a 9-8 advantage on tallies from Donahue and Galasso with 7:47 left in regulation.

But the Tar Heels bounced back to lead 10-9 with 3:10 left on consecutive tallies from Tutton and Rice to set the stage for the Orange’s comeback.

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