After starting 0-2 in ACC play, the Carolina men’s lacrosse team was in a world of trouble. But now, the Tar Heels are No. 4 in the nation and will be playing for a potential No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament when they take on No. 7 Syracuse this Saturday.
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Head Coach Joe Breschi couldn’t say enough positive things about the way his team played in a crucial ACC game against rival Virginia.
“I’m proud of our guys. Virginia is a terrific lacrosse team, top ten in the country. How hard we played for 60 minutes – we’ve been stressing that all year,” Coach Breschi says.
The ACC race is loaded with the ‘who’s who’ of college lacrosse. Each and every game seemingly features two top ten teams facing off.
Senior Frankie Kelly says the Virginia win provided the team with more of a sense of relief than jubilation. Kelly knew it was a must-win scenario.
Coach Breschi agrees. But he says it only makes this weekend’s game at Syracuse inside the Carrier Dome that much bigger.
“This was big. We’re now at 2-2. We feel pretty good with where we’re at. We have to go up to Syracuse now, and they’re fighting for their playoff life in the ACC. There’s a lot in front of us, but I’m just proud of taking another step forward,” Coach Breschi says.
Senior midfielder R.G. Keenan has supplied some timely late-game magic for the Tar Heels in his career. And Keenan will be hoping to hold a few more tricks up his sleeve as his playing days at Chapel Hill come to an end.
And as another lacrosse season winds down, Coach Breschi salutes the impact of Keenan, Kelly and the rest of the senior class.
“We got a great group of 12 seniors. They’ve done a wonderful job all year leading this group. To finish like this is wonderful for them,” Coach Breschi says.
One promising sign for the Tar Heels moving forward is the continued development of the defense. It was UNC’s stingy defense down the stretch that served as a catalyst to the victory over the Cavaliers.
The Tar Heels’ battle with the perennial powerhouse Orange will be a historic one. The two squads haven’t played each other since 1996. The collision is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday and will be nationally televised on ESPNU.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tenacious-tar-heel-mens-lax-fights-acc-supremacy-weekend/
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With the come-from-behind win, the Orange improved to 16-5 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
Defensive intensity along with superior athleticism proved too much for the visiting team to handle early on in the contest as UNC established a 46-32 halftime lead, but the Orange settled in and built confidence when outside shots started to fall in the second half, eventually overtaking Carolina and never looking back. The poise of the youthful Tar Heels was challenged down the stretch, and some sloppy turnovers doomed their chances at a victory.
Diamond DeShields led the Tar Heels in scoring with 21 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the sharpshooting of Syracuse’s Brittney Sykes and Brianna Butler, who posted 17 and 22 points respectively.
After the game, Assistant coach Ivory Latta stressed the importance of moving on and having a short-term memory with a tough game against Miami on tap for Sunday.
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Syracuse won the opening tip and scored the first points of the game to shoot out to a 4-0 lead. The first basket for North Carolina was thanks to Allisha Gray. DeShields followed those points up with a make of her own to close the Carolina within two at 6-4.
The Orange continued to shoot lights out early on, but Gray’s outside three-pointer closed the gap to 9-7 with 17:26 to play in the first half.
With 15:50 remaining on the first half clock, it was the visiting team in orange that held the 9-8 edge in an entertaining, up-tempo style game.
DeShields dropped in a fast break opportunity to keep the Tar Heels on pace with the Orange. Xylina McDaniel scored her first basket of the game to give UNC its largest lead of the game at 4 points. With 11:54 to play, Carolina held a 15-11 lead.
Danielle Butts grabbed a contested rebound and put back the shot to increase the UNC advantage midway through the first half of play. The fast pace of play was feeding right into the hands of the Tar Heels as they built a 21-13 lead with 9:48 on the clock.
It was the defensive intensity of the Tar Heels that was doing the damage, and the Carolina offense remained efficient by building a 27-13 advantage at the 8:08 first half mark with superior athleticism.
Stephanie Mavunga was running the floor with ease, earning easy layups to further extend the UNC advantage in Carmichael Arena. The lead sat at 31-16 with just over six minutes to go in the opening half.
Butts jumped up to seven points on the night with a make from outside the three-point line to ignite the crowd. The Orange were providing little resistance to the Tar Heel attack as Gray darted inside for a powerful layup.
The offensive explosion continued, and with under four minutes to play in the half, Carolina posted a 40-22 advantage.
At the half, the Tar Heels had amassed a 46-32 lead.
DeShields wasted no time to score for the Tar Heels with a smooth make to continue the momentum right out of the second half gates. Syracuse responded with a a couple timely three-pointers to hang around. Carolina held on to a 52-40 lead with 16:51 left to play in the game.
A 54-42 advantage at the 15:41 mark was reduced by a three-point bucket by Syracuse’s Rachel Coffey, who had a hot hand on the night.
The dynamic play of Gray continued to be put on display with good court awareness to grab a pass by Mavunga and score. Syracuse’s Brianna Butler knocked down a shot from behind the arc to trim the Carolina lead further. The intensity and effort from the Orange was ratcheting up midway through the second half. The lead was down to a mere six points with 9:28 to go in the game.
The first points of the game by Latifah Coleman couldn’t have come at a better time as the Tar Heels maintained a four-point advantage with under seven minutes to play. The game had turned into a nailbiter with both teams scrambling for control with the game locked up at 65 points.
DeShields broke the tie with a clutch jump shot, but Butler replied with a make on the other end of the floor to knot the game back up with 3:30 to play in the contest. Mavunga came up with a massive defensive block that DeShields then turned into a layup on the offensive end. The Tar Heels took the 69-67 lead with 3:11 to play, but a technical foul was called on Mavunga.
Butler nailed a massive three-pointer with one second remaining on the shot clock to stake her team out to a three-point advantage that Syracuse used to claim the come from behind victory against the stunned Tar Heels.
CHAPEL HILL– No. 6 UNC women’s basketball, 17-3 on the season and 5-1 in ACC play, returns to Carmichael Arena for another edition of Throwback Thursday for a 7 p.m. tipoff against 15-5 Syracuse, 4-3 in conference action.
The Tar Heels come in on a hot streak having won 12 of their last 13 games. As a result, Carolina finds itself with its best national ranking since Nov. 2009.
Syracuse should provide a tough test for youthful Carolina as the Orange have won three straight and four of its last five ACC contests.
Freshman star Diamond DeShields was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the third occasion this season. She tallied 19 points and managed eight rebounds in her last outing at WakeForest.
Promotions for Throwback Thursday include half price concessions and DJ music from the 90’s. The first 250 students to arrive will receive free retro black t-shirts.
The game will be televised locally by Fox Sports Carolinas and broadcast live on WCHL, 97.9 FM at 7 p.m.
CHAPEL HILL– The Carolina men’s basketball team lost 57-45 at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon against No. 2 Syracuse.
With the win, Syracuse improved to 16-0 on the season and 3-0 in the ACC while Carolina fell to 10-6 on the year and 0-3 in conference for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
C.J. Fair led the Orange with 20 points on the day while Marcus Paige posted 17 points to lead the contributions for the Tar Heels.
Both teams struggled from the field, shooting south of 40 percent as teams.
James Michael McAdoo opened proceedings with a score. And then J.P. Tokoto followed that one up with a long jumper that staked UNC out to a 4-0 lead.
McAdoo was taking over the contest early on with a steal that gave Carolina the 8-4 lead with 16:38 to play.
Early sloppy play by Syracuse was apparent as they committed four turnovers just over four minutes into the contest.
Eight points and two steals highlighted McAdoo’s quick start in the Carrier Dome.
C.J. Fair popped a smooth jumper to close the gap for the Orange. But the Tar Heels were taking advantage of the Syracuse turnovers. McAdoo ran the floor and slammed it home.
The Tar Heels held a 15-13 advantage with 11:18 to play in the first half.
Fair netted a three-pointer to take the first lead of the game for the Orange with 10:15 on the first half clock.
With 8:29 to play in the first half, Syracuse had jumped out to a 21-15 lead with methodical precision on offense.
Head Coach Roy Williams was extra demonstrative courtside as Carolina picked up a questionable foul call that handed Syracuse a trip to the line, resulting in a 23-17 lead for the Orange.
Syracuse went on a 14-2 run for a six-minute stretch that firmly gave the home team control of the contest.
Marcus Paige’s play continued to deteriorate, missing wide open looks, and Syracuse claimed a commanding 30-18 lead with 2:40 to play in the first half.
McDonald sniped a a hurried jumper to get the Tar Heels within 12 at 32-20 with just under a minute to play, but the Orange took the 34-22 lead at halftime.
The second half got underway with energetic play from Carolina, but McAdoo missed both of his free throws, and a three-point make by the Orange placed the score at 37-24 with 17:20 to go.
Syracuse’s zone defense was taking its toll on the Tar Heels, who were unable to beat the zone in transition. Johnson provided a nice lift for UNC with an emphatic throw down. But the Orange still maintained a 44-31 lead with 13 minutes to play.
The Orange’s Cooney made a three, and Paige answered with a long-range two-point play. The pace of play was accelerating midway through the second half .
Syracuse was having its way with Carolina. Missed shots and turnovers were helping Orange’s cause as they took a 53-36 lead with 7:44 left to go in the game.
The closing minutes of play were dominated by the team in orange and white as UNC couldn’t find the basket and struggled to contain the physical play of the Orange.
At 10-5 on the season and 0-2 in ACC play, Carolina could really use a win against undefeated Syracuse, sitting at 15-0, in the Carrier Dome, a tough venue to experience success in.
Sophomore forward Brice Johnson says the Tar Heels won’t give up on the season despite back-to-back discouraging losses to Wake Forest and Miami.
“You just got to keep fighting. You can’t be the team that gives up right now. We’re still a great team. We beat some of the top teams in the country. We got to keep playing in one of the best conferences in the country. We just got to keep playing and come out and be ready for the next one,” Johnson says.
Senior guard Leslie McDonald says the team’s focus must be to stay aggressive and keep fighting moving forward, even if the shots aren’t falling.
“You got to keep looking forward and keep being aggressive. That’s the one thing. If your shot is not falling or you’re not very confident, keep being aggressive. As a team, we need to do that,” McDonald says.
The Tar Heels narrowly lead the all-time series with the Orange 4-3, but the last meeting went to Syracuse 87-71 in Madison Square Garden in 2009.
One of the keys to the matchup will be how Carolina is able to defend Head Coach Jim Boeheim’s infamous zone defense.
Sophomore guard Marcus Paige admits he’s a little concerned with facing the zone, especially after the way UNC struggled to cope with Miami’s use of the formation.
“It’s a little bit of a concern. Obviously, we’re going to work on that in the two days a lot because that’s all Syracuse does. Teams have zoned us before, and we’ve had success. I’m not super worried about it. You’ve got to forgive and forget,” Paige says.
Concerning to Tar Heel fans, Head Coach Roy Williams says he’s questioning everything right now, even down to what coat he’s wearing.
“As a coach right now, the last two games, you start questioning everything you do from silly stuff like what coat do you wear to what kind of defense you’re playing. I don’t know the answer. The best thing is if I knew the answer I would have already changed it,” Coach Williams says.
The Saturday noon game will be televised nationwide on ESPN, and WCHL’s coverage begins tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. with Countdown to Tipoff.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-soul-searching-continues-carrier-dome-collision-2-syracuse/
CHAPEL HILL– The UNC men’s soccer team claimed a 1-0 home win over ACC newcomer Syracuse Friday night at Fetzer Field.
The Tar Heels improved to 5-2-5 on the season and 2-1-5 in conference with their second straight victory.
Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler scored the only goal Carolina would need in the 37th minute to give the Tar Heels the win over the Orange in their first ever meeting on the soccer pitch.
Carolina goalkeeper Brendan Moore continued his superb play, recording his sixth shutout of 2013. Next up for the Tar Heels will be a Tuesday match against UNC-Wilmington.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-edges-syracuse-in-first-ever-meeting/
CHAPEL HILL– The Tar Heel men’s soccer team will take on the Orange of Syracuse in a home conference match Friday night at 6:30 p.m.
And it will be the first ever meeting between the two men’s programs on the soccer field when they face off on Fetzer Field.
Last time out, the Tar Heels claimed a 2-1 win at Boston College, earning their first ACC victory of the season. Syracuse tied Pittsburgh in upstate New York in their last contest.
The game features two of the premier goalkeepers in the conference. UNC’s Brendan Moore and Syracuse’s Alex Bono have played every minute for their respective teams this season.
Photo courtesy of GoHeels.com
CHAPEL HILL– The No. 4 ranked defending national champions in soccer will be back in action Thursday against ACC newcomer Syracuse.
The Tar Heels sit at 12-2 on the season with a 6-2 mark in the ACC. The Orange travel into Chapel Hill with a 6-8-1 overall record and a 2-6-1 tally in conference.
Since dropping back-to-back 1-0 contests to Notre Dame and Florida State, Carolina has won five in a row. Senior leader Crystal Dunn will look to continue guiding the Tar Heels to victory as the postseason draws closer.
The game against Syracuse kicks off at 2 p.m. from Fetzer Field. Tickets are $5 for the public and free to all UNC students, faculty and staff.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/no-4-womens-soccer-returns-to-pitch/