Syracuse returns to the ACC tournament championship game for the third straight year after defeating three seeded and No. 9-ranked Notre Dame 9-5 on Friday. The Orange will face North Carolina for the title Sunday at 1pm.
The Orange will meet the Tar Heels for the second straight year in the ACC title game. Last year Syracuse defeated UNC to capture its first ever ACC championship 9-8 in double overtime. But North Carolina has had the edge this season.
The Tar Heels are the top seed in the ACC, coming into the game at number three in the nation. And they have already beaten Syracuse this season.
Just over two weeks ago, Syracuse played UNC in the Carrier Dome. North Carolina came out with a 12-11 win.
But Syracuse is riding a hot streak. They have won their last three games, which have all been against ranked opponents.
So can the Orange earn a second straight ACC title?
Well if they defense plays like it did against Notre Dame they can.
Holding the nation's ninth ranked team to five goals is extremely impressive. Especially when the Fighting Irish average over 13 goals per game.
North Carolina is a different team, and it will be interesting to see they adjustments they make to counter them. Last game the Orange face guarded UNC's leading scorer Molly Hendrick, completely taking her out of the offense. But the Tar Heels found scoring with other options like Sammy Jo Tracy and Marie McCool.
Hendricks is likely to be face guarded again, or at least double covered when she has the ball.
If the Orange can limit the damage down by UNC's other players while taking Hendricks out of the offense, this one will tilt in Syracuse's favor. But that's asking a lot.
Now on to the offense. Syracuse doesn't need much work in this department. They have one of the deadliest offenses in college lacrosse. They possess every element you want. They have great dodgers in Taylor Gait and Kelly Cross, deadly outside shots from Nicole Levy, speed from Halle Majorana, a nifty cutter who can get to the crease in Riley Donahue, and of course Kayla Treanor who is arguably the best player in the game.
This group can score on anyone and score often. They played great against UNC when the met two weeks ago and Syracuse should've won that game. North Carolina is going to have a tough time stopping this group and it may be too much for them to handle in the end.
PREDICTION: Syracuse defeats UNC 14-12 to earn its second straight ACC title.
Listen to what Gait had to say after the semifinal win over Notre Dame: