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Syracuse lacrosse: Orange look to get over the North Carolina hump

The women and men have been on different journeys this season, but their paths meet this weekend against the Tar Heels.

North Carolina v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

The idea of a ‘revenge game’ is a common occurrence in sports.

Usually, it pertains to a team looking to avenge a loss in a significant game from the previous season, or earlier in the same season.

For example, at the outset of this season, the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team hosted the Northwestern Wildcats looking for retribution from last season’s emphatic ousting from the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. And they got it.

This weekend, however, the concept of the revenge game is taking on a different meaning as the Orange head down to Chapel Hill to face the No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels.

It’s different because, simply put, UNC has owned SU in the recent history of this rivalry. This year, as ‘Cuse enters the weekend a pristine 14-0, they are looking for vengeance on a much grander level. They are looking to make up for years of losses to this lacrosse powerhouse.

The numbers are not pretty for SU. They last beat UNC all the way back in the 2017 regular season. That’s two years before Meaghan Tyrrell and Meg Carney got to Syracuse. They’ve lost to them seven times in a row during that span. Overall, they’re 4-10 against the Heels since entering the ACC a decade ago, and three of those wins came in the first two years in the league (2014, 2015).

Oh, there have been a few highlight moments along the way. In the 2014 regular season, the Orange beat the No. 1 ranked Tar Heels inside the Dome behind seven goals from a stud sophomore by the name of Kayla Treanor. They backed it up for the second time that season by beating them again in the ACC Tournament semifinals. The next season, they did them one better by beating Carolina to win the 2015 ACC Tournament title on a game-winning goal in double overtime by a stud junior by the name of Kayla Treanor.

But with Kayla patrolling the sideline instead of the field, it’s been a much different story. Since her graduation in 2016, ‘Cuse is 1-7 against UNC.

Its been extremely lean times in this matchup for SU. And while the 14-0 Orange have been in the driver’s seat of the national landscape this season, in order to stay there, they’re going to have to beat the team that has befuddled them more than any other in recent years. This might not be the Jamie Ortega and Ally Mastroianni Carolina of recent seasons, but they’re still one of the best teams in the country and, until further notice, they own this rivalry.

For the men, the situation has not been that much prettier. Upon entering the conference in 2014, they initially had their way with Joe Breschi’s side. ‘Cuse won five of the first six games played between the two as ACC foes, but it’s gotten ugly ever since.

The Orange have won only two of the last seven meetings, including losing the last four. They haven’t beaten the Tar Heels since the 2019 regular season.

Speaking of losing streaks since the men and women both share current losing streaks to UNC, how about a not-so-fun fact? There are 90 lacrosse players this season between the two teams (53 men, 37 women), and only TWO of them were at SU the last time either team beat UNC: Griffin Cook and Pete Fiorini were both freshmen on the 2019 roster. Yuck.

While the men aren’t looking to keep their record perfect like the women are heading into this weekend’s matchup, they are looking to keep positive momentum going coming off the big win over Princeton. They’re also looking to guarantee a winning record in 2023 by picking up a win and, most importantly, keep the dream alive of making it back to the NCAA Tournament.

In a season of differences for two Syracuse programs currently in different places, they find themselves on a mid-April weekend in the exact same place (metaphorically) with the exact same mission:

Beat North Carolina for the first time in a long time.