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Syracuse lacrosse Saturday: previews and game thread

It’s Syracuse vs. North Carolina x2.

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

It is a huge weekend for the Syracuse Orange lacrosse teams, both of whom are traveling to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels today.

The women are down in Chapel Hill for a showdown with No. 5 North Carolina at 12 PM on ESPNU.

The men are road-tripping to suburban Maryland for a neutral site battle at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD with the No. 11/12 Tar Heels at 4 PM on ESPNU.

Women vs. North Carolina — 12 PM on ESPNU

  • All-time series: North Carolina leads 6-11; UNC has won 7 in a row
  • Last meeting: North Carolina W, 14-12 on April 9, 2022
  • North Carolina this year: 11-2, 6-1 ACC

The Tar Heels started the year 7-0 before dropping their first game of the season on the road to Northwestern in mid-March. They bounced back with a pair of wins before losing another road game at Notre Dame to start the month of April, and have won their last two heading into this matchup.

They have a handful of notable wins this season over James Madison, Florida, Boston College, and Virginia.

Series Domination

The recent history of this series has been completely dominated by UNC. They’ve won seven in a row between the two with the last Syracuse win coming in the 2017 regular season; that’s one year after Kayla Treanor graduated from SU. That’s how long it’s been since the Orange bested the Tar Heels.

This ‘Cuse team has had an incredible season, but one of the boxes they still need to check is beating North Carolina.

UNC winning streaks

When Carolina lost to Northwestern, they lost their regular season winning streak. When they lost to Notre Dame, they lost their ACC winning streak. But there’s one major winning streak they still have going.

The Tar Heels have won a ridiculous 41 home games in a row. The Orange have the chance to be the third team this season to end a long UNC winning streak, but they’re going to have to do it on Senior Day for the Tar Heels.

Scouting North Carolina

The strength of this North Carolina team is their defense, so that’s exactly where we’re going to start.

The Tar Heels play one of the stingiest woman-to-woman defenses in the country, and they have a dynamic 1-2 punch heading up them up in Brooklyn Walker-Welch (No. 45) and Emily Nalls (No. 1). Walker-Welch is a lockdown defender whose job is to take away the opponent’s best weapon, so I assume we’ll see her shadowing Meaghan Tyrrell. Nalls is a fantastic all-around athlete and defender (14GB, 16CT, 30DC) who we’ll probably see trying to disrupt Emma Ward, or possibly Meg Carney. Gabi Hall (No. 5) and Julia Dorsey (No. 4) solidly complete the starting defense, although Dorsey has missed their last two games.

Alecia Nicholas (No. 00) has been one of the best goalies in the country this season in her first year as the starter, starting all 13 games. She’s put together some outstanding numbers with a .500 save percentage and a 8.15 goals-against average.

The battle of the North Carolina defense vs. the Syracuse offense is going to be thrilling to watch since they are both top-5 units in the country. The Tar Heels are 5th in scoring defense at 7.92 goals per game, while the Orange are 4th in scoring offense at 17.07 goals per game. This will be fun to watch.

On offense, the Heels are led by the behind-the-cage duo of Caitlyn Wurzburger (No. 15, 28G, 23A) and Reilly Casey (No. 7, 23G, 28A), who are tied for the team lead with 51 points. Freshman Marissa White (No. 21, 33G, 2A) has had an outstanding rookie campaign and is UNC’s leading goal scorer with 33 tallies, while fellow freshman Caroline Godine (No. 36, 17G, 14A) has also been great with 31 points this season.

Senior Nicole Humphrey (No. 9, 18G, 3A) is their fifth 20-point scorer, while Sophie Student (No. 33, 10G, 1A, 46DC) and Olivia Dirks (No. 12, 9G, 27DC) are very dangerous weapons out of the midfield.

Men vs. North Carolina — 4 PM on ESPNU

  • All-time series: Syracuse leads, 18-12; UNC has won 4 in a row
  • Last meeting: North Carolina W, 19-13 on February 25, 2023
  • North Carolina this year: 7-4, 1-2 ACC

When the Tar Heels beat the Orange in the JMA Dome back in February, they improved to 3-1 on the season.

Since then, they’ve gone 4-3 with wins over Brown, Dartmouth, High Point, and Providence and losses to Denver, Duke, and Virginia. They crushed all the mediocre teams they beat, lost to Denver by 1, and lost to the Blue Devils and Cavaliers by 7 each.

After this weekend, they close the regular season with back-to-back games against Notre Dame, so this is an important game for both team’s May hopes.

The neutral site flavor should make for an interesting atmosphere around such an important conference game. We’ll see.

Scouting North Carolina

In the first meeting, an 8-1 second and early third quarter run completely doomed SU’s hopes. The game was tied a 5-5 before that run, and the Orange outscored them 7-6 after that run. But that first half run was the killer blow that put the Heels over the top.

UNC won the FO battle 19-16 in that game and dominated on GBs, 36-22. The difference in the first game, though, was that Johnny Richiusa took every face-off and Jack Fine took none of them. As the season has moved on, Fine has proven himself to be the superior FOGO and is coming off an excellent 30-of-32 (.625) performance against Princeton. It will be interesting to see how he does against the UNC FOGOs.

Logan McGovern (No. 1, 29G, 22A) is the Tar Heel talisman. The 51-point scorer had a massive game the first time around, finishing with eight points against the Orange. Lance Tillman (No. 0, 21G, 10A) and Sean Goldsmith (No. 8, 22G, 9A) are tied for second on the team with 31 points each. Freshman James Matan (No. 7, 12G, 11A) is the only other 20-point scorer for this Carolina team.

Andrew Tyeryar (No. 3) is their primary FOGO and is facing-off at .492 percent (120-of-244).

Defensively, shorties Conner Maher (No. 31, 28GB, 12CT) and Ty English (No. 23, 26GB, 10CT), along with close defender Paul Barton (No. 24, 26GB, 15CT), were all named preseason All-Americans a couple weeks ago by Inside Lacrosse. Collin Kreig (No. 39) is a tough man to beat between the pipes, coming in with a .522 save percentage and a 9.91 goals-against average.