NOTRE DAME, IND. – The top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish claimed first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with a dramatic 15-14 win over the second-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in front of 4,522 in attendance at Arlotta Stadium on Saturday.
Luke Goldstock led Carolina with four goals, along with Jimmy Bitter, Chad Tutton and Peyton Klawinski who each posted hat tricks, while Joey Sankey had three assists.
Notre Dame was led by Mikey Wynne and Matt Kavanagh who each scored four goals with Connor Doyle and Sergio Perkovic each adding hat tricks.
Kieran Burke made 11 saves for North Carolina while Shane Doss made nine for Notre Dame.
Three extra-man goals in the final 75 seconds of play made the difference as a two-minute non-releasable penalty call against North Carolina provided ample time for Notre Dame to overcome a 14-12 deficit.
The Fighting Irish narrowly outshot the Tar Heels 48-46, and minimized a 42-26 advantage held by the Tar Heels in claiming ground balls, including faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly’s 18-of-33 face-offs that allowed him to match a career high for ground balls (13) in a game.
It was as even a game that could be expected between the two top-ranked teams in the country.
Until the dying minutes, the score was tied at the end of each quarter of play – 3-3 after the first, 7-7 at the half, and 11-11 at the end of the third.
Neither team led by more than two goals at any point.
With the Tar Heels holding a two-goal advantage with less than two minutes to play, Burke made the save on a dangerous shot from Kavanagh.
However, as the play continued, North Carolina defender Evan Connell hit Kavanagh and was given a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result.
It was an EMO that the Irish took full advantage of, scoring three goals, including the game-winner from Kavanagh with seven seconds remaining.
The win gave the Fighting Irish the ACC regular-season title and the top seed in next weekend’s ACC Tournament that will be played at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
Notes: Bitter’s three goals moved him into second place all-time, past Marcus Holman, in goal scoring at UNC with 123 tallies behind only Bert Fett’s school record 128 goals…North Carolina is the second seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament that will begin on Friday. The Tar Heels will face off against the third-seeded Syracuse Orange in a rematch of the two teams’ recent regular-season instant classic that was played on Apr. 11 – a 17-15 win for North Carolina.