Triangle Sports Roundup: Blue Devils, Tar Heels fall short in ACC MLAX tournament

Kevin Liles,
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Kevin Liles,
Kevin Liles,

KENNESAW, GA. – The 10th-ranked Duke Blue Devils and 13th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels had their chance to top the fifth-ranked Syracuse Orange in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship Tournament played at Fifth Third Bank Stadium last weekend.

However, neither could do it as the Orange defended their title and claimed the 2016 league championship with a 14-8 win over Duke in the final on Sunday after dispatching UNC 10-7 in the semi-final two days earlier on Friday.

Highlights – ACC Digital Network –

Syracuse beats Duke 14-8

Despite hat tricks from Brian Cannon and Steve Pontrello, and a 12-save performance from Brian Balkam, the top-seeded Tar Heels came up short against the fourth-seeded Orange.

Syracuse led 6-4 at halftime and extended that lead to 8-4 by the end of the third quarter.

Highlights – ACC Digital Network –

North Carolina falls to Syracuse, 10-7

Syracuse twice built five-goal leads in the fourth quarter before the Tar Heels rallied with two late man-up goals.

However, UNC couldn’t get closer as goalkeeper Evan Molloy completed a 14-save performance to claim the win for the Orange.

Following attackman Justin Guterding’s game-winning goal scored 40 seconds into overtime that completed a 10-9 comeback semi-final win over second-seeded Notre Dame, the Blue Devils sought to avenge their 2015 ACC Championship game loss to Syracuse.

The opening half went back-and-forth with three ties until Syracuse took advantage of a Duke turnover in the closing seconds to take a 3-2 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

The Orange stayed ahead and led 6-5 by halftime.

A fast start in the third extended the Syracuse lead to 8-5 before the Blue Devils pulled within one, trailing 9-8 before a three-hour weather delay cooled their offensive fire.

Both teams were forced to clear the field with 7:10 left in the fourth quarter as heavy thunderstorms in the area began and eventually made the main field unplayable.

The game was moved from the main stadium to an adjacent turf field, and when play resumed, the Orange dominated.

Syracuse outscored Duke by a 5-0 margin and claimed their second consecutive ACC tournament title, posting a final score of 14-8.

Tim Barber paced the Orange offense with four goals and an assist while Sergio Salcido had two goals and three assists.

Myles Jones and Brad Smith led Duke with a pair of goals apiece.

Syracuse goalkeeper Evan Molloy made 13 saves and earned the win and MVP honors while Duke’s Danny Fowler made a season-high 17 saves in the loss.

Duke (10-7) closes out its regular season Sunday against Boston University before finding out its postseason fate along with the Tar Heels, who at 8-6 overall, also look to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament when selections are announced later that day.

2016 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship All-Tournament Team

Evan Molloy, Syracuse – MVP

Tim Barber, Syracuse

Brandon Mullins, Syracuse

Sergio Salcido, Syracuse

Nick Mariano, Syracuse

Danny Fowler, Duke

Myles Jones, Duke

Ethan Powley, Duke

Kyle Rowe, Duke

Steve Pontrello, North Carolina

Sergio Perkovic, Notre Dame