Number 11 ranked Syracuse (6-4, 1-2 ACC) will host No. 10 North Carolina (7-4, 2-0 ACC) in the Carrier Dome on Saturday, April 16 at 4pm. Last year, the Orange lost to UNC in Chapel Hill during the regular season in a high powered shootout, 17-15. Syracuse then went on to beat the Tar Heels 9-8 in the ACC semi-final game.
The Orange have lost four of the last five games, most recently an overtime loss at Cornell. The Tar Heels are on a two-game winning streak, including an overtime thriller against Duke two weeks ago.
The Orange are led in points by senior Dylan Donahue with 18 goals and 22 assists. UMass transfer Nick Mariano is second in points with 22 goals and five assists while Sergio Salcido rounds out the top three with 16 goals and 11 assists.
The Tar Heels are led by senior Steve Pontrello with 32 goals and nine assists. Sophomore Chris Cloutier ranks second in points with 23 goals and ten assists and Luke Goldstock follows with 17 goals and 16 assists. Twenty-one different players have scored for the Tar Heels this season.
Orange faceoff man Ben Williams has won a total of 142 of 226 faceoffs this season. After falling into a mid season slump, Coach John Desko says Williams is beginning to look like his normal self. The numbers prove it after Williams won 18 of 22 faceoffs during the loss at Cornell Wednesday night.
North Carolina’s Stephen Kelly has been the go-to faceoff man for the Tar Heels this season, winning 157 of 250 faceoffs.
The Orange goalkeeper situation has been shaken up as of late. Warren Hill originally began the season between the pipes but Evan Molloy has started in goal in the last two games after taking over for Hill during the Notre Dame loss two weeks ago. Molloy has saved 20 shots in five games with a save percentage of .465. Hill has saved 55 shots during eight games with a save percentage of .426. Expect to see Molloy in the goal Saturday afternoon.
Brian Balkam will start in goal for the Tar Heels. The sophomore has started all 11 goals for North Carolina, saving 84 shots with a save percentage of .486.
Saturday is Syracuse’s last ACC game of the season while North Carolina will still have to play Notre Dame on April 23. With Duke also having a record of 1-2 in the conference, this weekend will be a fight for the higher seed in the ACC tournament. Notre Dame stands at the top of the group, undefeated at 3-0 while UNC is second at 2-0. Virginia has yet to win an ACC game at 0-3 but hosts Duke on Sunday, April 17.