Durham, NC – Luke Goldstock and Chris Cloutier tallied hat tricks and Stephen Kelly won 10-of-11 faceoffs in the fourth quarter as fourth-seeded North Carolina defeated third-seeded Notre Dame, 14-10, to claim the 2017 ACC Men’s LacrosseChampionship on Sunday at Koskinen Stadium.
The defending national champion Tar Heels, who entered the weekend needing two wins to finish the regular season above .500 and remain eligible for selection to the NCAA Tournament, defeated the top two teams in the country in the NCAA RPI en route to the championship.
With the win, the Tar Heels improve to 8-7 on the season, claiming the 13th title in program history and ninth in the tournament era. Both North Carolina and Notre Dame will find out their postseason fate when the selections are announced at 9 p.m.on Sunday, May 7, on ESPNU.
“That’s 18 to 22 year olds, coming out there and understanding that their season will end if you lose,” said Joe Breschi, who won his second career ACC title and first since 2013.
“We talked about a 64-team tournament. To achieve some of your goals – an ACC Championship and an NCAA Championship – you had to win six straight. We won two, we won the ACC Championship and now we wait and see.”
Luke Goldstock led the way for the Tar Heels on Sunday, scoring four goals for his sixth hat trick of the year.
Named the Most Valuable Player, Chris Cloutier posted three goals on Friday and three on Sunday to go along with three assists for nine total points in the tournament.
“It’s hard to believe,” said Cloutier on the Tar Heels having their backs against the wall in April. “But it’s also something that pushes us too. It’s a lot easier to play when it’s your last game if you lose, and that motivation pushed us forward.”
Brendan Gleason scored three goals on Sunday to lead the Irish offense for his first career hat trick. Brian Balkam stopped 11 shots in net for the Tar Heels, while Shane Doss made 12 saves in the loss for Notre Dame.
North Carolina jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead despite losing the first five faceoffs. Andy Matthews tallied his 12th goal of the season in the first minute of the game, followed by William Perry converting on a man-up opportunity and Cloutier at even strength. Jack Lambert, who had one goal in his career entering the weekend, tallied one on Sunday and his third of the tournament to give North Carolina a four-goal edge.
Bryan Costabile got the Irish on the board late in the first quarter, his fourth of the tournament.
Notre Dame’s Gleason scored the first goal of the second quarter, but the Tar Heels got the next three from Justin Anderson and two from Cloutier to push their lead to 7-2 as Cloutier completed the hat trick.
Drew Shantz notched his sixth of the season for the Irish with four minutes left in the second quarter to make it a 7-3 Tar Heel lead going into halftime.
After Timmy Kelly scored for North Carolina to open the second half, Notre Dame strung together three straight goals from Costabile, Gleason, and Pierre Byrne to get to within two goals heading to the fourth quarter.
The Tar Heels scored three straight in just over two minutes to open the fourth quarter and provide some cushion. Tanner Cook took advantage of an extra-man opportunity to end the drought for North Carolina, followed by Luke Goldstock and William Perry to give North Carolina an 11-6 lead.
Notre Dame tallied the next two goals, with Brian Willetts notching his third of the season and Gleason completing his hat trick to get to within three goals of the Tar Heels.
North Carolina continued to answer every run from Notre Dame as Goldstock scored three goals in the fourth quarter in just under six minutes to clinch the victory.
Notre Dame won 10-of-12 faceoffs in the first half and 3-of-5 in the third quarter, but North Carolina’s Stephen Kelly was 10-of-11 in the fourth quarter to limit any comeback effort from the Irish.
“The big difference in the game were those fourth quarter faceoffs,” said Breschi. “Kelly turned the whole game around winning 10-of-11 faceoffs in the fourth quarter.”
North Carolina was 3-for-5 on extra-man opportunities, while Notre Dame went 1-for-6.
ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship Most Valuable Player
Chris Cloutier, North Carolina
ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship All-Tournament Team
Jack Bruckner, Duke
Chris Cloutier, North Carolina
Luke Goldstock, North Carolina
Jack Lambert, North Carolina
Andy Matthews, North Carolina
Bryan Costabile, Notre Dame
Shane Doss, Notre Dame
Brendan Gleason, Notre Dame
John Sexton, Notre Dame
Jordan Evans, Syracuse
Sergio Salcido, Syracuse