North Carolina (8-7, 1-3 ACC) capped off an impressive ACC Tournament run with a 14-10 wire-to-wire victory over Notre Dame (8-4, 2-2 ACC). Carolina jumped out to an early 4-0 lead thanks to sloppy play from the Fighting Irish, and held a 4-1 advantage at the end of the first quarter. UNC scored three straight goals within the first three minutes of the game to pull to a five-goal lead, their largest advantage of the day. The Tar Heels outscored Notre Dame 3-2 in the second quarter to go into halftime up 7-3.
Carolina had a bad habit all year of giving up big leads in the second half, including in their Friday night win vs. #1 Syracuse where they ended up holding on for a stressful 16-15 victory after leading 13-4. It seemed like that might happen again when Notre Dame outscored the Heels 3-1 in the third quarter to pull to within two, 8-6. However, Carolina wasn’t about to let Notre Dame get any closer.
Notre Dame scored two straight to pull within three once again, however Luke Goldstock went on a personal 2-0 run with two straight goals to allow Carolina some breathing room with a 13-8 lead. Carolina held onto their lead and finished with the 14-10 lead to win the ACC Tournament Championship, their second under Joe Breschi.
Luke Goldstock had a great day for the Tar Heels with four goals, all of which were in the fourth quarter. Chris Coutier also had a good game, scoring three goals and two assists, and was named MVP of the tournament. Stephen Kelly won 10 of 11 face-offs in the fourth quarter after being largely outdone all afternoon.
This win means that the Heels are eligible for the NCAA Tournament. The ACC champion no longer has an automatic bid, however Carolina has the highest RPI of any bubble team and it’s hard to ignore the team that just knocked off the #1 and #7 teams in the country in Syracuse and Notre Dame. Carolina will find out if they’re in or not on Sunday, May 7th at 9:00 pm on ESPNU. If they are in, it would be their tenth straight tournament berth.