CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Duke outscored North Carolina 3-1 in the fourth quarter and junior Brendan Fowler won 17-of-23 faceoffs and picked up 13 ground balls to lead the 17th-ranked Blue Devils to an 11-8 victory over the No. 6 Tar Heels this evening in ACC men’s lacrosse action at Fetzer Field. The win is the second over a top-10 opponent in the past five days.
The win was Duke’s 13th in the past 14 games against North Carolina and fifth straight over the Tar Heels. The Blue Devils improve to 4-4 overall and 1-1 in ACC play, while UNC falls to 3-3 and 0-1 in league play.
Junior attackman Jordan Wolf led all scorers with three goals and an assist, including the game’s 11th goal with 1:49 to play to ice the victory for the Blue Devils. Between the pipes, Kyle Turri made eight saves on 16 shots for his second consecutive victory as the starter.
“Spring break helps you prepare,” said head coach John Danowski. “You have a little more time in practice, a little more time in film sessions. I thought our guys played hard. Carolina played hard. It was a really good Division I ACC game, physical and some great plays. But I thought our guys handled Carolina jumping from man to zone well. Not in the third quarter, but we knew Carolina was going to make a run because they’re a terrific team. I thought the guys handled it well and Brendan Fowler was spectacular today.”
After trading goals in a first quarter that featured three ties and left Duke ahead 4-3, the Blue Devils put together a 4-1 run in the second quarter for a an 8-4 advantage at halftime.
North Carolina made it 6-4 with a man-up score before Duke rattled off two more for the four-goal lead at the break. Wolf and Dionne both finished with two goals, while Class and Case Matheis each chipped in a goal and an assist. Overall, Duke had six different goal scorers and scored on eight of 18 shots for a .444 shot percentage in the opening 30 minutes.
The Blue Devils’ offense sputtered in the third quarter as they were held to just two shots. The Tar Heels took advantage and gradually chipped away at the Duke lead to make it 8-7 after three quarters. The scoreless third quarter was the third time Duke had been held without a goal in a period this season.
“[I just told them] to take a big deep breath,” Danowski said. “We struggled clearing a couple of balls. We were man down and committing some penalties so we played way too much defense. Considering how much defense we did play we actually did pretty well on the scoreboard. Just as in the first half I thought we played a lot of offense, in the third quarter we played a lot of defense.”
Duke, after being held without a goal for 21:27, scored three of the game’s final four goals. Senior David Lawson pushed the Blue Devil lead back to two 2:51 into the fourth quarter off a pass from Jake Tripucka.
North Carolina’s Davey Emala responded five minutes later with a man-up score to bring it back to 9-8, but the Blue Devils defense held the Tar Heels without a shot and to just one possession in the final 7:40. Sporting a one-goal lead with three minutes to play, Offit came up with a huge play as he threw in a goal on a 30-second warning with 2:35 to play. Wolf iced the victory 46 seconds later with his third of the game.
Marcus Holman led North Carolina with two goals and two assists, while Joey Sankey chipped in two scores. Kieran Burke made eight stops in goal for the Tar Heels.
“I thought that they were going to slide,” said Offit. “They had been sliding a lot all night. We were just patient with the ball and I got top side and I shot it. Not too complicated.”
North Carolina held a 33-29 advantage in shots, but Duke dominated the ground ball game 39-24 thanks in large part to Fowler’s career-high 13. Bill Conners matched his career-high in ground balls with four, while the man-down group killed 4-of-6 penalties, including all three in the third quarter.
Duke resumes its busy schedule against Towson Saturday at 1 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium.