CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Duke University sophomore attackman Christian Walsh had a career-high four goals and two assists to help lead the top-seeded Blue Devils to the 2012 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship. Seventh-ranked Duke defeated No. 3 seed North Carolina 12-9 to win its seventh ACC title and fourth under head coach John Danowski.
Walsh was named the ACC Tournament’s Most Valuable players. He was joined on the All-Tournament team by CJ Costabile, Josh Dionne, Will Haus and Dan Wigrizer. Duke is now 7-6 in ACC Tournament championship games and has won four of the past six.
“In a kind of crazy sort of way, this is a bonus game,” Danowski said. “This is the game that’s not guaranteed on your schedule. First of all, you feel very humbled to have the opportunity to compete in this game. Then, you have an opportunity to win a championship. Winning an ACC championship at Duke is a big deal. It is a big deal to be crowned an ACC champion. Also the physicality of the two games on Friday and Sunday, it was so physical. You have to play so hard to win, and sometimes it just goes to the team that survives. Just very proud of this group at the end of the day.”
Sophomore Jordan Wolf added two goals and two assists, while Jake Tripucka and Robert Rotanz both had a pair of tallies. Stephen Coyle netted his first points of the year with a goal and an assist. Duke (13-3) pushes its win streak to 10 games, the second longest under Danowski.
After jumping out in front 2-0 in the first six minutes, North Carolina (10-5) responded with a 4-0 run to take a 4-2 lead at halftime. The Tar Heels held the Blue Devils without a goal for 24:37 during the run. Tar Heel goalie Steven Rastivo was outstanding in the second quarter, making five stops.
The opening five minutes of the third quarter were all Blue Devils with Duke scoring five unanswered to race to a 7-4 advantage. Walsh spearheaded the run as he scored twice and assisted on the third. The sophomore attackman started the run 2:04 into the quarter off an assist from Tripucka and fed Wolf for the tying goal just over a minute later.
“It was ground ball play [that sparked the 5-0 run]” Danowski said. Michael Manley picked up a huge ground ball and took a real big hit from a Carolina attackman that kept the ball alive. We scored right after that. Jordan Wolf scored. Will Haus picked up a big ground ball in the defensive end. There were some big ground balls that we picked up.”
A rifle by Walsh at the 9:34 mark gave Duke the lead again, 5-4 and Turri and Walsh added scores within 17 seconds of each other for the largest lead of the game, 7-4. North Carolina stopped the run with 1:09 left with a goal from Joey Sankey in an unsettled situation and set up an exciting fourth quarter. Sankey finished with one goal and three assists.
“It’s tough to see what keyed [that 5-0 run],” Walsh said. “We went into halftime and we had a lot of opportunities. I know Justin [Turri] had a couple opportunities, and I had one that I missed on the doorstep. We knew the opportunities were there. We just had to finish them, so we kept plugging along. We started to hit some.”
The fourth quarter was a shootout with both teams combining for nine goals on just 23 shots. The Blue Devils scored on five of their 10 shots in the fourth quarter after connecting on just seven of 33 in the three quarters.
Rotanz made it a three-goal game against 1:55 into the final period with a left-handed strike before the Tar Heels rallied with consecutive goals to pull within one, 8-7
Duke and North Carolina traded scores in a 45-second span to keep it a one-goal spread at 9-8. After three minutes without a goal, Tripucka netted two in 1:29 to put the Blue Devils in front by three again, 11-8. Tar Heel Greg McBride pulled North Carolina within two, but a final tally from Wolf iced the victory for the Blue Devils.
Costabile won 8-of-24 faceoffs, including two in the final minutes of the game and picked up a team-high eight ground balls and one caused turnover. In goal, Wigrizer had five saves and six ground balls and a caused turnover.
Chad Tutton had three goals to lead the Tar Heels, while R.G. Keenan won 17-of-25 restarts and picked up 11 ground balls. Rastivo made 11 saves in the loss.
Duke held a 43-40 edge in shots overall. The Tar Heels won the ground ball battle, 39-36, while Duke forced North Carolina into 13 turnovers.
The Blue Devils finish the regular season Friday, April 27 against Denver in the Whitman’s Sampler Mile High Classic at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. Faceoff is set for 10 p.m. (ET) on ESPNU.
Duke improves to 33-7 against ACC opponents since 2005, winning four ACC titles in that span … Duke is 11-2 in ACC Tournament games since 2005 … The Blue Devils captured their third ACC title as the top seed and are now 20-16 all-time in the ACC Tournament … Duke’s 10-game win streak is tied for the second longest under John Danowski … The longest was a 12-game win streak in 2007.