CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No. 17 Duke controlled the ground ball battle and the face-off X as keys in an 11-8 win over No. 8 North Carolina in men's lacrosse action at Fetzer Field Wednesday night before a crowd of 2,322 on a cold and windy night.
The Blue Devils improved to 4-4 with the win and 1-1 in the ACC while Carolina falls to 3-3 on the season and 0-1 in the league. Duke's series success against the Tar Heels continued as it was its fifth win in a row over Carolina and its 16th win in the last 17 meetings with UNC dating back to the 2005 campaign.
A 4-1 scoring run in the second quarter by the Blue Devils built an 8-4 halftime lead that Carolina was unable to overcome. The Tar Heels twice pulled within one goal in the second half but could never get an equalizing tally.
Four different Duke players had multiple-goal games with Jordan Wolf scoring three times, Josh Dionne twice, Josh Offit twice and David Lawson twice. Jake Tripucka led the Blue Devils with two assists.
Both goalkeepers played the entire game with Kyle Turri making eight saves for the Blue Devils and Kieran Burke registering eight saves for the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels outshot the Blue Devils 33-29. UNC outshot Duke 15-2 in the third quarter but could capitalize for just three tallies but those did pull the Heels within a goal at 8-7. The momentum then shifted in the fourth quarter as Duke possessed the ball virtually the entire way, outshooting Carolina 9-2 and winning all five face-offs. UNC had the ball in its offensive end only four times in the final period of the game as it was trying to mount is comeback. The Tar Heels turned the ball over twice and got two shots off, one resulting in a goal.
The key difference in the game was Duke's complete control of the ground balls 39-24 and a monster performance by face-off man Brendan Fowler. Fowler won 17 of 23 face-offs and had a career-high 13 ground balls for the Blue Devils. Five other Blue Devils had three or more ground balls. Carolina used three different face-off men against Fowler but without much success.
The one area where Carolina had a clear advantage was in the turnover game where the Heels committed only 10 while Duke had 19. But the Tar Heels found it hard to capitalize after forcing those turnovers.
It was a seesaw first quarter with the team's trading goals before Case Matheis scored with 40 seconds left in the period to give Duke the lead for good at 4-3. That started a run of five Duke goals vis-à-vis one for the Tar Heels until the end of the half, which ended with Duke up 8-4.
The fourth quarter turned in Duke's favor when twice the Blue Devils converted goals when in a 30-second stall warning violation. David Lawson scored in the third minute of the period off a Tripucka assist to make it 9-7 Duke. Carolina crept within one again on a Davey Emala man-up goal with 7:40 to play with the assist going to Holman.
Duke won the face-off after Emala's goal before Jake Bailey caused a turnover by Case Matheis with 5:57 to play. The Tar Heels cleared the ball but turned it over on a 30-second shot clock violation with 4:17 to play. That would prove to be the only possession Carolina had in the final 7:40 of the game.
Duke then held possession the final 4:17 of the game. Josh Offit scored to make it 10-8 with 2:25 to play when the Blue Devils converted their second goal of the quarter with a shot clock violation on. After another face-off win by Fowler, Jordan Wolf scored an unassisted goal for Duke with 1:49 left to salt the game away. On the ensuing face-off, Carolina's Evan Connell was called for a two-minute slashing penalty and the Blue Devils held the ball the final 1:39 of play without attempting a shot.
The Tar Heels return to action on Monday when they play host to Dartmouth at 4 p.m. at Fetzer Field.