Continuing today with entry No. 4, GoHeels.com is counting down the top 25 games of 2012-13 until we get to No. 1. To catch up on the previous great moments of the Tar Heel year, click here for entries 5-25.
No. 4: Carolina 18, Duke 17 - Men's Lacrosse, April 26, 2013
This entry could easily be a two-parter, as Carolina won its first ACC men's lacrosse title since 1996 with a 16-13 victory over Virginia just two days later. Davey Emala's buzzer-beating goal to end the first quarter provided the spark for a 9-2 run that would turn a 5-3 deficit into a 12-7 UNC lead the Tar Heels would never relinquish.
But Joe Breschi's squad wouldn't have had the chance if not for one of the most incredible games in ACC history in the semifinal round against Duke.
The hyper-competitive ACC saw its regular season crown split three ways as Carolina, Duke and Maryland each finished 2-1 in league play. Through a tiebreaker, UNC - which was hosting the event at Kenan Stadium - drew its archrival Duke, a team that was riding a nine-game winning streak and would eventually win the national title.
The Blue Devils had already beaten Carolina in the regular season, an 11-8 final at Fetzer Field that saw Duke triumph for the 16th time in 17 meetings in the series. In that game, it was a fast start by the visitors - Duke led 4-3 after one quarter and 8-4 at the half - that ultimately proved to be too big of a hurdle for the Tar Heels to overcome.
In the rematch at Kenan, the two teams traded goals early before a pair of tallies late in the first quarter gave UNC a 4-2 lead. ACC Player of the Year Marcus Holman grabbed a man-up goal with 1:11 left in the stanza before T.J. Kemp beat the clock with an unassisted goal from just inside the midfield line with one second remaining.
Carolina poured it on in the second quarter, stretching the lead to 10-3 when Holman completed his first-half hat trick with 5:48 to play. Duke responded with three straight goals, but Joey Sankey, Chad Tutton and Jimmy Bitter all scored in the final 2:07 to push the score to 13-6 heading into the break.
Bitter found the net again after halftime, and when Ryan Creighton made it 15-6 with 11:31 left in the third, UNC's place in its third ACC title game in five years seemed all but assured.
Behind attackman Jordan Wolf and face-off specialist Brendan Fowler, however, the Blue Devils stormed back. Wolf, who finished with five goals, scored three times in an 11-minute stretch that saw Duke outscore Carolina 8-0 and incredibly pull within one at 15-14 with Josh Offit's goal early in the fourth. Fowler won eight of nine face-offs during the run, but R.G. Keenan finally broke through to give the ball back to the Tar Heels with 11:06 left in regulation.
After a pair of Duke penalties gave Carolina a man-up opportunity, Sankey found Tutton to restore a two-goal lead. But the Blue Devils continued to attack, and Wolf's fifth goal knotted the score at 16 with still more than eight minutes to play.
Duke took its first lead of the night when Bill Conners scored on an assist from Offit with 6:12 to play before Carolina regained the lead thanks to the powerful combination of Bitter and Holman.
UNC freshman Brent Armstrong won a face-off and Sankey's shot at 5:20 went wide left, but Carolina retained possession. On the restart, Holman hit Bitter with a backhanded pass out of a double-team, and Holman beat Turri inside the near pipe to tie the game at 17.
Holman got the winner 3:33 later. After a Turri save of a Matt Shannon effort from right in front of the cage, Duke was whistled for a loose-ball push and called a timeout. After the timeout, Tutton found Holman, and the senior star got his fourth and final goal of the game with 1:28 to go to give Carolina an 18-17 advantage.
The final 90 seconds were a chaotic free-for-all, complete with defender saves and clock malfunctions.
The Blue Devils used their final timeout with 1:05 left and Carolina in possession after Sankey's shot sailed wide. On the restart, the game clock failed to resume for roughly 13 seconds as play continued. It looked like Steve Pontrello had iced the win for UNC, but Duke defenseman Henry Lobb stepped in front of the shot to deny the empty-netter and give the Blue Devils another chance.
Duke cleared and was due to start a man-up opportunity with 28.7 seconds after a Carolina holding penalty. But the officials first had to correct the game clock from the earlier resumption, and reset it to 16 seconds. David Lawson got off a shot with six seconds left, but UNC's Kieran Burke made the most crucial of his 12 saves on the day to end it.
The numbers from that night are staggering. The 35 combined goals were the most in ACC Championship history and the most in a Carolina-Duke game since the Tar Heels won 26-13 in 1990. The two teams combined for 91 shots, including a game-high nine for Holman, who moved to within two of the school record for career points and within eight of the school record for career goals. He would finish his All-America career ranked first in points, second in goals and third in assists.
Two days later, Holman would claim tournament MVP honors as Carolina won its first league title since 1996. But it wouldn't have been possible without a win in perhaps the greatest game in ACC lacrosse tournament history.
No. 5: Carolina 2, NC State 1 (18 inn.) - Baseball, May 25-26, 2013
No. 6: Carolina 2, BYU 1 (2OT) - Women's Soccer, Nov. 23, 2012
No. 7: Carolina 76, NC State 65 - Men's Basketball, Feb. 23, 2013
No. 8: Carolina 64, Miami 62 - Women's Basketball, Jan. 27, 2013
No. 9: Carolina 6, Syracuse 1 - Field Hockey, Nov. 16, 2012
No. 10: Carolina 1, Stanford 0 (OT) - Women's Soccer, Nov. 30, 2012
No. 11: Carolina 3, Florida State 1 - Volleyball, Nov. 3, 2012
No. 12: Carolina 3, Wisconsin 2 (8 inn.) - Softball, May 16, 2013
No. 13: Carolina 2, Duke 1 (OT) - Men's Soccer, Sept. 28, 2012
No. 14: Carolina 79, Maryland 76 - Men's Basketball, March 16, 2013
No. 15: Carolina 10, Maryland 8 - Men's Lacrosse, March 23, 2013
No. 16: Carolina 72, Maryland 65 - Women's Basketball, March 9, 2013
No. 17: Carolina 4, Maryland 3 (OT) - Field Hockey, Oct. 20, 2012
No. 18: Carolina 11, Northwestern 8 - Women's Lacrosse, Feb. 22, 2013
No. 19: Carolina 4, USC 3 - Women's Tennis, Feb. 9, 2013
No. 20: Carolina 3, California 1 - Volleyball, Nov. 29, 2012
No. 21: Carolina 11, Johns Hopkins 10 (OT), Men's Lacrosse, March 30, 2013
No. 22: Carolina 1, Fairleigh Dickinson 0 (OT) - Men's Soccer, Nov. 25, 2012
No. 23: Peacock Smashes NCAA Record - Swimming and Diving, Dec. 2, 2012
No. 24: UNC's Big Day at ACCs - Track and Field, April 19, 2013
No. 25: Carolina 30, NC State 6 - Wrestling, Feb. 1, 2013