CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Marcus Holman scored the game-winning goal with 1:28 to play and Kieran Burke saved David Lawson's shot with six seconds remaining as third-ranked North Carolina defeated sixth-ranked Duke 18-17 Friday night in the ACC Tournament semifinals at Kenan Stadium.
A crowd of 4,567 fans witnessed the highest-scoring game in ACC Tournament history as the teams combined for 35 goals, exceeding the previous record of 33 goals set in a double overtime semifinal game in the 2000 tournament when Virginia beat the Tar Heels 17-16.
Second-seeded Carolina (11-3), which last won the ACC Tournament title in 1996, will play fourth-seeded Virginia (7-7), in the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Kenan Stadium. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. UNC advances to the ACC Tournament championship game for the third time in Coach Joe Breschi's five years after the Tar Heels failed to win an ACC Tournament game for 12 successive years from 1997-2008.
Holman's late heroics overcame a monumental comeback effort by the Blue Devils (11-5) who had won nine straight games coming into Friday's contest. UNC led Duke by as many nine goals early in the third quarter before the Blue Devils scored 11 of the next 12 goals to take the lead with less than seven minutes to play. North Carolina (11-3) scored the last two goals of the game to pull out the victory and win its eighth successive game.
Carolina achieved its nine-goal margin at 15-6 with 11:31 left in the third quarter before Duke ran off eight straight goals and 11 of the next 12 tallies to take its first lead of the game with 6:12 to play. But Jimmy Bitter tied the match with 5:01 to play and Holman, who was named Friday as a Tewaaraton Trophy nominee, scored the game-winner off Chad Tutton's assist with 1:28 to play.
Duke had an extra-man opportunity at the end of the game and a chance to tie but Kieran Burke made a save on a point-blank shot by David Lawson with six seconds remaining and the ball bounced out of bounds before either team could gain possession as the clock expired.
Holman led the Tar Heels with four goals and two assists while Chad Tutton had a career-high four goals. Jimmy Bitter had three goals and an assist for the Tar Heels while Joey Sankey had two goals and two assists.
Jordan Wolf led the Blue Devils with five goals and two assists while Josh Offit had three goals and two helpers. Josh Dionne also had a hat trick for the Blue Devils.
Duke outshot the Tar Heels 47-44, including an edge of 29-13 in the second half when it outscored the Heels 11-5 after UNC had raced to a 13-6 halftime lead. The Blue Devils also won the ground ball battle 38-29, including 15 pickups by face-off man Brendan Fowler who was 25 of 38 at the X.
Kyle Turri started for the Blue Devils and made six saves while allowing 14 goals in 52:54. Turri was replaced by Luke Aaron for the last 7:06 of the first half. Aaron allowed four goals and did not make a save. Freshman Kieran Burke went all 60 minutes for the Tar Heels and made 12 saves while allowing 17 goals. But after Duke went up 17-16 with 6:12 to play, Burke stopped the last three Duke shots on goal, giving his team a chance to rally.
Duke finished the game with 13 turnovers while the Tar Heels played nearly perfect on offense, committing only six. Duke went 14 of 15 in the clearing game while Carolina was 12 of 12. UNC converted on three of its four extra-man opportunities and Duke was two of three on man up.
It was UNC's first win over the Blue Devils since 2010, ending a five-game losing streak in the series, and only the second win by Carolina over the Blue Devils in the last 18 meetings between the two teams dating back to 2005. UNC broke a 10-game losing streak to the Blue Devils in tournament play. The Heels had lost their last six meetings to Duke in the ACC Tournament and last four meetings in the NCAA Tournament. Carolina's last win in tournament play over their arch-rivals came in the 1996 ACC Tournament semifinals when Carolina won 18-8 in Charlottesville, Va. The win for Carolina was its first over their neighbors from Durham in Chapel Hill since a 14-9 Tar Heel win on March 19, 2003.
Carolina's 18 goals were the most it has scored against a Top 10-ranked team since April 6, 1996 when the Tar Heels beat #1-ranked Virginia 19-18 at Fetzer Field. The 18 goals allowed by Duke were the most it has given up since April 5, 2003 against Johns Hopkins and the 17 goals scored by the Blue Devils were the most it has ever tallied in a loss in their history.
Marcus Holman inched closer to setting Carolina career records for points and goals in a career. The senior attackman now has 202 career points, just two short of Bruce Ledwith's school record of 204 from 1970-73. His four goals give him 120 for his career, eight shy of the school record of 128 scored by Bert Fett from 1972-75. His two assists give him 82 for his career and he is tied with Dennis Goldstein for fourth place in Carolina history in that category.
Holman's 69 points are the fifth most in a single season in school history as are his 33 assists. Three players had hat tricks Friday with Holman recording the 17th of his career, Bitter his seventh and Tutton his sixth. Tutton's four goals were a career high.
Holman extended his school record streak of consecutive games with a goal to 29 in a row. Jimmy Bitter recorded a point for the 24th straight game and Sankey now has a streak of 18 consecutive games with a point. Tutton has scored goals in 24 of the past 25 matches.
Carolina improved to 14-9 in one-goal games in Coach Breschi's five seasons, including a 4-2 mark this season. It was only the second one-goal game between the two teams over the past 18 meetings, the other being a 12-11 win by Duke in the 2009 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
The two teams traded four unassisted goals at the start of the game with Joey Sankey scoring at 12:41 for UNC, Jordan Wolf at 9:13 for Duke, Chad Tutton at 8:17 for UNC and Jake Tripucka at 7:34 for Duke.
Carolina then ran off eight of the next nine goals of the game to take a 10-3 lead with 5:48 left in the first half. Marcus Holman scored a man-up goal for the Heels with 1:11 left in the first quarter off an assist by Davey Emala and then T.J. Kemp scored on a 40-yard shot from just inside midfield with one second left in the quarter as Holman screened Turri on the play for Kemp's half-field strike.
Holman scored again with an assist by Bitter 1:04 into the second quarter but David Lawson answered 37 seconds later for Duke, cutting UNC's lead to 5-3.
And then began the game of runs, and there were many of them. The Heels ran off five goals in a row to go up 10-3. Greg McBride scored on a fast break off a Kieran McDonald assist at 12:22. Tutton scored on a bounce shot at 8:35 and Steve Pontrello added a highlight reel worthy tally at 7:17. After a third face-off violation in the first half against Duke resulted in a 30-second penalty, Walker Chafee scored man up off an assist by Davey Emala at 7:06 and Holman cemented his hat trick with a goal at 5:48.
Duke did not go quietly and three goals in a span of just 1:42 had the Blue Devils back within 10-6 with 3:17 left in the half. The Tar Heels answered all three of those goals before intermission with Sankey, Tutton and Bitter scoring at 2:07, 1:05 and eight seconds to lift the Heels to a 13-6 halftime edge.
The Tar Heels came out in the second half and tacked on two more goals, an unassisted tally by Bitter at 13:48 and a Ryan Creighton goal assisted by Holman at 11:31.
UNC led 15-6 at that point but for the next 20 minutes of the game the contest was all Blue Devils. Duke outshot the 17-5 in the third quarter and it won seven of nine face-offs in each of the third and fourth quarters.
The Blue Devils scored six straight goals to end the third quarter with a goal by Myles Jones cutting UNC's lead to 15-12 at 1:43 of the period.
Wolf scored his fourth goal of the game 57 seconds into the fourth quarter to cut the lead to two and Josh Offit tallied with 11:06 left to end the eight-goal run and make it 15-14.
Chad Tutton's extra-man goal off a feed by Joey Sankey made it 16-14 Carolina with 9:52 left but the Blue Devils were relentless in their comeback. Josh Dionne concluded his hat trick with a goal at 8:45 and Wolf scored his fifth goal of the game just 27 seconds later to tie things up at 16 all.
Duke then took its first lead of the game when defenseman Bill Conners scored off an assist by Offit with 6:12 left in the game.
Carolina freshman Brent Armstrong won the ensuing face-off against Fowler and after Turri saved a shot by Sankey at 5:20, UNC scored the game-tying goal 19 seconds later. Holman drew a double team and made a back-handed toss back to Bitter who scorched a lefty shot inside the near pipe.
Duke won the next face-off but Burke saved a shot by Christian Walsh at 4:19. On the other end of the field Turri stopped Tutton's tough angle shot at 2:48 but after a Duke clear Burke saved a shot by Myles Jones with 2:10 left.
After a near failed clear by Carolina, Joey Sankey scooped up a ground ball and fed Matt Shannon whose shot from point-blank range was saved by Turri with 1:52 left. In the race for the ball, a Duke player was called for a loose ball push and Carolina got the ball back with 1:48 to play. After a timeout for the Blue Devils, Carolina scored 20 seconds later as Tutton fed Holman on the right side and the senior sent his shot into the upper left just inside the crossbar and pipe.
Duke won the next face-off but turned it over and Mark McNeill cleared the ball for UNC. After Joey Sankey missed wide, the Tar Heels had the ball with 1:05 to play. Duke called a timeout but when play resumed the game clock did not start for nearly 13 seconds and confusion reigned.
Steve Pontrello went to the open goal only to see Duke's Henry Lobb step into the goal and making a phenomenal defender save. Chris Hipps tracked the ball down in the left corner and fed Turri and the Blue Devils got a successful clear. A flag went down against the Tar Heels and Lawson's shot was blocked out of bounds with 28.7 seconds left on the game clock.
The officials assessed a 30-second holding penalty against Pontrello and reset the game clock to 16 seconds. Burke then saved Lawson's shot with six seconds to play, ending one of the wildest game's in the history of the rivalry.
The only Duke-Carolina game in which more than 35 goals have been tallied came on April 21, 1990 when UNC beat Duke 26-13 at Kenan Stadium.