CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—The Duke University men’s lacrosse team’s comeback from a nine-goal deficit came up just short as the fifth-ranked Blue Devils fell to No. 1 North Carolina, 18-17, in the ACC Semifinal this evening at Kenan Stadium. Jordan Wolf led all Blue Devils with five goals and seven points overall.
The 35 goals are the most in an ACC Men’s Lacrosse Tournament game, while Wolf’s seven points were just one shy of tying the individual point record in ACC Tournament action. The loss end’s Duke’s (11-5) nine-game win streak, while North Carolina (11-3) pushes its unbeaten streak to eight games.
“We want to congratulate the University of North Carolina Tar Heels – great performance tonight,” said Duke head coach John Danowski. “Certainly they shot lights out. Offensively, their key guys were terrific. That being said, I was really proud of our guys’ second half. We really showed a lot of character, a lot of strength. We came back, could have folded. They scored the first two goals of the third quarter and then it’s 11-3, Duke, the rest of the game. Just way too big a hole and their guys came up big when they needed to. Proud of our guys and hats off to the Tar Heels.”
The 18 goals allowed are the most by a Blue Devil squad since Apr. 5, 2003 in a 19-6 loss to Johns Hopkins. Duke’s 17 scores are most scored by the Blue Devils in a loss, breaking the previous standard of 16 in a two-goal defeat at Baltimore Apr. 21, 1979.
Senior midfielder Josh Offit tied his career high with five points (3g, 2a), while Josh Dionne also had a hat trick. Marcus Holman added six points (4, 2), while Chad Tutton had five (4, 1).
Trailing 15-6 with 11:31 left in the third quarter, the Blue Devils mounted a furious comeback to take a 17-16 lead with 6:12 remaining in the contest. North Carolina held Duke scoreless in the final 6:12 and added a pair of scores to come away with the thrilling victory.
“This game, we just came out flat and in the first half and they wanted it more,” said Offit. “In the second half, we just came out and had fun and played our way. They ended up making more plays than we did to win the game and they just earned the win today.”
Facing its second largest deficit of the season, Offit took a pass from freshman Deemer Class with 10:27 left in the third quarter to ignite Duke’s 11-1 run. Wolf was outstanding in the run with four goals, while Dionne had a pair.
Defensively, Duke stifled the potent Tar Heels attack for 16:39. The Blue Devils managed eight goals in that stretch to pull within one. North Carolina regained a two-goal lead with a man-up score from Tutton before Duke responded with a 3-0 run to give the Blue Devils their first lead of the game. Senior defenseman Bill Conners capped the 11-1 run for Duke with his third tally of the season.
Duke’s lead lasted just 1:11 as North Carolina’s Jimmy Bitter tied the game with his third marker of the evening. After multiple timeouts by the Blue Devils and possessions by both squads, the Tar Heels came regained the lead on a Holman goal with 1:28 left to play.
North Carolina had a chance to make it a two-goal game with an empty net before junior close defenseman Henry Lobb stepped into block the shot. The Blue Devils picked up the loose ball with less than a minute to play needing one score. Duke managed a shot in the final seconds, but was unable to corral the ball as the horn sounded.
Junior Brendan Fowler was outstanding again at the faceoff X, winning 25-of-38 draws, including 14-of-18 in the second half. He collected a career-high 15 ground balls. Kyle Turri had six saves as he suffered his first loss of the season. Kieran Burke made nine stops for the Tar Heels.
Duke closes its regular season schedule May 5 at Marquette at 1 p.m.
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