After pulling off a 9-8 upset of then-No. 4 Loyola—the reigning national champion—Friday, No. 17 Duke went into its game against No. 6 North Carolina Wednesday in search of its second top-10 victory in five days.
The Blue Devils got what they were looking for, as they toppled their Tobacco Road rival 11-8 in Chapel Hill.
“We definitely built off of Loyola,” Duke senior Josh Offit said. “Just trying to stay patient, stay in the game plan and really work together as an offensive unit and execute the plan. And I thought we did a solid job with that tonight.”
Junior Brendan Fowler keyed the Blue Devils’ success in faceoffs and ground balls. The midfielder won 17-of-23 faceoffs against a North Carolina squad that utilized three faceoff men to no avail. With a career-high 13 ground balls, he helped Duke (4-4, 1-1 in the ACC) dominate the ground ball battle 39-24.
“Brendan Fowler was spectacular,” Duke head coach John Danowski said.
Four different Blue Devils had multi-goal performances. Junior Jordan Wolf led all scorers with three goals, while Offit, junior Josh Dionne and senior David Lawson chipped in two apiece. Senior Jake Tripucka tallied two assists for the Blue Devils.
“We have a lot of maturity on offense,” Wolf said. “All six of us can play midfield attack, and that translates into how dynamic our offense can be.”
Duke sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Turri, who made his second start in goal this season after registering nine saves against Loyola Friday, recorded eight stops and picked up three ground balls against the Tar Heels (3-3, 0-1). Seniors Bill Conners and Jimmy O’Neill and juniors Chris Hipps and Henry Lobb showed solidarity on the defensive end, killing 4-of-6 penalties.
“We’re getting better [defensively]…. There are some subtleties that the guys are picking up,” Danowski said. “Kyle Turri again was extremely solid in goal, and as he starts to gain experience, the hope is he’ll get better and better.”
Duke and North Carolina went goal-for-goal for the first six scores of the first quarter before Blue Devil freshman Case Matheis scored with 40 seconds remaining in the period to give Duke a 4-3 lead that it would not relinquish. The Blue Devils went on a 4-1 run in the second quarter, building an 8-4 advantage going into halftime.
The Tar Heels did not allow Duke to continue its dominance in the third period, outshooting the Blue Devils 15-2 and putting together a three-goal run behind a pair of goals from sophomore Joey Sankey. Duke’s scoreless quarter marked the first time this season that the Blue Devils went a full 15 minutes without a goal.
“[I just told them] to take a big deep breath,” Danowski said. “We struggled clearing a couple of balls.”
Duke ended its scoring drought in the final period when Tripucka found Lawson for his second score of the game. North Carolina senior Davey Emala brought the game within one off a dish from classmate Marcus Holman, who led the Tar Heels with two goals and two assists on the evening.
The Blue Devils did not let North Carolina inch any closer, however, holding the Tar Heels to one possession in the final 7:40 of regulation. Duke added two insurance goals to ice an 11-8 victory.
“It was a really good ACC game, physical and some great plays,” Danowski said. “We knew [the Tar Heels] were going to make a run because they’re a terrific team. I thought the guys handled it well.”
The Blue Devils will continue their busy schedule against Towson at home Saturday.