Duke 15-13, FINAL: Well, it wasn't easy. Bart Wagner just ripped a shot with 10 seconds left that could've brought North Carolina back within one (and if you don't think 10 seconds is enough time to change a game, remember Zack Greer against Cornell in the Final Four two years ago) but it sailed just wide. Duke held on to win and has won three consecutive ACC titles for the first time ever. We'll come back later for more postgame analysis. Thanks again for reading.
Duke 15-13, 0:40: A turnover has given Duke the ball, who will now try and play keep away for 40 seconds.
Duke 15-13, 1:40: ... because this one is far from over. Chris Hunt just bounced a shot from up top to bring it back within two. The pro-Tar Heel crowd has come back to life as things get really interesting.
Duke 15-12, 2:39: Quinzani just had a beautiful chance to seal this game when he found himself with an open net, but his defender forced him into an awkward falling shot. Moments later, Pettraca scored to bring North Carolina back within three. Stay tuned...
Duke 15-10, 6:53: That climb just got a lot steeper. Schoeffel makes a Sportscenter Top-10 worthy play, breaking the ankles of the defenders en route to yet another goal.
Duke 14-10, 7:56: Things are starting to look very good for Duke. Robert Rotanz was left open on the right side with the ball, so he took it in himself for an unassisted goal. The real story, though, has been the defense--only two goals allowed this half (albeit both with man-advatages) and the number of good shots North Carolina has gotten has drastically decreased. To be sure it's not over--in lacrosse it rarely is--but the Tar Heels have a pretty steep climb.
Duke 13-10, 10:49: And just like that, Duke responds, as Zach Howell slings a shot from the right side to push the lead back up to three. We're currently in timeout.
Duke 12-10, 11:16: It won't do much good if the defense is still pulling the disappearing act, though. Bitter just split two defenders for an easy one-on-one goal to bring the Tar Heels back within two.
Duke 12-9, 12:35 remaining: A solid start for Duke, as defenseman CJ Costabile did the exact same thing he did on an earlier goal when he took the faceoff, sprinted toward the goal and shot himself. Duke has had several good shot attempts since and North Carolina's Cryder DiPietro pulled off the rare double-penalty when he got called for slashing and an illegal bodycheck (unfortunately, he couldn't quite get the hat trick) and thus the Blue Devils will be a man-up.
Duke 11-9, End 3rd quarter: It was a flurry to end the period. Schoeffel added another goal when he got his own rebound and stuffed it in for the 11-8 lead. Duke had another shot, but somehow let North Carolina's Billy Bitter get past defenders man down to make it a two-goal game. Sam Payton had a monster shot that ended up in the stands after hitting pipe. We're headed to a great fourth quarter, folks--be sure to stick around. I promise to update even if the final score is 11-9.
Duke 10-8, 3:41: Duke loves to run a pick play from the back, where Ned Crotty, behind the net, dishes to a cutting attackman and hits him for the shot. That play has been largely absent for most of this game, but just now, it worked when he hit Schoeffel, who slung the shot in above goalie James Petracca for the two-goal lead.
Duke 9-8, 6:28: Hey I got my wish! Quinzani breaks open the deadlock with a goal off a nice dish from Zach Howell to give the lead back to the Blue Devils. Give me more reasons to update this blog!
Tied at 8, 7:45 3rd quarter: I keep waiting for a goal to come so I have something important to write about... but thus far it's been turnovers and missed opportunties. Duke had a two-man advantage for nearly 40 seconds but only got one shot off and had a one-man advantage for an additional 1:30 but couldn't score there either. Schroeder has made some timely saves but it's been an ugly third period so far.
Tied at 8, Halftime: The last two plays of this half were turnovers back-to-back by North Carolina then Duke on bad passes. If that's all you saw since the last post, then you pretty much saw what this half has encapsulated: sloppy play and bad defense. There were a couple of Blue Devil shots but nothing that came close to coming in. So far, the problem has not been Schroeder; yes it's eight goals, but if you can defend essentially a round hockey puck coming at you with very little padding and a larger goal, give head coach John Danowski a call. The defense helping Schroeder has done anything but. Meanwhile, the offense has started to reclick but isn't getting a ton of looks. It still seems like the Tar Heels are the ones pressuring and not being pressured--if Duke can change that around in the second half it could make things a lot more comfortable for itself. Second half resumes in 10 minutes.
Tied at 8, 6:43, 2nd quarter: And just like that, the game is tied back up. Milton Lyles of North Carolina picked up a loose ball off a faceoff, sprinted down the field and scored uncontested to make it 8-7, and just over 30 seconds later, Ben Hunt had a nice shot to the top-right corner of the net to knot the game at 8.
Duke 7-6, 9:07 2nd quarter: A delay-of-game penalty on Ryan McFayden led to a man-up goal for North Carolina, but otherwise Duke has played relatively well this quarter. The defense has clamped down, making shots harder to come by for the Tar Heels and Brad Ross just gave Duke the lead off a nice pass from Steve Schoeffell.
Tied at 5, End of 1st: The score would suggest that North Carolina has had its way offensively--but Rob Schroeder is basically the only reason that Duke is tied and not down 7-5 or 8-5. He has stopped several Tar Heel shots at moments when it seemed a goal was inevitable and while he's let a couple of bouncers get by him and two top-shelf shots sneak in, for the most part he has done his role and then some. The shots are beginning to get in for Duke offensively but forcing more awkward shots and bad angles for the North Carolina attackmen is crucial for the Blue Devils' chances.
Tied at 4, 5:00 1st quarter: Nothing will go unpunished for Duke, even when it scores. Max Quinzani just had a nice bounce shot while crossing in front of the goal but took a brutal hit in a play very much like the one Catalino had earlier this period. Physicality is obviously something Tar Heels head coach Joe Breschi stressed to his team.
UNC 4-3, 6:25 1st quarter: A couple of missed opportunities for both teams, with each drawing pipe twice in the past five minutes. Rob Schroeder has made several great saves including a couple on point-blank shots, but North Carolina's Sean Delaney just snuck one by him on the ground to give the Tar Heels the lead again. Duke needs to establish itself more on the offensive end as it has shot very little.
UNC 3-2, 11:53 1st quarter: And just like last game, the fireworks get set off early. North Carolina exploded for a 3-1 lead, showing an aggressive mentality that Virginia lacked last game. Mike Catalino just brought the deficit back to one but paid the price with a nasty body check after the shot that left him dazed for a minute or so. Early on, it definitely seems as if the Tar Heels are playing harder and more furiously--whether that' just an eary adrenaline boost or the real deal remains to be seen.
PREGAME: Welcome to Koskinen Stadium for the ACC Championship game! It's a beautiful day, a rivalry game, a good crowd--heck, even parking wasn't bad here! Last game Duke dominated Virginia by 11 and North Carolina upset No. 1 seed Maryland to set up the second showdown of the year. The Blue Devils won the previous contest in Chapel Hill, so we'll see if history can repeat itself and this class can become the first Duke class to win three straight ACC lacrosse championships.