CHAPEL HILL - As the clock expired, Duke's players poured off the sidelines and stormed the midfield circle at North Carolina's Fetzer Field in celebration of their 2-1 victory over the then top-ranked and undefeated Tar Heels.
For most of the 3,487 fans in attendance, the Blue Devil triumph was a rare and unwelcome sight. The loss was UNC's first regular season loss in 41 games and its first home loss since 1999.
Heading into its Oct. 9 contest, the women's soccer team seemed to have the odds stacked against it. The No. 11 Blue Devils had only beaten their rival once in 29 tries.
But with less than three minutes to play and the score tied 1-1, Duke midfielder Rebecca Moros received a 35-yard pass from forward Kate Seibert and flipped the ball over UNC goalkeeper Aly Winget for her second goal of the match, giving the Blue Devils their first win over the Tar Heels since 1994.
"It's a huge highlight," said Seibert, a senior. "We know this could be the last time we play UNC. We wanted to go out with a win, so we did, but we don't want this to be the highlight of our season by any means. Up to this point, it's probably the best."
The Blue Devils (9-2-1, 3-2 in the ACC) never trailed throughout the course of the match, but the Tar Heels controlled the game for the majority of the first half. In the opening 45 minutes, North Carolina (13-1, 5-1) took 10 shots while Duke managed only two.
But on the Blue Devils' first good scoring opportunity of the contest, Moros converted a 20-yard shot to give Duke a 1-0 lead with 28:38 to play in the half. At the edge of the Tar Heel 18-yard box, Seibert passed the ball back to Moros, who stood at the top of the circle. The junior took a dribble to her right before pounding a shot on the ground that beat Winget to the right side.
"The biggest thing [about the goal] was that we knew after we scored we couldn't try to play defense the whole game," Seibert said.
The Tar Heels, however, regained their composure and put Duke back on the defensive, challenging goalie Allison Lipsher with a series of shots in the following minutes.
With 22:55 remaining in the half, a North Carolina midfielder crossed the ball from the right side to forward Heather O'Reilly, who was waiting inside the box. O'Reilly, one of three national team players on the current UNC roster, directed her header back toward the right post, but the ball went just wide.
Two and a half minutes later, Duke committed a foul on the edge of its 18-yard box that gave UNC a free kick. On the kick, North Carolina midfielder Yael Averbuch bent the ball around the Blue Devil wall toward the far post, but Lipsher caught the shot before it could reach the back of the net.
It was not until the 43rd minute that Duke finally broke down and allowed the Tar Heels to tie the match. Dribbling parallel to the goal on the left edge of the 18-yard box, UNC midfielder Jaime Gilbert turned and launched a curving shot at the goal that beat a diving Lipsher to the near post.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
When the second half began, the Blue Devils tried to change the flow of the game by attacking North Carolina with diagonal balls through the last line of defense. They were successful, creating two shots in the first five minutes. Forward Sarah McCabe pushed the first chance wide right, and midfielder Darby Kroyer launched a shot over the goal two minutes later.
The remainder of the Blue Devils' energy, however, was spent on the defensive end of the field. For each move the Tar Heel offense made, defender Carolyn Ford and Lipsher seemed to have an answer-even if it meant committing a few extra fouls. Duke tallied 13 infractions in the match and North Carolina committed seven.
"You have to be very, very aggressive against Carolina," Duke head coach Robbie Church said. "If you're tentative, they'll bury you. If they smell blood, they will bury you."
With just under 29 minutes to play in the game, Ford saved a potential breakaway opportunity with a slide tackle that knocked the ball away from a North Carolina forward who was dribbling inside the 18-yard box. After a few UNC shots missed the goal, Lipsher saved another potential scoring opportunity when she came left the net to grab a dangerous corner kick inside the goal box in the 80th minute.
"When you play UNC its like playing the national team, so there aren't going to be too many players that don't give you trouble," Lipsher said.
The two teams then traded possession in the midfield area for the next several minutes, and it appeared as though the game would go into overtime. During one of the exchanges, however, Seibert collected the ball on the right side of the field and saw Moros making a run down the opposite side. She played the ball through the defense, setting the stage for Moros' late-game heroics.
"There's nothing like it," Moros said after the game.