Despite an early lead in the first half, the Blue Devils couldn’t stop North Carolina’s rolling momentum in their final game of the regular season.
Duke fell 20-10 on a beautiful day at Kenan Stadium, as the No. 5 Tar Heels scored 11 straight goals at one point after the Blue Devils led in the middle of the first half.
Duke came out strong, with junior Olivia Jenner taking the opening faceoff to the goal, and Jenner added two more for a hat trick within the first five minutes. Jenner helped the Blue Devils outdraw North Carolina 16-15 and added another goal later to wind up with four.
“I was so happy with how we came out today,” head coach Kerstin Kimel told GoDuke.com. “The girls had a really good week of practice, and I think the way we came out in the first half is what I thought we were capable of. We had really good momentum—not just the fact that we were scoring and had a lead, but how we were scoring was really great.... We expected North Carolina to make a run, but we just couldn’t stop their run.”
Despite this early sprint out front, Duke (7-8, 2-5 in the ACC) couldn’t contain the Tar Heels, who tied the score at five almost 14 minutes into the game and didn't look back. North Carolina (12-3, 6-1) was propelled all game with a strong performance by Jamie Ortega, who notched seven goals, and the Tar Heels scored five times in the last three minutes of the first half to take a 14-5 lead into the break.
North Carolina outscored Duke just 6-5 in the second half, and the Blue Devils settled in limit the Tar Heel offense and the game went back and forth. Ortega started the half with another goal, but Duke fought back and added one from freshman Catriona Berry, and Blue Devil freshman Charlotte North posted a hat trick in the second half as her team scored the last three goals of the game.
“We made a couple of defensive adjustments and I think they went pretty well for the most part. We changed up our midfield, made a couple of adjustments and we talked about chipping away,” Kimel said. “When we chose to push the ball in transition and keep the ball unsettled, we had really good looks, which was part of our game plan. We just didn’t do a really great job of executing it during that run that they had.”
Despite the momentum in the second half, Duke couldn’t come close to overcoming the deficit it dug in the first period and was outshot 33-21 by the Tar Heels in the game. North Carolina also dominated the ground-ball game, controlling 12 to Duke's eight. The Blue Devils also had 10 turnovers and 19 fouls to end the contest.
Duke will have to make adjustments before starting the ACC tournament at home Thursday night as the No. 6 seed against third-seeded Virginia Tech.
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