After an emotional 1-0 overtime loss to ACC leader Maryland on Saturday, the Tar Heels ventured to Duke on Sunday.
UNC faced a squad it had demolished 5-0 on Sept. 29 and had not lost to since Oct. 13, 1981.
But the Tar Heels didn't let down and knocked off Duke 3-1.
"They could have beaten us today," said North Carolina coach Karen Shelton.
"We were very lucky to come away with a victory today. Duke is a well-coached, talented team."
The Blue Devils used that talent to grind out a 1-1 tie in the first half, but simply could not match the talent and speed of North Carolina as the game wore on.
"They put the pressure on us in the first half," Shelton said. "It was 50-50 going in at halftime, but we just came out and took control in the second half."
Freshman forward Kerry Falgowski led the way for the Tar Heels, posting all three UNC goals.
"Falgowski was the difference today," Shelton said. "She's been working hard to make those plays and it paid off."
With 20:40 remaining the second half, Falgowski slapped what proved to be the game's winning goal through a host of Duke defenders, giving UNC a 2-1 advantage.
Falgowski added another goal with 17:19 left on an assist from Abby Martin, bringing the final tally to 3-1.
"I was just at the right place at the right time today," Falgowski said. "I got some help from my teammates on passes and just ended up at the right places when I needed to be."
North Carolina's combination of tight defense and sharp handling did not allow the Blue Devils much of a chance of challenging the Tar Heels' lead once UNC put the last two goals on the board.
Duke's only chance to get back in the game came with 9:34 remaining in the second half, when Blue Devil Angie North lined up for a penalty stroke opportunity.
North's shot missed wide left, as North Carolina goalkeeper Amy Tran extended to fully shield the blast and UNC's two goal lead.
North Carolina outshot Duke 9-7, and drew five penalty corners to the Blue Devils' three.
Saturday, it was a different story as Maryland outshot the Tar Heels 19-6 in regulation.
But neither team could capitalize on any of those shots as the two teams played to a scoreless tie.
With 7:34 left in the first OT, Carissa Messimer took a pass from Rachel Hiskins and punched in a goal off a failed penalty corner, giving the Terrapins the 1-0 victory.
"It was really disappointing to lose, especially in overtime," said senior back Susan Hayes. "It was a tough loss."
The two teams shouldn't have been surprised that the game went to overtime. Six of the previous eight meetings between the two were decided in the extra period.
The win boosted Maryland's final ACC record to 3-1. The Tar Heels finished ACC play with a 2-2 record.
"We had to be mentally tough to come out against Duke today, because they were a good team," Hayes said. "Today was a whole new day and a whole new game. We played well."
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