The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 3rd

Tar Heels lacrosse falls in second half of ACC championship game against Duke

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A major tenet of the No. 9 North Carolina lacrosse team is to play the full 60-minute game physically and aggressively.

In the ACC Championship game at the Virginia’s Klöckner Stadium against No. 7 Duke on Sunday, the Tar Heels completed half of that task before the Blue Devils grabbed the reins.

Using momentum from a 5-0 scoring run in the third quarter, Duke erased a two-goal halftime deficit and beat UNC 12-9.

“They came out firing,” senior goalkeeper Steven Rastivo said. “We had a couple of unfortunate calls, and they took advantage of it.”

UNC was hit with three penalties in the third quarter, giving Duke two and a half minutes of extra-man opportunities.

“We just played so much defense in the third quarter, being a man down several times, and they executed and canned the opportunities to change the momentum,” coach Joe Breschi said.

And while Duke was devouring every scoring advantage, UNC couldn’t seem to replicate the same offensive fire.

After being outshot by Duke 19-18 in the first half, UNC stalled in the third quarter, only taking nine shots while Duke had 14.

“I thought we rushed a couple of offensive possessions,” junior attackman Marcus Holman said. “Duke’s a good team and a streaky team like that.”

Duke started its scoring streak after two minutes in the second half and never turned back. Though the first half was evenly matched and saw momentum swings in each direction, the Tar Heels were never able to match the Blue Devils’ offensive prowess.

Sophomore attackman Christian Walsh was instrumental to Duke’s offense. He was involved in every goal in the Duke scoring barrage, picking up three goals and two assists.

Though neither Breschi nor the players could point to one definite cause of Duke’s third quarter dominance, one thing is certain – the unanswered goals were key in Duke’s seventh ACC title.

UNC finally netted a goal off a diving shot by Joey Sankey with one minute left in the quarter. But by then, the damage was already done. Though UNC was only outscored 5-4 in the fourth quarter, its rally couldn’t overcome the third quarter slump.

“I thought we did a good job fighting back, but they’re the number one seed for a reason,” Rastivo said. “We knew they were going to go on a run. We did a good job at weathering the storm, I thought, but next time we have to cash in on our opportunities.”

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