DURHAM — All Jordan Smith could do is watch.
Watch and hope.
For 60 regulation minutes, the senior defenseman had been right there with the player that sat atop the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team’s scouting report entering Saturday’s 9-8 overtime loss in Durham.
The player that bears the same first name and No. 31 as Smith but a different, a hated, shade of blue each time he takes the field — Duke senior attackman Jordan Wolf.
Even when the sudden death overtime period commenced, tied 8-8, Smith held tight the key of the lock he’d tactfully placed on Duke’s leading scorer.
But Wolf burst through the chains. His key? The inside roll — an attackman’s signature move.
As Wolf curled his way around the goal to make the move, Smith was right on his back.
One step too many and a tangle of both players’ feet, however, catapulted Smith to the ground where all he could do is one thing.
Watch and hope.
“What am I thinking? Really just trying to keep him in front of me. Try not to give him a step. But sometimes they will get a step,” Smith said. “If he gets an inside roll, you just hope that one of your teammates has your back and is ready to be there.”
But that wish wouldn’t be fulfilled. And it was a tough pill for UNC sophomore goalie Kieran Burke to swallow after Wolf shook off Smith and scored to lift No. 4 Duke (6-2, 1-1 ACC) to the victory.
“I knew it was going through the net,” said Burke, who had a season-high 15 saves. “He went, he got inside, he did his normal routine that he likes to do and finished on it.”
Yes, the afternoon belonged to Wolf. The 2014 Preseason All-American found the net four times and recorded one assist.
But all three of Wolf’s goals before the game-winner came in transition. Because when the Blue Devils dove into their set offense, No. 5 UNC (5-2, 0-2 ACC) bottled up Duke’s go-to guy. One-on-one opportunities? Not an option.
“Jordan Wolf is such a dynamic player that you can’t leave a defenseman out on an island,” coach Joe Breschi said. “We were there. We slid, we rotated, we played him physical. But he’s a really good player and he got his.”
Even after Wolf’s outburst, Burke doesn’t envision much UNC’s defense can build off of.
“I thought we played great,” Burke said. “It just came down to one play with one of the best attackmen in the country.”
It was a play that rendered Smith a spectator, as he waited for help to step up to Wolf.
UNC senior defensive midfielder Ryan Creighton was almost Smith’s refuge, diving in front of Wolf as he shot.
But Creighton was a tad late as the ball glided over his head and into the net before he hit the ground and sprawled out in disapointment next to Smith.
And it was there that all the two could do now is watch.
Watch as Duke stormed the field.
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