Duke men’s lacrosse coach John Danowski encourages his players to shoot until they get hot.
That philosophy led to 41 Duke shots and 15 saves by UNC goalkeeper Kieran Burke in Duke’s 9-8 win against UNC.
Defending a team launching upwards of 13 shots in a period was a challenge for UNC. And Duke senior attackman Jordan Wolf said he was impressed by the Tar Heels’ response.
“We missed a lot of shots, and (UNC’s) goalie made great saves all over the place,” Wolf said. “Their defense played well. It was just one of those days where you have to keep shooting to get hot and they eventually fell like we thought they were going to. I give them all the credit in the world. They did great.”
UNC’s offense wasn’t standstill either. The Tar Heels outshot Duke with 46 attempts of their own. Duke goalkeeper Luke Aaron remained calm under pressure, matching Burke’s 15 saves.
Aaron usually splits minutes with junior Kyle Turri. In Saturday’s game, Danowski didn’t think to pull Aaron, who got into a rhythm early in the first half.
“(Aaron was) only giving up one goal in 15 minutes and then two goals in another 15 minutes,” Danowski said. “It just seemed like it made a lot of sense to keep Aaron in.”
After 60 minutes of relentless shooting and dynamic defense, the evenly-paired Duke and North Carolina moved into sudden-death overtime.
On the first possession of overtime, Wolf saw teammate Christian Walsh with the ball and prepared to end it.
“Not much to it,” Wolf said. “Walsh took his guy down the wing, and he came behind, and I could have flattened out. We have a lot of chemistry. I’ve been playing with Christian Walsh for awhile, and I knew he was going to throw it to me and set a pick.
“Once he threw it, I attacked the ball and walked around the guy who played me topside and spun and scored.”
Cue the Blue Devil dog-piles, roaring crowds and Tar Heel head-hanging. Back in the Duke locker room, music blasted and players jumped on benches. “Ice up, son” was scrawled on the whiteboard.
Danowski said the lacrosse rivalry couldn’t compare to the Duke-UNC basketball rivalry, but that the game was still important to the team.
“The Carolina game is so much fun,” Danowski said. “We never get crowds like this, so that made it really exciting and fun, and we’re playing a great opponent who’s extremely well-coached and talented. So, that’s enough.”
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