DURHAM — It’s called the fastest sport on two feet. And on Friday night at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, all it took was six seconds in overtime to separate the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team from Duke.
At least, that’s how quickly things happened for golden-goal scorer Patrick Kelly.
One misplayed pass, one overly aggressive defender, one fake pass and one shot. Bam. Nothing but net. Game over, 17-16. The No. 17 Tar Heels (6-4, 1-0 ACC) win over the No. 11 Blue Devils (7-5, 1-1 ACC).
“You can’t really describe it,” Kelly said. “There’s really no words.”
The senior received a pass from junior Shane Simpson with 2:06 left on the clock in overtime, but Kelly missed the pass.
“I knew it was gonna be short,” Kelly said. “I didn’t know if I was supposed to go meet the ball or let it drop and try to one-hop catch it. I decided to one-hop catch it and misplayed it.”
The ball caromed off Kelly’s leg, rolling toward the goal and a Duke defender. Kelly scooped up the ball, putting Duke junior Thomas Zenker out of position. He then sprinted past the falling Zenker and toward the net.
“I thought I saw (the ball) trickle up at the top,” said senior Steve Pontrello. “And then I saw him coming down the aisle and I was like, ‘Shoot it, shoot it, shoot it.’”
Kelly shot it. Bottom right corner. Nothing but net.
“I was just able to get a straight line to the goal and stick it,” Kelly said.
Coach Joe Breschi said everything went according to plan.
“We wrote up the play of the year,” he said. “Throw it to his feet, dribble it a little bit and run by the guy and score. Just like you drew it up.”
The wild overtime goal was only the cherry on top of a game full of fireworks for both sides, where the offenses reigned supreme.
Both teams had runs of multiple goals in short spans of time. Duke scored twice in 73 seconds to tie the game at six goals apiece in the second period. UNC did the same in six seconds to end the third period up 13-12. UNC was up 16-14 with a minute and a half left, but Duke goals with 1:14 and 0:08 on the clock tied the game to force overtime.
Throughout the contest, neither team could get the final edge. Each side tried new defenses, new tactics and — in UNC’s case — a new goalie.
First-year Colin Reder had ten saves, including one early in overtime, in relief of redshirt sophomore Brian Balkam.
Sometimes, though, big players just make big plays. Whether it was Duke’s Myles Jones (five goals, six assists) and Jack Bruckner (three goals, one assist) or UNC’s Luke Goldstock (one goal, four assists) and Pontrello (six goals), the stars showed up for both teams.
For North Carolina, getting its first overtime win since 2013 couldn't have come in a more dramatic fashion. But Kelly knows that won’t be the last the Tar Heels hear of the Blue Devils.
“There’s a good chance we’ll see them again at some point,” Kelly said. “At least, I hope we do, because these games are so fun to play in.”
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