The No. 9 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team (7-3, 0-2 ACC) fell to No. 15 Duke (9-4, 1-1 ACC), 15-6, in a Saturday afternoon bout at Dorrance Field.
Duke got the early lead in Saturday’s game, quickly going up 2-0 in the first quarter thanks to two goals by sophomore attackman Brennan O’Neill. O’Neill continued his rampage into the second quarter, opening up the period with an unassisted goal to notch an early hat trick.
After another Blue Devil goal from graduate attackman Joe Robertson, UNC finally answered on a extra-man opportunity thanks to a goal from senior midfielder Henry Schertzinger. A goal by Duke’s Nakeie Montgomery in the closing seconds of the second quarter put Duke up 5-1 at the half.
By the third period, the floodgates were opened. Duke outscored UNC 5-1 in this quarter, behind three goals from O’Neill and two from Montgomery. UNC’s Jacob Kelly was the only Tar Heel to score in this period, with an unassisted goal off of a ground ball pickup.
The fourth period of play was much closer between the two teams. After Duke won the face-off to begin the quarter, junior attackman Dyson Williams was able to sling one in at point blank range off of the feed from Montgomery. The Blue Devils kept their streak alive with two more combined goals from O’Neill and Robertson to put Duke up 13-2.
Graduate attackman Chris Gray answered with his first goal of the game, firing an unassisted shot into the back of the net. Gray also assisted the next North Carolina goal by defensive midfielder Dominic Pryor to cut Duke’s lead to nine. Ultimately, this is as close as the Tar Heels would come in Saturday’s game. Each team notched two more goals in the second half of the fourth quarter for a final score of 15-6.
Who stood out?
Brennan O’Neill’s impact on Saturday’s game is evident, whether you were at Dorrance to watch him work, or took a quick glance at the stat sheet. With just under two minutes left in the third quarter, O’Neill had already notched a sock trick against the Tar Heels, and would end the game with seven goals.
On the other side of the ball, Duke’s goalkeeper Mike Adler had 14 saves and a .933 save percentage in just the first half. He would go on to be dominant throughout the duration of Saturday’s game, limiting UNC to six goals, much lower than the team’s 13.56 goals per game average thus far on the season.
When was it decided?
Entering the second half of Saturday’s game, Duke was up 5-1 thanks to three goals from O’Neill, and one a piece from Robertson and Montgomery. Despite the score, both teams were getting roughly the same amount of looks, with 16 shots on goal from Duke and 15 from UNC.
However, things took a turn when Montgomery netted the Blue Devils’ sixth goal of the game to start the third quarter. This created a sizable five-goal lead, erasing any momentum UNC had generated in the beginning of the second half. Duke would go on to outscore UNC 5-1 in the third period, and head into the final period of play with a definitive 10-2 lead.
Why does it matter?
Overall, this game against ranked competition should provide UNC with some valuable experience as the team heads into a contentious Virginia matchup in the upcoming weekend. A point of emphasis that should be clear to the team after Saturday’s game? Ground balls. Duke clearly won the ground ball war, 35-21. Against a highly skilled Cavaliers team, UNC can’t offer as many possessions as they did to the Blue Devils on Saturday.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Charlottesville next Saturday, April 9, to take on No. 2 Virginia, where they will look to avenge their 15-11 loss to the Cavaliers earlier this season.
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