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The Daily Tar Heel

Despite third-quarter push, No. 14 UNC men’s lacrosse falls to No. 4 Duke, 15-8, in rivalry matchup

UNC sophomore Cooper Frankenheimer (19) defends his man during the men's lacrosse game against Brown at Dorrance Field on Saturday, March 11, 2023. UNC won 19-6.

DURHAM, N.C. - The No. 14 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team (4-3, 1-1 ACC) fell to the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (7-1, 2-0), 15-8, at Koskinen Stadium in Durham on Friday evening.

What happened?

Duke’s defense dictated the start of the game, allowing just one shot on goal from the Tar Heels in the first nine minutes. The Blue Devils struck first offensively as well with a goal from senior attackman Dyson Williams. It wasn’t long before Duke had claimed its second goal and a 2-0 lead that set the tone for the rest of the night.

Again, the Blue Devils sent a shot between the pipes to extend their lead to three. However, UNC first-year attackman James Matan took advantage of a quick clear to score one-on-one on the break over Duke goalie William Helm. Duke responded by dropping in three goals of its own, including one with just 11.1 seconds remaining, to claim a 6-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Tar Heels’ defense tightened up a bit in the second quarter, but their offense still struggled to make up any ground for much of the period. Even when graduate attackman Logan McGovern found the back of the net for UNC’s second goal, Duke came right back with a goal of its own as it boasted a 9-2 lead.

Toward the end of the half UNC graduate midfielder Harry Wellford sent in a goal on a quick turnaround shot from the left side of the cage. And on the very next possession, the Tar Heels made noise with a goal from senior attackman Lance Tillman to cut Duke’s lead to five.

For the majority of the first half, the story was UNC’s inability to win faceoffs and claim possession. Winning just 4-14 first-half faceoffs, the Tar Heels were forced to defend for much of the half, and Duke’s offense took advantage.

The momentum from UNC’s two goals to end the first half carried over into the opening minutes of the third quarter as it sent the ball into the net after picking up a ground ball just feet from the cage following a save from Duke. The goal was the second of the night for Matan.

UNC started the second half determined to capitalize on the momentum it had earned as it won the first three faceoffs of the half—scoring on all three drives back-to-back. The second goal of the run came from senior faceoff midfielder Andrew Tyeryar. Tillman then notched his second goal of the night to bring the Tar Heels within two.

One minute later, UNC was back on the board and back in the game. A goal from graduate midfielder Johnny Schwarz brought the Tar Heels within one goal as Duke led 9-8. The Blue Devils finally stalled the bleeding with their first goal of the half five minutes into the quarter.

Another goal by Duke provided the Blue Devils with a three-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter as they weathered the aggressive UNC comeback.

Duke struck first in the fourth, claiming a 12-8 lead off the fifth goal of the night from Williams. A second fourth-quarter goal for Duke helped the Blue Devils regain their five-point advantage from halftime. As the rain picked up on Friday night those two goals seemed to literally dampen the Tar Heels’ red-hot run to start the half.

In the final three minutes, Duke scored twice more, delivering the final blows as the Tar Heels dropped 15-8 in Durham.

Who stood out? 

Despite having the number one scoring defense in the nation coming into the game, UNC’s defense was not the story of the game—it was Duke’s. The Tar Heels scored just eight goals after entering the night scoring 14.5 goals per game.

But as soon as the third quarter started, UNC came to life on both ends. Tillman helped spearhead a solid UNC offensive attack to begin the second half, but the offense’s efforts would prove to be in vain. 

When was it decided?

Two early fourth-quarter goals from Duke helped to crush UNC’s momentum from its third-quarter run as Duke put itself in position to close out the game and win its fifth straight.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels haven’t won in Koskinen Stadium since 2016, and they were not able to avenge last year’s 15-6 loss to their rivals. 

The loss was UNC’s third of the season, all of which have been suffered over the course of the last five games.

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When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will be back at home at Dorrance Field on Sunday, March 19, at noon, as they take on Dartmouth.