CARY, N.C. – The third-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels knocked off the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils, 17-8, in the semifinals of the ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship Friday night at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Tar Heels will face No. 1 Maryland in the championship game on Sunday.
Carolina entered the weekend having lost back-to-back games at Maryland and at Duke but has responded with some of its strongest play of the season in Cary this weekend. The Tar Heels’ 33 goals in their first two ACC Tournament games are their highest total in back-to-back games all season.
Behind two quick goals from junior Emma Hamm, Duke jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game. Unfazed, UNC responded with an 8-1 run and held a 10-6 advantage at the intermission. Junior Laura Zimmerman scored three first-half goals to pace the Tar Heels while Emily Garrity, Becky Lynch and Corey Donohoe added two goals apiece before halftime.
“We didn’t hang our heads down 2-0,” Donohoe said. “We just said, `Let’s focus and don’t let up.’”
The Tar Heels picked up where they left off in the second half, outscoring the Blue Devils, 7-2, after the break. Zimmerman and Lynch led all players with four goals and six points apiece, and Donohoe finished with three goals and one assist. Thanks to a pair of assists on Friday night, Lynch set the Carolina single-season record with 28. She also controlled six draws. Kara Cannizzaro tallied a game-high four assists in the contest. Goaltender Lauren Makysm had seven saves on the night.
Carolina out-shot Duke by a 29-24 margin and won eight of 10 draw controls in the second half. In the game, UNC controlled 16 draws to Duke’s 11.
“Tonight we won the draws, which was the biggest difference in the game,” said UNC coach Jenny Levy.
“Our offense has been good the last two games. It’s just been a matter of communication and patience. We are starting to see the results of some of hard work.”
“I think we are disappointed in our performance tonight, but it’s also a testament to the great game that Carolina played,” Duke coach Kerstin Kimel said. “They played an awesome game from start to finish. Unfortunately, this was not a great night for us to have the kind of game we had.”
With the win, Carolina wins back one-half point in the standings for the 2010-11 Battle of the Blues sponsored by Continental Tire.