Duke edges North Carolina 11-10
Wenger’s four goals lead Blue Devils past Tar Heels
DURHAM, N.C. – With 14:22 to play in the second half, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 North Carolina were deadlocked at nine goals apiece, but the Blue Devils persevered, taking an 11-10 decision from the Tar Heels Friday night at Koskinen Stadium. Duke moved to 12-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC with the win, while North Carolina fell to 10-4 on the year and 3-2 in conference play.
“This was a battle between two great teams,” head coach Kerstin Kimel said. “If you play this game 10 times, there are probably going to be 10, one-goal outcomes, that’s how even we are. I think there’s always something special when we play this game; it’s a tough, close game.”
Junior Kim Wenger turned in a solid performance for the Blue Devils, finishing the game with four goals on four shots while also contributing three caused turnovers and two ground balls. Redshirt junior Emma Hamm and junior Kat Thomas both finished with two goals, and senior Christie Kaestner recorded a goal and an assist in the contest.
After leading by a goal at halftime, Duke built a three-goal margin with 19:22 to play, but the Tar Heels put together a 3-0 run during the next five minutes to knot the game at 9-9. The Blue Devils regrouped following a key timeout as redshirt freshman Maddie Salamone won the ensuing draw and Wenger netted the go-ahead goal, her fourth of the game, with 12:33 to go.
A free position goal from senior Virginia Crotty put the Blue Devils up by two with just under eight minutes to play, but a UNC free position goal from Kara Cannizzaro, who finished with four goals and an assist to lead the Tar Heels, brought the visiting team within one. An interception by the Tar Heels gave North Carolina possession with under two minutes to go, but UNC was unable to get a shot off, turning the ball over and allowing Duke to run out the remainder of the clock.
Duke got off to a slow start at the beginning of the contest, allowing North Carolina to take a 2-0 lead in the early going. However, the Blue Devils came storming back, scoring the next four goals. Kaestner and Wenger netted consecutive scores to put Duke up 6-3 late in the first half, but the Tar Heels scored two unanswered as the Blue Devils took a 6-5 lead into the intermission.
Goals from Hamm and Wenger opened the second stanza before North Carolina responded and Duke went up by three again, this time 9-6 on a Thomas tally, before UNC made its run.
Overall, Duke outshot North Carolina by a 27-19 margin, but the biggest difference was in draw controls, where the Blue Devils held a 15-8 advantage, including an 8-3 margin in the second half.
“The biggest thing is that we won the draw,” Kimel added. “That gave us possession. Maybe we didn’t always finish on our possessions, but we had the ball, which was huge for our offense.”
Junior goaltender Mollie Mackler finished with eight saves on the day, including a huge stop on a North Carolina free position shot with 2:34 to play.