DURHAM, N.C. – Despite a strong second half which saw No. 6 Duke come back to tie the game twice, North Carolina’s Kara Cannizzaro netted the game winner in overtime to send the third-ranked Tar Heels to a 12-11 win Thursday evening in Koskinen Stadium.
The Tar Heels, who moved to 10-1 on the season and 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, outshot the Blue Devils, 33-19, but Duke (9-2, 2-2 ACC) was able to build a two-goal margin as late as 19:15 in the second period. However, North Carolina closed the contest on a 5-2 run to emerge with the win in the mid-week meeting between the two rivals.
“We’re a young team [but] I think physically we can hang with any team in the country – we showed that tonight,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “North Carolina is a more veteran team than we are and they’re very gifted athletically. In my mind, that wasn’t a difference on the field for us. I thought we were able to match them. I also felt like we defended them really well. They have so many weapons, and I thought we did a good job of limiting some of their looks.”
Senior attacker Makenzie Hommel paced the Blue Devil offense on the evening, collecting her team-leading seventh hat trick of the season with a four-goal performance. Sophomore Kerrin Maurer posted three points on two goals and an assist, while junior Maddy Morrissey and sophomore Taylor Trimble chipped in two scores apiece in the loss.
With the score knotted at 5-5 coming out of halftime, the Tar Heels quickly took a two-goal lead with scores from Sammy Jo Tracy and Aly Messinger. Sparked by a Morrissey free position goal with 23:56 to play, Duke then went on a 4-0 run to retie the game at 7-7.
Cannizzaro helped North Carolina reclaim a two-goal advantage two more times over the next 12 minutes of action, but freshman Kelci Smesko and Trimble both found the back of the net to make it 11-11 with 7:46 left on the clock. From there, the Blue Devil defense held strong, with rookie goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea making two critical saves down the stretch to preserve the 11-11 tie at the end of regulation.
“The focus we have going into every game is 60-plus minutes,” Hommel said. “This is the first time we’ve seen overtime all season, but I think we were definitely ready for it … We were very calm in a situation where it was back-and-forth and we kept our composure. That’s what led us into overtime.”
After winning the first draw in overtime, the Tar Heels took a 12-11 lead at 3:30 on Cannizzaro’s fourth goal of the night. North Carolina won the next draw as well but committed a turnover with 30 seconds remaining to give possession back to Duke. The Blue Devils marched the ball down the field and Hommel had an opportunity, but the Tar Heels’ Lauren Maksym was there for the save, lifting her team to the 12-11 win.
“At the end of the game, we forced a turnover, we made them make a mistake,” Kimel said. “We called a timeout and we drew up a plan that they ran to perfection. They ran it exactly the way we wanted it run and we just didn’t score on that play. It’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Morrissey and junior Taylor Virden recorded three draw controls each while Virden, senior Lauren Martin and sophomores Gabby Moise and Brigid Smith were each credited with a caused turnover. Moise also helped limit North Carolina’s Cannizzaro to four goals on 12 shots.
Duryea totaled a season-best 15 saves in goal for Duke and suffered just her first loss since making her debut in the cage against Maryland Feb. 24. Her counterpart, Maksym, finished the night with six saves for the Tar Heels. Meanwhile, North Carolina won the ground ball battle, 13-7, and held an 18-9 advantage in draw controls.
Up next for the Blue Devils is a meeting with ACC opponent Boston College in Chestnut Hill April 6 at 1 p.m.