CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Junior attacker Kerrin Maurer buried a shot with 26 seconds remaining in overtime to lift eighth-ranked Duke over third-ranked North Carolina Wednesday evening in the first women’s lacrosse game to be played at Kenan Stadium. The regular season meeting between the Tobacco Road rivals went into overtime for the second-straight year, with the Blue Devils coming out on top by a 7-6 score.
Duke improved to 9-6 on the season and 3-4 in ACC competition with the critical conference victory, while the Tar Heels fell to 12-3 on the year and 5-2 in league play.
Maurer and senior attacker Sydney Peterson led the charge for the Blue Devils offensively with three goals apiece. The Blue Devils also turned in a balanced effort at the draw and the defensive unit limited North Carolina to its second-lowest scoring output of the spring.
“To come here and play in Kenan against a great Carolina team and execute a game plan as well as they did was just a great effort,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “Our team really understands that it’s such a privilege to be part of such an awesome rivalry and because of all the special things that come along with it, you can get great finishes like this.”
Maurer put the Blue Devils on the board first five minutes into the contest and after a goal by the Tar Heels’ Molly Hendrick, Duke used a strong presence at the draw to control possession over the next eight minutes. Aided by aggressive defensive play that resulted in a couple of North Carolina turnovers, junior Erin Tenneson, Peterson and Maurer each registered scores during that span to stretch the visiting squad’s lead to 4-1.
The Tar Heels responded to the Duke run by initiating a scoring burst of their own in the last 10 minutes of the period. Abbey Friend posted two markers and Taylor George one to knot the score at 4-4 going into the intermission.
North Carolina extended its run into the second period as Aly Messinger and Hendrick notched back-to-back goals to bring the score to 6-4. The ball went back and forth over the next 11 minutes as the defenses forced a number of turnovers, but Peterson was able to work her way around her defender for the second time on the evening to cut it to 6-5.
“When we were down 6-4, I thought we did a really good job of sticking to our game plan, which was making sure we were just battling on the draws,” Kimel said. “Our defense did a really good job with their matchups and our game plan. We wanted to make sure that we put ourselves in a position to make plays, play good helping team defense and also give our goalie a chance to make a save.”
Peterson tallied her third score of the evening on a pass from Maurer, tying up the contest with 4:12 left on the clock. The Blue Devils logged five more shots before the end of regulation, including one by Maurer at the horn, but the game was sent into overtime for the second consecutive season.
North Carolina won the opening draw in overtime but was unable to score in the first three minutes of action. A critical caused turnover by Peterson at the 2:45 mark then set up the gamewinner by Maurer. Despite surrendering the final draw of the game, the Duke defense kept the Tar Heels off the board for the final 26 seconds to earn the 7-6 victory.
“Overtime is tricky because it’s not sudden death,” Peterson said. “We were just really looking for the draw ... We looked at each other, took confidence in each other and just came out ahead. It’s a great way to end our regular season.”
For the contest, the Blue Devils led 23-12 in shots and won the draw by a 9-8 margin with senior Taylor Virden and junior Katie Trees each collecting two draw controls. Duke also amassed 21 ground balls to 14 by North Carolina. Sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea made two saves and had one ground ball while Caylee Waters and Megan Ward totaled five stops each in the net for the Tar Heels.
The Blue Devils now await the seeding for the 2014 ACC Championship, which will be hosted by Boston College Apr. 24-27 at the Eagles’ Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass.