PRINCETON, N.J.-The No. 5 seed Duke University men's lacrosse team outscored fourth-seed North Carolina 5-1 in the fourth quarter to capture a 17-9 victory in front of 8,260 fans at Princeton Stadium this afternoon. The Blue Devils advance to the NCAA Semifinals for the fourth consecutive year and for the sixth time overall.
Senior attackman Ned Crotty led all scorers with three goals and three assists for six points, while junior attackman Zach Howell led all scorers with four goals and one assist. Completing the starting attack unit, senior Max Quinzani added three goals. The trio of Crotty, Quinzani and Howell combined for 10 of the game's 17 goals. Senior midfielder Steve Schoeffel chipped in three points from two goals and an assist.
"I'm really proud of our guys today," head coach John Danowski said. "They came out and played hard. Ground balls are really important to us as a team and we did a great job of that, especially in the fourth quarter. I thought the guys worked hard today and am very happy that we came away with the win."
The win over the Tar Heels is the second consecutive in the NCAA Quarterfinals and third in the past four seasons for the Blue Devils. The two squads had met three times previously in the NCAA Tournament.
"Obviously it's a huge rivalry and we really respect them and they're a good team, but any time you get to end a huge rivalry's season, it's something you really look forward to," Crotty said. "That was definitely something of motivation for us this past week. We had a lot of things we were working on, but that was definitely something we were looking forward to and a challenge that we were ready to accept."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with neither team leading by more than three goals. North Carolina (13-3) got on the board first 4:18 into the first stanza and the two squads traded goals over the next 10 minutes to finish in a 2-2 tie after 15 minutes.
Scoring picked up in the second quarter as the two squads combined for 10 goals. Schoeffel put the Blue Devils in front for the first time of the day with an unassisted tally 51 seconds into the frame. Quinzani added his first goal of the game 59 seconds later to make it 4-2, the largest lead of the game at that point.
After a Jimmy Dunster goal pulled the Tar Heels within one, the Blue Devils put together a three-goal run over the next 1:31 to take a 7-3 lead with 5:45 left in the quarter. Howell netted the first two scores in the run and senior Will McKee added the third to give Duke the four-goal advantage. Will McKee finished the day with one goal and one assist.
North Carolina battled right back with two unanswered in a 1:14 span, getting markers from Billy Bitter and Dunster, but Crotty and sophomore Justin Turri matched their Tar Heel foes with a pair of unassisted scores 21 seconds apart to put Duke back up by four, 9-5.
After a timeout from Duke with eight ticks left in the first half, North Carolina's Dunster tallied his career-best fourth goal of the game with 1.6 seconds left to cut Duke's lead to three, 9-6, heading into the locker room.
The scoring pace slowed back down in the third quarter as the two squads traded goals throughout the 15-minute session. With Duke leading 11-7 early in the third frame, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels went through a 10-minute scoreless stretch.
North Carolina's Thomas Wood stopped the drought with a goal with 2:50 on the clock. The Blue Devils, however, halted the Tar Heel momentum 11 seconds later when sophomore longstick midfielder CJ Costabile netted his first goal of the season to stretch the lead back to four with one quarter to play.
The fourth quarter was all Duke as the Tar Heels struggled to get their offense going against the Blue Devils' stalwart defense. Quinzani added two more goals in a 59 second span and Duke tacked on three more to cruise to the eight-goal win.
Defensively, Duke held North Carolina to just three goals in the second half, including just one in the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels managed just four shots in the final stanza and only 12 in the second half. Perhaps most telling was the faceoff game in the fourth quarter as Duke won five-of-six restarts to put the second half total to 8-of-12.
"Sometimes in the tradition of our sport, it's like you can't switch goalies," Danowski said. "You can't switch quarterbacks in football. You know, why not? We've got two guys that we think we can win with and be successful. Actually, we think we have four. We've gotten [Devon] Sherwood in there and that has worked out as well. It's just a matter of playing in front of them and playing with them and how we're playing defensively."
Overall, Duke outshot the Tar Heels 35-29 and won the ground ball battle 30-24. Senior Sam Payton won 8-of-14 faceoffs, while Costabile was 7-of-9 on the restarts. Costabile led all Blue Devils with six ground balls with Payton and senior Parker McKee both picking up four apiece.
Duke will play the winner of the Virginia-Stony Brook contest to be played on May 23. The NCAA Semifinals will be held in Baltimore on May 29 and May 31 and M&T Bank Stadium.
Notes: Max Quinzani stretched his NCAA-record scoring streak to 64 games and netted his 14 game with at least three goals this season ... Duke improves to 18-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, 6-5 in the quarterfinals and 4-0 against North Carolina ... With three goals Max Quinzani moves to 195 career goals, which ranks second all-time in both Duke and NCAA career history ... His single-season total of 64 is third all-time and just three shy of tying Zack Greer's Duke single-season mark of 67 ... The 64 goals this season is eight in NCAA single-season history ... Ned Crotty registered his 60th assist this season to move to 12th in NCAA single season history ... Crotty has 144 career assists, which ranks second all-time at Duke and 19th in NCAA career history ... Head Coach John Danowski is now 13-11 in his career in NCAA Tournament history and 9-3 at Duke ... Danowski has led the Blue Devils to the NCAA Semifinals in each of his four seasons.