UNC drew first blood on the face and challenged Duke's shorti behind after getting it around the horn. Breslin smothered the stick-side low shot when the shorti got beat the inside. One Hartofilis righty crank later and Breslin found himself stuffing an attempt to the upper right (he's a lefty though) when UNC came down the right wing on a break. UNC settled into a 2-2-2 and then a 1-3-2 and worked it around the outside without really generating a good angle shot. The 2-2-2 looked more like a 2 behind and everyone else up on the restraining line -- they love to bunch everyone up top and give some room to operate for the guys behind. It paid off. Andrew Lucas made it 1-0 UNC on an unassisted plopper from the left that Breslin tried to dispute.
When UNC controlled the face and Duke went man-down for tripping, the Heels threw a man-up at Duke that would make a surgeon proud. Sonke drew attention behind after some movement around the horn, and lobbed it up top to Garrison, who faked on a shot that he could have taken and dumped it to Bell on the right wing. Bell ripped high past Breslin, and he had all the time in the world to do it.
Duke finally got a notch on the board when Breslin made an insane, leaping, point blank save on Lucas (who was all alone), pushed it up to Hartofilis, who then did the dirty work of driving lefty from up top and ripping one low past Blindenbacher. But UNC's Garrison got himself another smart man-up assist when he found Will momentarily alone on the crease during a Duke slash penalty and threaded him from behind left.
Duke managed to get an extended possession and whipped it around the horn, each guy taking a shot at a matchup. UNC was stretching their defense to the corners of the box up top, so Duke had more room to work with, but UNC could anticipate a slide faster. It looked to be a draw -- Duke could get a step and a crank, but never really penetrate the middle of the D.
UNC's Staines then got hit with an illegal body check, but Duke couldn't covert despite some great cross-crease threads -- Cassese fanned twice on feeds delivered to him on the doorstep. Duke decided to hold for the 2nd quarter face and the 1st ended with UNC up 3-1.
UNC withstood the remaining penalty and even managed to draw one of their own when Hunter Henry got flagged with a slash. UNC remained deadly on the extra man -- after their usual around the horn, Will took it behind and looked to be continuing the circle around to his right, but noticed Garrison hanging on the lefty shooter's spot up front. Will reversed the ball him and Duke's over-sliding defense couldn't get back in time -- Garrison buried it with a lefty bullet to left upper corner.
Duke did close the gap on their next possession though when Greg Patchek bull dodged to the crease from the right wing, got triple-teamed and had his elbows lifted, along with the ball, but
Devin Wray was waiting for the gift to land on the other side of the crease. He accepted it.
UNC came right back when Lucas completed a really pretty look to a streaking Lance Zimmerman on Breslin's left, which was immediately followed by Duke's Cassese dumping it from behind to Kevin Brennan on the right wing, which was immediately followed by Brennan's no-angle rip past Blindenbacher, which was immediately followed UNC's Lucas ripping a precision off-pipe blast from the wing to make it 6-3 UNC, which was immediately followed by yours truly having trouble hunting and pecking all of this on a freakin' laptop.
After a weak slash call against Duke, UNC was yet again on the EMO, and they kept the fire going with another sharp backside feed from Steven Will. He managed to get Duke to over-commit to the strong side and whipped it Pat Jackson across the grain, who was sneaking down from the restraining line. Jackson had target practice on Breslin for a 7-3 lead.
Defense was on display for the remaining minutes of the half as both squads played tough position with their shorti's and threw in an occasional circus save or longstick robbery (UNC's Staines was cherry picking guys from behind). The half ended with UNC up a commanding 7-3.
Duke got the first chance on offense in third, and they displayed what looked to be the results of a Pressler locker room thrashing for not moving the ball enough -- the rubber was flying all over the place, a marked departure from Duke's mostly one-on-one forays in the first. They connected when Cassese drove right from the top of the box and instead of ripping it, threaded it across the crease (at almost shot speed) to Brennan on the paint, who redirected it just under the pipe.
Brennan doled out the goods moments later when he collected himself behind, got some room and a look, and hit Lieske off the right pipe to close the gap to two. It became a one goal game when Patchek found himself being covered by a shorti behind the net, and despite an attempted shut-off, lost his man, got the ball, and set himself up for a drive. He bulled from the lefty wing, drew a double, a threw a touch pass across the field to Chemotti, who then moved it down to the crease, and an all alone Lieske, when the slides flew at him. Lieske finished point blank uncontested.
It got tied up when Duke's Terrence Keaney drove from top left to top right, muscled through a double and then a triple as the waves of slides hit, but somehow was able to get off a strong 15 yard bouncer that nailed the top corner.
UNC finally got some time on offense and made the best of it -- Pat Jackson got floated a pass during an EMO at the top right of the box and he hopped, skipped, and jumped on his wind-up.
His rip nailed Breslin in the chest protector and it ricocheted to the left, where Sonke gobbled it up and drove hard across the middle, blasting it by Breslin. 8-7 UNC.
After the host of powerful drives by Duke, UNC moved to a sloughing zone, but Duke continued to control the ball for long stretches of time. The Blue Devil's ball movement was also causing some gaffes in UNC's coverage, as UNC was occasionally slow to cover guys just rotating into the hole. Brennan found one of the seams and hit Jimmy Regan as he slid unnoticed down to just 5 yards outside the crease. It made it 8-8 and the quarter would end that way after some wide rips and great saves.
The fourth started with some physical drives by Patchek, who bulled around from left behind and unleashed one by Blindenbacher unassisted for 9-8 lead. Patchek was a bull in the middle -- he could will himself into position and was usually able to turn and rip or just power a shot through. And Duke was really dominating the time of possession now, allowing Patchek and crew's constant drives to whittle away at UNC's stamina.
It became 10-8 Duke when Brennan, after a host of others challenged their man, took his defender across the top from left to right, rolled back to the short side, and as he appeared to be losing his footing, ripped one by Breslin to the upper left on a quick release. Almost on the next series, Terrence Keaney picked a UNC clear near the left sideline, and bolted the other way with only one defenseman hanging back. Patchek was making a line to the goal from the other side of the field and Keaney hit him on unintentional bounce pass; Patchek threw a host of pump fakes on Blindenbacher to up their tally to 11.
Steven Will got it to within striking distance at 11-9 when he finished a feed off the right pipe, but time was running down, and Duke was already playing keep-away. The kept on playing it, despite some nastiness on Carolina's part (the refs let a lot of cheap shots go near the end), and ran out the clock to insure a meeting with the Terps on Sunday.
Duke vs. North Carolina