CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Matt Danowski recorded six points with two goals and four assists and Zack Greer scored four goals and added an assist as top-seeded and second-ranked Duke defeated fourth-seeded and 12th-ranked North Carolina, 17-6, in the semifinals of the 2008 ACC Tournament at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday evening.
The Blue Devils improve to 14-1 on the year while the Tar Heels fall to 8-5. Duke has now won eight straight and 12 of the last 15 meetings with North Carolina.
With the win, Duke is 30-9 against ranked opponents since the beginning of the 2005 season. In addition, the Blue Devils have now won 16 of their last 18 games versus ACC opponents.
Max Quinzani and Zach Howell both had three goals and an assist for Duke, while Mike Catalino and Michael Young each scored a pair of goals. Steve Schoeffel scored one goal while Nick O'Hara had an assist for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils advance to Sunday’s championship game and will meet third-seeded and third-ranked Virginia, an 11-8 winner over second-seeded Maryland on Friday night. Face-off for the championship game is set for Sunday at 3:30 p.m., with the game being televised live by Fox Sports Net.
Duke's victory over North Carolina marked the 250th career coaching win for Blue Devil head coach John Danowski. Danowski earned 27 wins at LIU-C.W. Post (1983-85), 192 wins at Hofstra (1986-06) and is 31-4 in his two seasons (2007-08) with the Blue Devils. He becomes the 15th coach in NCAA history to reach the 250-win plateau.
The Tar Heels claimed a 1-0 lead at the 8:47 mark of the opening period when Bart Wagner found the back of the net off a pass from Mike Munnelly. Duke countered with a goal by Catalino with 7:58 on the clock. The Blue Devils’ marker came after Quinzani scooped up a loose ball and fed a streaking Catalino in front of the net.
North Carolina then tallied two goals just 12 seconds apart as Cryder DiPietro and Nick Tintle scored at the 5:25 and 5:13 marks, and the Tar Heels led 3-1 after one quarter of action. Both squads endured inconsistent ball handling in the opening 15 minutes with each team committing seven turnovers.
After Duke successfully killed off a penalty to begin the second quarter, Greer rebounded a saved shot and tossed in his 185th career goal to pull the Blue Devils to within 3-2 just 50 seconds into the period. It was then Duke’s turn to score consecutive goals in a 12-second span as Young (11:37) and Quinzani (11:25) turned the trick. Young scored after dodging down the right-hand alley while Quinzani beat Tar Heel goalkeeper Grant Zimmerman with a nifty behind the back shot after securing a ground ball in front of the net.
Greer’s second goal of the day – off a cross field pass from Matt Danowski through North Carolina’s zone defense – pushed Duke’s lead to 5-3 with 3:33 left in the half. The teams went to the dressing room with the Blue Devils ahead, 5-3, thanks in part to Duke’s defense holding the Tar Heels scoreless in the second period as goalkeeper Dan Loftus was credited for six saves in the quarter. Loftus finished with 11 saves on the game while improving to 38-7 in the Duke net.
Danowski used a low shot for an unassisted goal from the left side to make the score 6-3 with 11:30 left in the third quarter. North Carolina responded with back-to-back goals, with DiPietro’s extra man tally at the 9:21 mark pulling the Tar Heels to within 6-5. After Duke won the ensuing face-off, Danowski worked into the middle of the field and rifled in a goal for a 7-5 Blue Devil advantage with nine minutes even on the clock. The Blue Devils then took advantage of a Tar Heel penalty to push the lead to three goals when Quinzani pumped in a rebound at the 5:01 mark of the third quarter. With 2:36 left in the period, Danowski found Greer for a transition goal to make the score 9-5. Just over one minute later, Howell fed Catalino for a tally, increasing the margin to five goals.
Greer’s textbook backdoor cut freed the Whitby, Ontario, Canada native for a goal off a pass from Nick O'Hara. The marker, Greer’s fourth of the day, came with 12:07 on the clock and made the score 11-5. Less than two minutes later, Steve Schoeffel bounced home a shot for a seven-goal cushion. North Carolina’s Gavin Petracca ended Duke’s string of consecutive goals at five with a tally at the 9:29 mark.
Quinzani reached the three-goal plateau for the day with an extra man marker from Danowski with 8:07 remaining. After another Tar Heel penalty, Howell found the back of the cage to push the score to 14-6 at the 7:43 mark. Danowski then handed out his fourth assist of the night as Howell scored again with 6:35 on the clock. At the 4:02 mark, Howell netted his third goal of the game from Greer. Young added his second goal of the game unassisted at the 2:06 and putting Duke up 17-6 in the final score of the game.
With his four goals, Greer increased his career total to 188 and he moves into a tie for fourth in NCAA history with Merrick Thomson, who played for Albany from 2004-07. He is just five goals away from matching the NCAA record of 193 held by Stan Cockerton from N.C. State. Greer now has 47 goals this season and along with Quinzani, who pushed his total to 48, the duo ranks 1-2 in the NCAA this season. Duke improved to 37-0 when Greer scores three or more goals in a game.
Matt Danowski finished with four assists and a pair of goals to push his NCAA-leading point total to 76 on the season while Greer’s two assists and six total points gives him 70 on the season, good for second in the nation. Danowski’s 76 points this season matches the 10th best output in ACC history. Danowski moved his career point total to 332, good for second in NCAA history and within 11 of tying the record of 343 by Air Force’s Joe Vasta from 1983-86.
Danowski also moved past Vasta on the NCAA career assists chart and now sits in fifth place with 172. He also pushed his career goal total to 160, becoming the 17th player in NCAA history to record 160 or more goals. In six career ACC Tournament games, Danowski has registered 30 points on 14 goals and 16 assists.
Duke’s 14 victories this year stand as the third-highest single-season total in school history, trailing only the 2005 and 2007 clubs that won 17 games each. The Blue Devils improve to 14-14 all-time in ACC Tournament play including a ledger of 10-9 in semifinal tilts.
Duke will face third-seeded Virginia in the ACC Championship game on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Cavaliers advanced to the title game with an 11-8 win over second-seeded Maryland on Friday evening.
|Matt Danowski||(2, 4)|
|Zack Greer||(4, 1)|
|Zach Howell||(3, 1)|
|Max Quinzani||(3, 1)|
|Mike Catalino||(2, 0)|
|Michael Young||(2, 0)|
|Nick O'hara||(0, 1)|
|Steve Schoeffel||(1, 0)|
|Dan Loftus||11 (0.647)|