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April 22, 2012
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.-- Duke rallied from a 4-2 halftime deficit to defeat North Carolina 12-9 and win the 2012 ACC Men's Lacrosse Championship on a cold and rainy afternoon in Charlottesville, Va. It was Duke's seventh ACC title in the tournament era and its fourth conference title in the past six years.
"I'm very humbled that we had the opportunity to play in this game, and then we have an opportunity to win a championship game," said Duke coach John Danowski. "Winning an ACC championship is a big deal. While the lacrosse world will say that, hey it's only four teams, but our conference is so competitive that it is a big deal to be crowned a champion. Also with the physicality of these two games, you have to play so hard to win. It just goes to the team that fights the hardest to win. I'm very proud of this group at the end of the day."
The first quarter ended in a 2-2 tie as four different goal scorers found the back of the net. Duke opened the scoring when Stephen Coyle scored his first goal of the season, an unassisted goal from the left side with 10:12 remaining in the quarter. The Blue Devils quickly extended the lead to 2-0 on a Christian Walsh strike 35 seconds later. North Carolina rallied with two goals in the final seven minutes of the quarter by freshmen Chad Tutton and Jimmy Bitter to even the match. Tar Heel goalkeeper Steven Rastivo preserved the tie with a big save with eight seconds remaining in the period.
The defensive battle continued in the second stanza as neither team was able to score through the first 10 minutes. With 4:25 left in the period, the Tar Heels grabbed their first lead of the game on a rifle shot from Mark McNeill that was assisted by Marcus Holman. Less than a minute later, Holman found the net on a nifty backdoor play that resulted in a shot from just outside the crease to extend the Carolina lead to 4-2 at the half. It was only the fourth time this season that Duke had been held scoreless in a quarter.
Duke's scoring drought would end quickly, however, as they scored five unanswered goals in the first 10:40 of the third period to rally and eventually regain its early lead. Walsh scored on an assist from Jordan Wolf with 12:56 left in the quarter, and with 11:07 left in the period Wolf scored on an assist from Walsh to tie the game. Walsh then scored his third goal of the game to put the Blue Devils ahead 5-4 with 9:34 left in the period. Justin Turri and Walsh each scored again in the next five minutes for Duke to extend the lead to 7-4. Walsh either scored or assisted on all five Duke third-period goals. North Carolina finally ended Duke's goal streak with 1:09 left in the period on a goal from Joey Sankey to close the Duke lead to 7-5 by the end of the period.
|2012 ACC All-Tournament Team|
|Jimmy Bitter||Fr.||North Carolina||Attack|
|Marcus Holman||Jr.||North Carolina||Attack|
|R.G. Keenan||So.||North Carolina||Midfield|
|Joey Sankey||Fr.||North Carolina||Attack|
|Chad Tutton||Fr.||North Carolina||Midfield|
In a fast-paced fourth quarter that saw the teams score nine combined goals, the Tar Heels twice closed the lead to a one-goal deficit--the last coming after a Tutton goal with 7:19 remaining in the game. Duke was able to withstand the Heels' rally and essentially put the game away with back-to-back goals by Jake Tripucka. Christian Walsh finished the game with a total of six points (four goals and two assists) on his way to earning ACC Tournament MVP honors. His performance in the title game marked new career highs for him in points and goals and tied a career high for assists.
"I'm ecstatic," said Walsh, a sophomore from Baltimore, Md. "Being named MVP of an ACC Tournament as a sophomore is a dream come true. To beat North Carolina today and Maryland is just incredible. It's been a great weekend."