Wenger's Four Lifts Blue Devils Over Heels
from press release
DURHAM, N.C. – With 14:22 to play in the second half, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 North Carolina were deadlocked at nine goals apiece, but the Blue Devils persevered, taking an 11-10 decision from the Tar Heels Friday night at Koskinen Stadium. Duke moves to 12-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC with the win, while North Carolina falls to 10-4 on the year and 3-2 in conference play.
"This was a battle between two great teams," head coach Kerstin Kimel said. "If you play this game ten times, there are probably going to be ten, one-goal outcomes, that's how even we are. I think there's always something special when we play this game; it's a tough, close game."
Junior Kim Wenger turned in a solid performance for the Blue Devils, finishing the game with four goals on four shots while also contributing three caused turnovers and two ground balls. Redshirt junior Emma Hamm and junior Kat Thomas both finished with two goals, and senior Christie Kaestner recorded a goal and an assist in the contest.
After leading by a goal at halftime, Duke built a three-goal margin with 19:22 to play, but the Tar Heels put together a 3-0 run over the next five minutes to knot the game at 9-9. The Blue Devils regrouped following a key timeout as redshirt freshman Maddie Salamone won the ensuing draw and Wenger netted the go-ahead goal, her fourth of the game, with 12:33 to go.
"I went out to the right," Wenger said. "I usually don't do that dodge strangely enough, but yesterday I did it a couple times at practice and today, that seemed to be working, so I just kept going."
A free position goal from senior Virginia Crotty put the Blue Devils up by two with just under eight minutes to play, but a UNC free position goal from Kara Cannizzaro, who finished with four goals and an assist to lead the Tar Heels, brought the visiting team within one. An interception by the Tar Heels gave North Carolina possession with under two minutes to go, but UNC was unable to get a shot off, turning the ball over and allowing Duke to run out the remainder of the clock.
"[On the final play], Miller [Hughes] made a great slide coming through the middle and Taylor [Virden] got back," added Wenger. "I was chasing and once they passed it, we played match-up and we knew we had to stop them."
Duke got off to a slow start at the beginning of the contest, allowing North Carolina to take a 2-0 lead in the early going. However, the Blue Devils came storming back, scoring the next four goals of the game. Kaestner and Wenger netted consecutive scores to put Duke up 6-3 two-thirds of the way through the first half, but the Tar Heels scored two unanswered as the Blue Devils took a 6-5 lead into the intermission.
Goals from Hamm and Wenger opened the second stanza before North Carolina responded and Duke went up by three again, this time 9-6 on a Thomas tally, before UNC made its run.
Overall, Duke outshot North Carolina by a 27-19 margin, but the biggest difference was in draw controls, where the Blue Devils held a 15-8 advantage, including an 8-3 margin in the second half.
"The biggest thing is that we won the draw," Kimel added. "That gave us possession. Maybe we didn't always finish on our possessions, but we had the ball, which was huge for our offense."
Junior goaltender Mollie Mackler finished with eight saves on the day, including a huge stop on a North Carolina free position shot with 2:34 to play.
With the win, the team earned a point for Duke in the standings for the 2010-11 Battle of the Blues presented by Continental Tire, the annual multi-sport competition between the two schools. North Carolina holds an 11-10 lead in the rivalry series with points for men's and women's golf, men's and women's track & field and rowing still to be determined.
The Blue Devils close out their home schedule Sunday, April 17 at Koskinen Stadium against St. Mary's. Opening draw is scheduled for 1 p.m., and the game will also be followed by a ceremony to honor the Class of 2011.