Senior midfield Chad Tutton connected on a sweeping shot with less than nine minutes left to break a tie and give No. 4 North Carolina a lead over No. 6 Duke it wouldn’t relinquish in the Tar Heels’ 15-14 men’s lacrosse win Sunday at Fetzer Field.
The score was tied at 12 when Tutton made his move from about 20 yards.
Rolling off a defender, he pushed closer to the goal, but the only shot he could take was an under-armed, backhanded shot.
“It’s always great beating Duke,” Tutton said. “We were in almost this exact same predicament last year. We were up a goal, and they ended up coming back and beating us.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world (to lose to Duke), and it’s the best feeling in the world beating them.”
For seniors like Tutton and attackman Jimmy Bitter, a win against Duke represents more than just a notch in the win column. With this being only the second time the two have downed the Blue Devils, the pressure was on when they were down 7-5 at halftime.
Looking at the box score, one would see numbers expected from All-Americans Tutton and Bitter: Four goals for Tutton and three for Bitter.
But most impressive is that all seven goals came in the second half.
“That’s what seniors do,” Duke coach Dan Danowski said. “They’re great players. I mean who (else) scores a backhanded shovel shot? I don’t think we’ve ever given up one of those in 10 years.”
Bitter knew he didn’t come out of the game strong, and neither did North Carolina.
The Tar Heels found open shots early on, but they weren’t putting them in the net.
“Our offense was entertaining in the first half,” North Carolina coach Joe Breschi said. “But not efficient.”
Breschi added that the offense was pushing the pace, but was maybe pushing too much, leading to lost opportunities. As the shots continued to miss, the frustration set in.
“I didn’t have a good first quarter of first half,” Bitter said. “I was taking selfish, bad shots.”
Once the second half started, everything started clicking.
As the Tar Heels began finding opportunities in transition, their finishers began doing just that – finishing. Scoring 10 goals on 22 shots in the second half as opposed to the five goals on 22 shots, the Tar Heels did just enough to hold off a late Blue Devils surge.
“We’ve been riding those guys for four years now,” Breschi said. “They came out and made the plays when we needed them.”