Salisbury transfer Eric Law picked up a rebound on the edge of the crease and scored with 13.4 seconds left to cap a historic comeback and give No. 4 seed Denver a 12-11 win over fifth-seeded North Carolina in the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament quarterfinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon.
The game, played before an announced 7,749, was the first men's lacrosse quarterfinal held at a venue not on the East Coast.
Denver, the first team in men's quarterfinal history to win after trailing by five goals or more, will face No. 1 seed Syracuse in the semifinals Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
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The Tar Heels (13-4), who saw their 10-game winning streak come to an end, were unable to protect a six-goal lead and were outscored 5-1 in the fourth quarter by the Pioneers (14-4).
"North Carolina — what a train that was, trying to stop that coming downhill at us early," said coach Bill Tierney, who leads Denver into Championship Weekend for the second time in the past three seasons. "Mostly, I'm proud of these young men and teammates for persevering. You don't get too many opportunities in life to fight through such adversity and come back ahead."
Joey Sankey, Davey Emala (Gilman) and Mark McNeill (St. Mary's) each scored a pair of goals for North Carolina, while Steve Pontrello, Chad Tutton, Evan Connell (Calvert Hall), Ryan Kilpatrick and Pat Foster (Boys' Latin) each scored goals. Jimmy Bitter, Ryan Creighton, Marcus Holman (Gilman), Greg McBride (Gilman) and Sankey each had assists for the Tar Heels.
Law had three goals and three assists for Denver, and Wes Berg led the Pioneers with four goals and an assist. Colin Scott scored twice for the Pioneers, while Cameron Flint had three assists.
Denver outshot the Tar Heels 37-35 for the game and 16-5 in the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels had a 24-22 edge in ground balls despite Denver winning 17 of 26 faceoffs in the match. Chase Carraro took all 26 draws for the Pioneers, who beat Carolina in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
Kieran Burke made 10 saves for the Tar Heels including six in the fourth quarter as the Pioneers staged their furious comeback. Jamie Faus, who played the last 50:23 in the goal for Denver, had 11 saves.
Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 4:03 of the game. Emala scored at 12:03 off an assist by Sankey. Sankey was set up behind the cage and fed Emala on the left side where he scored on an eight-yard bounce shot. On Carolina's next possession, Sankey scored an unassisted goal at 10:57 as he dodged from goal line extended on the right side to finish low past Denver goalie Ryan LaPlante.
The Tar Heels extended their lead to 3-0 on Kilpatrick's first goal of the year. On a give and go on the break, Kilpatrick fed McBride. McBride delivered an over-the-shoulder pass back to Kilpatrick on the run and he scored on a bounce shot at 8:44. A little over a minute later, Carolina made it 4-0 on McNeill's first goal of the year, assisted by Creighton. The Heels scored off a successful clear with McNeill finishing low from 15 yards out at 7:21 of the first quarter.
Tutton scored the next goal for Carolina as he came in through the substitution box and scored on a low hard shot from 15 yards out with 6:36 left in the quarter. Connell scored the next goal for the Tar Heels, the first of his career. The close defenseman forced a turnover, scooped up the ground ball and on a quick clearing attempt he scored from 15 yards out into an empty net. The goal came at 5:24. Denver scored its first goal of the game at 4:11 of the quarter as Scott's first shot was saved by Burke, but the ball bounced directly to Scott, who finished on the rebound.
Each team scored three times in the second quarter. Berg scored at 12:29, assisted by Law to cut the UNC lead to four goals. Sankey answered for the Tar Heels with his second goal of the game on a bounced shot from 10 yards out in front of the goal at 11:04. Neither team scored for almost six minutes before Foster tallied for the Tar Heels at 5:25, taking a feed from Holman out front, turning a firing a shot by Faus.
Denver answered with two quick goals in a span of 26 seconds. Berg scored at 4:30 after a failed clear by UNC and after Denver won the next face-off, Law rolled the crease to score at 4:04. Carolina notched the last goal of the half as Pontrello scored in a timer-on situation, stinging high heat from 10 yards out on the left side off an assist by Bitter.
The Pioneers outscored the Tar Heels 3-1 in the third quarter. Gordie Koerber (Gilman) scored an extra-man goal at 12:39 followed 26 seconds later by a goal by Berg, assisted by Law.
McNeill scored his second goal of the game with 7:02 left in the quarter on a low shot after he finished off a one-man clear. It is McNeill first multi-goal game since his freshman year. The Pioneers then pulled back within three goals on a tally by Berg, assisted by Flint with 1:21 left in the third quarter.
The Pioneers scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter. Law scored at 14:19 when Denver was two men up after a pair of slashing penalties in the last minute of the third quarter. Then the Pioneers pulled within a single goal at 8:51 as Jeremy Noble scored an acrobatic goal while falling to the ground with Law on the assist.
North Carolina regained a two-goal lead at 7:34 as Pontrello's shot was saved by Faus before Emala claimed the ground ball and scored on the rebound. Denver scored on the extra-man after a holding penalty on Holman. Scott scored the goal off an assist by Berg. The goal came with 4:44 to play in the game and pulled the Pioneers within 11-10. Denver tied the game at 11-11 with an unassisted goal by Eric Adamson with 1:31 to play.
Denver won the ensuing faceoff and called timeout with 1:15 to play, setting up Law's winner. R.G. Keenan (Boys' Latin) won the ensuing faceoff, but Carolina could not get off a shot after getting the ball into the high crease.
No. 7 seed Duke 12, No. 2 Notre Dame 11: The Blue Devils scored the final three goals at Lucas Oil Stadium to seize a game that was tied nine times and earn their seven straight trip to Championship Weekend.
Freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh registered a game-high six points on three goals and three assists for the Fighting Irish, while sophomore attackman Conor Doyle (Gilman) had three goals and junior midfielder Jim Marlatt (River Hill) notched two goals and two assists. Senior goalie John Kemp had 13 saves in his final appearance in a Notre Dame uniform.
"I thought [the Fighting Irish] were brilliant today," Duke coach John Danowski said. "Their faceoff guy was terrific. Their goalie was tremendous. They shot the ball extremely well. It was one of those games, playing against a dear friend, Kevin Corrigan, that you hate to see someone lose. With that being said, I am extremely proud of our guys from beginning to end. We wanted to play for 60 minutes. We certainly don't script these endings, last week or this week. We just wanted to play the game. Kyle Turri, while he didn't have a great day in the goal statistically, comes up with a big save on the outlet. He keeps his poise and allows us to score the tying goal."
The game was tied at halftime (6-6) and at the end of the third quarter (9-9). Notre Dame went up 10-9 less than a minute into the third quarter when Marlatt scored off a pass from Kavanagh. The Irish pushed the lead to two, which was their largest of the afternoon, with 9:29 left when Kavanagh fed Doyle on a man-up goal.
Duke's final surge began on a goal by Christian Walsh (Boys' Latin) with 8:31 left. Josh Dionne produced the ninth tie of the game when he scored to make it 11-11 with just over three minutes remaining. David Lawson, who had a game-high five goals, got the deciding goal with 2:16 left to play.
"I'm disappointed in the result because I thought we did a lot of the things that we thought were going to be important to win the game," Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We put ourselves in the position to win the game, but we said all along it was going to come down to making plays and at the end of the game they made a couple plays more than we did."
After a 6-6 tie at halftime, Lawson put Duke up 38 seconds into the second half. Senior midfielder Tyler Kimball brought the Irish back even (7-7) as he scored off a pass from classmate Steve Murphy with 8:29 left in the third quarter. The Blue Devils reclaimed the lead two minutes later on Case Matheis goal.
A man-up goal by Kavanagh, off an assist from Sean Rogers, made it 8-8 with six minutes left in the third quarter. The Irish were 3-for-4 in man-up chances on the day, while the Blue Devils did not have a man-up opportunity.
Notre Dame (11-5) reclaimed the lead with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter as Kavanagh fed Doyle, who scored from close range to make it 9-8. The game was tied for the eighth time when Dionne scored for Duke with less than a second left in the third period.
Duke (14-5) opened the game's scoring on a Lawson goal just over two minutes into the contest. The Fighting Irish got on the board five minutes later with a Kavanagh tally, which was assisted by Marlatt.
Division II women
LIU Post 10, Limestone 7: Junior attacker Jackie Sileo set an NCAA Division II championships record by adding six points (four goals, two assists) to her tournament total, for 37 in all, as the top-ranked, undefeated Pioneers (20-0) defeated the No. 2 Saints (20-2) for the national championship at Stevenson's Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills.
LIU Post senior attacker Ashley Olen was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player with her three-goal effort, joining teammates Sileo, senior goalkeeper Dominique Mosca, junior midfielder Katie Rotan and sophomore midfielder Kali Maxwell.
Limestone was led by three goals from top scorer Sylvia Queener.
This undefeated championship season marks just the fifth time any team has accomplished the feat in Division II women's lacrosse history.