No. 6 Duke Outguns No. 8 North Carolina for ACC Title

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Senior Mike Catalino and freshman C.J. Costabile both recorded hat tricks to lead the defending champion Blue Devils to their third straight Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship. Duke held off a determined North Carolina team, 15-13, on Sunday afternoon at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Duke, ranked No. 6 in the latest USILA poll, captured its sixth ACC crown and improved to 12-3 on the year with the win. North Carolina slips to 11-5 overall.

"What a difficult tournament to play and win in three days," said Duke head coach John Danowski. "We just think the world of Carolina. We've played them now seven times in the past three years and every game is a battle and every game is 60 minutes up and down."

North Carolina midfielders Sean Delaney, who led his team with three goals on the day, and Shane Walterhoefer put the Tar Heels on the boards early with a 2-0 lead less than one minute into the game. Duke rookie and the Tournament's Most Valuable Player Costabile then connected with the 2009 ACC Player of the Year Ned Crotty for the Blue Devils' first goal; however, senior attackman Bart Wagner quickly answered for North Carolina, scoring on a cross from classmate Ben Hunt.

It was apparent that both offenses came ready to play on the extremely hot afternoon in Chapel Hill as the two teams exchanged 11 goals in the first stanza. The Blue Devils used a 5-2 run to hold a 6-5 edge, as Duke midfielder Mike Catalina and UNC's Delaney both led their teams with two goals apiece in the first period.

Costabile, Catalino and senior Brad Ross extended the Blue Devils' lead to 8-6 with 7:36 left to go in the first half, though the lead was short lived as sophomore defender Milton Lyles tallied an unassisted UNC goal and Hunt, assisted by Delaney, knotted the score at 8-all heading into the locker rooms.

After a scoring drought of more than 16 minutes for both teams, a Duke trio of Max Quinzani, Steve Schoeffel and Will McKee sparked a 3-0 run and extended the lead to 11-8 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Despite a man-up opportunity for the Blue Devils following an illegal body check by North Carolina team co-captain Jack Ryan, sophomore attackman Billy Bitter capitalized by finding the back of the net for the Tar Heels with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

Costabile won the fourth quarter opening face-off against UNC's Walterhoefer, who holds the North Carolina record for face-offs in a season, career and a game and ranks fourth in the NCAA history books for face-offs won. Costabile quickly picked up the ground ball and netted his third and final goal of the day just seven seconds into the final period.

Bitter scored in another man-down situation after a slashing and illegal body check penalty, good for a two-minute man-up situation, was called against teammate Cryder DiPietro. Bitter, who was one of 12 league student-athletes named to the 2009 all-tournament team, finished with two goals, three assists and two ground balls.

Zach Howell, Robert Rotanz, and Steve Schoeffel extended the Duke lead to five (15-10) by grabbing three quick goals. While North Carolina tallied the final three goals of the game, the rally to capture its first league tournament crown in 13 years, fell short.

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