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PRINCETON, N.J. — — No. 5 Duke scored four straight goals in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter to take control of the game, and easily defeat No. 4 North Carolina, 17-9, Saturday in the second NCAA Division I men's quarterfinal played at Princeton Stadium.
The pesky Tar Heels (13-3) hung around for three quarters, but they couldn't counter or slow Duke's high-powered offense in the fourth quarter. Blue Devils (14-4) senior attackman Max Quinzani scored Duke's first two goals of the fourth quarter, one on a fast break, and the other from in close, as the Blue Devils went ahead 14-8 with 11:26 remaining in the game.
Duke junior attackman Zach Howell scored on a long shot with 7:33 remaining, and when sophomore long-pole midfielder C.J. Costabile scored his second goal of the game with 7:12 left, North Carolina coach Joe Breschi was forced to call a timeout, and the Tar Heels never recovered. The Tar Heels went nearly 15minutes in the third and fourth quarters without scoring until attackman Billy Bitter ended the drought with 3:13 left, but Duke had built a 17-9 lead.
"A key for us were the decisions we did not make," Duke coach John Danowski said. "We did not throw inside. We did not try riskier plays. Instead, they used their feet and that allowed us to get outside and make some plays."
Since losing to North Carolina 13-7 on March 10, the Blue Devils have gone 12-1, and appear to be peaking heading into their fourth straight Final Four. In the past three games, Duke has scored 19, 18 and 17 goals.
"We're finding our stride," Quinzani said. "We're playing with confidence. This is the first time we've hit our stride at this particular time of the season."
Quinzani and fellow attackman Ned Crotty finished with three goals, and Howell added four.
"The middies have become a huge part of our success," Crotty said. "All season long we have been working on their development, and now we can attack from the front or the back. Usually, people key on the three of us, but not anymore."
The teams were tied 2-2 at the end of the first quarter, but Duke put up seven goals in the second quarter for a 9-6 lead at the half. Crotty and Howell each had two goals for the Blue Devils in the first half, as Duke outshot North Carolina 19-17 in the first two periods.
There wasn't much defense in the first two quarters, and Duke changed goalies, replacing junior Mike Rock with freshman San Wigrizer with 3 minutes, 21seconds left in the second period.