The Tar Heels advanced to the championship final game on Sunday to face Maryland, a 10-8 winner over Syracuse in the tournament’s other semifinal.
The Tar Heels got goals from 10 players and dominated the second half led by Aly Messinger, who finished with five points (3 goals, 2assists).
North Carolina’s offense was powered by five different scorers with two or more goals – including Maggie Bill, Sydney Holman, Marie McCool and Lindsay Scott – while Sam McGee posted a goal and an assist, with Sammy Jo Tracy, Stephanie Lobb, Courtney Waite and Brittney Coppa adding one apiece.
Katie Trees led Duke with two goals and an assist, as Brigid Smith and Taylor Trimble both added one each as well.
Caylee Waters started in goal for Carolina and played the first half to earn the victory while making four saves, with Megan Ward coming in during the second half to finish with three saves in the winning effort.
Carolina outshot Duke 34-19 and led 7-4 at halftime – part of a 9-2 run that eventually was too much for the Blue Devils to overcome.
Carolina’s defense limited Duke to seven goals after having held the Blue Devils to a season-low six goals in the teams’ regular season meeting on Apr. 17 in Durham.
The Blue Devils averaged nearly 13 goals per game coming into Friday’s NCAA semifinal.
“Obviously, we are happy with the win today,” Tar Heels head coach Jenny Levy said.
“I thought it was a total team effort. Congratulations to Duke on their tremendous season while my great friend Kerstin Kimel has been courageously battling breast cancer. I just want to congratulate them because I think on and off the field they’ve done a lot of great things, and I know it can’t be easy for her. We were anchored by an unbelievable defense that held a really good Duke team to just seven goals tonight. I thought both of our goalies played great, and all of our defenders and middies who play defense made plays. On the offensive end, a unit showed a complete team game and showed how much fun it can be.”
The Tar Heels move on to the national title game for the third time in program history, losing to Northwestern in 2009 before capturing their first and lone national title in a 13-12 triple-overtime thriller over Maryland in 2013.
North Carolina 16, Duke 7
UNC goals – Aly Messinger 3, Maggie Bill 2, Sydney Holman 2, Marie McCool 2, Lindsay Scott 2, Sam McGee 1, Courtney Waite 1, Brittney Coppa 1, Sammy Jo Tracy 1, Stephanie Lobb 1
UNC assists —Messinger 2, McGee 1, Kelly Devlin 1
Duke goals – Taylor Trimble 2, Brigid Smith 2, Chelsea Landon 1, Katie Trees 1
Duke assists — Kerrin Maurer 2, Trees 1
Shots: UNC 34, Duke 19
Ground balls: UNC 16, Duke 11
Draw controls: UNC 15, Duke 10
Turnovers: UNC 8, Duke 11
Goalkeepers: UNC–Caylee Waters (W, 16-3, 30:00 minutes, 4 goals allowed, 4 saves), Megan Ward (30:00 minutes, 3 goals allowed, 3 saves); Duke –Kelsey Durea (L, 16-5, 60:00 minutes, 16 goals allowed, 10 saves)