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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Average" Canes drop third straight

Posted by on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 12:17 PM

PNC ARENA—The ruthlessly positive coach wasn’t feeling particularly positive.

“We were light tonight. We got pushed out of the game. They played a heavier game than we did.”

Brett Sutters first-period tussle with Joe Vitale failed to spark the Canes, who fell 3-1 at home to the Penguins.
  • Photograph by Chris Baird
  • Brett Sutter's first-period tussle with Joe Vitale failed to spark the Canes, who fell 3-1 at home to the Penguins.
Kirk Muller didn’t like what he saw from his Carolina Hurricanes in a 3-1 home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night. In their first game back in Raleigh after a four-game road trip to allow the State Fair to take over the arena grounds, the Canes came out flat and ended even flatter.

Penguins rookie Jayson Megna scored his first NHL goal and added an assist while looking like the best skater on the ice for much of the night. Sidney Crosby added a pair of assists and defenseman Brooks Orpik tallied helpers on all three Penguins goals in front of Marc-Andre Fleury’s 20 casual saves.

Nathan Gerbe, playing in his 200th career game, scored the Canes’ lone goal on a 5-on-3 power play in the first period. Taking the starting goalie role during Cam Ward’s month-long injury absence, Justin Peters put in a solid performance in stopping 26 shots. Not even a terrific early fight between Brett Sutter and Joe Vitale could spark the homers.

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    Returning home after their annual State Fair absence, the Canes turned in an average effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins, falling 3-1.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Huge first half clinches Blue Devils' ACC Tourney berth

Posted by on Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

The whole Duke team poses for a Senior Day pre-game portrait.
  • File photo courtesy Duke athletics/Shane Lardinois
  • The whole Duke team poses for a Senior Day pre-game portrait.
KOSKINEN STADIUM/DURHAM Duke comes into its Senior Day game with Pittsburgh in yet another must-win situation.

It shouldn’t be hard since the Blue Devils are 7-6-4 (4-4-3 ACC) and Pitt 4-12-1 (0-11). But Duke had to fight very hard to beat a struggling N.C. State team 1-0 with a second-half goal Thursday night.

Today there will be an extra advantage because of the Senior Day sentimentality, with eight players playing their last home game for the Blue Devils. The game is shown on Fox Sports Carolinas.

Pitt will start freshman goalie Taylor Francis, who played last year at Panther Creek High.

Duke does take care of business this time, scoring half a dozen first-half goals en route to a 6-3 win.

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    Cobb has two goals, two assists in dominant first half.

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RailHawks get the monkey off their back, defeat Atlanta Silverbacks 4-0

Posted by on Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Austin da Luz of the Carolina RailHawks - FILE PHOTO BY JOANNAH IRVIN
  • File photo by Joannah Irvin
  • Austin da Luz of the Carolina RailHawks
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—With two games left in the Carolina RailHawks’ 2013 campaign, there was only one NASL opponent they had not defeated this year: the Atlanta Silverbacks. In their three previous matchups, Carolina had lost once and tied twice. But the June 29 draw is undoubtedly the most impactful and memorable outcome. Carolina’s failure to get a win over Atlanta that night in Cary kept the RailHawks from clinching the league’s spring title. That missed opportunity became a full-blown collapse five days later when Carolina’s loss in San Antonio, coupled with Atlanta’s win in Minnesota, handed the spring crown to the Silverbacks.

On Nov. 9, the Silverbacks host the New York Cosmos in the NASL Soccer Bowl to determine the league’s 2013 champion. A weekend of festivities surrounds the event, from VIP parties to a year-end awards ceremony. League brass, club officials and a sellout crowd will attend the match, which will be broadcast by ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes.

Meanwhile, because the RailHawks didn’t score one extra goal on June 29, WakeMed Soccer Park will remain dark on Nov. 9.

So, when the Silverbacks came to Cary Saturday night for their final meeting this year, the RailHawks were playing with other goals in mind: pride, preserving the team’s 2013 unbeaten home record, and finishing with the most overall points in the league over the entire year. Some players were undoubtedly casting an eye toward roster spots for next season.

But mostly, the RailHawks were looking to get that pesky Silverback off their back. Which they did, dominating Atlanta by a score of 4-0 in front of 4,189 faithful.

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    Saturday was a case study for an experiment in which the RailHawks once hoped they would be the guinea pig.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

UNC, NCCU really need wins; Duke and State face road toughies

Posted by on Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 2:03 AM

UNCs T.J. Thorpe runs in the open field against Miami.
Talk about a “must-win” game.

That’s going to be the situation for UNC this afternoon, when the Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC) host Boston College (3-3, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium (Fox Sports Carolinas).

If UNC is the victim of an upset, the Tar Heels will have to win all five remaining games to get a sixth win and the bowl trip they missed out on last year because of the NCAA probation.

All six remaining games are winnable, but if the Tar Heels are going to save their season it HAS to start today.
UNC is the only Triangle Division I team at home this weekend. And the two other local ACC teams will be road underdogs.

N.C. Central (3-4, 1-2 MEAC), which is all but out of the MEAC race, will be favored to get to .500 when the Eagles visit Savannah State (1-7, 0-4) at 2 p.m. It’s a must-win game for NCCU interim head coach Dwayne Foster.

Oddly, all three local ACC teams are playing at the same time. Duke (5-2, 1-2), which needs one win to will look to pull off a shocker at No. 14 Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0) in an ESPNU game. Meanwhile N.C. State (3-3, 0-3) will look for its first quality win under Dave Doeren and possibly the national upset of the year in a visit to No. 2 Florida State (6-0, 4-0).

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    Tar Heels can't have winning regular season without running the table.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

DeCesare's second-half goal gives Duke must-win over scrappy Wolfpack

Posted by on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 11:21 PM

Kim Decesare celebrates her goal.
  • Courtesty Duke athletics/Shane Lardinois
  • Kim Decesare celebrates her goal.
KOSKINEN STADIUM/DURHAM — It’s a battle of six-win women’s soccer teams that would appear to be worlds apart.

Duke (6-6-4, 3-4-3 ACC) is still on track for an NCAA bid barring some late-season disaster as the Blue Devils host N.C. State (6-11, 1-10) in their annual cancer awareness game. The Blue Devils will wear pink and the “D” in the center circle is also pink as they raise funds for the family of 6-year-old Morgan Blazek of Apex, who is a survivor of the eye cancer retinoblastoma.

The Wolfpack is in its first season under Tim Santoro.

The Blue Devils get one second-half goal against State’s 4-4-2 attack, prevailing 1-0 in the absolute must-win contest.

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    The Blue Devils still must beat Pitt Sunday to assure non-losing season.

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Duke picked No. 1, UNC No. 4 and NCSU 10th on media day

Posted by on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 12:02 AM

Hall of Fame coaches Sylvia Hatchell of UNC and Connecticuts Geno Auriemma meet before their 2011 game in Chapel Hill. Hatchell will not begin the season on the sidelines for the Tar Heels as she battles leukemia.
  • Indy file photo
  • Hall of Fame coaches Sylvia Hatchell of UNC and Connecticut's Geno Auriemma meet before their 2011 game in Chapel Hill. Hatchell will not begin the season on the sidelines for the Tar Heels as she battles leukemia.
GRANDOVER RESORT/GREENSBORO Duke has been a model of consistency in ACC women’s basketball for a couple of decades, and it has continued under Joanne P. McCallie as head coach.

So even with the addition of a Final Four team to the mix, the Blue Devils still command plenty of respect in the conference.

ACC media day was on Wednesday and Duke was picked to finish first by both the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the coaches, followed by Notre Dame, Maryland and UNC in the top four. N.C. State, under new head coach Wes Moore, was picked 10th.

The Blue Devils, who had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country led by forward Oderah Chidom, placed seniors Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston along with junior Elizabeth Williams on the preseason all-conference team. Blue Devil freshman Kendall McCravey-Cooper was named to the panel’s newcomer watch list.

UNC, deemed to have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, will begin the season with Hall of Fame head coach Sylvia Hatchell sidelined as she battles her recently diagnosed leukemia. Her career-long top assistant Andrew Calder will coach the Tar Heels in her absence.

Tar Heel sophomore Xylina McDaniel made the all-conference team, while Diamond DeShields is on both newcomer watch lists.

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    Tar Heels will start season without ailing Hall of Fame Coach Hatchell.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

No. 1 Virginia gets historic 2-0 win over Tar Heels at Fetzer

Posted by on Sun, Oct 20, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Virginia’s Danielle Colaprico dribbles against the Tar Heels’ Kelly McFarlane.
  • Photo courtesy UVa athletics/Jeff Najarian
  • Virginia’s Danielle Colaprico dribbles against the Tar Heels’ Kelly McFarlane.
FETZER FIELD/CHAPEL HILL UNC has rarely if ever been even a slight underdog at home in the storied history of its women’s soccer program.

But the defending NCAA champion Tar Heels will be exactly that today.

UNC (13-2, 7-2 ACC), currently ranked No. 4 in the country, will take on Virginia (15-0, 9-0), which is ranked No. 1.
Steve Swanson’s Cavaliers have allowed only nine goals all season. They have had four one-goal victories, the last of those a 3-2 overtime win over visiting new ACC member No. 5 Notre Dame on Oct. 10.

UNC has given up only seven, including one apiece in its back-to-back losses to the Irish and Florida State in mid-September.

Each team will be missing its best player, as UNC senior midfielder Crystal Dunn and Virginia junior midfielder Morgan Brian are both with the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team.

Virginia will be seeking its third straight win at Fetzer, which would mark the first time any visiting team has done that. And the Cavaliers will seek to become the first team to beat all four North Carolina ACC members in women’s soccer in the same year. Ever.

And the Cavaliers accomplish all of that with flying colors, winning 2-0.

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    Tar Heels suffer first multi-goal ACC home loss.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Miami comeback drops reeling Tar Heels to 1-5 at midseason

Posted by on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 1:25 AM

Miami’s Dallas Crawford takes the handoff from Stephen Morris.
KENAN STADIUM/CHAPEL HILL — UNC gets its chance to shine on national TV tonight.

And the Tar Heels have a chance to get a big-time upset and turn their season around.

UNC (1-4, 0-2 ACC) will take on surprising No. 10 Miami (5-0, 1-0) in an ESPN game that over the summer was supposed to have a lot to say about who won the ACC’s Coastal Division title.

The Tar Heels are 9½-point underdogs, but they won 18-14 on the road last year.

UNC is billing the game as “Zero Dark Thursday,” wearing black helmets, jerseys and pants with Carolina Blue trim.

UNC generates 500 yards total offense, but the visitors produce 556 and score on Dallas Crawford’s three-yard run with 16 seconds left for the 27-23 win.

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    UNC has to win five of its last six to play in a bowl game.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tar Heels need to Win One Soon; NCCU, Duke in pivotal games again

Posted by on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 1:50 AM

UNC TE Jack Tabb finds running room against Middle Tennessee.
Most of the Triangle’s Division I football teams still have seasons that could take off in either direction.

But for UNC, the time to start winning is now. Urgently. Now.

The Tar Heels (1-4, 0-2 ACC)
are going to have to win at least five of their last seven games to qualify for a bowl game, and it won’t be an easy task. That stretch run begins tonight at 7:45 at Kenan Stadium, when they host surprisingly good No. 10 Miami (5-0, 1-0) in an opportunity for a major upset — if they play by far their best game of this season.

The UNC-Miami showdown is one of three games involving Triangle squads this weekend. The other two games are Saturday.

N.C. Central (3-3, 1-1 MEAC) will look to get its ship righted when the Eagles host Morgan State (1-5, 1-1) at 2 p.m. at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.

Duke (4-2, 0-2 ACC) is on the road at Virginia (2-4, 0-2) for a 3:30 p.m. contest on Fox Sports South, and if the Blue Devils can win it they’ll be on track for a second straight bowl game and their best season since 1994.

N.C. State (3-3, 0-3), which is licking its wounds after back-to-back ACC losses in winnable games, is idle until next Saturday’s trip to Florida State.

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    Blue Devils could get to within one game of bowl qualification by beating Wahoos.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Canes hit the road happy to get one point from Chicago

Posted by on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 2:43 AM

RALEIGH, PNC ARENA—The Hurricanes made way for the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks tonight. Tomorrow they’ll make way for prizewinning cattle, pig races and anything you can put in a deep fat-fryer.

Cam Ward watches defenseman Jay Harrison clear Marcus Kruger from his goal crease. Chicago beat the Canes in a shootout, 3-2.
  • Photograph by Chris Baird
  • Cam Ward watches defenseman Jay Harrison clear Marcus Kruger from his goal crease. Chicago beat the Canes in a shootout, 3-2.
The dark underbelly of your Krispy Kreme burger (other than the actual shadow beneath your growing underbelly) is that the Canes annually clear out of their barn for the duration of the North Carolina State Fair. After dropping a shootout loss to the Hawks tonight, 3-2, they’ll visit Toronto, Long Island, Minnesota and Colorado before we see our team again on Oct. 28.

Coach Kirk Muller had the road trip in his sights before the season began, treating the first seven games leading up to the trip as the first chapter of the 82-game novel that is this year. After an offseason of changes, he’d know what he had at the seven-game mark.

What Muller takes on the road is a middling 2-2-3 team with seven points in seven games, but also a team that’s competing in the Metropolitan Division since the Rangers, Devils, Flyers and Capitals have started so poorly. It’s a team that’s shown some of last year’s bad habits—starting games flat, giving up late leads, failing to get the extra point beyond regulation time—while showing hopeful new flashes of secondary scoring and improved special teams, too.

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  • Pin It
    After a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina has exactly as many points as game played—seven—as they head away from Raleigh.

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