DURHAM, N.C.—A couple days after being tabbed as the No. 2 team in the preseason USILA coaches’ poll, the Duke men’s lacrosse team has been voted as the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2019. The Blue Devils topped the poll of the five head coaches with 21 points.
In addition to being picked as the preseason favorite, Duke landed four players – Joe Robertson, Brad Smith, JT Giles-Harris, Cade Van Raaphorst – on the preseason All-ACC squad. The four selections matched Virginia’s total, while Syracuse had three, Notre Dame two and North Carolina one.
Notre Dame came in second in the voting with 17 points, while Virginia, Syracuse and North Carolina rounded out the five.
Smith, Giles-Harris and Van Raaphorst also garnered preseason All-America recognition after having All-America seasons in 2018.
Robertson, Duke’s third leading scorer last season with 60 points, is back for his sophomore season. He registered at least a point in 19 of 20 games had 13 multiple-point efforts. In just his third collegiate game, Robertson registered three goals and five assists in a victory over Jacksonville. A week later he notched four goals as the Blue Devils rallied to beat Denver 15-12. He finished the season with 48 goals and 12 assists, with five of those goals coming at NCAA Championship weekend.
Duke’s leader on the first midfield line, Smith returns for his final season after garnering USILA All-America first team accolades in 2018. He ranked second on the team in scoring with 29 goals and 36 assist for 65 points. A two-time All-American, Smith ranked 24th in assists per game last season and was third in the ACC in points per game. He enters the 2019 season on a 37-game point scoring streak. He has played in 57 contests in his career and has 58 goals and 60 assists to sit in a tie for 38th on the Duke career points list with 118.
Stalwart defensemen Van Raaphorst and Giles-Harris anchor the Blue Devil close defense. A first-team choice in 2018, Van Raaphorst led the defense with 43 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers his junior season. He is a two-time All-ACC pick and was responsible for guarding the opponent’s top scoring threat for the nation’s 12th-ranked scoring defense. He has played in 52 career games and has 91 ground balls and 43 caused turnovers.
Giles-Harris, a USILA All-America third team selection in 2018, started 19 games at close defense and ranked second on the team with 22 caused turnovers. He was a key member of the nation’s 12th-ranked defense that allowed just 8.65 goals per game and earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week in 2018 following his performance against Air Force. For his career, Giles-Harris has started 37 games and owns 54 career ground balls.
Duke opens the 2019 campaign on the road at Furman Feb. 2. The Blue Devils and Paladins face off at 7 p.m., at the Paladin Football Stadium.