DURHAM, N.C.—Senior Ned Crotty turned in a six-point effort on one goal and five assists to lead the sixth-ranked Blue Devils to an 11-7 win over No. 20 Bucknell in the men’s lacrosse season opener at Koskinen Stadium. Duke had four different players with at least three points on the afternoon.
“We don’t know how Ned [Crotty] is necessarily going to be [on attack] because that was his first Division I game playing attack,” head coach John Danowski said.” “We think what he could become, but we don’t know what he could become. If he does play like he played today, I would be delighted. But we don’t try to put pressure on any one individual, we try to play together as a team.”
Duke is now 1-0 on the season, while Bucknell drops its first game to fall to 0-1. The contest marked the second consecutive year the Blue Devils and Bison have met in the season opener.
“We had our good times and our bad times, both offensively and defensively,” Crotty said. “Offensively we had our times where we really looked great, we were moving the ball and were great in transition. There were other times where we had a basic problem of getting the ball around, but that’s stuff we are going to be able to work out as the season goes along.”
Steve Schoeffel added three tallies to the Duke cause, while Brad Ross finished with four points from two goals and two assists. Junior Max Quinzani dropped in a pair of scores and handed out one helper to give him three points after one game.
Duke jumped out to a 6-2 halftime lead and held off the Bison in the final 30 minutes for the four-goal victory. Bucknell was led by Joe Mele with five goals, while Austin Winter had a goal and four assists. Duke allowed just four even-man goals in the game.
The two teams spent much of the opening 10 minutes trying to feel each other out and shaking out the opening-game jitters. Duke broke through first with 6:42 left in the opening quarter as Crotty fed a pass through the middle to Schoeffel who fired it high into the left corner.
Leading 1-0 with just over two minutes to play in the first 15 minutes, the Blue Devils added two more in seven seconds for the 3-0 lead after one session. Schoeffel added his second goal of the contest with on a quick break after Duke cleared Bucknell’s 10-man ride. Ross provided the helper on the score.
Bucknell rallied back in the early minutes of the second frame with a pair of goals to make it 3-2. Mele and Winter hooked up for the first of four times for a man-up score just 27 seconds into the quarter. Less than three minutes later, Winter scooped up a loose ball in front of the net and dumped it past Duke goalie Rob Schroeder to make it a one-goal game.
The final five minutes of the period belonged to Duke as the Blue Devils added three more scores in 1:43 to head into the locker room with a four-goal lead. Sophomore Justin Turri started the run with his first collegiate goal. Turri took a Crotty feed on the right side of the net and rifled and underhanded shot past Bucknell’s Nick Sciubba.
Quinzani got on the scoreboard 26 seconds later for the 5-2 lead and Ross made it 6-2 at the 3:02 mark when he sent his shot screaming from 15-yards out low into the net.
Coming out of the break looking to stretch their lead the Blue Devils got hit with a three-minute non-releasable penalty. The Bison took advantage as Mele and Winter combined for two scores to cut the Duke advantage to two.
Duke and Bucknell closed out the third quarter trading two-goal runs to make it an 8-6 game heading into the final stanza.
The Blue Devils opened the fourth quarter in commanding fashion, scoring a man-down goal and killing off another three-minute penalty for the 9-6 lead. It was Schoeffel who kept the ball out of the Bison’s stick and split a pair of defenders to dump the ball in the cage.
“Whenever you kill a penalty, whether it is a 30-second or a three-minute, it’s a huge confidence boost for the whole team,” Parker McKee said. And when you do two of them for three minutes each, that’s awesome.”
“It’s very important to form a defensive identity,” McKee said. “Being able to hold teams down is going to be one of our focuses. We’ve always stressed defense and this year it is a little more. We have new guys in different roles. Rob Schroeder played awesome for us today, so that was great for him.”
Junior Will McKee registered his first goal in a Blue Devil uniform with six minutes left to play and Ross rounded out the scoring to ice the victory.
In goal, Schroeder turned in a solid showing with seven saves, including three in the fourth quarter. Sciubba made eight stops for the Bison in 60 minutes of action. Parker McKee and Ryan McFadyen helped anchor the defense, picking up seven and five ground balls, respectively.
Duke had three different players line up at faceoffs. Sam Payton led the way at the X, winning six of 11 restarts. Overall, Duke went 9-of-19 in faceoffs. Bucknell held a 37-27 advantage in shots, while the Blue Devils won the ground ball battle 39-36. Bucknell went 3-of-5 on extra-man opportunities, while Duke was 1-of-4.
The Blue Devils return to action on Feb. 20, hosting No. 16 Colgate at 4 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium.