DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke's Matt Danowski became the NCAA's all-time leading scorer with a two-goal, five-assist performance as the top-ranked and top-seeded Blue Devils posted a 12-7 victory over 18th-ranked Loyola on Saturday afternoon in opening round action of the 2008 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament held at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The Blue Devils move to 17-1 on the year, matching the NCAA single-season record for wins previously set by Duke twice (2005 & 2007), Hofstra (2006) and Virginia (2006). While improving to 13-11 all-time in NCAA Tournament action, Duke advances to the quarterfinals for the 10th time in school history and will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., to meet Ohio State next Sunday on ESPNU. The face-off time for the quarterfinal tilt has not been released.
Loyola ends the 2008 campaign at 7-7.
“Loyola beat us last year and Loyola beat Georgetown, who beat us," said Duke head coach John Danowski. "We knew it was going to be a 60-minute battle. The Loyola kids didn’t give up and they played hard from beginning to end. I like the way our guys were poised and how they executed. We got some production out of the second midfield group, which I thought was terrific today. We played hard when the ball was on the ground."
Matt Danowski eclipsed the NCAA career scoring record of 343 points set by Air Force's Joe Vasta (1983-86) with an assist on Max Quinzani's goal with five seconds remaining in the second quarter. The seven-point afternoon pushes Danowski's career total to 347 points on 167 goals and 180 assists. The goals and assists totals rank 13th and fourth on the NCAA's all-time charts, respectively.
“It’s an unbelievable thing; I really can’t wrap my head around it now and I still don’t picture myself when I think of the all-time leading scorers yet," Danowski said. "It’s really just a tribute to the guys I play with. From the goalies to the defense to the middies to the attackmen, they all have a part in that and I hope they take a share of it. I was happy and I was also kind of relieved because it was weighing on my mind a little bit. It’s a great accomplishment to do something like that. I’m glad I was able to do it but, again, it’s a tribute to my teammates at Duke University.”
The Greyhounds claimed a 1-0 advantage just 34 seconds into the game when Jimmy Daly scored an unassisted goal. The Loyola defense held Duke without a goal on the Blue Devils' first 10 shots before Danowski found the back of the net with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
Cooper MacDonnell gave Loyola a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but Duke countered with five straight goals to end the half and claim a 6-2 lead at intermission. Michael Young, Mike Catalino and Steve Schoeffel scored to start the run, and Quinzani added two goals less than one minute apart including the back end of Danowski's record-breaking assist.
Danowski and Schoeffel extended the spurt to seven consecutive goals with back-to-back tallies in the first six minutes of the third period to push Duke ahead, 8-2. Collin Finnerty ended the Greyhound's 20-minute, 46-second scoring drought with a goal at the 7:38 mark to cut the margin to five. After Schoeffel tossed in his third marker of the day, Zack Greer scored from Danowski to give the Blue Devils a 10-3 cushion with 4:40 remaining in the period. The two teams traded goals by Finnerty and Greer in the final three minutes and Duke led, 11-4, after three quarters.
The Greyhounds outscored Duke by a 3-1 margin in the fourth quarter to account for the final margin.
Finnerty, who lettered two seasons (2005-06) at Duke, led the Greyhounds with three goals on the afternoon. Loyola goalkeeper Jake Hagelin was credited for 13 saves against 11 goals allowed in 59:42 of work between the pipes.
“We talked about things in the locker room at halftime; making sure we take care of the clears and just trying to get back to what we had success with in the first quarter and that was possessing the ball, having good, smart offensive possessions and not allowing them to get a run," said Loyola head coach Charley Toomey. "It just kind of got away from us. I was surprised at the X; I really thought we would have an advantage there. They competed on the wings and they’re very good off the ground; I thought we competed hard at the X but that was a match-up that we thought we could win going in.”
With the two goals and five helpers, Danowski increased his season totals to 91 points on 38 goals and 53 assists. He leads the nation in both points and assists. The point total ranks as the fifth-highest in ACC history while the 53 assists rank as the 20th-best single-season total in NCAA history. The Farmingdale, N.Y., native is now one of just four players in NCAA history to register two seasons with 50 or more assists, joining Syracuse's Tim Nelson (1983-84-85), Towson's Bobby Griebe (1974-75) and Cornell's Eamon McEneaney (1975-76). In nine career NCAA Tournament games, Danowski has amassed 52 points on 23 goals and 29 assists.
Schoeffel matched his career-best effort with the three goals and added one assist. Greer and Quinzani contributed two goals each while Sam Payton won 13-of-17 face-offs. Goalkeeper Dan Loftus picked up the 40th win of his career against just seven losses, posting nine saves while surrendering seven goals.
For Greer, who became the NCAA's all-time leader in goals last weekend, the two-goal outing gives him a nation-leading 58 tallies on the year and 199 for his career. The 58 markers match the 13th-highest single-season total in NCAA history and gives Greer three top-20 listings (5th with 67 in 2007, t13th with 58 in 2008 & t17th with 57 in 2005). The Whitby, Ontario, Canada product has now scored in 60-of-65 career games as Duke improved to 55-5 in contests when he scores at least one goal.
Quinzani, who has posted at least one goal in 24 of his past 25 games dating back to last year, now has 54 goals on the year, second-most in the country behind Greer. Duke is now 31-2 in games when Quinzani scores.
Duke closes the home portion of its 2008 season with a perfect 11-0 ledger, matching the school's best home win total set last year. The Blue Devils have won 19 straight, 22 of their last 23 and 38 of their last 41 home tilts. Since the beginning of the 2005 season, Duke is now 57-9 overall with a 32-9 record against nationally-ranked opponents.