DURHAM, N.C. – Freshman Joe Robertson scored four goals in the fourth quarter as No. 1 Duke rallied from a four-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes to post a 15-12 victory over No. 4 Denver in men’s lacrosse action on Friday evening at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
“I think this win was significant in that this particular group of seniors has never beaten Denver so that was a stepping stone in a season,” said head coach John Danowski. “Also to win at home and to play a little better than last week there were a lot of lessons learned here tonight.”
With the win, the Blue Devils improve to 4-0 while the Pioneers fall to 1-1.
“Being down 12-8 at the end of three, we challenged them a little bit,” said John Danowski. “I’m really proud of the character. Denver is a terrific team and at that point it wasn’t so much about trying to win the game as it was just to continue to compete and learn from your mistakes in the first three quarters.”
Denver seemingly took control of a tight game with a 5-1 run over the final 10 minutes of the third period and entered the final frame with a 12-8 advantage. The Blue Devils responded, however, with a stellar fourth quarter by outscoring the Pioneers, 7-0, holding the visitors to just three shots and forcing seven turnovers.
“I think we were on our heels a little bit defensively [in the first half],” Danowski said. “We were a little bit disorganized at times, but you also have to tip your cap to Denver and their shooters. They shot the ball great. We were able to make plays at the end, a lot of energy plays by a lot of different people.”
Robertson’s first goal of the night got the Duke rally started just 45 seconds into the final quarter. Justin Guterding, who finished the game with three goals and three assists, and Peter Conley followed with markers to pull the Blue Devils to within one, 12-11, at the 10:50 mark. Twenty-nine seconds later, Brad Smith found Robertson open for the game’s equalizer before Robertson netted the eventual game-winner on a man-advantage feed from Guterding with 9:47 on the clock. The lead was Duke’s first since it led, 1-0, 48 seconds into the contest.
At the 7:01 mark of the fourth period, Robertson’s unassisted tally pushed the lead to two before Reilly Walsh beat the shot clock with a game-sealing goal with just 1:13 remaining.
“What you saw today by Joe [Robertson] is what you see in practice,” Danowski said. “He is an old-fashioned player. He’s opportunistic, he’s a feeder, chases ground balls. He’s an all-around attackman.”
Denver jumped out to a 5-2 lead after one quarter before Duke responded with a 4-1 run in the second period to send the teams into intermission tied, 6-6. The Pioneers dominated the third quarter by winning seven-of-eight faceoffs, outshooting Duke by a 12-5 margin and scoring on both of their man-up opportunities.
Guterding’s six-point effort pushes his four-game season point total to 33 on 15 goals and 18 assists. Joining Guterding and Robertson in the multi-point column were Conley (3 goals & 1 assist), Smith (1 goal & 1 assist), Walsh (2 goals) and Joey Manown (1 goal & 1 assist). Duke netminder Danny Fowler made eight saves while surrendering eight goals.
For Denver, All-America faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste was sensational, securing 23-of-30 draws and scooping up 16 ground balls. Offensively, Ethan Walker produced eight points on six goals and two assists while Colton Jackson added two tallies and two helpers. Goalkeeper Alex Ready posted five saves.
Duke travels to face Penn on Saturday, February 24 at 3 p.m.