BALTIMORE, Md.—Duke junior Brad Smith and graduate student Peter Conley both scored four goals apiece and combined for 12 points to lead the third-ranked Blue Devils to a 13-9 victory over sixth-ranked Loyola this afternoon at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Duke improves to 6-1 overall and is 2-0 against top 10 opponents. Loyola falls to 4-2 overall.
“It’s good to get our first win on the road this year,” said head coach John Danowski. “This is a wonderful place to play. Loyola, year after year, is one of the top programs in the country so we are delighted to get out of here with a win.”
Smith matched his career-high four goals, while his six points overall were a career-best. Conley’s four goals and six points were the most for the veteran midfielder in a Duke uniform.
The Greyhounds jumped out to a 4-2 lead after 20 minutes of action as Duke struggled to find its footing offensively. After being held scoreless for the final 11:23 of the first quarter and giving up two extra-man scores in the opening frame, Duke turned the game around in the second quarter with four unanswered in the final 7:50 to take a 6-4 lead at the break.
Smith sparked the run with his third of the afternoon, pulling Duke within one at 7:50 of the period. Rookie Nakeie Montgomery got into the scoring column just over two minutes later and classmate Joe Robertson netted the first of his three of the day to give the Blue Devils their first lead of the game with 2:05 left in the half.
Conley capped the second-quarter spurt with his first of the afternoon with nine second left, sending the Blue Devils up two at the break.
Duke continued to fire on all cylinders in the third quarter as Conley scored on man-up 13 seconds into the period. The Blue Devils hit a scoreless stretch for the next nine minutes, but was bolstered by outstanding work from the Duke defense in keeping the Greyhounds off the board.
Justin Guterding doubled up Loyola at the 5:27 mark and Robertson made it 9-4 60 seconds later. The Greyhounds finally broke through for a goal after a 21:31 scoring drought, but the Blue Devils never let Loyola get closer than four goals.
Duke built its advantage to six goals, 11-5, at the beginning of the fourth quarter before Loyola made a final push to get back into the game. The Greyhounds won the final period, but the five-goal deficit was too much to overcome against Duke.
Guterding added two points, a goal and an assist, as Loyola keyed in on Duke’s top scorer.
Defensively, Duke held its opponent scoreless for at least 15 minutes for the 11th time this season. The Blue Devils forced Loyola into 16 turnovers and held the Greyhounds off the board on the final three man-up opportunities of the game. Danny Fowler finished with eight saves, including four in the fourth quarter. Jacob Stover made 13 stops for Loyola.
“[Transition defense] was an emphasis all week,” Danowski said. “If you watch Loyola on film they are terrific at being opportunistic. We wanted to make sure they didn’t get out over the top on us. At halftime we said ‘We gave up two man-down goals, we gave up six-on-six and one on a scramble. So we felt good going into halftime.”
Rookie Joe Stein was outstanding at the X, winning 17-of-25 draws and picking up nine ground balls in just his second game as the top faceoff man. Peter Welch added four ground balls, two caused turnovers and an assist in a strong all-around defensive performance.
Duke continues its road swing next week, traveling to Towson March 17 and then to Cleveland State March 18. The games are set for 12 p.m., and 1 p.m., respectively on Lax Sports Network.