DURHAM, N.C.—Sixth-ranked Duke outscored Virginia 7-2 in the second half to come away with a 12-7 victory over the fourth-ranked Cavaliers in ACC men’s lacrosse action at Koskinen Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils are now 18-1 against Virginia under head coach John Danowski with the last loss coming in 2010.
With the game approaching its noon faceoff time, storms started rolling into the Durham area forcing both teams into the locker rooms. After discussion and consulting the forecast the decision was made that the game would not resume until 4:30 p.m., resulting in a four-and-a-half-hour delay.
“The guys were excited to play,” said head coach John Danowski. “It’s the last regular season game in Koskinen and they just wanted to play. We had mentioned it yesterday and again this morning at pregame meal that this could happen and they would have to handle whatever comes our way.”
Joe Robertson registered three goals and an assist and CJ Carpenter had two goals and two assists. Overall, six different Blue Devils scored goals and eight had at least one point. Turner Uppgren was excellent between the pipes with 12 saves, including nine in the first half.
After waiting out the rain and lightning, both teams finally faced off and it was Duke (10-3, 2-2) which got off to the quick start with a pair of goals in the opening 4:15. Virginia (9-3, 3-1) responded with a 3-0 run for its first lead of the game early in the second quarter and setting up the ensuing seesaw battle for the next 25 minutes.
Duke regained a 4-3 lead, only to have the Cavaliers score two unanswered for a 5-4 advantage late in the second period. However, a penalty by Virginia at 2:02 gave the Blue Devils the chance to tie the contest and Brad Smith connected on a Garrett Leadmon pass to send the two teams into the locker room all even at five apiece.
“I don’t think we were happy at halftime,” Danowski said. “We scored twice on man up, but we were relatively disorganized. We didn’t communicate really well on the field.”
The first half featured three ties and three lead changes. Five different Blue Devils tallied goals and two of the five came on man-up opportunities. Rookie Garrett Leadmon led all Blue Devils in points in the opening 30 minutes with a pair of assists.
Matt Moore was the man of the match for the Cavaliers with four of the five goals and one assist. He was held scoreless by the Blue Devils in the second half, finishing with five points.
The third quarter was a defensive battle in the early going with both teams going scoreless for the first seven minutes. Virginia retook the lead 6-5 on a Mikey Herring goal at the eight-minute mark, but it was all Blue Devils for the next 20:15 as they opening up an 11-6 advantage late in the fourth period.
On the man advantage for the fifth time in the game, Duke made the Cavaliers pay for a third time as Brad Smith whipped a pass through the defense to Robertson on the crease to tie the game at six.
Less than a minute later Smith rifled one past goaltender Alex Rode for the 7-6 lead and then nine seconds later Carpenter finished a feed from Brian Smyth off the draw for the 8-6 advantage.
Sporting its first two-goal lead since it was 2-0, the Blue Devils continued to pile it on in the fourth quarter. Carpenter found Robertson 1:37 into the fourth quarter for Duke’s largest lead of the afternoon and then Carpenter went to work on his own with a spectacular goal to make it 10-6. Robertson and Nakeie Montgomery tacked on tallies in the final four minutes to seal the Blue Devils’ 10th win of the year.
“The second half I thought we were more organized and played better together. I think it was important that we just play right. Virginia does so many things. They’re explosive off the faceoff. They ride really well and they force you to pay attention. I think our guys overall did a good job of 60 minutes.”
Defensively, Duke held Virginia scoreless for a span of 20:15 between the second and third quarters. Junior defenseman JT Giles-Harris picked up the matchup with Moore late in the second quarter and the entire second half to help stifle the Virginia offense. Overall, Duke held Virginia to 10 shots in the final 30 minutes and forced 10 turnovers.
Rode finished with 16 saves in goal for Virginia. The Cavaliers dominated at the faceoff X, winning 15-of-22, but Duke won the ground ball battle 39-30.
The Blue Devils close the regular season Saturday, April 20 against Marquette in the Battle at Bethpage. Faceoff is set for 11 a.m., at Bethpage High School.