DURHAM, N.C.—Duke senior attackman Ned Crotty turned in a career day to lead the eighth-ranked Blue Devils to a thrilling 15-10 victory over top-ranked and unbeaten Virginia in front of a capacity crowd for men’s lacrosse at Koskinen Stadium. Crotty tallied a career-high eight points from two goals and a career-high six assists to lead all scorers in the contest.
“I haven’t been scoring recently so to get two goals was nice,” Crotty said. “The six assists really were just guys getting open. The feeds weren’t anything amazing. It was just guys getting to open spots, catching and shooting it, which is pretty basic lacrosse we’ve been practicing all season.”
The win was the sixth consecutive for Duke over the Cavaliers as no current Blue Devil has lost to Virginia during his career. Duke’s last win over the nation’s top-ranked squad came on May 26, 2007 when the Blue Devils prevailed over No. 1 Cornell in the NCAA Tournament Semifinals in Baltimore, Md. Duke last defeated a No. 1 team in Durham on April 21, 2002, edging the rival Cavaliers 14-13 for the ACC Tournament title.
Duke (9-3, 2-1 ACC) owns a share of the ACC title with Maryland and Virginia (12-1, 2-1 ACC) and will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils have captured at least a share of the regular season title in four of the past five seasons.
“As a team I would say [this was our most complete game],” redshirt freshman Justin Turri said. “They’re one of the top scoring teams in the country and our defense played phenomenal, holding them to three goals in a half and 10 goals overall. Through the defense we gain confidence on offense and this was our best game shooting by far. I think everything came together for us today.”
Three Blue Devils either matched or surpassed their career-highs in points against the Cavaliers. Crotty led the way with eight points (2g-6a), while Turri finished with a career-high five points (3-2) and Mike Catalino matched his career high with a four-point outing (2-2). Junior Max Quinzani dropped in four goals. Duke handed out assists on 13 of its 15 goals and had nine different players with at least one point.
Danny Glading led all Virginia players with five points from four goals and an assist. Steele Stanwick added three goals and a helper.
“We really stress team offense,” Turri said. “In the beginning of the year we came in with a lot of new guys, so team offense was a lot of the emphasis throughout the entire year. We started seeing it the past few games and I think today it came together and our ball movement was on point. We can only get better from here.”
“The evolution of a team, especially on offense, takes time,” head coach John Danowski said. “You have to play games, you have to play together and guys have to see themselves on tape. I think our guys are starting to get it. They are starting to believe how to play together and how important it is to make the next pass and to play with your head up.”
Going up against the nation’s second-ranked offense that is averaging just over 13 goals per game, the Blue Devil defense was able to stifle the Cavaliers for long portions of the game. The 10 scores by Virginia tied its lowest output this season, while the three in the first half was a season-low for the visiting team. Duke kept Virginia off the scoreboard for stretches of 15:39, 14:32 and 11:14 during the contest.
“[The defense] was unbelievable,” Crotty said. “Offensively, when the defense makes a stop and Rob [Schroeder] is playing unbelievable in goal, it really makes you want to possess the ball a little bit more and make smart decisions and make the most out of possessions. It’s also comforting knowing that if you lose the ball you know your defense is playing great and will back you up.”
After trading goals in the early going, the Blue Devils went on a three-goal run for a 5-2 lead midway through the second quarter. Duke controlled the pace of play and was able to get big stops from both goaltender Rob Schroeder and the defense.
The Cavaliers finally got back on the scoreboard after 15:39 to make it a 5-3 game with 3:59 until halftime. Quinzani responded 22 seconds later as he Catalino found the junior attackman on the back door for the 6-3 halftime advantage.
Duke came out of halftime on fire, adding three more unanswered goals for a 9-3 lead with 12:38 left in the third frame. The Blue Devils got three goals from three different players in a span of 2:30 to take the six-goal lead.
Facing its biggest deficit of the season, the Cavaliers rallied back to within three with a three-goal run over the next 1:12. Glading picked up a pair of unassisted goals, while Mike Thompson finished the run with his lone goal of the contest.
Unfazed, Duke regrouped and answered with five unanswered for the 14-6 lead with 11:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. Catalino started the run after a feed from Crotty from behind the cage. Crotty came through again with another seamless pass to Howell with 42 seconds left in the third stanza. The man-up offense came through for the second time early in the fourth quarter as Turri found Catalino for the man-up score. Just 10 seconds later it was Quinzani hammering home a goal for a seven-goal lead, while Howell finished the run off another assist from Crotty.
“We had things going in that third quarter,” Danowski said. “We were able to score some goals and that [10th goal] was a big play for us. We thought that this was going to be an important game for our upperclassmen and those guys came up big.”
Needing a big run of its own, Virginia was unable to solve the Blue Devil defense. The Cavaliers outscored Duke 4-2 in the final 7:01, but it proved to be too little too late as the Blue Devils came away with the 15-10 win.
“Defensively, we really have gotten so much better, both individually and as a group,” Danowski said. “Sometimes it takes some guys playing together, a little change in philosophy, but not much. It’s been a great group.”
Duke’s shot selection was outstanding on the day as it took just 28 shots and scored 15 times. Virginia finished the day with 43 shots and just 23 on frame. The Blue Devils won the battle at the X, picking up 15-of-28 faceoffs.
“We had some good looks,” Danowski said. “It wasn’t like we took a lot of bad shots and I thought [Adam Ghitelman] made some good saves. I thought he really made some point-blank saves where early I thought we could have gotten to four or five goals.”
Payton finished the day 12-of-21 in restarts and corralled seven ground balls. Parker McKee picked up five ground balls.
In goal, Schroeder was outstanding with 13 saves, including eight in the first half. Virginia’s Adam Ghitelman made seven stops in the loss.
Duke hosts Army in its final regular season home game. The Blue Devils and Black Knights square off on CBS College Sports at 2:30 p.m.