DURHAM, N.C. – Junior attackman Josh Dionne scored five goals while junior midfielder Brendan Fowler won 19-of-30 faceoffs to lead seventh-ranked Duke to a 19-16 home victory over Virginia on Friday night as 3,072 spectators watched at Koskinen Stadium. Jake Tripucka added a career-high seven points for the Blue Devils in the win.
“Josh has been tremendously consistent from day one,” said head coach John Danowski. “He really is just extremely coachable. He’s a sponge and he’s just gained confidence each week. Jake is perhaps one of our best athletes. There really is nothing he can’t do and offensively we’ve been waiting for a night like this from Jake.”
Winners of a nation’s best eight straight games, Duke (10-4, 2-1 ACC) secured a share of the ACC regular season championship alongside Maryland and North Carolina. Duke earns the No. 3 seed overall in the ACC Tournament and will take on No. 2 North Carolina April 26 at 7:30 p.m., in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils also improved to 12-1 against the Cavaliers under Danowski.
“The Virginia game is one of those games where everything kind of goes out the window,” said Dionne. “We were fortunate enough that it was our home game with our seniors and I think that gave us a lot of motivation. But at the end of the day, our records, their records don’t really matter. It’s just a battle and you look up at the end of the game to see what happened and we came out on top today.”
The first half featured four lead changes as the teams battled to a 9-9 score at intermission. Duke’s Jordan Wolf capped a 3-0 run to put the Blue Devils ahead 8-5 early in the second period, but Virginia (5-7, 0-3 ACC) closed the half with four markers while allowing just one to send the teams to the locker room deadlocked, 9-9.
Led by Mark Cockerton’s three tallies, the Cavaliers stormed out of halftime and scored four goals in just over five minutes to open the third quarter to claim a 13-9 lead. Duke responded with three straight goals from Case Matheis, Tripucka and Josh Offit before Virginia’s Rob Emery closed the quarter with a goal to make the score 14-12 after 45 minutes of play.
The Blue Devils carried the momentum in the fourth period by scoring seven unanswered goals. In all, Duke utilized a 10-1 run to erase the 13-9 deficit and go in front, 19-14, on Dionne’s tally with 3:50 left in the contest. The Cavaliers scored a pair of man-advantage goals in the final 2:19 to account for the final 19-16 margin.
“I thought when [Virginia] was playing man they were sliding quickly and our kids did a really nice job of just being very unselfish and moving the ball and finishing,” Danowski said. “Then when they went to zone it’s a whole different mindset. Six guys have to be on the same page and you have to be extremely patient. So we tried a couple of different things and after halftime Coach [Ron] Caputo thought we should play a little differently and we had a little more success.”
Offit, Tripucka and David Lawson each scored three goals for the Blue Devils with Tripucka adding four assists on the night. Five of Tripucka’s seven points for the evening came in the second half as he assisted on the tying and go-ahead goal to make it 15-14. In goal, Kyle Turri improved to 8-0 on the season and was credited with eight saves.
“This season has been a roller coaster,” Dionne said. “But this group of guys is the only ones I would want to do this with. Being able to play with Jake Tripucka and Dave Lawson…My job is honestly pretty easy. I kind of made it hard on them because I kept making them pass me the ball because I took so many shots.”
Virginia received a game-high six goals from Cockerton while Matt White chipped in four goals and one assist. Nick O’Reilly matched Cockerton’s team-high six points with two markers and four helpers. Between the pipes, Rhody Heller made 16 saves.
In a matchup featuring two of the nation’s top ground ball squads, the Blue Devils scooped up 44 compared to Virginia’s 37. The Cavaliers entered the game leading the country with an average of 39.4 per game. Fowler and Luke Duprey each carded eight grounders to pace Duke.
The game also featured the top two winningest active coaches in NCAA Division I lacrosse. Danowski earned his 324th career victory while Cavalier lead man Dom Starsia remained atop the list with 346 career wins.
Duke travels to face Rutgers next Saturday, April 20 at 7 p.m.