DURHAM, N.C.—The Duke University men’s lacrosse team will return to campus in January with many preseason accolades from Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook following its NCAA Championship run in 2013. The Blue Devils will begin the season at the preseason No. 1 squad, while a host of players enter the year with All-America expectations according to the annual publication.
Inside Lacrosse cites the return of goaltender Kyle Turri, faceoff specialist and first team All-American Brendan Fowler along with the attacking trio of Josh Dionne, Case Matheis and Jordan Wolf as a few of the reasons Duke is the top-ranked team heading into the 2014 campaign. Despite the loss of a talented senior class, IL says that the duo of Myles Jones and Deemer Class along with other rising sophomores will mitigate the loss of the group of stalwart midfielders who graduated.
A 2013 USILA All-America second team pick, Wolf is listed among the 10 players on the Division I Player of the Year Watch according to the publication. Wolf led all scorers last season with a career-high 57 goals and 85 points overall. He heads into the season ranked 11th in Duke history in career points (201) and 10th in career goals (120).
Joining Wolf on the preseason All-America first team is Fowler. The senior returns after a stellar season in which he broke the NCAA single-season record for faceoff wins and climbed atop the Duke records book in single season ground balls. The Wantagh, N.Y., native picked up 209 ground balls in winning 339-of-526 (.644) faceoffs for the year. Fowler was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player for his efforts at the X.
Representing the Blue Devils on the preseason All-America second team is close defenseman Henry Lobb, while attackman Josh Dionne, midfielders Will Haus and Jones, longstick midfielder Luke Duprey and defenseman Chris Hipps round out Duke’s choices on the honorable mention list. All return after playing integral roles in all areas of the field in Duke’s championship season.
Duprey, who is widely considered to be Duke’s breakout player this season, Fowler and Wolf also were picked on the Preseason All-ACC squad in a vote of the league’s coaches. Duprey’s ability to disrupt an offense and his aptitude on the faceoff wing are just a few of the traits that coaches believe will make him stand out for the Blue Devils this season. In addition, IL believes that junior Kyle Keenan is a prime candidate to be a “Breakout Stud” in the ACC this season after the departure of midfielders like Josh Offit, David Lawson and Jake Tripucka. He has 16 points in 33 career games at Duke.
Duke’s attacking trio is listed as the No. 2 attack unit in the country. The group amassed 187 points from 130 goals and 57 assists for 40 percent of the team’s points and 44 percent of the squad’s goals for the year.
On the other end of the field, the Blue Devils’ defense is listed ninth by the Face-Off Yearbook. Haus anchors the defensive midfield and is considered one of the best defensive middies in the game according to IL. Meanwhile, the steady Lobb and Hipps return after playing together for each of the past two seasons. In goal, Turri is back after going 14-1 as a starter a year ago and posting a 9.59 goals against average.
Rounding out the individual highlights for the Duke squad in the Face-Off Yearbook are those who have yet to step on the field in a Blue Devil jersey. Jack Bruckner is thought to be an impact freshman, ranked sixth in the group, while four others are among the top 50 on the Power 100 Freshmen list. Among those are Thomas Zenker, Danny Fowler, Ethan Powley and Brian Dunne.
Duke’s strength of schedule according to the Yearbook is fourth. Overall, the Blue Devils’ schedule features eight teams in the preseason top 25, including seven of the top 11 in the poll. Duke opens the season Feb. 8 with Jacksonville. The Blue Devils will meet preseason No. 5 Denver Feb. 15 in Durham.