DURHAM, N.C. – Duke attackman Joe Robertson and midfielder Brad Smith totaled five points apiece as the fourth-seeded Blue Devils defeated visiting Villanova, 17-11, in NCAA Tournament first round action on Saturday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium.
The Blue Devils improve to 14-3 on the year and advance to next weekend’s quarterfinal round to meet the winner of tomorrow’s Johns Hopkins-Georgetown contest on Sunday in Annapolis, Md.
Villanova concludes the season at 10-6.
Robertson logged four goals and one assist while Smith contributed one tally and four helpers. Nakeie Montgomery added a career-high three goals while Brian Smyth dominated at the faceoff X by securing a career-best 23-of-28 draws and recording 16 ground balls, one goal and one assist.
"One of the key elements of today's game was that we scored 17 goals and Justin Guterding had three points," said head coach John Danowski. "We were able to get to 17 because a lot of guys made contributions. Having two freshmen contribute is terrific. We always say at this time of year, you're no longer freshmen. This is game No. 17. You've played a lot of Division I lacrosse games. You're now a sophomore."
Duke took an early lead when Robertson’s second marker of the day pushed the Blue Devils in front by a 3-1 score less than four minutes into the contest. Villanova responded with a pair of goals and held the Blue Devils scoreless in the final 11:49 to go into the first break even, 3-3.
"We said to the team before the game there would be ups and downs," Danowski said. "I'm really happy with the way our guys kept playing and whatever situation presented itself the guys took advantage of and played that way so I'm really proud of the team for playing for a full 60 minutes."
The Blue Devils and Wildcats traded goals in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but Duke then dominated the final 10 minutes prior to halftime, going on a 7-0 run – including a pair by Montgomery – to claim an 11-4 advantage at intermission.
The Wildcats responded in the third quarter by scoring three consecutive goals to pull within 11-7, but Sean Lowrie’s tally with 3.6 seconds left in the period returned the momentum back to the Blue Devils. Later in the quarter, Duke enjoyed a four-goal spurt in just 34 seconds en route to pushing its lead to 17-9 with less than 10 minutes remaining. Villanova’s Danny Seibel scored the game’s last two goals to account for the final margin.
Joining Montgomery and Robertson in scoring multiple goals for the Blue Devils were Lowrie (2), Justin Guterding (2), David Gill (2) and Reilly Walsh (2). Guterding’s two tallies increase his career total to 204, two shy of Zack Greer’s NCAA record of 206, while his three total points on the day push his season scoring total to an NCAA-best 99 points. Defensively, goaltender Danny Fowler made eight saves against 11 goals surrendered while John Prendergast scooped up four ground balls.
Participating in its 22nd NCAA Tournament, Duke pushes its national postseason record to 34-18 overall and 16-6 in opening round tilts. The Blue Devils finish the 2018 season with a 9-1 ledger at home and are 103-18 at Koskinen Stadium under Danowski, who now has 397 career wins including 178 against 54 defeats at Duke.
Villanova was paced offensively by Seibel, who registered five goals on the afternoon, while Devin McNamara logged one goal and three assists. Starting goalkeeper Michael Toomey was credited with three saves against 10 goals allowed.
Duke will travel to Annapolis, Md., to play the winner between Johns Hopkins and Georgetown. Faceoff will be either 12 or 2:30 p.m., on ESPNU.