No. 2 Duke cruises in regular-season men's home lacrosse finale

Apr. 19, 2014 @ 06:41 PM

Though it was Duke’s final regular-season men’s lacrosse game at Koskinen Stadium, the Blue Devils chose not to hold formal senior day ceremonies.

Jordan Wolf and Josh Dionne, two of the five seniors in Duke’s starting lineup, had plenty of reasons to celebrate nevertheless.

With Wolf scoring six goals and Dionne four, No. 2 Duke routed Rutgers 17-8 in Saturday’s nonconference affair.

Their scoring, a result of crisp passing and solid ball-handling by the Blue Devils (12-2), allows Duke to carry an eight-game winning streak into next weekend’s ACC Tournament.

“For those two guys (Jordan Wolf and Josh Dionne), they’re just a function of our offense,” Duke coach John Danowski said. “That’s what Duke attackmen are supposed to do. They’re supposed to finish the ball. They’re around the goal and they both do that well.”

On a cold, windy, rainy day, Wolf and the Blue Devils were red hot from the start. Wolf turned two Rutgers turnovers into a pair of goals as Duke led 2-0 a mere one minute, seven seconds into the game.

“Nothing to do with me,” Wolf said. “Wil Haus made a great play (forcing turnover). He came out and stripped him. Josh Dionne made an unbelievable play to throw me the ball. Two plays that went our way and definitely got us going early.”

Another senior, Christian Walsh, scored on an unassisted goal a little more a minute later and the Blue Devils had a comfortable lead they would never relinquish.

Rutgers reeled off two consecutive goals to close to within 3-2. But Duke rattled off the game’s next four goals on the way to leading 10-4 at intermission.

Duke had 28 first-half shots and finished the game with 51, a measure of the offensive firepower the reigning NCAA champions possess. Duke had assists on 13 of its 17 goals.

And the Blue Devils also controlled 43 ground balls to Rutgers’ 30 Even though the weather conditions didn’t feel like late April in North Carolina, the Blue Devils thrived.

“For some reason we just like getting dirty,” said Dionne, a New Hampshire native. “I have the biggest smile on my face when we start stretching and we sit down and that cold water starts getting through your shorts. It’s like playing in your backyard with your best friends growing up. I live for that.”

The win was Duke’s 16th straight at Koskinen Stadium, where Duke will open the NCAA Tournament the weekend of May 10-11.

“Protecting Koskinen was kind of our focus at the beginning of the season,” said Wolf. “This being the last game of the regular season as a senior and to go undefeated three of the years here…it’s definitely special to play out there. We just want to go out and do business and get a win.”

The Blue Devils did that with ease.

In the meantime, Maryland was defeating Notre Dame, 12-8, in the final ACC game of the season. That means the Terrapins (10-2, 4-1 in ACC) earn the No. 1 seed while Duke (12-2, 4-1) is the No. 2 seed. Maryland beat Duke 10-6 in their regular-season meeting back on March 2.

Duke will face third-seeded Syracuse (9-3, 2-3) on Friday (5 p.m.) at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., near Philadelphia. Maryland and fourth-seeded Notre Dame (6-5, 2-3) will play the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m.

The semifinals and championship will air on ESPNU.