Reigning national champ Duke ends losing skid to No. 4 Denver
When defending NCAA champion Duke hosted fourth-ranked Denver Saturday, it was in a different location and it ended with a different result between the two teams.
The Blue Devils, ranked No. 1 in the sports media poll and No. 3 in coaches’ poll, beat the Pioneers 14-10 on Duke’s new synthetic practice field, ending Denver’s recent three-game dominance over Duke, including a 14-12 decision last year in Koskinen Stadium, Duke’s regular home.
“Although that’s where we practice every day, Koskinen is home,” Duke head coach John Danowski said. “It was a different atmosphere and I think it was exciting as well. With the fans that were right up on the sidelines and along the end zone, I think it created this cool little atmosphere.”
Midfielder Deemer Class led the Blue Devils with three goals while attackman Case Matheis (2 goals, 2 assists) got it all started by scoring his first of the game just 11 seconds into it, and got the 500-plus in attendance cheering early and often from their location along the outer edges of the chain-link fence surrounding the field.
Playing against one another for the seventh time, both teams were ready to try and break the 3-3 series tie between them early on.
“It was a great lacrosse game, Denver head coach Bill Tierney said.
“We beat Duke each of the last three years and I’m sure they were a little tired of that. I thought it was a great game for a while there. Even in the third when it kind of got a little away from us, it was a battle. Their second goalie came in and did a good job. We didn’t know him, not that it should change anything, but he did a good job. Overall, just credit to them.”
Midfielders Christian Walsh (2g, 1a), Myles Jones (2g, 1a), Kyle Keenan (2g), along with attackman Jordan Wolf (1g, 2a) powered the Duke offense that also saw faceoff specialist Brendan Fowler and long stick midfielder Luke Duprey net their first goals of the season.
Denver was the first ranked opponent that Duke faced since opening the season with a 16-10 win over Jacksonville last week.
As quickly as the Blue Devils took the lead on Matheis’ tally, Denver’s Zach Miller answered with the first of his game-high four goals, and the teams were tied 1-1 barely two minutes into the game.
It looked as though it would be a high-scoring affair with goals being traded almost minute to minute and Duke leading 5-4 after the first quarter.
With only a one-goal lead, Danowski made a change in goal to start the next quarter.
Starter Kyle Turri was pulled and replaced by Luke Aaron who played the rest of the game, made a career-high nine saves and earned his first win of the season.
“Kyle’s got a phenomenal record for us and we love him, but he only made two saves last week” Danowski said. “He didn’t make any saves in that first quarter. We just felt that Luke’s been playing terrific in practice and that it was time to see if we could create a spark. I think that when Luke made that first save, the guys really got excited and it helped us.”
The Blue Devils led 8-6 at halftime, but a big third quarter gave them the cushion they needed, leading 12-7 heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
As Denver only went 9-of-14 in clears for the game, Duke’s defensive play resulted in the Pioneers struggling to gain and maintain ball possession at both ends of the field.
In the end, it was an exceptional ground ball game in all areas that allowed the Blue Devils to earn the win, including work at the faceoff X by Fowler who won 16-of-27 draws.
“Not only are you just trying to build your foundation for the year, but now you’re playing against a team that plays very differently offensively,” Danowski concluded.
“I was very proud of our guys the way that they hustled all day, and it was a really good win for us over a very talented team.”
No. 1/No. 3 DUKE 14, No. 4 DENVER 10
Denver 4 2 1 3 — 10
Duke 5 3 4 2 — 14
DENVER — Goals: Zach Miller 4, Wesley Berg 3, Jeremy Noble, Jack Bobzien, Erik Adamson. Assists: Bobzien 2, Noble 2, Sean Cannizzaro.
DUKE — Goals: Class Deemer 3, Case Matheis 2, Myles Jones 2, Christian Walsh 2, Kyle Keenan 2, Jordan Wolf, Brendan Fowler, Luke Duprey. Assists: Matheis 2, Wolf 2, Josh Dionne, Will Haus, Jones, Walsh.
Denver 8 6 6 10 — 30
Duke 10 11 12 8 — 41
Denver 7 7 3 4 — 21
Duke 8 7 10 7 — 32
Denver 0 0 0 2 — 2
Duke 3 0 1 0 — 4
Denver 3 3 3 4 — 13
Duke 1 3 4 2 — 10
Denver 4 4 4 4 — 16
Duke 3 5 5 4 — 17
Denver 4-10 3-6 2-6 2-6 — 11-28
Duke 6-10 3-6 4-6 4-6 — 17-28
Denver 1-3 4-4 1-2 3-5 — 9-14
Duke 3-4 3-3 5-5 4-4 — 15-16
Denver 1-1 0-0 0-2 1-1 — 2-4
Duke 0-0 0-1 1-2 0-2 — 1-5
Penalties — Denver 7/6:00; Duke 4/3:30. 30-second Goals/Warnings (Violations) — Denver 0/0 (0); Duke 0/0 (1).
Officials: Kevin O’Leary; Scott Smith; Scott Rayburn. Scorer: Meredith Rieder.
Note: Duke is ranked No. 1 in the lacrosse media poll and No. 3 in the coaches’ poll. Denver is No. 4 in both polls.