To begin a road trip jam-packed with tough opponents, Duke defeated another ranked team in convincing fashion, this time as the visiting squad. 

The third-ranked Blue Devils traveled to Baltimore Saturday afternoon to beat No. 6 Loyola 13-9 for their first true road win of the season. Although the Greyhounds’ elite ball movement was on full display, which allowed them to jump out to an early 3-1 lead, junior Brad Smith finished with four goals and two assists and seemed determined to make sure his team did not leave Ridley Athletic Complex with a loss. 

“It’s good to get our first win on the road this year,”  head coach John Danowski told GoDuke.com. “This is a wonderful place to play. Loyola, year after year, is one of the top programs in the country, so we are delighted to get out of here with a win.”

With 22 overall turnovers, it was not a pretty win by any standards. But the Blue Devils showed resilience with a huge 8-1 run in the second and third quarters, and they maintained their poise down the stretch as Loyala attempted a comeback. 

During that prolific run by Duke, it seemed as though the Greyhounds’ defense had no answer, and their offense became stagnant as a result, turning the ball over eight times in that span and going scoreless for almost 23 minutes. Duke’s defense—spearheaded by graduate student Danny Fowler—again showed up to compete, causing 12 Loyola turnovers and holding the Greyhounds’ leading scorer, freshman Kevin Lindley, to just one goal on the day. 

“[Transition defense] was an emphasis all week,” Danowski said. “If you watch Loyola on film, they are terrific at being opportunistic. We wanted to make sure they didn’t get out over the top on us. At halftime, we said, ‘We gave up two man-down goals, we gave up six-on-six and one on a scramble. So we felt good going into halftime.”

For the second game in a row, freshman Joe Stein acted as a catalyst for Duke’s attack, winning 17-of-25 faceoffs, which gave the Blue Devil offense more possessions and their defense more time to rest. After original faceoff man, sophomore Brian Smyth, was sidelined due to injury, Stein stepped up to give Duke two impressive debut performances at the X. 

Nakeie Montgomery, another freshman who gave his teammates a lift, scored in a crucial moment right before Duke went on its 8-1 run. This is not the first time Montgomery put his talents on full display, as he scored two goals against Pennsylvania two weeks before, showing aggression and confidence in the limited playing time he has earned.

Other than cutting down on turnovers, the Blue Devils still need to figure out how to stop opposing teams from making runs late in the game. Just two weeks ago, the Blue Devils suffered their only loss of the season by letting Pennsylvania make a fourth-quarter comeback to take the lead. Although the Greyhounds’ 5-3 run near the end of the game did not end badly for Duke, it was another flag that the Blue Devils need to polish up their ability to finish games.

Duke will stay on the road next weekend for back-to-back games at Towson and Cleveland State.