Just a week after dropping their first game of the season to No. 17 Pennsylvania, the Blue Devils hoped to bounce back and defend their home turf against a Richmond team which upset them just two years ago. 

They were able to do just that and send the Spiders home with four goals in a blowout 14-4 win at Koskinen Stadium Saturday, with No. 3 Duke reasserting its dominance in college lacrosse. An early 2-1 deficit kept fans on the edges of their seats, but the Blue Devils dominated the second quarter, shutting out the Spiders and scoring eight goals to put themselves up big at halftime.  

“I think we were a little more organized offensively,” senior Justin Guterding said. “We were getting good looks, but then the second quarter, we attacked a little harder and got even better looks and we were able to bury them. I think that was the difference.”

Guterding’s leadership ignited the Blue Devils (5-1) in that explosive second quarter, as the senior scored or assisted on Duke’s first five goals of the period. The team’s leading scorer finished with six goals and two assists to round out another exceptional performance.

Duke’s defense came out in full force to stop Richmond (2-3) from gaining any momentum throughout the game. Graduate student goalkeeper Danny Fowler played well as the team’s last line of defense, notching 10 saves on a .714 save percentage. Not only did Fowler focus on his own efforts to win the game, but he also held his teammates accountable on the defensive side of the ball.

“I thought we came out from the get go with a little bit of a lack of intensity defensively. Just overall, we were a little bit flat,” Fowler said. “Sometimes you’ve got to kick it up a little bit when you see stuff and you feel like guys are a little bit lackadaisical. They just needed a little kick in the butt.”

This leadership clearly paid dividends for the Blue Devils, as they held Richmond scoreless on man-up opportunities, and the Spiders’ leading scorer Teddy Hatfield finished the game without a goal on five shots. Duke’s tenacity on defense was an improvement on what was an overall lackluster defensive performance against Pennsylvania in its last game. 

“Our guys were disappointed from last week’s loss and I think that they felt like they had something to prove,” head coach John Danowski said. “It’s never really an individual matchup although it may look like it at times. It is about our seven guys out there.”

A third-quarter long-distance goal from Guterding to give himself a double hat trick seemingly shattered Richmond’s drive to win the game, as it only scored one more time and allowed Duke to score four more goals to extend the lead. 

The Blue Devils never slowed down their offensive attack even when they had a big lead, a stark difference from the game against the Quakers in which Duke’s lead slowly but surely evaporated.

“Last week was a great lesson for us,” Danowski said. “It was the first time for this team that you had a lead, on the road, in the fourth quarter, and you lost, and so we faced a little bit of adversity.”

Duke also found some assistance from its rookies, specifically in freshmen Joe Stein—who won 12 out of 21 faceoffs—and Joe Robertson, who earned a hat trick. These contributions added to the domination of both sides of the ball for much of the game. 

“We got settled and we got a lot of production from a lot of people who make those plays that you don’t notice,” Danowski said. “While Justin or the attacks may score the goals, there are a lot of people who are making plays that allow those guys to score.”

Duke will have to move on from the blowout win and will visit No. 9 Loyola Saturday with another chance to show how much it has learned from its loss.

“We protected home-field advantage, that’s what we like to do, but now we’ve got another challenge on the road,” Guterding said. “Excited for the challenge, we’ll see what happens.”