As the clock struck zero, the Blue Devils stepped off the field having toppled the nation’s top team.
No. 7 Duke (11-3, 2-1 in the ACC) defeated the No. 1 Cavaliers (10-2, 2-1) 13-5 at Klockner Stadium Friday night. The win was the Blue Devils’ eighth consecutive victory, pushing Duke into a tie atop the ACC standings.
Sophomore Jordan Wolf registered a team-high six points on the evening with two goals and four assists. Josh Dionne and Christian Walsh also added four and three goals, respectively. Between the pipes, Dan Wigrizer proved he has moved past his early season injuries, allowing just five goals while recording 14 saves.
“It was a huge victory for our program,” head coach John Danowski said. “A hard week of practice paid off in a big way.”
The Blue Devils drew first blood when Wolf scored Duke’s first goal fewer than four minutes into the game. The rest of the first period, however, remained a defensive struggle, with neither team able to tally a goal.
Virginia drew even early in the second quarter when Matt White beat Wigrizer, but the Blue Devils won the ensuing faceoff and took back the lead when Christian Walsh broke the deadlock. Duke recorded the next two scores from Wolf and Robert Rotanz before Virginia’s Chris Bocklet found the back of the net with 12 seconds remaining in the first half, sending the Blue Devils to the locker room ahead 4-2.
“Usually at halftime we talk about the same things each week,” Danowski said. “We talk about faceoffs, about offense and defense, and we let the players talk. We let them say what they see out there, because sometimes they can see things that we can’t.”
Duke’s defensive tenacity allowed it to take control in the third period, holding Virginia scoreless for 16:30 from the end of the second quarter until the beginning of the fourth. The Blue Devils were able to notch five goals of their own in the frame, including four from Dionne, who has now scored 28 times this season. Even Duke’s defensive unit took part in the offensive surge, with defender Michael Manley scoring his second goal of the year with 31 seconds remaining in the frame.
Sophomore defender Luke Duprey kicked off the fourth-quarter scoring with a goal, putting the Blue Devils up 10-2. Duke and Virginia split the game’s final six goals, with Walsh tallying the game’s last two scores, giving him 21 on the season.
Virginia’s five-goal performance was its lowest scoring output all season. Entering the contest, the Cavaliers averaged 13.1 goals per game, the third highest-scoring offense in the nation. Not a single Virginia player scored more than one goal Friday night, though, as The Blue Devils’ young defensive unit stepped up and allowed the fewest goals it has surrendered all year.
Duke has beaten Virginia in 12 of the teams’ previous 13 meetings and has not lost a game since March 10, when its record stood at 3-3. Since dropping their first three road contests, the Blue Devils have now won their last three games away from Koskinen Stadium. Danowski said the difference from a .500 Duke team to a squad riding an eight-game winning streak is simple.
“Just experience. Everybody needs experience,” Danowski said. “Whether you’re taking a class or moving on in your major, experience is the greatest teacher. Not only for individuals, but for groups.”
Duke moves on to begin postseason play when it will compete in the ACC tournament next weekend before playing one final road contest against Denver. The Blue Devils will face No. 10 Maryland in the opening-round semifinal. Duke lost to Maryland 10-7 on March 3.