Duke passed a pair of weekend tests to move to 4-0 in the month of February for the first time since 2008.
The No. 1 Blue Devils kicked off the weekend by downing No. 16 Pennsylvania 9-6 Friday night at Koskinen Stadium. Duke had previously lost two of its past three matchups against the Quakers, including a 14-9 loss in Philadelphia last season. The Blue Devils then cruised past Stony Brook Sunday afternoon, notching a 14-6 victory.
“As we play games we put them to rest right afterwards, but the [4-0] start in February feels great,” senior attack Josh Dionne said. “We had a competition between the Penn senior class and our senior class, so it was good to get a win in our backyard. I just give a lot of credit to our seniors on that one.”
Blue Devil goalie Luke Aaron, who made his first-career start against Pennsylvania, made seven first-half saves in the net. The sophomore finished with 11 saves and stopped 65 percent of his shots against the Quakers (0-1) before following that up with another 11-save performance against the Sea Wolves.
After backing up Kyle Turri last season during Duke's national championship run, Aaron’s strong play has propelled him into a starting role in between the pipes.
“Luke has been really under control,” Duke head coach John Danowski said. “He is having fun and playing very relaxed. He is playing like a senior, like a guy who has been around.”
Even though this was the season-opener for Pennsylvania, which had weeks to prepare for the game, the Blue Devils got off to a quick start. Duke (4-0) netted four first-quarter goals, including two that came in the first four minutes of the game.
Each side tightened up defensively in the second quarter, with neither team able to find the net in the first 14 minutes of the period. Both teams had open looks at the net, but the play of both goalies kept the scoring at bay.
The Quaker defense, which allowed 11 shots in the first period, slashed that number to four in the second quarter. Senior goalkeeper and All-America honorable mention Brian Feeney helped hold Duke scoreless in the second quarter by making three saves.
With just 10 seconds to play in the second quarter, Pennsylvania executed a play out of a timeout and found a way to work the ball past Aaron to cut the lead to one goal heading into the locker room.
In the second half, the Blue Devils regained momentum when senior attack Jordan Wolf opened the scoring with a no-look goal that was featured at No. 3 on SportsCenter's Top 10 Saturday morning. The resilient Quakers kept the Duke lead at one when Kevin Brown scored to cut the deficit to 5-4.
With Pennsylvania closing in on the Blue Devil lead, Dionne once again provided the offensive spark, scoring two more goals off assists from Deemer Class and Kyle Keenan on the wing. This helped Duke extend the lead to 9-5.
“I felt like I was moving around a little bit too much on the inside, so I slowed down and let the game come to me," Dionne said. "I thought [Kyle] Keenan, Deemer [Class] and the wings did an incredible job of drawing the double.”
Wolf tied a career high by notching seven points against Stony Brook (1-2). Adding to the milestones in Duke's blowout victory, Dionne scored his 100th goal with 6:07 to play in the first quarter.
Duke managed another strong start against the Sea Wolves, scoring seven goals on 19 shots and holding Stony Brook scoreless in the first half. Defenseman Casey Carroll helped keep the Sea Wolves off the scoreboard with five ground balls and five forced turnovers.
Stony Brook netted two goals early in the third quarter to cut the lead to six, but the Blue Devils responded in the final two minutes of the quarter with two goals from Matheis and Dionne. Duke was able to maintain the lead with four more goals in the final period.
The Blue Devils' 4-0 start is a far cry from the team's 2-4 start in 2013, which left the team's postseason hopes hanging in the balance early. After leaving their early-season struggles behind en route to a national championship, Duke continues to play with the mindset that these early results—good or bad—won't define the team's season.
“We don’t look at records,” Danowski said. “We just look at how we are playing.”