The road does not get any easier for Duke—even if it leads to the same place.
After a loss to now-No. 1 Maryland on Sunday spoiled the No. 3 Blue Devils’ chances for a 5-0 start, Duke will now travel back to the Old Line State to play No. 5 Loyola at 6 p.m. Sunday evening at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore, Md. The game will be the Blue Devils’ fourth game against a top-15 opponent in the last month.
“Against a very athletic Loyola team, have to stick with our bread and butter,” senior attack Josh Dionne said. “We move through the restraining lines very quickly. Our midfield, when they are confident, they are like a train. It going to be the little things—fundamentals, moving off the ground, being there for your teammates.”
Duke has won its last two games against the Greyhounds, including a thrilling 12-11 win in double overtime in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils prevailed in the waning minutes of the second overtime when Case Matheis scored to keep the team’s national championship hopes alive.
Loyola (4-1) has had a hot start to the season, with wins against No. 16 Lehigh and No. 7 Penn State. The team has not lost a game since falling 12-11 against No. 2 Virginia in the season opener.
With momentum building around the Loyola program, Duke (4-1) head coach John Danowski knows that Sunday’s road contest will test his team for the second straight week.
“They are very talented and extremely well coached,” Danowski said. “They have a tremendous amount of pride and feel great about their program. They are going to be tough.”
After allowing 44 shots that resulted in 10 goals allowed against Maryland, the Blue Devils will face another high-powered offense, as the Greyhounds boast the nation’s second-best attack, averaging 15 goals per game.
The play of goalie Luke Aaron has been a bright spot for the Duke defense this season. The sophomore made a career-high 15 saves against the Terrapins and has stopped 65 percent of the shots he's faced.
The Blue Devil defense would like to be able to take some of the pressure off of Aaron, which includes lowering the opponents shot count and not allowing easy looks into the net.
“[Maryland] just got better shots than we have seen,” defenseman Chris Hipps said. “Luke made some great saves, but we have to let him field better shots. We didn’t give him the best looks.”
The Blue Devils are coming off of a season-low six goals against the Terrapins and will be looking to run the offense through attacks Dionne and Jordan Wolf, who lead Duke in scoring with 12 goals apiece this season. Wolf scored two goals against Maryland and added two assists.
Dionne said that the offense wants to keep things simple on Sunday and involve the services of the midfield to strengthen the offense.
"This week we have been trying to be good teammates," he said. "With Jordan [Wolf] he is such a great shooter so it is putting him in spots to be successful. We have to help the shooters with giving them good passes."