The state of Maryland has not been kind to Duke this season.
Eight days after suffering their first loss at Maryland, No. 5 Loyola Maryland rolled the No. 4 Blue Devils 14-7 at Ridley Athletic Complex Sunday evening in Baltimore. Duke had no answer for the Greyhounds’ dynamic duo of Matt Sawyer and Nikko Pontrello, who combined for 11 points.
"It was a great coaching job,” Duke head coach John Danowski said of the Loyola effort. "I thought their kids shot the ball terrifically and they played very well. So we tip our caps to Loyola and we move on. We move on and look forward to playing Marquette Tuesday night.”
Duke came in hot, but stalled fast. Up 4-3 at the end of the first period, the Blue Devil’s troubles started when Sawyer kicked off run of five unanswered goals for the Greyhounds, forcing four Duke turnovers in the process. Christian Walsh finally found the back of the net in his second and final goal of the night, leaving Duke down 8-5 at the half. The Blue Devils were also hit with five penalties in the second period while Loyola completed the period unscathed.
“It doesn’t help the mojo and any momentum that’s going your way,” Danowski said. “Again, they’re deadly shooters from those corners. We solve the two-man down, and then we sub illegally and it was a six-on-six situation and then we don’t slide to a shorty on the goal line. I’d have to look at the film to understand why guys were hesitant to make plays.”
Duke had to open the half two men down after three penalities were called on junior midfielder Will Haus, and Loyola took advantage to increase the Blue Devil’s deficit by tacking on another two goals early in the period. Sophomore Deemer Class found the back of the net to bring the score to 10-6, but Duke could not come any closer than four goals down for the remainder of the contest.
“Defensively we didn’t communicate very well, which is on me,” Danowski said. “I thought we were prepared, but obviously I didn’t do a good job coaching wise. We didn’t communicate defensively. We were matched up, but we didn’t get our hands on people. I can’t say it was Luke [Aaron’s] fault, but you’re always looking for something and Kyle [Turri] came in and made a save there on man down, which was really good."
In front a crowd of almost 4,000 fans, the Blue Devils were unable to evade Loyola’s defense and get shots off. Duke was outshot 39-31 by the Greyhounds and lost the ground ball battle 35-34.
"Whether we pulled the ball or dropped the head of our sticks… maybe it was the big crowd,” Danowski said. “Maybe it was this desire to do well so badly that they lose their fundamentals. I think they had some really good looks. Josh especially had some really good looks. He tried to put the ball in the short-side once, hits the post once. I don’t know if it was anything defensively, it was a matter of executing. Their guys made plays.”
Loyola held Duke scoreless for 11 minutes at the close of the game before sophomore midfielder Myles Jones scored, but at that point the 14-7 deficit was too much for the Blue Devils to overcome.