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Men's lacrosse falters, No. 3 women ease to win

Kevin Cassese could not find enough peace and quiet. The All-America midfielder kept switching locations, trying to find a space where he could gather his thoughts about the latest of a string of bitter losses for the men's lacrosse team.

Sunday the 12th-ranked Blue Devils fell 11-8 to No. 6 Virginia, as the Cavaliers put the game away in the third quarter when a five-goal outburst led to a 9-4 lead going into the final stanza. Sophomores Matt Monfett and Matt Rewkowski each tallied a hat trick for Duke, but their spectacular individual efforts could not keep pace with a Virginia offense that worked in concert to score at will in the decisive quarter.

That the Blue Devils fell on Senior Day for the first time in years increased the pain for some, but for Cassese, the sickening feeling of Duke's fourth loss in five games resonated most acutely.

"Whether it's Senior Day or not, you want to win," he said. "It doesn't matter who you are playing or what day it is. [Senior Day] is something for your family and your parents. For me it's just another game."

Duke's failure to win what will almost certainly be the Senior Class' final home game affected goaltender A.J. Kincel.

"It definitely magnifies it, it definitely puts salt in the wound," he said. "In the past we've come away with a 'W.' It's really a shame. It's really a bad way to go out."

Praised by coaches and teammates alike for his play this season, Kincel struggled to contain the Cavalier shooters, who had time to pick their corners before rifling shot after shot into the Duke net.

Chris Rotelli and Billy Glading led Virginia with three goals apiece. Both scored twice in the third, when the Cavaliers extended a narrow 4-3 halftime advantage into a convincing margin.

"In the third quarter we made a conscious decision to move without the ball," Rotelli said. "We got good shots and we happened to hit them."

Virginia's execution their offensive attack with lethal effect stood in stark contrast to Duke's inability to score from the outside. Monfett and Rewkowski each delivered from in close, using brute strength to power their way up front before beating Cavalier netminder Tillman Johnson.

"As far as today went, I just thought myself and Matt Monfett had some good matchups," Rewkowski said. "We feel like it's a challenge to get by our guys, but we need some other guys to step up."

Despite outshooting Virginia 38-33, Duke could not place its shots with the precision the Cavaliers demonstrated. Part of that was the Blue Devil defense, which gave Virginia shooters too much time to line up and let rip at an overwhelmed Kincel.

However, Duke has struggled all season long at shooting a high percentage against quality defensive units.

"I don't know how much harder we can work on that part of our game," Cassese said. "It's just a matter of having the poise and confidence to step up and stick your shots when given the opportunity."

Virginia launched its scoring outburst following a profound failure on Duke's part to take advantage of an early power play after halftime. Up two-men after Virginia incurred penalties for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct, the Blue Devils had a six-on-four advantage, which in lacrosse usually results in an automatic goal.

Attackman Mack Hardaker couldn't corral a pass as he stood at the goalmouth, and Johnson alertly picked up the loose ball and started Virginia's transition attack, which despite being outmanned, successfully killed off the one-minute power play.

"That was a huge momentum swing in the game," said senior attackman Kevin Brennan. "You figure, two-men up, you've got to get at least a great shot. I went in and told the guys how big it would be if we were two-men down and got a stop. I said 'let's not give that to them.' You know somebody mishandles the ball in the crease, it should be a goal, but he misses that and they go down and run out the penalties."

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