With three minutes left in Tuesday’s men’s lacrosse game, Duke senior Joe Kennedy chased a Vermont midfielder running the ball down the sideline and made a diving attempt to knock it loose.
Duke was leading by seven, but the Blue Devils were playing like it was tied. With Duke breaking up each huddle by chanting “fourth quarter,” the senior’s tenacious play epitomized Duke’s gritty effort Tuesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils (8-0) did not let up until the final whistle in their 10-3 victory over Vermont (2-2) at Koskinen Stadium.
“No one was spectacular today, but it was a great workmanlike performance and we move on,” head coach Mike Pressler said. “It feels great to be 8-0.”
Duke started the game off slowly, allowing the Catamounts to jump out to a 1-0 lead only 52 seconds into the contest.
Blue Devil attackmen Zack Greer and Matt Danowski each answered with a goal before Vermont tied the game up at 2-2.
Duke took control from that point, notching four straight goals, and entered halftime up 6-3.
Faceoffs and clearing were weaknesses for Duke all afternoon, goalie Aaron Fenton said. Although the Blue Devils won 9-of-16 draws, the wings had trouble collecting ground balls and getting possession in the midfield.
“The game was won at the defensive end,” Pressler said. “I just didn’t think we were sharp at all on the offensive end, which is disappointing. Our attack didn’t play well as a unit.”
The defense put the clamps down in the second half, allowing the Catamounts only two shots on goal the entire third period. Junior Kyle Dowd netted the lone goal of the quarter, pushing the Duke lead to 7-3.
“After letting in three soft goals in the first half, our entire defensive unit stepped it up, not allowing a goal in the second half,” Fenton said.
The Blue Devils never gave Vermont a chance to climb back into the game and continued to push the ball into the attack zone in the waning minutes.
Dan Flannery, Bret Thompson and Greer each tallied a goal in the fourth quarter to make the final count 10-3. Danowski, Duke’s scoring leader a year ago, had three assists as Duke took 21 more shots than the Catamounts.
Greer’s two goals Tuesday make him the nation’s top goal scorer with 26 on the season.
“I didn’t see that coming. There’s so many great guys around here that it makes it a lot easier for me,” Greer said. “Just working with these offensive guys is pretty incredible.”
Duke played on only two days’ rest after an emotional battle with No. 15 North Carolina Saturday, which it won 12-10. The Blue Devils travel this weekend to Washington, D.C., for a showdown with No. 5 Georgetown.
“No excuses,” Pressler said. “We’re 8-0 and moving on to Georgetown.”
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