WASHINGTON — The only scary moment for Duke Saturday came when a Georgetown defender unloaded an afternoon’s frustration as he hit the Blue Devils’ Michael Ward from behind. Ward lay on the ground but popped up to his feet a few seconds later and jogged back to his teammates, who yelled their approval in the direction of Georgetown’s bench.
The Hoyas were forced to listen and take it. By that point, it was clear Duke was just having one of those days.
The Blue Devils were winning by eight goals when Ward was hit, and they did not ease up all game. Duke’s 12-3 victory over No. 5 Georgetown, which came before 1,124 spectators at North Kehoe Field, not only extended the team’s record start (9-0), but Saturday’s effort was the Blue Devils’ best game of the season thus far.
“It has been a long time since I can say we put four quarters together like that in every phase of the game,” head coach Mike Pressler said. “I’ve never seen us move the ball more well, unselfishly, like we did offensively.”
Duke held Georgetown (4-2) scoreless for the game’s first 23 minutes and held leads of 7-1 and 10-2 at the end of the second and third quarters, respectively. Senior goalie Aaron Fenton had 13 saves on 15 shots for the Blue Devils—most of Georgetown’s 44 shots missed the goal.
The Duke starting attack of Matt Danowski, Dan Flannery and Zack Greer combined for 16 points while the Hoyas’ top two midfielders produced none.
“Honestly, no, I expected [Saturday’s game] to be a much closer game,” Georgetown head coach Dave Urick said over the Blue Devils’ cheers. “They came to play and played extremely well.”
Urick’s squads had beaten Duke in the teams’ last four meetings, including a one-goal win last year in Durham. Those wins probably did not sit well with the Blue Devils, Urick said.
“I’m sure a fair amount of frustration came to the surface today for Duke,” he added.
The game was won because of Dan Oppedisano’s efforts in the faceoff circle, Pressler said.
Facing Georgetown’s Andy Corno, who controlled 15-of-20 faceoffs in last year’s, Oppedisano won 8-of-19 Saturday. Most importantly, though, he neutralized Corno head-to-head, winning 7-of-10 and the game’s first several ones.
“Danny worked on it all week,” Pressler said. “And we turned that around today. For us to win, that had to happen.”
When the Hoyas finally scored their first goal, Duke’s Greer responded with one of his three scores to make it 6-1 just seconds later.
In the second half, Flannery had four of the team’s last five scores. On one of those, Duke made a half-dozen extra passes after it broke Georgetown’s slides.
Even Duke’s longpoles ran around the Hoyas’ players for most of the afternoon. Most notable was when long-stick midfielder Nick O’Hara picked up a ground ball on his side of the field and outran the midfielders on both teams before giving the Blue Devils a 7-1 lead going into halftime.
At that point an older woman in the stands who was rooting for Georgetown remarked, “I think they are having an off game.”
Pressler’s team has now won the first three of five contests against top-tiered teams, having defeated then-No. 5 Maryland, then-No. 15 North Carolina—a Final Four team in many preseason polls—and now No. 5 Georgetown.
“Maryland, North Carolina and Georgetown on the road in the month of March—that’s something to be proud of,” Pressler said of his team, which has five games left before the ACC Tournament.
With No. 2 Virginia dropping a tight game to top-ranked John Hopkins this weekend, Duke will most likely move up to the second slot when the new STX/USILA poll is released today.
Should Duke manage two home wins against Mount St. Mary’s Tuesday and Ohio State Friday, the televised Blue Devil-Blue Jay game in Baltimore in two weeks might be a matchup of No.1 against No. 2.
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