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Duke defeats Army attack

One last regular-season hurdle remained for the men’s lacrosse team. With the postseason quickly approaching, it was very possible that Duke could have lost its concentration against the No. 7 Army Black Knights.

The No. 2 Blue Devils (13-1) played their fifth road game against a top-25 opponent Saturday. For the fourth time this season, they won.

Army (10-3) kept the game close for the first two quarters and only trailed by an 8-6 margin. But Duke opened the second half with a 5-0 run on its way to a 19-9 victory.

“Our play in the third quarter, in the first five minutes, was probably the strongest third quarter we’ve had,” head coach Mike Pressler said. “It took Army right out of the game.”

Junior Dan Flannery served as the Blue Devils’ offensive catalyst during the critical stretch. He scored three goals in the period and finished the game with a career-high six. Sophomore Matt Danowski also finished the game with six goals.

“I was not surprised with Danowski and Flannery,” Pressler said. “Army made a concerted effort to stop Zack Greer and deny him his opportunities. With that said, the other two guys had to step forward and take a load off of Zack’s shoulders, and both of those guys did a tremendous job. Flannery and Danowski had 12 goals on 24 shots—those guys shot 50 percent between the two of them—that is phenomenal.”

Greer, Duke’s leading scorer, was held to just one shot in the contest by an Army defense that was sliding from Danowski and Flannery in an effort to contain the freshman. The Blue Devil offense adapted quickly.

“It feels good,” Danowski said. “I’ve struggled with my shooting all year. To finally get six, you don’t really expect that, but it feels good to finally get your shooting back.”

The early stages of the game did not suggest a Blue Devil blowout, however. Duke’s balanced attack allowed four different players to build the Blue Devils’ 4-2 first-quarter lead, but miscues on the defensive end prevented them from pulling away.

“They just had the ball way too much,” sophomore Nick O’Hara said. “Our defense stopped them a couple times, Aaron [Fenton] came up with a couple saves, but they just had too many opportunities. We made some uncharacteristic mental mistakes.”

The Duke defense tightened in the second half.

“I think of those six first-half goals, we gave them three,” Pressler said. “We felt that going into halftime we could make those adjustments and take away the mistakes on our part and make the Cadets beat us.

“The guy on defense who really carried us was Casey Caroll. With 10 ground balls, a bunch of intercepted passes—he was definitely the defensive player of the day.”

The Blue Devils managed to triumph despite winning only 42 percent of their faceoffs. Sophomore Dan Oppedisano kept Duke alive at the faceoff X, winning 7-of-15. Freshman Dan Ross and junior Matt Zash combined to go 6-for-16.

The win, Duke’s 13th of the season, ties the school record for most regular-season victories. The Blue Devils will have a chance to add to their win total Saturday when they begin the ACC Tournament as the top seed and face fourth-seeded North Carolina.

Greer, Danowski and Flannery become just the second front line in school history to score at least 30 goals apiece.

“We had a good feeling at the beginning of the season,” Danowski said. “We knew we were going to be good; I don’t know if we knew we were going to be this good.”


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