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Blue Devils stomp Stags in first round

For Fairfield, an unlikely scenario in the game’s early moments planted a brief sense of hope that the Stags could upset No. 2 Duke to win their first NCAA tournament game.

After taking the opening face-off, Fairfield (11-5) used a pair of quick passes to set up attacker Tom Werney. The Stags senior proceeded to rocket a one-timer into the upper right corner of the Duke goal, giving Fairfield a 1-0 lead seven seconds into the game .

But a tournament record-setting offensive outburst by the Blue Devils was all they needed to erase any thoughts Fairfield had of ending the Blue Devils’ national title aspirations.

The Blue Devils (15-2) easily knocked off the visiting Stags 23-4 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Koskinen Stadium Saturday.

The win sets Duke up for national quarterfinal match with unseeded Cornell Sunday at 3 p.m. in Princeton, N.J. The Big Red defeated seventh-seeded Towson 12-11 in their opening-round contest last Saturday.

Though shocked at first, the Blue Devils, the nation’s No. 1 ranked scoring offense, wasted little time before tying the contest. Less than 60 seconds after the Fairfield score, Duke attacker Matt Danowski drew the game even with a goal off an assist from junior Dan Flannery.

“Our guys certainly weren’t rattled,” Duke head coach Mike Pressler. “And we certainly got the offensive going.”

Danowski’s goal sparked an explosion that began a lengthy stretch in which the Blue Devils outscored their opponent 22-1. Danowski led the game with five goals and two assists, while Flannery finished with four goals and four assists. In addition, midfielders Zack Greer and Peter Lamade each contributed three goals and three assists.

“It’s something we’ve become accustomed to,” Pressler said. “We’ve never had a more dynamic group at Duke, and the numbers bear that out.”

Central to the scoring outburst was face-off specialist Brad Ross, who entered the game midway through the first quarter. The freshman went on to win 14 of the next 19 draws for the Blue Devils, giving the offense control of the ball for the majority of the contest.

In the cage, goalie Aaron Fenton put forth another strong outing, holding the Stags to two goals in three quarters of action. The fifth-year senior recorded 12 saves while his replacement, sophomore Dan Loftus, tallied another three.

Sunday’s contest between Duke and Cornell will pit the nation’s highest-scoring offenses against one another for a berth in the Final Four, which will be held in Philadelphia May 28-30.


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