WASHINGTON, D.C. - After dropping its second game of the season to No. 1 Cornell Tuesday, No. 5 Duke (6-2) produced enough offense to erase a two-goal halftime deficit for a 6-4 victory over No. 7 Georgetown (4-2) Saturday.
The strong play of senior goalie Dan Loftus and the rest of the Duke defense shut down the Hoyas and helped the Blue Devils avoid their first losing streak since the 2004 season.
"We're starting to play the type of team defense I thought we could play," head coach John Danowski said. "I don't think we helped Danny out too much in the first couple games, but we're starting to get there."
Down 3-1 at the break, the Blue Devils' defense, led by Loftus' season-high 19 saves, suffocated the Georgetown attack in the second half. The tough Duke defense also led to better scoring opportunities by causing turnovers and sparking the dangerous Blue Devil transition offense.
"The defense was shutting them down," attackman Zack Greer said. "When we would give the ball up, we knew the defense would get it back. They give us more confidence and freedom to do our thing."
Duke began its comeback just 28 seconds into the second half when Greer buried a shot from the top of the crease off a Gibbs Fogarty assist. After forcing a Georgetown turnover, the Blue Devils tied the game 4-4 on Greer's man-up goal with 3:09 left in the third quarter, pushing the momentum in the Blue Devils' favor.
After Georgetown goalkeeper Miles Kass had allowed just one Duke goal in the first half, the offense continued to execute in the second half, exploding for two more goals from Matt Danowski and Brad Ross to round out the scoring at 6-4.
"It was close in the first half," Greer said. "We had a few chances but just didn't bury them. In the second half, we worked it around, found guys in the back and shot smarter. The goalie had a great game, and we just had to find a way past him."
Matt Danowski finished the day with a goal and an assist, extending his string of consecutive games with at least one point to 30-the fifth-longest active streak in the nation. Greer and Ned Crotty, who both pitched in two goals each, teamed up with Danowski on offense to complete the late-game comeback in a contest composed of two completely different halves.
"It was such a game of runs," Loftus said. "We tried to limit their runs and continue our runs. That's what we wanted to do, and thank God we did."
Still acclimating to John Danowski's unique philosophies, Duke's defense functions as a unit instead of relying on individuals and matchups. Although the offense struggled at times throughout the game, the Blue Devils were able to depend on their strong defensive performance to secure the important victory.
"We're playing different than in the past," John Danowski said. "But if we can play together, we knew we could play like we did today."
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