COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After resuming play in front of a wildly-supportive 6,485 fans in Koskinen Stadium last weekend, the men's lacrosse team took the field Friday night in front of a road crowd for the first time in nearly a year.
Given that their opponent was ACC-rival Maryland, whose student supporters have drawn criticism in the past for their notoriously vulgar chants, the Blue Devils were unsure of the reception they would receive.
The atmosphere, however, never proved to be an issue as the 5,283 fans sprinkled around the 51,500 seat Byrd Stadium were more concerned with Maryland's poor goalkeeping than with the recent turmoil surrounding Duke's lacrosse team.
Only a handful of signs mentioning the scandal were present at the game, and they all had long been packed up and put away by the time the Blue Devils wrapped up their 14-7 win. Three different groups of Maryland supporters sported posters saying "No means no," a phrase that Terrapin basketball fans have chanted in the past at opposing players who have been accused of sexual assaults.
Although the taunt has been heard at the nearby Comcast Center, some fans felt the signs had no place at the lacrosse game.
"I think that this is probably one of the most ignorant things I've ever seen University of Maryland students do," Maryland sophomore Amy Mackown said. "This is serious business. These are just kids out here, and they shouldn't have people chanting stuff that brings up such a bad incident that I think they were wrongly accused of."
In addition to the security guards normally stationed by the entrances to the field, a group of three police officers was assigned to the area directly behind the Duke bench. From there, they formed a small barrier between the team and a group of seven students who playfully taunted the Blue Devils from the front row of the stands.
One of the hecklers, Maryland junior Colin Hogan, said he felt the rape accusations against the three former Duke players changed his perceptions of the lacrosse team and that he feels bad for what happened to them. The group did not bring up the scandal in its taunts and concentrated on making fun of the physical appearance and play of several members of the Blue Devils' squad.
"Before the scandal I hated Duke and now I'm like, 'Whatever, Duke's another team,'" Hogan said. "It's different now. But I still f-ing hate the basketball team."
Mackown said she felt the scandal had made her more sympathetic toward the lacrosse team and that it has tempered the hostility that she would normally feel for a team that has Duke written across its jersey.
"I find myself not being so much like 'Screw Duke' or 'kick their ass' a little less tonight than I would if we were playing the basketball team or the soccer team or any other team," she said. "Tonight, I feel a little more reserved on what we're chanting. I feel more about supporting our team than dissing the Duke team."
Junior attackman Zack Greer said after the game that although the Blue Devils heard the taunts coming their way, they did not listen to them and instead focused on what was transpiring on the field.
"The heckling was pretty good, the guys did a pretty good job behind the bench," senior Matt Danowski said jokingly. "I noticed [the signs] during the pre-game, but once you are on the field you just worry about what you have to do next. I never really hear them in general, I don't think they're loud enough-they need a megaphone maybe."
Duke head coach John Danowski also expressed his appreciation for the class he said his players displayed on the sidelines and noted the road experience as another important milestone for his players.
"You can hear them, but I think the guys handled themselves very well," Danowski said. "I can't imagine it was any worse than what was going on last spring, when they were basically in hiding. These kids have been through things that I can't imagine, so tonight is that next step."
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