It has been two years since Duke has faced Johns Hopkins, but the memories of that last outing could not be clearer for the Blue Devils.
Meeting on the sport's biggest stage, Duke squandered a third quarter lead to fall 9-8 to the Blue Jays in the 2005 National Championship game-denying the Blue Devils the program's first national title as Johns Hopkins secured its eighth.
No. 4 Duke (8-2) will have a shot at redemption Saturday, when it faces the No. 9 Blue Jays (4-3) at 1 p.m. in Baltimore.
"It's hard to say that we wouldn't be a little hungrier for this game," senior Casey Carroll said. "It'd be nice to get one on them, definitely."
Carroll and his fellow seniors have come up empty in their three matchups against Johns Hopkins, including a 6-5 loss their freshman year and a 11-10 double-overtime defeat in 2005. The Blue Jays are the only team the current seniors have faced and not beaten at least once over the course of their careers.
"They cancelled the game last year, which has left a bitter taste in our mouths, and again them beating us in the National Championship two years ago," senior co-captain Matt Danowski said. "We want this one like we want every other one, but there's a little more want in it than anything else."
The Blue Jays are likely going into the weekend matchup with a little extra anticipation as well. For the first time since 2000, Johns Hopkins dropped consecutive matches in the same season. The traditionally dominant Blue Jays have struggled at both ends of the field lately, allowing 13 goals in their last outing against North Carolina-the most a Hopkins team has forfeited since 2003. Before that, the Blue Jays' offense sputtered versus Virginia, when it managed just five goals.
"They've had so much success in the past," Danowski said. "That's why it's going to be tough to beat them, because they don't want to be the team to lose three in a row, and they just don't want to lose because of how successful they've been the past couple of years."
Despite Hopkins' recent struggles, head coach John Danowski has spent the week preparing his team for the plethora of defensive configurations he anticipates the Blue Jays will field. Danowski said that he also expects Hopkins will attempt to slow Matt Danowski and fellow attackman Zack Greer-who account for 43 percent of the Blue Devils' offensive output-with a combination of zone and soft man-to-man defenses. But even after a week of preparation, John Danowski said his team should be prepared for anything.
"We always caution our guys and say you can watch film, but when a team's got a whole week to practice they might come up with some new wrinkles or things that we haven't seen, so we've got to be ready for those things," he said.
But regardless of what Johns Hopkins throws at Duke's offense, the Blue Devils are focused on themselves and their play, not their opponent's.
"Our attitude this year is, 'It's about us, not about them,'" Matt Danowski said. "You can line up anybody you want against us and we're going to play the same way. We're prepared for all situations, and it really doesn't matter what their jersey is, just what we do."
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