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Offense shows weakness in win

Attackman Zach Greer scored five goals as the No. 3 Blue Devils (11-2) overcame sloppy offensive play to defeat No. 19 Army 11-5 Saturday at Koskinen Stadium.

The Black Knights (6-6) kept pace with a superior Blue Devil squad for much of the game before Duke pulled away late in the second half.

Looking lackadaisical and imprecise on offense, Duke relied on its transition game to score a majority of its goals. The Blue Devils threw away a number of passes and made mistakes that had generally-reserved head coach John Danowski visibly frustrated on the sideline.

"We don't move our feet when we throw the ball, we telegraph our passes, we don't handle the ball well in traffic and we're not aggressive at times," Danowski said. "We're not a very good offensive team. Offensively right now, in fact, we're probably average."

Although Duke failed to put forward its best offensive effort, the Blue Devil defense looked solid as it stymied an active Army offense that fired shots quickly and often. Duke surrendered just two first-half goals and shut out the Black Knights in the second period, taking pressure off an offense that managed just five scores of its own in the opening two quarters.

Danowski attributed the defense's consistency to its mastery of a team approach to containing the opposition's offense and its ability to slide and recover as a unit-a fluidity the offense did not exhibit.

"Our defense stepped up and shut them down," Greer said. "Our [offense] needs to step up a little bit, especially our six-on-six game. A lot of the goals we scored were from the transition and from the ride, but we didn't really generate much six-on-six, so we have to get better at that."

Attackman Matt Danowski echoed Greer's concerns and expressed his disapproval with the offense's performance, even in the wake of Duke's fifth straight win. Duke scored 11 goals on 41 shots, a ratio just a few points lower than its season average of 28 percent.

"We're not where we need to be at this point in the season, definitely," Danowski said. "It's a good win, we take it and move on, but we need to be better, especially offensively.... We have to take care of the little intricacies of the game and play more consistently. It's something we haven't been doing all season, and it showed today."

Despite the captain's and coach's belief that Duke's win over the Black Knights exposed troubling deficiencies within the team's play, the Blue Devils continue to field one of the nation's top offenses statistically. Duke sports the sixth-best scoring offense with 149 goals on the season and stands in seventh in scoring margin, netting 4.38 goals more then their opponents on average.

Still, John Danowski was worried about his team's ability to compete with No. 10 North Carolina. Since Duke's 9-7 victory in Chapel Hill March 17, the Tar Heels have looked strong, defeating No. 7 Johns Hopkins 14-8 and dropping a 10-9 overtime decision to No. 4 Virginia.

"You're looking down the pike and you're looking forward to Friday night, and if we play like that offensively Friday, there's no game on Sunday," Danowski said. "Going in, we're underdogs in that [North Carolina] game, certainly."

Danowski took responsibility for the offense's lack of preparedness at this point in the season and said the problem "falls squarely on [his] shoulders."

"My teaching, or whatever it is, I haven't gotten to the guys," Danowski said. "I'm struggling with that. I'm disappointed in myself."


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