Baltimore-bound: A tale of two teams

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - When Matt Danowski hit fellow attackman Zack Greer to strike first at North Carolina six minutes into Sunday's game, the top-seeded Blue Devils looked like a team with a championship swagger.

But 10 minutes and six unanswered Tar Heel goals later, Duke was a completely different team, confused by a North Carolina (10-6) squad it already had beaten twice this season.

The Blue Devils went into the locker room calmly, they said, but in need of some answers-and then came out as that confident crew again, firing 14 goals and decisively ending No. 8-seed UNC's season, 19-11.

With the win, Duke advanced to face fourth-seeded Cornell (15-0) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

"It was obviously a tale of two halves," North Carolina head coach John Haus said. "In the second half, they just blew us up."

And for a team that has been through the best of times and the worst of times together, the Blue Devils were more than impressive Sunday en route to a second final four in three years.

Driving Duke's explosive comeback was the powerful attackmen duo of Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, who have been at the heart of this team all season. The two combined for seven of Duke's 13 second-half goals in the team's dominating comeback.

With seven goals and three assists in the game, Greer tallied a career-high in points, set the program single-game record for goals and ranks second in single-game scoring in NCAA quarterfinal history. And Danowski scored four goals while dishing out six assists-five of them to Greer.

"Coming into the game, we knew they were probably the two best attackmen in the country," UNC attackman Fletcher Gregory said. "We knew they were going to get their points, but it's tough to see them beat us like that."

The pairing of Greer and Danowski is now sixth all-time in NCAA Tournament points scored.

When asked whose line score was more impressive, Danowski said, "For me, four and six, I like to feed, that's my style. For [Greer], seven and three, 'cause he likes the glory. I just like to dish it."

The Blue Devils will need their stars to fire on all cylinders again Saturday, as they take on one of the only two opponents that defeated them this season.

When Duke and Cornell met March 20 at Koskinen Stadium, the Big Red barely eked by with 7-6 victory. Danowski had a clean look at the goal with under 50 seconds remaining in the game that would have thrown the match into overtime. Now he and his teammates get a second chance at Cornell-and at that elusive national title.

Johns Hopkins and Delaware face off in the other semifinal at noon, with the winners playing on Memorial Day at 1 p.m. for the championship.

Duke, however, remains unfazed as it prepares for a rematch with the nation's only undefeated team.

"It's a completely different Duke team," Danowski said. "Where we were at the beginning of the season was still an adjustment period for us-still trying to get used to the new coaching style, the new style of offense and defense-now we're definitely a much better team, a completely different team in the way we play and our confidence level."

And as for the new head coach this time around, the younger Danowski has an opinion on that, too.

"I was kind of busting his chops," Matt Danowski said. "This is his first final four. It's my second. So I'm the veteran here-he's the new guy to the whole experience, so I'll help him along."


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