ACC titans clash in battle of nation's best

In two dominating wins this season, the Blue Devils have showcased their veteran talent to intimidate overmatched opponents in Bucknell and Vermont.

When No. 3 Maryland-one of the nation's most talented but youngest squads-comes to Koskinen Stadium Saturday, No. 2 Duke looks to its upperclassmen to make a top team appear to be just another early-season warm-up.

"For many of [the Terrapins'] starters, this will be their first ACC game," sophomore attackman Max Quinzani said. "I've played some ACC games, and we've got [Matt Danowski] and Tony [McDevitt] for whom this will be their fifth year in ACC play. So hopefully those freshmen from Maryland will kind of poop themselves."

Saturday's 5:30 p.m. contest marks the first real challenge for the Blue Devils (2-0), and Maryland has plenty of motivation to come out firing. In 2007, the Terrapins (2-0) were embarrassed in a seven-goal loss to Duke in College Park, Md.

This season, Maryland hopes its infusion of new talent can reverse its recent fortunes against Duke. The Terrapins start four freshmen, including attackman Travis Reed, who notched four goals and an assist in the team's victory over Mount St. Mary's Monday.

Saturday's contest will mark those players' first college road trip and first conference clash.

Maryland, though, is not the only conference team playing fresh faces right away. While the Blue Devils boast experienced players at every position, the team's freshman class has also been getting playing time.

Mike Manley has started both of Duke's games on the defensive end, and Zach Howell has become the team's fourth attacker. Nonetheless, head coach John Danowski believes the Terrapins will be ready for his squad's blend of youth and experience.

"I think they are a terrific team that is always very well coached," Danowski said. "[Maryland's] Coach [Dave] Cottle is one of the best technicians in the game at getting a team ready and they have a lot of young talent so I think it's going to be a great game on Saturday."

The matchup also opens the three-game ACC season for both teams. In men's lacrosse, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland make up the entire conference, and all four squads are currently ranked in the nation's top seven.

Danowski described his team's practices this week as "workmanlike and blue-collar" in preparation for the rivalry game. The team studied some of its own strengths and weaknesses early in the week, and began looking at Maryland's sets Wednesday.

In their most recent outing last weekend against Vermont, the Blue Devils cruised to a 19-7 victory. Seven different players scored in a 10-goal first quarter and according to Quinzani, the ability to distribute points has distinguished this year's team from last year's edition.

"Last year, we depended so much on Matt [Danowski] and [Zack] Greer to get four or five points a game, and this year, middies are getting two goals a game-I'm chipping in there-so it's a lot more spread out and everyone's getting touches," Quinzani said. "Everyone is doing everything, people are getting their points and having a good time and no one is griping about it, so it's been really fun."


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