No. 2 Blue Devils spear 3rd-ranked Terrapins

After easily disposing of inferior teams in its first two games of the season, No. 2 Duke faced a much tougher challenge going into Saturday's bout with No. 3 Maryland.

But in the end, the Blue Devils achieved the same lopsided result.

In a game featuring two different styles of offense, Duke (3-0, 1-0 in the ACC) overwhelmed the Terrapins by utilizing its signature run-and-gun approach, while Maryland tried to slow down the pace of play by implementing an inverted attack. The impressive 15-7 victory at Koskinen Stadium over Maryland (2-1, 0-1) was the first for any member of this year's squad, making the win that much sweeter.

"That was important," head coach John Danowksi said. "As you go along, you set small goals within your larger ones. That was important to our guys today. You want to be good at home-the protect-your-house concept."

Duke dominated virtually every statistical category in the first quarter-including winning eight of nine faceoffs-on its way to opening up a 6-2 lead, which forced Maryland to play out of its element.

The Terrapins like to initiate their offensive attack from behind the net and either finish on a dodge from the back or dish it off to a flashing attackman in front. But after the Blue Devils took control early, Maryland had to ditch its preferred six-on-six set in an effort to score goals more quickly.

"They wanted to slow the game down because we like to play a fast-paced game," goalie Dan Loftus said. "And by getting up early, [Danowski] said it was tougher for a team to play slow when they're playing from behind. The biggest thing for us was to get out in front and make them play from behind."

A shining example of the Blue Devils' up-tempo attack, in which the defense feeds the offense and sparks fast-break situations, came on the night's play of the game.

After Loftus successfully saved a Maryland shot, he immediately airmailed an outlet pass 40 yards downfield to Zack Greer, who then zipped it to Matt Danowski as he was streaking toward the left side of the goal. The pass was a little out in front, and Danowski caught it as he was stumbling toward the ground. But Danowski flicked the ball behind his back, over his shoulder and past Maryland goalie Jason Carter to give Duke a 3-1 lead.

"That was pretty cool," Loftus said. "Once the ball gets put on the ground, the first thing we like to do is look for the middies. In that case, I made a save and got it up to Zack. We work on that everyday, just running and getting up and down the field.

"We feel we're one of the better teams in the country that wants to play fast, and everyone else just wants to slow us down."

Six different players scored to give the Blue Devils a 9-3 lead at the half, and even though the Terrapins switched to backup goalie Brian Phipps, Maryland simply could not overcome Duke's relentless attack.

Many of the Blue Devils' scoring opportunities came off their clears, when long-stick defensemen sprinted the ball the length of the field and created difficult situations for Maryland's defense.

"We have our defensive players handle an offensive situation," John Danowski said. "There are some programs that don't do that that much, but we do.... We tell them straight up what we expect. Once you cross that midfield line, you are now an offensive player. You are not a defensive player just carrying the ball."

The game had been billed as Duke's experience versus Maryland's youth, with the Blue Devils starting five seniors to the Terrapins' four freshmen. But it was Duke's lone starting freshman Mike Manley who led the transition offense as he notched the first goal and assist of his career.

"When he's running down, he's misdirecting the cage every time," said attackman Max Quinzani, who registered his second consecutive hat trick. "So if he's a threat, the defense has to slide to him. Then, you got to think about [Danowski], and then usually me and Greer are on the backside.... When our clear's on, our transition offense is on. We were really clicking."

The Blue Devils have three non-conference games coming up, starting with Lehigh Tuesday, before resuming ACC play against No. 7 North Carolina at home March 15.


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