No. 5 Blue Devils stunned by Harvard at home

Friday afternoon provided a glimpse of the potential of the young and new Blue Devils.

That glimmer of hope, though, was quickly tempered Sunday.

No. 5 Duke fell to Harvard 9-6 at Koskinen Stadium less than 48 hours after defeating No. 15 Colgate 9-8, in large part because of a lackluster offensive effort in the first half. The loss snapped a 21-game home winning streak that extended back to March 30, 2007.

For the game, the Crimson (1-0) outshot the Blue Devils (2-1) 45-29, a disparity that was as large as 22 at one point before a late Duke onslaught of shots.

"We couldn't clear the ball, we couldn't possess the ball and right away, we're putting so much pressure on our defense," senior Ned Crotty said. "They had good misses where they'd get the ball back. That happened repeatedly, and it just gave them too many opportunities."

As a result, the Blue Devils managed to score just one goal by halftime and had only four with just over five minutes remaining. In the previous two contests, Duke had hit the four-goal mark in 25:15 and 21:58. Duke trailed the Crimson 3-1 at halftime after leading 1-0 after the first period.

The Blue Devils managed to make a game of it late. With 5:08 left, midfielder Brad Ross darted a shot into the top-left corner of the net in transition to bring Duke within three goals. Three minutes later, midfielder Steve Schoeffel scored his second goal of the game to make it 8-6.

The Blue Devils won the ensuing faceoff and called timeout, as Duke's reserves, who had stood somberly and in shock, hollered and yelled at their teammates to finish off the improbable rally.

Duke had numerous chances to score over the next minute, but nearly every shot went wide of the net. Harvard eventually obtained possession and added a late goal with seconds left to secure the upset.

Head coach John Danowski said that a timid offensive attack in the first half ultimately cost the Blue Devils the game, adding that while they played better in the second half, they did not play well enough.

"I certainly think we're capable of playing better," Danowski said. "If you clear the ball a couple of times and don't get a stick penalty, then maybe the game is a little closer than 8-6 at the end and the run doesn't need to be so large. It built up over the course of the game."

Ever the optimistic group, though, Danowski and Crotty refused to show any negative emotions after the contest. Crotty said that over the previous two years, the team never experienced the tightness it had Sunday until the Final Four, where the Blue Devils lost close games to Johns Hopkins. By being forced to play uptight early, the team can learn to come out loose and aggressive, Crotty said.

"I don't believe there's anything as a bad loss," Danowski said. "True champions do get knocked down, and then they get back up."

In Friday's contest, senior Brad Ross tallied his second goal of the game with 2:51 remaining to lift the Duke over Colgate (1-1) for its second victory over a ranked opponent this season.

The Blue Devils had jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first half, but the Raiders scored twice in the last five minutes of the first half and then strung together five straight goals in the second half to tie the game at eight before Ross nailed the game winner.


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