Blue Devils drop 2nd consecutive contest

Before the 2009 season, Duke had suffered just one February loss in program history.

After an 11-8 loss to Maryland Saturday, however, that total has tripled.

The No. 11 Terrapins jumped out to a 7-3 lead against the No. 10 Blue Devils at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and held on to hand Duke its second loss of the month and its first losing streak since 2004. The Blue Devils also dropped a 9-6 decision to Harvard Feb. 22.

"They jumped on us early and got a bunch of shots that didn't hit the cage," said senior goalie Rob Schroeder, who made eight saves in his fourth career start. "Their attack and their middies brought it early."

Attackmen Max Quinzani and Ned Crotty paced Duke (2-2, 0-1 in the ACC) offensively, combining for five goals and three assists, but it wasn't enough as the Blue Devils failed to score in double figures for the third consecutive contest.

During last season's run to the Final Four, in contrast, Duke lost just two games and scored at least 10 goals in every other game. Now dealing with the losses of several experienced players, the Blue Devils have hit some early road bumps, but they realize that they still have time to improve.

"We're growing," head coach John Danowski said. "We lost a lot of talent, a lot of leadership. We have great character in our locker room, but there are new positions. There is a lot of inexperience, and it's going to take us some time. But I love our kids and the hope is that we're going to get better as a result of this."

After falling behind 3-0 in the first quarter, Duke got into a better offensive rhythm after Quinzani's last-minute goal set the stage for the second period. The Blue Devils generated longer possessions, and tallies by Quinzani and Ned Crotty knotted the score at three with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.

But then Maryland (3-1, 1-0) went on its game-changing run. The Terrapins won the ensuing faceoff, and Grant Catalino fed Ryan Young for a fastbreak goal that put Maryland back on top.

The Terrapins won the faceoff after that score and raced down the field once again. This time, Catalino fired it past Schroeder to give Maryland a 5-3 lead just 12 seconds after Duke had tied the score.

Those two goals were the start of a 4-0 halftime-spanning run that put the game out of reach for the Blue Devils. They never got closer than three goals the rest of the way, cutting the lead to 9-6 early in the fourth quarter and then to 11-8 with a pair of goals in the final minute and a half.

"I thought we had some really good looks on the field," Danowski said. "[We] didn't make timely plays or plays that certainly would have created some momentum for us, some excitement and maybe some confidence to get us to a point we were relaxed."

Duke outscored the Terrapins 4-3 in the fourth quarter, and it outshot Maryland 41-34 for the game, including 32-20 after the first period. The Blue Devils also picked up 14 more ground balls than the Terrapins and won 61 percent of the faceoffs,

Duke still wasn't able to avoid its first loss to its ACC rival since 2006. But after a close loss on the road-highlighted by a strong final period-the Blue Devils have something to build on going forward.

"I'm really proud of our kids," Danowski said. "I'm proud of the way they battled back, proud of the way they won the fourth quarter. All of those things will help us further down the line."


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