Duke 15-4, 3:39: The sports staff's new editor upon reading my text about the score of this game: "Oh wow. I don't know how else to react." That pretty much sums up this game--wow. Some questioned whether Duke could beat Virginia twice, but in reality, it has made the first game look like the one where the Blue Devils played poorly. This will be my last in-game post as I get ready for the postgame interviews. Thanks for reading, and go enjoy your Friday nights (unless you're Gabe--lucky editor is seeing Dave Matthews Band live. Or a Duke student--unlucky kids have exams this upcoming week).
Duke 14-3, 7:46: Yup, Virginia just scored. And the crowd roars in mock approval. Duke also just pulled its goalie. Danowski must be furious that his double-digit lead is suddenly in jeopardy.
Duke 14-2, 8:01 remaining: Virginia just scored. But it was in the crease. Such is the day for the Cavaliers.
Duke 14-2, 9:24 remaining: Virginia just pulled its starting goalie. If you're a starting lacrosse/hockey/soccer goalie and you get pulled, that's pretty much the equivalent of being told "I'd rather let you be humiliated on the bench than out on the field."
Duke 14-2, 10:07 remaining: Would any of you care if I just started working on my final paper due next week? You probably won't miss anything significant. Virginia just called timeout--maybe a "boys, let's make this respectable" speech--but in any case this game has long been over. Zach Howell has scored twice on nifty plays and Crotty added a goal after a blocked shot wound up in his stick and an open net appeared in front of him. For the record--because at this point, I'm more than willing to look like an idiot if Virginia somehow comes back and wins--in the last contest with North Carolina, Duke won 12-8 in Chapel Hill.
Duke 11-2, End of 3rd quarter: As a rule, I hate repeating questions game after game in postgame interviews. "Would you call this your best game?", "what does this mean for the season?" and "are you satisfied with the effort?" can get really stale both for the team and for me. But... seriously, how can you not ask Danowski about how impressive this game is? Virginia hasn't scored since the first period, and while the Duke offense has slowed a bit, it doesn't particularly matter at this point. If Duke played a man down for the rest of the game, I doubt the final deficit would be any less than five goals. It has, quite literally, been the perfect game for the Blue Devils. Aside, of course, from the occasional overzealous penalty. But I'm sure Danowski could care less if his team's penalty count is 50 so long as it wins.
Duke 10-2, 7:33: Justin Turri told me Monday that every little play would have everyone getting fired up in this game--and I can see why. Duke is fighting for every loose ball, making Virginia's offense a living hell and just utterly flustering the Cavaliers. The Blue Devils, to be sure, have gotten a little overaggressive at times--penalties and turnovers as proof--but as the score shows, it's paid off big time suggesting that maybe the previous matchup was a fluke--maybe Duke should have won by even more.
Duke 7-2, Halftime: If Duke had begun and closed the first quarter with any defense, we'd be staring at a 7-0 shutout right now. That's how good the Blue Devils have been right now. I can't say that Duke's play is the only reason Virginia looks terrible right now--I'm pretty sure it has double-digit turnovers so far--but it's certainly a major reason for it. Unlike last game, when Duke was outshot but still won because it converted over half its shots into goals, the shots are in favor of the Blue Devils 22-13 thanks in large part to the disparity in possession time. Duke's gotten a little sloppy with two penalties--well, really it's only Ryan McFadden, but I just didn't want to single him out--but if it continues its play in the second half, can we start to consider them not only good, but a national contender? Yes I'm going out on a limb here, but no one else has beaten the Cavaliers in such dominant fashion, let alone at all.
Duke 7-2, 3:17 2nd quarter: Still the same story, except Duke hasn't had as many good shot attempts--but that's mostly because it seems content to take as much time as possible on its possessions, as at one point it took one shot in about two minutes but controlled the ball the whole time.
Duke 7-2, 9:20 2nd quarter: Virginia did have a little momentum--it actually managed to keep the ball in on its offensive side for a bit. But with seven turnovers so far, the Cavaliers have failed to get any production with the ball and goals by McKee and Ned Crotty have got Duke dominating once again. Virginia looked utterly frustrated after Crotty's unassisted goal, but not in the good way--instead, it just looked like it couldn't figure out why one team in the whole NCAA has seemingly got it figured out.
Duke 5-2, 14:46 2nd quarter: Mid-timeout, I couldn't help but wonder: why are there banners for all 12 teams in the ACC right above where all five fans are if only Duke, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina play lacrosse in this conference?
Duke 5-2, End of 1st quarter: It was an ugly opening and closing 10 seconds, but everything in between was as beautiful as John Danowski could've wanted. Steve Schoeffel added a man-down goal on transition with just 33 seconds remaining to give Duke a 5-1 lead, and Max Quinzani could've given the Blue Devils an unthinkable 6-1 lead, but his amazing attempt--he spun by his defender, jumped through his stick and launched the shot horizontally--was too good to be true as he was in the crease. Then with no time left, Virginia's Shamel Bratton launched a shot past a seemingly lax Duke defense to cut the lead to three. It's still the Blue Devils' game in terms of momentum and playing style but that was not the way to end any period when you're fighting a team better than you.
Duke 4-1, 6:07 1st quarter: Well things have been relatively quiet since the last goal. Will McKee had a nice ground-ball shot that got by UVA goalie Adam Ghitelman for the 4-1 lead, but the biggest story has been that Duke is not ahead by even more. For the vast majority of this contest the Blue Devils have simply had the ball as the Cavaliers have had one decent chance at scoring since the opening 10 seconds... and they managed to get a pushing penalty on that. Still early, though, so we'll see if Virginia can play like the No. 1 team that it is--or just turn it over again right as I was about to conclude this update.
First Update: Well thanks to UNC's horrendous "lack of parking" (and by that I mean despite there being about 200 people in a stadium that seats tens of thousands, the main parking deck was full), I was delayed in getting this live blog out to you with no official "Pregame" post. But, as it is, I got here just in time for the opening faceoff, and it took nine seconds for Virginia to score to take the lead. Then Duke scored eight seconds later... then one minute later... then again 14 seconds later. All in the first 2:33. Since then, though, things have been quiet (relatively speaking) as whoever wins this game will get North Carolina, who defeated Maryland 16-10. The championship game will be Sunday at 3:30 at the "neutral" (hey, they erased the NC in the middle!) site of Kenan Stadium.
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