FOXBOROUGH, MA.—As it turned out, the third time was not the charm for No. 3 Duke.
In fact, it was arguably the worst time in its postseason history—ever.
Outshot, outsaved and outscored, the Blue Devils (15-4) never had an answer for No. 2 Syracuse (15-2) in their 17-7 defeat Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
The 17 goals allowed were the most since 2004—before head coach John Danowski was at Duke or anyone on the current roster. The 10-goal defeat was easily the worst loss of the year and also the biggest loss the program has suffered in the postseason.
“They punched us in the mouth early, give them credit for that,” attackman Max Quinzani said. “They didn’t allow us to have long possessions, and then we started running around like chickens with our heads cut off.”
Quinzani said the team didn’t even have time to figure out what the Orange was doing on defense in large part because when Duke did have the ball, it quickly lost it because of a forced turnover or sloppy offensive play.
On the offensive end, Syracuse seemingly took a page out of the Blue Devils’ offensive strategy as quick, penetrating passing led to easy shots mere feet in front of the net, a play perfected by Ned Crotty and various attack over the course of the year.
It did not always appear bleak for Duke early. In fact, near the end of the first quarter, the game was tied at two goals apiece.
In the last 35 seconds, however, the Orange struck twice, including a gut-wrenching shot with one second left that sailed over goalie Rob Schroeder’s shoulder for the 4-2 lead.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been behind in a game, so I think we began pressing a little bit,” Danowski said. “Everyone probably has a hand in this, but we won’t know until we look at the video which probably won’t happen until 2012 or 2013.”
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