There’s no “i” in team, but there is an “i” in obliterate.
And that’s exactly what No. 10 Duke (5-3) did Tuesday night, using suffocating defense and a relentless attack to overwhelm Dartmouth (2-3) at Koskinen Stadium. Seven Blue Devils scored, highlighted by four goals apiece from Max Quinzani and Zach Howell.
“It was a team victory,” head coach John Danowski said. “We had good, solid offense and good team defense. We created tempo and chased ground balls all night, which is a very important statistic to us.”
Heading into the contest, there was concern that Duke would feel the effects of playing with little rest, as the Blue Devils had played another game just three days prior. Those doubts, however, were quickly put to rest in the first period.
Senior attackman Ned Crotty notched the first point of the match, scoring on an assist from Howell just 1:24 into the opening stanza. After the two squads traded goals, Duke seized control, scoring three times in a row to take a 5-1 lead. The advantage ballooned to a 7-1 halftime score, and any concern about the team not being prepared was erradicated.
“Everyone likes games more than practices,” Crotty said. “I know we love it. Instead of practicing all week and waiting, we were able to come out and play.”
In the third quarter, Quinzani, who had only one goal up to that point, stole the show.
Following another Blue Devil score early in the half, Quinzani took the ball behind the net. The senior knifed his way towards the goal, falling down as he froze the goalie and scored with ease.
Then, towards the end of the period, the attackman had another spectacular play. Quinzani caught the ball in traffic and flicked it behind his back to give Duke a 13-3 lead with 26 seconds left in the third. And he scored again just 21 seconds later off of the ensuing faceoff for good measure, deflating the surprisingly large contingent of Dartmouth supporters.
Quinzani downplayed the series of impressive moves, crediting his teammates more than anything.
“Right there, Ned was just feeding me and I was trying to get points,” Quinzani said. “If he keeps feeding me like that, I’ll keep getting opportunities.”
The blowout victory was even more impressive considering Dartmouth played a zone defense. In college lacrosse, the zone is extremely uncommon, and the Blue Devils had only one day to prepare for it. The oddity of the defensive alignment showed early in the contest as Quinzani particularly struggled to get on track.
As the game moved on, though, Duke was able to impose its tempo and completely shred the the Big Green’s zone.
“Zone is difficult because we don’t see it in practice or in games,” Danowski said. “But we’re always trying to create tempo, and our guys did a good job of playing fast. We were able to get some transition goals, and it allowed Max to relax.”
Overall, the Blue Devils attempted a whopping 44 shots, more than doubling Dartmouth’s 21 attempts. Goalies Dan Wigziner and Mike Rock picked up eight total saves on the day and helped anchor a stellar defensive effort that kept the Big Green quiet all evening long.
After a rocky start to the season, Duke hopes to build off the victory and keep momentum going when it faces a much stiffer challenge this weekend. The Blue Devils play eighth-ranked Georgetown in Washington, D.C Saturday.
But if Duke can continue to improve and continue to stifle opposing attacks, it has a chance to put together another stellar performance.
“Guys are getting better,” Danowski said. “A certain chemistry is being developed, and a certain focus, because there have been some days we haven’t liked. We gained another day of experience, and hopefully we’re going to play better next week.”
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