Duke rallies to top Georgetown in thriller

Freshman attacker Jordan Wolf had the best game of his short career at Duke, tallying seven points with four goals.
Freshman attacker Jordan Wolf had the best game of his short career at Duke, tallying seven points with four goals.

The fourth quarter has not been smooth sailing for the Blue Devils this season.

But after being collectively outscored in the final session in the team’s first eight games, Duke (7-2) righted the ship Saturday. The No. 4 Blue Devils had a monster finish against Georgetown (3-4), scoring five goals in the last 15 minutes to top off a 14-12 comeback victory at Koskinen Stadium.

“We talked [last night] about how we haven’t been a good fourth quarter team,” head coach John Danowski said. “When it got to the fourth quarter, we said, ‘We want to be a better fourth quarter team. Here’s your opportunity to prove it.’ It was kind of prophetic, I guess, that we had an opportunity to do that.

“I just felt strangely confident,” he added. “I thought that if we kept playing we could get back in the game.”

Sophomore Josh Offit started off the scoring in the fourth period, rocketing a shot from the left side of the goal past Hoyas’ keeper Jack Davis to knot the score at 10 apiece. Offit, who has benefited from moving into the midfield after starting the season on the attack, finished the game with three goals on four shots.

Duke had an opportunity to go ahead on the ensuing possession, when freshman Jordan Wolf received the ball streaking toward the goal after the faceoff. But Wolf—who had seven points and was otherwise superb throughout the game—couldn’t finish and instead got whistled for a penalty.

Defenseman Tom Montelli was called for a penalty 18 seconds later, forcing the Blue Devils to play down two men. The defensive unit of senior Joe Tkac, junior CJ Costabile and sophomores Jimmy O’Neill and Bill Conners held their ground against Georgetown, allowing Duke to have possession with the chance to take the lead.

The offense didn’t disappoint. Midfielder Justin Turri found Zach Howell near unguarded in front of the goal, and the team’s leading scorer let go for his second strike of the game to give the Blue Devils their first lead with 7:40 to play.

“Zach is accepting his role as [Wolf and freshman Christian Walsh] get better,” Danowski said. “Zach is more comfortable off the ball, and as they develop, Zach is back to being himself.”

Wolf followed that score with a beautiful over-the-head shot to extend Duke’s lead, and after the Hoyas rallied to pull within one in the final minute, he sealed the deal with an easy goal directly in front of the cage.

“It was just about relaxing and playing our game,” Wolf said of the team’s comeback. “Once we slowed down and relaxed, started making play after play, building momentum ourselves, it went from there.”

Nevertheless, the Blue Devils almost dug themselves too big of a hole to come out of. After the two teams traded goals to start the game, the Hoyas ripped off a five-goal run over the next seven minutes to take a 6-1 lead.

Duke turned the ball over frequently in that opening stretch, ending the first period with five giveaways, allowing Georgetown to get out into the open field and score before the Blue Devils could set their defense.

“I thought in the first half we did a poor job of attackmen exchanging the ball. We turned the ball over a lot on the offensive end,” Danowski said. “I thought we could get better at that in the second half. I thought that we could settle in 6-on-6 on defense and just play them 6-on-6, and I thought eventually we were going to hit the cage.”

Duke started the second half on a 3-0 run, bolstered by winning 5-of-6 faceoffs in the third quarter. The Hoyas stopped the bleeding with 8:56 left in the period, but then wouldn’t score again for nearly 23 minutes.

The come-from-behind victory was another stepping stone for the young Blue Devils as they attempt to repeat the success of recent Duke teams.

“To be in this situation is a learning experience for us to see what we’re made out of,” Wolf said. “They got a lot of momentum, but we stuck with it, came back and got the win.”


Share and discuss “Duke rallies to top Georgetown in thriller” on social media.