Duke’s recent struggles in the fourth quarter have been no secret. After holding No. 14 Syracuse (4-4) scoreless for the last 13:41 Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, however, forcing four turnovers and holding the Orange to six shots, the No. 8 Blue Devils (9-3) helped put those concerns behind them.
“I’m very proud of our group today,” head coach John Danowski said. “[The fourth quarter] has been an emphasis. On Wednesday and Thursday... we played quarters and we acted and responded and tried to coach the situations.”
Duke rode a strong offensive performance led by senior Robert Rotanz, who scored four goals, and sophomore Jordan Wolf, who scored twice and added three assists, to its sixth straight victory. The win snaps the Blue Devils’ five game losing streak against Syracuse.
The Orange started the game with confidence, fighting to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter, forcing seven turnovers and holding the Blue Devils to one goal on eight shots.
Early in the second quarter, though, Duke came out playing aggressively and scored two quick goals. Syracuse responded with two of its own before the Blue Devils finished the quarter with a 4-1 run to take a one-point lead, 7-6. Rotanz led the rally with three goals in the second quarter alone.
“I was put in a good position by the rest of my teammates,” Rotanz said. “Guys drew slides and moved the ball and put the ball in my stick. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
With the momentum, the Blue Devils continued to press in the third quarter with a quick goal from senior Justin Turri, followed by another goal from Wolf, which opened up the largest lead of the game at 9-6. But Syracuse rallied to tie the game with three unanswered goals, including two from Tommy Palasek, which gave the senior a hat trick. Sophomore Josh Dionne gave Duke a one-point advantage heading into the fourth period with another goal.
A quick score from Orange junior JoJo Marasco tied up the game for the fifth time. Rotanz responded with his fourth goal, and junior Jake Tripucka later solidified the lead with a diving shot.
Crucial to the Blue Devils’ strong finish was the aggressive play of the defense and goalkeeper Dan Wigrizer. Wigrizer, who had struggled early in the game—saving just one shot in the entire first half—came up with four clutch saves in the fourth quarter.
“There is never one person that wins or loses the game,” Danowski said. “It may have appeared that Danny Wigrizer was struggling a little bit, and maybe at times he was, but over the fourth quarter he made all the saves that the team needed.”
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