Blue Devils surge past Raiders

Robert Rotanz scored three of his career-high five goals during Duke’s 13-goal run against the Raiders.
Robert Rotanz scored three of his career-high five goals during Duke’s 13-goal run against the Raiders.

Leading 4-2 in the first period, the Colgate Raiders appeared poised for another upset. Thirteen unanswered goals later, Duke is headed to championship weekend for the sixth consecutive season.

Sparked by a stretch in which they held Colgate scoreless for 26:14, the No. 3 seeded Blue Devils (15-4) knocked off Colgate (14-4) 17-6 in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Robert Rotanz led the way for Duke, tallying a career-high five goals and adding an assist as one of eight different Blue Devils who notched goals.

“I think our guys were really unselfish and played the right way,” Duke head coach John Danowski said. “We’re just having fun and enjoying being with this group. We get to be together for another week, and sometimes that trumps winning.”

The Raiders, who entered the game having beaten previously undefeated Massachusets to reach the quarterfinals, put pressure on the Blue Devils in the game’s opening minutes. After they fell behind 4-2, Danowski took a timeout to settle his team’s nerves.

The Blue Devils emerged a different squad, mounting an emphatic 13-0 run, quickly putting the game out of reach.

“Some guys early on had to get some jitters out. After that everyone just calmed down,” senior midfielder Justin Turri said. “We knew they were going to keep coming at us for a full 60 minutes. No matter how many goals we went up by, it was never going to be enough.”

A slow-starting team all season, Duke has made a living in the middle periods. Despite barely outscoring opponents 47-43 during the first period in its 19 games this year, Duke has outscored its opponents in the second and third quarters a combined 133-80.

“I’m not sure what it is exactly,” Danowski said. “At the beginning of games there are mistakes made, but our guys seem to relax a bit and gain some insight into what we’re doing and what our opponent is trying to accomplish. Certainly the second and third quarters have been good to us.”

Defensively, Duke held Colgate scoreless for a 26:14 stretch that spanned from the end of the first quarter to the middle of the third. Sophomore Henry Lobb held Colgate’s Peter Baum, the nation’s leading scorer, to just one goal.

“Henry Lobb has made tremendous strides over the course of the season,” Danowski said. “He did not start for us at the beginning of the year. Henry has terrific feet and he’s gotten better each week.” Junior goalkeeper Dan Wigrizer recorded nine saves in the game, keeping the Raiders at bay when they attempted to claw back into the contest.

This contest featured two of the five Tewaaraton Trophy finalists, Colgate’s Baum and Blue Devil CJ Costabile. Both vying for college lacrosse’s most coveted prize, Baum was limited offensively while Costabile, a longstick midfielder, won 14-of-20 draws and added 15 ground balls, which allowed Duke to control possession for the majority of the second and third periods as it broke the game open. After winning just 4-of-9 faceoffs in the opening period, Duke took control of 11 of the 16 draws in the second and third quarters.

“It was a senior’s time, a senior’s moment,” Danowski said. “[C.J. is] such an understated young man. He is quiet but days like today you start thinking about the future saying ‘Boy, we’re going to miss him.’”

Although Duke is headed to the semifinals for the sixth consecutive season, it is the first year since 1975 that none of annual powerhouses Johns Hopkins, Syracuse or Virginia were unable to reach the NCAA tournament’s final weekend.

The Blue Devils will face Maryland Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. This will be the third meeting between Duke and Maryland this season. The Terrapins bested the Blue Devils 10-7 in College Park during the regular season before Duke responded with a 6-5 victory in the ACC tournament.


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