Top 10 stories of 2013: The Comeback

As a busy year in sports winds to a close, The Blue Zone
will count down the top 10 Duke stories of 2013. Check back throughout the week as we review the most memorable moments of the year.

3. The Comeback

After getting off to a 2-4 start, Duke's run of six straight trips to the NCAA semifinals wasn't the only thing in jeopardy—at the time, the question was whether or not the Blue Devils would even make the NCAA tournament.

To make matters worse, Duke would have to face the defending national champions, Loyola, in what was essentially a do-or-die game. The Blue Devils' starting goaltender from its 2010 national championship run, senior Dan Wigrizer, had been sidelined by one concussion too many and sophomore Kyle Turri was slated to make his first start of the season between the pipes.

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But Duke overcame the odds and downed Loyola 9-8, and that win helped to morph the Blue Devils into a different team. Finishing the regular season on a tear, Duke elevated itself back into the national championship discussion by winning its final nine games.

“In the beginning, there’s a little disarray because we’re trying to find ourselves,” junior attack Josh Dionne said. “What we try to stress is that the team we are at the beginning of the season isn’t the team we’re going to be at the end, when it really counts.”

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The Blue Devils were seeded seventh headed into the NCAA tournament, and won back-to-back thrillers to start their postseason run. Freshman Case Matheis scored the game-winner in double-overtime as Duke won its rematch with Loyola 12-11 in the opening round. A week later, senior David Lawson answered the call, tallying the game-winner—his fifth score of the day—as the Blue Devils scored three unanswered goals to knock off second-seeded Notre Dame 12-11 and advance to championship weekend for the seventh consecutive season.

“We tried not to think about that because you try not to get nervous about being the first team not to get to [championship weekend] under Coach Danowski,” Lawson said. “But we’re obviously very happy about it.”

Earning a spot in the national championship game against top-ranked Syracuse, the Blue Devils started their final game the same way they started the season—by falling behind. Duke trailed the Orange 5-0 in the first quarter before a much-needed timeout and an offensive surge rallied the Blue Devils back into the game.

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A dominant 20-for-28 performance at the faceoff X by junior Brendan Fowler—who would earn Most Outstanding Player honors—gave Duke control of the tempo and helped rally the Blue Devils to a 16-10 victory and the program's second national championship.

“We would say maybe this would be the week Brendan doesn’t win 65 percent of his faceoff and we figure out how to compete, how to win if he doesn’t,” Danowski said. “That day almost never came.”

Check out the rest of
The Blue Zone's top 10 stories of 2013:

3. The Comeback—Duke lacrosse rallies from 2-4 start, five-goal deficit to win national championship

4. The Commitments—Building Duke's monster 2014 recruiting class on the hardwood

5. The Expansion—ACC grows to 15 teams

6. The Return, part III—Andre Dawkins makes his long-awaited return to the Blue Devils

7. The Return, part II—Coach K commits to Team USA and Duke through 2016

8. The Return, part I—Ryan Kelly goes for 36 against Miami in his first game back from injury

9. The Leg—Kevin Ware sparks Louisville to Elite Eight victory against Blue Devils

10. The Pick—Sean Renfree becomes Duke's first NFL draft selection since 2004

Honorable Mentions


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