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Duke men's lacrosse delivers sparkling performance in 16-1 rout of Golden Eagles

No. 15 Marquette allowed just 6.5 goals per game heading into Friday's contest

<p>Sophomore Justin Guterding spearheaded the Duke attack against the Golden Eagles, contributing three goals and three assists in a game the Blue Devils had to win.</p>

Sophomore Justin Guterding spearheaded the Duke attack against the Golden Eagles, contributing three goals and three assists in a game the Blue Devils had to win.

On the brink of missing out on the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, the Blue Devils needed to make a statement in their final game before the postseason.

And Friday night at home, they decided to open the floodgates and do just that.

No. 16 Duke dismantled No. 15 Marquette 16-1 at Koskinen Stadium, exposing the Golden Eagles’ top-ranked scoring defense, which arrived in Durham allowing just 6.5 goals per game. Led by hat tricks from sophomore Justin Guterding and junior Jack Bruckner, the Blue Devils jumped out to a lopsided 9-1 halftime lead and continued to pour it on in the final 30 minutes.

Entering the game, Marquette’s defense had only surrendered double-digit goals once this season—a 12-8 loss at Ohio State March 4. But Duke’s second-best scoring offense—which averages 14.0 goals per game—could not be stopped en route to the 15-goal win, the Blue Devils’ largest margin of victory since a 19-4 win March 18, 2014 against Furman.

“There is no complacency because we’re not even sure that we’re going to make the NCAA tournament, so for us we’ve been [in] that kind of mode,” Duke head coach John Danowski said. “There is no way that anybody here can be complacent—there’s just no room for it.”

After outscoring Virginia 5-1 in the fourth quarter last weekend, Duke (9-6) picked up right where it left off and kept its foot on the gas from start to finish Friday. The Blue Devil offense scored its 14th goal with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter, with 10 different players contributing to the scoring outburst by the final buzzer.

After each netting first-half hat tricks, Guterding and Bruckner finished the night with 10 total points. Guterding contributed three goals and three assists, and Bruckner chipped in four goals for an offensive unit that lined 27 shots on cage out of 39 attempts.

“We’re a very confident group. We scored 16, 17 goals against some of the best teams in the ACC, so we knew that our offense is very capable, and seeing the defense hold the other team to one gives the offense a lot of juice,” senior midfielder Myles Jones said. “We knew that we can play, take a [few] more chances than normal, but we capitalized on great opportunities and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone that got on the field.”

Marquette (9-3) could not find the back of the net on the other end of the field. After scoring their first goal with 8:36 remaining in the first quarter, the Golden Eagles went scoreless for the remainder of the contest. For the final 51:24, the Duke defense was the strongest and most consistent it has been all season, holding an opponent to just one goal for the first time in Danowski’s 10-year tenure in Durham.

Despite its roller-coaster ride this season with six losses, the Blue Devil defensive unit found its groove against Marquette—goalkeepers Danny Fowler and Luke Aaron combined for 12 saves and the Duke back line forced nine turnovers. The Blue Devils won 12-of-21 faceoffs and dominated the ground ball hustle statistic 35-21 to keep their opponents at bay.

“We put a huge emphasis on ground balls every week, but especially this week because we know that [Marquette head coach Joe] Amplo and his team is a very blue-collar work ethic team. And we wanted to make sure that was really important going forward,” Danowski said. “It was the only statistic that we were going to keep. It was 19-11 at half and it was the only statistic that we talked about after the game.”

With 7:12 remaining in the first quarter, Jones added another record to his historic career in Durham. After notching the opening tally of the game on his own, Jones found Guterding for the second Duke goal of the game, becoming the first midfielder in Division I history to record 100 goals and 100 assists. The Huntington, N.Y., native is the fifth player in Blue Devil history to reach the century mark in both statistics, joining four former attackmen.

“It’s awesome. It’s great to play with great players. I could name a list of 15 great players that put me in this position to break records like that. And it is a pretty cool record,” Jones said. “I think it’s just a testament of learning how to play midfield from the day I stepped on campus and playing with great players. I won’t say it was easy, but all the guys on our team aren’t surprised.”

As a unit, the Duke seniors—who claimed their 54th win in four years—combined for six goals and six assists in their final guaranteed home game. Five different seniors found the back of the net—including attackman Alex Prezioso’s first goal of the season—and four recorded helpers.

After hoisting the national championship trophy in both 2013 and 2014, the seniors will now lead their teammates into one final ACC tournament next weekend in Kennesaw, Ga. Duke will be the No. 3 seed in the four-team event and will play second-seeded Notre Dame Friday at 8:30 p.m. The top-ranked Fighting Irish lost a five-goal lead in the fourth quarter Saturday in a 17-15 loss to North Carolina, which earned the top seed by virtue of the win.

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