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Duke men's lacrosse blows late lead at No. 6 Syracuse, falls 12-11 in overtime in ACC opener

<p>Senior Jack Bruckner led the Blue Devils with four goals but missed the potential game-winner&nbsp;on the team's final possession&nbsp;of regulation.&nbsp;</p>

Senior Jack Bruckner led the Blue Devils with four goals but missed the potential game-winner on the team's final possession of regulation. 

With just seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied at 11, Duke junior and star attackman Justin Guterding rolled around the side of the crease to feed his fellow veteran Jack Bruckner at the doorstep.

With two men behind him, Bruckner pulled back, only to miss the cage wide left.

“We weren’t sure exactly if they were going to play man or zone,” Blue Devil head coach John Danowski told GoDuke.com about his team’s final possession. “They played some zone over the course of the game, usually they play zone mid-sequence.... We were going to play big-little behind the goal and look inside where Jack Bruckner got that shot.”

That was the last chance the Blue Devils got to win their ACC opener.

Just seconds into overtime, Syracuse freshman Jamie Trimboli ripped a sidearm shot past Danny Fowler into the top right corner and the Orange emerged victorious.

The No. 11 Blue Devils fell at No. 6 Syracuse 12-11 in a hotly contested affair Saturday afternoon that saw neither team lead by more than two goals. For the third time in as many games, Duke lost in the Carrier Dome, despite having several chances to emerge victorious this time. The Blue Devils used a 4-0 fourth-quarter spurt to take a 11-9 lead with 6:29 remaining, but the Orange showed their experience by staying calm to pull out a program-record sixth consecutive game decided by one goal.

Despite showing it can hang with a top opponent on the road, Duke saw its five-game winning streak snapped.

“I can only assume they have great leadership,” Danowski said of Syracuse. “I can assume that the seniors provide a calm or a steadiness they learned from guys who played before them.”

The Blue Devils (7-3, 0-1 in the ACC) went down early thanks to a Sergio Salcido goal. The senior and former walk-on for the Orange (6-1, 2-0) had another big game against Danowski’s team with two goals and two assists. But Duke would respond with two goals from freshman attackman Joey Manown that were separated only by a score from Joe Gillis for the home team.

The two teams would trade goals through the end of the first quarter, until the Blue Devils opened up a two-goal lead at 6-4 midway through the second period on tallies from Bruckner—who led the team with four on the day—and sophomore midfielder Brad Smith. Syracuse clawed back within one with a rocket from Nick Mariano in transition after Duke missed multiple opportunities to stretch its lead.

The Blue Devils could not capitalize on man-up opportunities—going a dismal 0-of-3 for the game—and committed turnovers that prevented their offense from finding a consistent rhythm.

Despite its sporadic play at times, Duke was still leading until Salcido tied it at six early in the third quarter, setting up a 11:10 scoreless stretch for both teams. The Orange then took its own two-goal lead by shutting out the Blue Devils for the rest of the period and getting goals from Denver transfer Brendan Bomberry and Mariano.

But all of Duke’s offensive stagnation in the third quarter turned into an offensive explosion just when it looked like things were slipping away. Bruckner opened up the scoring just eight seconds into the final period with more excellent work around the crease.

Syracuse head coach John Desko then countered by putting Dan Varello at the faceoff X against Kyle Rowe as opposed to senior star Ben Williams. Rowe, who went 16-of-26 on the draw for the game, could not gain as much of an edge against Varello, a trend that became critical as regulation drew to a close.

“Going up against [Williams], he’s a fantastic athlete, he’s much more than just a faceoff guy so we have to prepare for that aspect,” Rowe said. “Other than that, a lot of it comes down to wing play. We had a great day on the wings, boxing out and fighting for ground balls.”

Varello gave his team a critical faceoff and passed it off to Mariano in transition as the junior notched his second to make the line 9-7 in favor of the Orange.

With the game potentially getting out of hand for the Blue Devils, JT Giles-Harris responded for Duke defensively, clearing a ground ball that allowed sophomore John Prendergast to draw his team within one. Prendergast sparked a four-goal run that led to scores by Guterding, Brucker and Manown all within 90 seconds of one another.

However, more than six minutes was too much time to leave on the board. Syracuse responded with a quick goal from Bomberry before the Duke offense went completely cold.

Orange goalkeeper Evan Molloy stymied the Blue Devil attack at the edge of the crease on numerous occasions despite Duke finding success from those same spots earlier in the game. Down one in a critical possession, Mariano then beat junior Sean Cerrone to the middle of the field before ripping a sidearm shot past Fowler to finish out his hat trick and knot the score at 11 with 1:26 left in regulation.

With their final possession, the Blue Devils could not capitalize and in overtime, Rowe’s inability to consistently beat Varello surfaced as Rowe won the draw but could not scoop the ground ball cleanly, setting up Trimboli’s game-winner.

The Syracuse freshman was mobbed by his teammates as Duke looked on knowing it had let another golden opportunity slip away—the Blue Devils also fell late at then-No. 1 Denver early in the season.

“He stuck the corner,” Danowski said. “[Cerrone] got his hands on [Trimboli] and did a nice job. [Cerrone] just couldn’t take the ball away and just couldn’t turn him, and we have a saying that you have to win your battles out there.... It was a one-on-one battle that [Trimboli] won.”

In the midst of a brutal four-game ACC stretch, Duke will look to avoid an 0-2 start to league play at No. 14 North Carolina next Sunday.

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