Duke lacrosse's Justin Guterding ready to break more records on championship weekend

<p>Justin Guterding will be looking to add a national championship to his loaded career resume this weekend.</p>

Justin Guterding will be looking to add a national championship to his loaded career resume this weekend.

"Records were made to be broken."

Those were the words from Duke head coach John Danowski Wednesday afternoon, and a common refrain throughout his time as the Blue Devils' head coach. It's not that he doesn't care about making history—with one of the most dominant programs in recent history, Danowski's teams and players have done that plenty since he took over the program in 2007.

But the 64-year-old emphasizes humility, the singular most emblematic trait of Justin Guterding, who needs a combination of just 12 goals and assists to set Duke's all-time record for career points. 

And if the senior wants to break another record, he'll likely need to carry his team to victory Saturday when No. 4 seed Duke battles top-seeded Maryland at Gillette Stadium in the second of two national semifinals at approximately 2:30 p.m. The winner will then move on to challenge either No. 2 seed Albany or third-seeded Yale at 1 p.m. Monday.

Guterding is also one of five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, which will be awarded to the most outstanding players in men's and women's lacrosse at a dinner May 31 in Washington, D.C.

"If we get to the championship and win it all, I’m sure [the Tewaaraton] will come my way—and maybe the points record, too," Guterding said. "But really, if we win the championship, that’s all that matters to me. Everything else will fall into place."

It was clear entering the season that the Garden City, N.Y., native would be the Blue Devils' star. After scoring a total of 141 points in his first two seasons in Durham, Guterding erupted for 97 as a junior to not only lead the team, but also put him within striking distance of several history-making opportunities.

But he's done more than just make the Duke attack all about him. Even though Guterding leads the Blue Devils with 18 more goals than the next-highest player, he's also dished out 43 assists to help Duke form a dangerous offense that boasts eight double-digit goal-scorers.

Perhaps most crucially, though, he's developed into a leader—one that has paved the way for success across the board.

"That kind of started at the end of last season," Guterding said of his evolving leadership role. "We just wanted to be better as a class and it took a lot of hard work. We did a bunch of leadership stuff with Coach D and I think it paid off because the younger guys are sort of playing for the seniors now, and maybe that wasn’t the case earlier in the year, but you can sense that vibe as a senior."

If you weren't paying attention the numbers, you would not have known that Guterding broke not one, but two records last weekend. He passed Jordan Wolf's single-season points mark and Zach Greer's career goals total, both an NCAA and program record.

That's where the humility comes in.

"All our guys deflected personal records, trophies, recognition, really because of what happened in 2006," Danowski said. "Guys have recognized it and guys have carried it forward, that has been the foundation built here. It’s something that guys really embrace and take great responsibility for—it’s about Duke and it’s about Duke lacrosse and it’s not so much about who they are individually and what they accomplish."

For the Blue Devils' senior class, this trip to the Final Four will be both their first and their last. After Duke won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, there were three straight seasons in which it failed to even make it to lacrosse's final weekend and won just one total NCAA tournament game.

And going up against the Terrapins, who are the reigning national champions, have made five straight Final Fours and have a Tewaaraton finalist of their own in senior midfielder Connor Kelly, the Blue Devils will have their hands full. Like Duke, Maryland's scoring offense ranks among the top 10 in the nation with 11.9 goals per game.

Of course, with the Blue Devils having missed out on the big stage the last three seasons, there will obviously be extra motivation, particularly for the Class of 2018. But there will also be added pressure knowing that regardless of what happens, their careers will come to an end by Monday.

"No matter what, we’ve got two more practices left on this field and you can’t take anything for granted," Guterding said Wednesday. "Our senior class hasn’t been there before, so there really wasn’t that much pressure [last weekend] and I don’t think there’s much pressure now. It’s the Final Four and anything can happen."

Regardless, Guterding will go down as all-time Duke great. Yet Jordan Wolf, Ned Crotty, C.J. Costabile, Myles Jones—a few of the Blue Devils' best—have all had their chance to lift that trophy and call themselves national champions.

The question remains whether the man they call Gutty can do the same.

"We love him and he's our guy," Danowski said.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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