The start to any season can bring a lot of excitement to a team, but to a program eagerly wanting to move on from a devastating loss in last year’s national championship, a commanding win in the season opener for your head coach's milestone victory means a whole lot more.
The No. 2 Blue Devils were able to ride an assertive spurt during the second and third quarters to gain their first win of the year against Furman Saturday night in Greenville, S.C. The win marked the 400th career victory for John Danowski in his 36th season as a collegiate head coach.
“I thought our guys were really excited to play,” Danowski told GoDuke.com. “It was a beautiful day today here in South Carolina. It was a nice crowd and a terrific opponent.”
Searching for new leadership after the departure of All-American Justin Guterding, Duke may have found it in sophomore Joe Robertson, who tallied four goals and an assist on the night. He was aided on the night with hat tricks from both sophomore Cam Badour and senior C.J. Carpenter, who missed all of last season due to injury.
It was a slow start for the Danowski’s squad, as they found themselves only up 6-4 over the unranked Paladins with the first half coming to a close. It was Carpenter and Badour, however, who scored back to back goals in just 31 seconds to put Duke up four. Furman would answer when Carson Sorrells made a strong drive to the net and finished through a penalty, but the Blue Devils would fire right back, as Nakeie Montgomery—a star of last year’s title game run—sent a beautiful cross crease pass to Robertson to finish off an easy goal.
“I thought Cam Badour really handled himself very well. Certainly scoring three goals is terrific and there’s much room for improvement,” Danowski said.
Duke (1-0) would go on to score the first five goals of the third quarter to put the visitors up 14-5 and effectively end the game. The Paladins would go on to score three straight of their own, but Robertson ended any hope with a bounce shot that just snuck in the top left corner over the stick of goalie Alec Van de Bovenkamp.
“I was really blown away a little bit by the pace of the game,” Danowksi noted. “Both teams played so hard for a February 2nd game. I was very impressed with Furman, with their size, how they came after us. But, very impressed with our ability to move the ball on offense and come up with some timely stops.”
Furman (0-1) was led by Sorrells and senior William Holcomb, who each had two goals, but failed to spark their team when it mattered most. The Paladins did not convert any of their three extra man situations, and despite keeping it close in the first half, were outshot 28 to 12 over the first two periods.
Out of the 400 wins for Danowski, 181 of them have come in Durham since he took over in 2007. The three time national champion has also coached at C.W. Post and Hofstra, where he spent 20 years. Danowski is just the third head coach to reach the 400 win plateau over all collegiate divisions.
“I’m very blessed to be in an occupation where I really don’t have to go to work. It’s been a thrill to work with young men, whether it was at C.W. Post, or at Hofstra, or here at Duke. I’ve been very lucky along the way and to work with some great men,” Danowski acknowledged.
The Blue Devils will return to Koskinen Stadium for their home opener when they welcome High Point Wednesday. Then, all eyes will shift to a pivotal matchup with No. 8 Denver a week later at home.
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