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Duke men's lacrosse rebounds with seven-goal victory at Jacksonville

<p>Sophomore Joe Robertson dominated the faceoff X in Duke's victory against Jacksonville.</p>

Sophomore Joe Robertson dominated the faceoff X in Duke's victory against Jacksonville.

Just a few days after a deflating home loss, Duke got back to its winning ways on the road in Jacksonville. 

After Wednesday night’s upset against High Point, the No. 2 Blue Devils trekked down to the panhandle to take on the unranked Dolphins and found that they did not have to squeak by, etching a 15-8 victory. 

Powered by five goals from sophomore attackman Joe Robertson and a dominant 17-of-23 performance at the faceoff X from classmate Brian Smyth, Duke managed to shut down the Jacksonville offense for the final 22 minutes of the game, holding its opponent scoreless over the final quarter and a half. 

“[It took] a lot of hard work and determination, especially by our offense,” Smyth said to GoDuke.com following the game. “I just tried to get them the ball and let them do their thing. Our D played really hard and kept us in the game, so I thought that was really important.”

The Dolphins opened the scoring with a man-up goal from Jack Dolan after nearly seven minutes of scoreless action from both sides before Naekie Montgomery answered for the Blue Devils (2-1), taking an unassisted shot to knot the game up early. Though Jacksonville (0-2) would grab another goal to take its last lead of the game with 2:31 remaining in the first quarter thanks to midfielder Evan Tyler, Duke answered and answered fast. 

Just 13 seconds later, Smyth won the draw forward and tore all the way down the field, beating Dolphin goalkeeper Hunter Sells and starting a run of four goals in just over two minutes for the away team. Duke played make-it-take-it for the waning moments of the first quarter, adding goals from John Prendergast, Joey Manown and Robertson to take a 5-2 lead at the end of the first 15 minutes of play. 

Jacksonville broke through in the second quarter, going on a nearly quarter-long run that brought the score level at 5-5. The Dolphins found the back of the net by way of two scores from Tyler and a tally from Bo BowHunter. Manown would respond for the Blue Devils to stem the run, getting an unassisted score to give his side a one-goal lead with less than a minute remaining in the half. Eric Applegate, who had two assists in addition to his one goal, tied the contest a 6-6 with 17 seconds remaining in the half, and both teams went into halftime having seen pronounced runs from the other. 

The difference came after the break, when Duke roared out of the locker room. The defense dominated, holding the Dolphins scoreless for 10 minutes of the third quarter while allowing the offense to put up three straight goals from Manown, Smyth and graduate student Jake Seau. 

“[The key in the second half] was just communication,” Blue Devil senior defenseman Cade Van Raaphorst said to GoDuke.com “From the start, just trusting our gameplan, our coaches and what they put in place for us. We just had to execute. We had to slide to our short sticks and win matchups with our poles.”

Though Jack Pucci and Troy Hettinger got Jacksonville within striking distance with a pair of goals to trim the score to 9-8 in favor of Duke, the defense once again shut the door on the Dolphins, stymying the home team for nearly 20 minutes to close the game. 

All the while, Robertson took control. With Smyth winning faceoffs with ease, Robertson, a sophomore attackman by way of Salem, Va., scored four of the Blue Devils’ last six goals. Junior Reilly Walsh got the last scoring run started with a goal assisted by Robertson. Walsh then proceeded to assist on goals by Robertson and junior Kevin Quigley. Manown, who had his fingerprints all over this game as well, added the final dish to Robertson for the goal that put Duke up 15-8 and capped off a 6-0 tear that ended the matchup. 

The Blue Devils return home for their next game, taking on No. 8 Denver on Saturday in the confines of Koskinen Stadium. 

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