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Duke men's lacrosse takes down No. 16 Richmond

<p>Nakeie Montgomery was a key contributor Friday.</p>

Nakeie Montgomery was a key contributor Friday.

Duke likely won’t get a chance for revenge against High Point after its loss to the Panthers earlier this season, but in their victory Friday night against another member of the Southern Conference, the Blue Devils demonstrated for the third game in a row they are putting that humbling defeat far in the rearview mirror.

Playing amid a what was at times a full-on downpour, No. 6 Duke used a strong fourth quarter to grind out a hard-fought 11-7 win on the road against No. 16 Richmond and end the Spiders’ 11-game home winning streak. The game was knotted at four goals apiece at the half, but the Blue Devils shut out their hosts in the final period of play while dancing around the puddles on other end of the turf enough to score three goals to put the game away. 

It was truly a game of two halves for Duke, as they turned the ball over just four times in the second half after coughing it up nine times in the first. The Blue Devils also poured it in on offense, firing 28 shots after the break compared to just 16 in the first two quarters.

"We thought in the first half we had a lot of good looks, we just didn't make them,” said Duke head coach John Danowski. “Sometimes you want to give the goalie credit, but I thought that it was bunch of shots that you'd like to have back. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the shaft of the stick slipping in the gloves, maybe it was the pockets, who knows, but it was a game [where] you’re going to have to fight through those things; both teams were going to have to fight through them. I think one of the neat things about this win is there was some adversity with the weather and the guys really fought through that so I’m really proud of them.”

But although the Blue Devils (5-1) were able to finish strong, the game initially got off to a shaky start, as Richmond scored off the opening draw and found the net twice more in the first three minutes of the game to put Duke in an early 3-0 hole. After the Spiders’ third goal, Danowski yanked starting goalie Turner Uppgren from the game in favor of David McCann, who had played just 7:38 this season until that point. 

“Changing goalies is always so difficult because you earn your spot during the week, but those first three [goals] just looked so easy and Turner just didn't have it tonight,” said Danowski. He's still our starting goalie, and he'll be our starting goalie Thursday night, but [I’m also] really proud of David McCann who's a senior, a walk-on, who came in cold—I'm sure he didn't expect to go in right away—made eight saves and really played terrific and gave the team a huge lift.”

The move seemed to be effective, as Richmond (3-2) was held scoreless the rest of the quarter, giving the Blue Devils a chance to claw their way back into the game. Brad Smith finally got things going offensively with his fifth goal of the season just under four minutes into the contest, sparking a 3-0 run to close out the quarter and knot the game up heading into the second period. McCann would finish the game with eight saves. 

After several flurries of goals in the first quarter, the pace slowed to a crawl in the second quarter, as neither team had much success operating on the offensive end. Nakeie Montgomery continued Duke’s run, however, to give the Blue Devils a brief-4-3 lead and quiet the Richmond fans who braved the weather in hopes of seeing their team knock off Duke after narrowly missing an upset chance in 2017 the last time the teams met. 

“This is our third game in the rain already and its only March 1st, so it's something that you get used to, something you just have to embrace,” said Danowski. “[It’s] not easy for the players, not easy for the fans, but give Richmond a lot of credit—great crowd tonight, very boisterous, they were really behind their school and that was very impressive.”

Montgomery’s goal looked like it would be the only score of the period as the clock wound down towards halftime, but the Spiders were able to finally break through and capitalize on one last play before the break. Ryan Lanchbury, Richmond’s leading scorer, drew the attention of the Duke defense as he controlled the ball fifteen yards out from the goal, and was able to find Tyler Shoults for an open look with 12.6 seconds remaining in the first half to knot the game at four. 

Coming out of the locker rooms, the Blue Devils began pressing up on the Spiders and picking them up at midfield, causing some confusion before Richmond broke through and retook the lead on a beautiful play from Teddy Hatfield crossing directly in front of the net. Hatfield traded goals with Duke over the next several minutes to push the score to 6-6 with 7:33 remaining in the quarter before Smith scored his third goal of the game less than a minute to give the Blue Devils a lead they wouldn’t give up. 

In the fourth quarter, Duke’s defense took over, and ultimately held the Spiders scoreless for the final 17:56 of the game. Montgomery added another tally to push the lead to two, and Joe Robertson put the finishing touches on a hat trick of his own to seal the win. Robertson also extended his point and goal scoring streak to 17 games stretching back to March 24, 2018. 

“We certainly missed [midfielder] John Prendergast tonight, who was out, and so some guys had to play a little bit more. We all thought, the whole coaching staff, that Terry Lindsay was terrific, and Jack Falk, those two especially stood out,” Danowski said. “[And] those two guys down low Cade [Van Raaphorst] and JT [Giles-Harris] look like veteran players down there and are the two guys who certainly stand out. 

For the Blue Devils, the win meant getting past the first of five ranked opponents it will face in the month of March. Duke will have nearly a week to rest, though, before taking on No. 1 Loyola next Thursday back in Durham. 


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