It took 63 minutes and 29 seconds, but amid the chaos of bonus lacrosse, Duke emerged victorious.
The third-ranked Blue Devils earned a 10-9 overtime victory against Marquette in their regular season finale. A dramatic goal from senior midfielder Brad Smith with just 31.2 seconds remaining in the first overtime period clinched the game, played at Bethpage High School in N.Y., the victory likely earned Duke a home game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The contest was one of body blows, and marked the Blue Devils’ third one-goal game this season, with Duke (11-3) going taking two of three such contests. Neither team was able to wrest more than a one-goal lead as the game was marked routinely with three-minute long scoreless stretches. The Blue Devils just proved sharper on the defensive end, holding their opponent under 10 goals for a staggering tenth time this season.
Senior midfielder John Prendergast started the proceedings for both teams, scoring just 15 seconds into the contest off an assist from Joey Manown, but the Golden Eagles (6-7) would answer thanks to a solo effort by Bob Pelton a minute later. Though the Blue Devils would string together two consecutive goals from Smith and graduate student midfielder Jake Seau, Marquette's senior attackman John Wagner would score two straight goals to match them. Wagner, an Ontario native, carved Duke up with five goals, and his consecutive tallies five minutes apart closed the first quarter at 3-3.
The Blue Devils would open the second frame with a deficit, as a penalty from Jack Falk gave the Golden Eagles a man-up opportunity they capitalized on with a Connor McClelland goal. The assist man on the effort, Tanner Thomson, would notch his second dime of three on the day. Duke countered with goals from Seau and sophomore dynamo Nakeie Montgomery, who put his first and only goal away with 10 seconds remaining in the half to put the Blue Devils up 5-4 heading into the locker room.
That halftime lead would only last a minute, when Pelton went unassisted again to beat goalkeeper Turner Uppgren, who had 11 saves for Duke. Manown and sophomore attackman Joe Robertson would give the Blue Devils a 7-5 lead with a pair of goals two and a half minutes apart but Wagner would strike again, scoring two in a row for Marquette in the span of 48 seconds. With his goal, Robertson extended his point streak to 25 games in a row. CJ Carpenter would strike with three seconds to play in the third quarter to give Duke a narrow 8-7 lead heading into the final 15 minutes of regulation.
The back-and-forth action was due to both sides’ inability to take care of the ball and a contested battle at the faceoff X. The Blue Devils had 20 turnovers on the game and 12 in the second and third quarters alone, displaying a worrying tendency heading into tournament play, where possessions become increasingly valuable. Further concern should be attributed to the fact that nine turnovers were unforced. Fortunately, that was made up for on the defensive end where seven caused turnovers and nine unforced turnovers from the Golden Eagles kept things close. Defensive midfielder Terry Lindsay had a team high two caused turnovers to go with two ground balls. As usual, All-American defenseman Cade Van Raaphorst was a vacuum, sucking up eight ground balls and causing a turnover.
On the draw, junior Brian Smyth battled his way to a 5-of-11 effort on the faceoff, but Duke head coach John Danowski seemed determined to find an answer for Marquette at the spot, throwing Smith, Peter Welch and freshman Jordan Ginder out to take faceoffs. Though Smith and Welch would combine to finish 1-of-3, Ginder excelled, winning critical draws in the fourth quarter and overtime in a 6-of-8 performance.
Coming into the final quarter, Duke’s lead would be erased quickly again, as Wagner struck on a dish from Thomson to tie the game again at eight apiece before the Golden Eagles took their second and final lead of the game. Despite being silenced for the entirety of the game, Andrew Romagnoli grabbed an assist from Jack Zerrillo and slotted it past Uppgren to make the score 9-8 in favor of Marquette with 10:34 remaining.
Just three minutes later, Carpenter would go solo again and tie the game, paving the way for a wild finish. For the remaining seven minutes, neither team could find a decisive score. With a little over two minutes remaining, the Blue Devils managed to force a shot clock violation to give them the ball back on offense with 1:16 left to play, but they could not find the net despite putting up a few shots.
In overtime, a 28-second long faceoff and subsequent chase left Marquette with the ball as Duke managed to win the draw but gave it up on a turnover. The Golden Eagles all but exhausted their 80-second shot clock, giving the ball back to the Blue Devils before a careless offsides turnover gave Marquette the ball right back. The Golden Eagles responded in kind, going offsides themselves to put Duke on offense with 1:35 remaining in the sudden-death overtime period. One minute later, the senior captain Smith took a skip pass from Montgomery and beat Marquette goalkeeper John Hulsman low to win it.
The Blue Devils will suit up next on April 27 in Chapel Hill for the ACC Tournament. Following the Notre Dame win against North Carolina, Duke will be the No. 2 seed, taking on the Fighting Irish at 4:30 for a berth in the ACC title game.
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