Duke scored four goals in the first eight minutes Sunday and never looked back.
The top-ranked Blue Devils notched their sixth consecutive win to begin the season with a 13-6 clinic at No. 16 Richmond, the second ranked team Duke has played this year and first since the Blue Devils’ season-opening 12-10 win against then-No. 7 Denver. While Duke has turned in dominating performances almost like clockwork throughout the season, these tougher opponents truly show what the team is capable of.
“Today was very workmanlike against a very well-coached, sound team on both the offensive and defensive ends,” head coach John Danowski said. “They have a plan…they’re very well prepared. And it was a good team win.”
With quick goals from Nakeie Montgomery, Brennan O’Neill, Joe Robertson and Owen Caputo to start the first half, Duke (6-0) had a cushion going into the rest of the game as Richmond’s defense and offense tightened up.
It all started when Montgomery received a feed down low from graduate transfer Michael Sowers and ripped the first shot on net. Montgomery has been absolutely deadly this season when he comes in close to the goal, with his .556 shooting percentage and .889 shots on goal percentage both being the highest of any Blue Devil with more than 10 shots.
True to form, Sowers led the team in goals, assists and shots, with three, two and nine, respectively. Not only has he been exceptional on an individual level all season, but with every game his chemistry with fellow starting attackmen Robertson and O’Neill grows.
Although the offense may have garnered most of the attention, Duke’s biggest asset Sunday had to have been goalie Mike Adler. The Spiders proved to be a formidable offensive threat, posting 21 shots on goal and nearly matching the Blue Devils’ Jake Naso at the X in face-off wins.
But Adler, in his first 60-minute game, made a season-high 15 saves to keep Duke in control.
However, the Blue Devils still have a ways to go in solidifying their system and integrating new pieces. With a young defensive core and no active players from the 2020 season starting at attack, the team is still ironing out the kinks.
“I thought that in the second half, we might have gotten a little bit selfish…and held the ball a little bit too long. Richmond does a good job of mixing up man and zone…and I think it's a great learning opportunity for our young team,” Danowski said of Richmond’s tight formations and dynamic strategy while playing defense. “And I think that it's only gonna help us get better down the road to see that much zone over the course of 60 minutes.”
Overall, Duke continued to show Sunday why it’s been sitting at the top of the rankings since the preseason, and will look to do the same when it hosts No. 19 High Point Wednesday.
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Sasha Richie is a Trinity senior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.