Duke men's lacrosse's second-half surge not enough in loss to Loyola

Sophomore attacker Brennan O'Neill scored four goals in Duke's loss to Loyola.
Sophomore attacker Brennan O'Neill scored four goals in Duke's loss to Loyola.

To paraphrase the great Michael Jordan, the Blue Devils didn’t so much lose Sunday’s game as they just ran out of time. 

In a rematch of last season’s dramatic Elite Eight matchup, then-No. 8 Duke fell 12-10 on the road Sunday against Loyola as the clock ran out on a furious Blue Devil comeback bid in the latter half of the fourth quarter. The Greyhounds, led by graduate student Kevin Lindley’s six goals and seven first-half points, raced out to a 10-2 halftime lead before Duke scored the final seven goals of the game. Still, the home side managed to hang on to send the Blue Devils back to Durham empty-handed in their penultimate nonconference game.

With time ticking down in the fourth quarter and the Blue Devils (7-3) trailing 12-5, junior midfielder Jadon Kerry came off of the bench to give Duke a quick goal, igniting a flurry of scoring. Three straight Blue Devils scored their first goals of the season in just over two minutes, bringing the deficit to four with 2:29 to play. In a game that seemed to be over just moments earlier, Duke had found new life.

Loyola (2-4) tightened the defense down the stretch, however, and even as Duke’s offense continued to find success—graduate attacker Joe Robertson and O’Neill scored in succession to make it 12-10 with 32 seconds on the clock—the game came to an end with the Blue Devils on the wrong side of the score. Freshman Andrew McAdorey was swarmed by defenders on his last-gasp burst towards the net, effectively rendering Duke’s valiant comeback attempt incomplete.

It was Loyola’s second-quarter outburst, though, that gave the Greyhounds complete control of the game early on. With Duke threatening to cut into Loyola’s 4-2 lead even further, Lindley took over with an otherworldly offensive display: Eight seconds after polishing off his hat trick, the all-time leading goal-scorer in Loyola program history added another. By halftime, Lindley had already compiled all seven of his points for the day and given his team a comfortable lead.

With 30 minutes down and 30 left to play, most every part of the stat sheet was skewed in Loyola’s favor. The Greyhounds used advantages in the faceoff, turnover, shots and ground ball categories to dominate the first two quarters.

A particularly bright spot for the Blue Devils in the first half, and especially in a short spurt during the first quarter, was O’Neill. The sophomore and reigning ACC Freshman of the Year took matters into his own hands with Duke trailing 4-0, scoring two goals separated by just 15 seconds to cut Loyola’s lead in half. The talented attacker seemed to shift the momentum of the game right then and there, even if Lindley and the Greyhounds would seize it right back to open the second quarter.

It was by no means Duke’s best scoring day, but O’Neill still managed to tally four goals for his fifth game of the year with at least three goals.

On the defensive side, the Blue Devils yielded a season-high 45 shots, leaving veteran goalie Mike Adler to shoulder much of the load. Adler performed admirably with 13 saves, but the Greyhounds’ sheer offensive volume made his job Sunday an undesirable one, at best. 

Adler and O’Neill combined at the end of the first half to give Duke a much-needed opportunity, with the goalie slinging it up the field toward his teammate. O’Neill managed to draw the foul as time expired, giving the Blue Devils a much-needed opportunity heading into the third quarter. That man-up possession ended in a turnover, though, and Duke took time to ignite its comeback in the second half.

This most recent chapter between Duke and Loyola comes with some recent history, as the Blue Devils snuck past the Greyhounds 10-9 to reach the Final Four in 2021 behind Robertson’s always-reliable overtime heroics. That rivalry had been fairly one-sided in recent years before Sunday, as the Blue Devils had won each matchup since 2016.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, Sunday’s matchup was pushed back a day by inclement weather in the area.

Duke travels to Towson Saturday for its final nonconference game of the year. The 6 p.m. matchup will be the second game of a four-game road spurt for the Blue Devils.

Editor's note: The Chronicle reached out to a team spokesperson to interview head coach John Danowski about the game. The team spokesperson did not set up an interview in time for publication. 

Jonathan Levitan

Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity senior and was previously sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


Share and discuss “Duke men's lacrosse's second-half surge not enough in loss to Loyola ” on social media.