Panthers are some of nature’s best hunters, but it was the Blue Devils doing the hunting Tuesday night.
No. 7 Duke put High Point to the sword under the lights at Koskinen Stadium, riding a first-half slaughter to an eventual 20-8 steamrolling. Head coach John Danowski put his team’s attacking talent on full display, organizing a ruthless brigade that spells bad news for opposing defenses later this spring.
The second half by comparison was a bit subdued, but the first half was frenetic.
The Blue Devils (2-0) found their first lead of the game just under six minutes into the first half, when sophomore midfielder-turned-attackman Andrew McAdorey wheeled his way to the crease before smartly slotting the ball past a helpless Parker Green in the Panthers’ net. McAdorey was once again a firecracker in Danowski’s attacking setup, building on his three-goal, two-assist pestering of Bellarmine over the weekend with six total points by the final whistle.
Early in the second quarter, McAdorey weaved his way past High Point’s entire defensive line to square him up eye-to-eye with the Panther goal, squeezing a precise bouncer low over the line. For a player whose Padawan phase saw him dominate ACC midfields as a 5-foot-9 freshman, McAdorey’s transition to the goal-scoring scene has been seamless and scintillating.
Elsewhere across the forward line, senior Dyson Williams once again proved that despite the pair of No. 1-overall recruits bookending him, he might just be Danowski’s attacking lynch pin. The Canadian had a hat trick by the close of the first quarter, a sock trick by halftime and made a series of tough shots against an up-to-task Green look easy as pie.
“Dyson (Williams) has a knack around the goal,” Danowski said. “We kid around and say from where he shoots from, he could have had nine or 10 today.”
Of the seven goals he had by game’s end—the tally tied a career high—Williams’ best was perhaps his least flashy. Halfway through the second period, Owen Caputo found an alley for a quick snipe to Williams, who immediately parried the catch toward and into the goal. Another impressive make came in the fourth quarter, when he jumped across the crease and laid the ball in as he fell to turf. His most important, however, was goal number five: a one-handed whip past the goalie that put him in the centurion club.
Junior attackman Brennan O’Neill became the fastest-ever Blue Devil to achieve the 100-goal feat last weekend. Now, Williams joins elite company alongside just 22 other Duke players.
“It's a cool feeling,” Williams said. “Obviously, this program, there's a lot of great players that have gone through it and it's cool to be part of that, but I'm more worried about the boys winning. Obviously tonight went our way so I couldn't be happier.”
“The other day against Bellarmine, Dyson scored a right-hand goal behind his back. He never would have done that two years ago. Never,” Danowski said of Williams’ development across his time at Duke.
“They’re such high-character people,” Danowski added of his two centurions. “You wouldn't want to be around anybody else but these guys. That's the first thing that always hits you when you mention both of their names.”
Duke found plenty of goals from plenty of players throughout the evening. O’Neill, Williams and McAdorey took their turns celebrating, as they often do, but senior midfielder Aidan Danenza, freshman midfielder Charles Balsamo, graduate midfielder Garrett Leadmon, junior midfielder Charlie O’Connor and junior FOGO Jake Naso joined in on the fun.
Naso was particularly lethal. Capitalizing on loose ground balls, Naso twice punished High Point’s error, twice elected to take the ball himself and twice caught the Panther defense off-guard, calmly slotting the ball home to extend Duke’s buffer.
Despite the eventual goal-scoring fun fest for the Blue Devils, less fun for them was High Point’s early persistence to make them work for the win.
Duke’s revamped defense held firm early on, but buckled as High Point’s Jack VanOverbeke took Williams’ close-range shot back the other way for a quick score. Leadmon—who logged a brace against the Knights—quickly avenged the error, putting the Blue Devils back on level footing with a fine finish into the right side of the net from 10 yards out. The Panthers (0-1) continued to paw at their opponents, turning an early 4-1 Duke lead to 4-3 before allowing an unanswered eight-point onslaught to close the first half.
In fact, High Point did not score at all between the 4:40 mark in the first quarter and nearly a half hour later, with 7:51 to go in the third.
“Maybe the first little bit of the first quarter we kind of let them determine the pace of the game, but then we kind of flipped a switch and we took over,” Williams said. “And from there it was our game to win.”
An offense is only as good as the defense supporting it. Fortunately for the Blue Devil faithful, this does not seem to be a problem in this season’s nascent stages.
Graduate transfer goalie William Helm looked assured in cage, regularly sweeping outside the crease to help his defenders out when High Point surged forward. One moment late in the second quarter comes to mind, when Helm leapt toward the sideline to intercept a down-field lob, tiptoe to keep himself in play and send the ball back for a score a few moments later. Helm was replaced by graduate Andrew Bonafede to rest with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The victory moves Danowski and company to 2-0 heading into a Saturday noon affair with Jacksonville in the Sunshine State, hoping for revenge on last year’s derailing home defeat.
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Andrew Long is a Trinity sophomore and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.