Leading into Saturday's Final Four matchup, spirits within head coach John Danowski's team are high.
On Thursday, eight Blue Devils were recognized for exceptional seasons with a slew of national awards. Junior attacker Brennan O'Neill highlighted the group by winning the Lt. Raymond J. Enners Outstanding Player of the Year Award and securing a spot on the All-American first team, joined by junior FOGO Jake Naso and senior defender Kenny Brower. Senior long-stick midfielder Tyler Carpenter and graduate midfielder Garrett Leadmon secured spots on the All-American third team, while senior attacker Dyson Williams, graduate defender Wilson Stephenson and sophomore attacker Andrew McAdorey earned honorable mention honors to round out the group.
O'Neill, one of three Tewaaraton Award finalists still playing, has dominated the opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament, sitting at 91 total points on the year. The mark is a career-high for the Bay Shore, N.Y., native and slots him in as only the fifth Blue Devil to ever exceed 90 points in a season. Despite his 51 goals, the most noticeable uptick in O'Neill's game has been his assist numbers, sitting at a team-leading 40, 17 ahead of McAdorey in second. O'Neill's 5.35 points per game is second nationally to only CJ Kirst of Cornell, and ahead of fellow Tewaaraton hopefuls Pat Kavanagh and Connor Shellenberger in third and fourth, respectively.
Naso leads the ACC in face-off percentage with an astounding 62.9% success rate from the dot, dipping below 50% in just one game all year, while Brower has been repeatedly tasked with marking opponents' No. 1 attackman, losing the battle just twice in regular-season defeats to Jacksonville and Notre Dame. Naso has taken all but 39 faceoffs in 2023, while Brower has started every game of his Duke career.
Carpenter and Leadmon have impressed with their tenacity in the midfield, with the former's eye for loose ground balls an invaluable asset in close games and the latter's penchant for a missile from distance a useful tool in breaking down tight defenses. Williams' 57 goals lead the Blue Devils and put him eighth nationally in goals per game, McAdorey's 36 goals and 23 assists prove that he is the versatile linchpin in Duke's attack and Stephenson, a team captain, has stood firm alongside Brower to create one of the nation's toughest lock-down defenses.
Just two games separate this crop of Blue Devils from a fourth national title — a Saturday noon date with No. 5-seed Penn State to set up a Monday clash against one of Virginia or Notre Dame.
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Andrew Long is a Trinity sophomore and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.