Danowski gets 250th win as Duke men’s lacrosse stymies Boston University behind Johnston, O'Neill's hat tricks

Brennan O'Neill contributed a hat trick against Boston University.
Brennan O'Neill contributed a hat trick against Boston University.

Three-and-a-half weeks ago, Duke faced Penn under heavy rain, falling to the Quakers 14-12. As the clouds opened Wednesday afternoon and brought rain to Koskinen Stadium, it looked as if the fifth-ranked Blue Devils might fall again, this time with No. 17 Boston University in town.

After the Terriers tied the game at 10 with six minutes left, it was clear something different was necessary for Duke to get the win. As the clock ticked under three minutes, the Blue Devils cleared the ball after a Patrick Jameison save before a set play, organized by assistant coach Matt Danowski, worked to perfection. 

Andrew McAdorey made a run before switching the ball to the other side of the field to the pocket of Benn Johnston. The freshman midfielder took one step before firing a missile to the upper corner to put Duke up for good, 11-10. 

“I think, offensively at least, we were just trying to play our game, handle the ball in the tough conditions, and just make plays in the big moments,” Johnston said. 

The win came following a quick turnaround for the Blue Devils (10-2, 0-1 in the ACC), who faced Denver Sunday, leaving them with just one full day of preparation before Wednesday’s game. 

“It is going to really be this win today, under the conditions, with one day to prepare, that is going to help us down the road,” head coach John Danowski said. 

But to get that win, it took grit and consistent effort on all sides of the ball. 

The Terriers (6-3) put the pressure on early, scoring just 84 seconds into the game off their first shot attempt. 

The Blue Devils responded well with three straight shot attempts of their own, all misses. But once Boston University finally cleared, it took advantage once again as Jimmy Kohr netted his second goal of the year to put the Terriers up 2-0 four minutes in. 

Down but not out, senior FOGO Jake Naso won the faceoff for Duke and passed it back to Jameison, who launched it down the field to Brennan O’Neill. Wide open, the senior attackman worked around one defender before firing in a rocket for the Blue Devils’ first goal of the day, and number 34 on the year for number 34. 

Duke tied the game at 3-3 early in the second quarter before taking its first lead of the game after graduate student Dyson Williams’ second goal. While the Terriers never led again, they tied it four times. 

“To repeat the phrase of [Duke women’s basketball head] coach [Kara] Lawson, we have to handle hard better,” Danowski said. “We have to learn that it’s not gonna be easy. Every opponent wants to win as much as we do.” 

Boston University shot more accurately, landing nearly the same number of shots on goal (21 to 25) as Duke on nine fewer attempts. But it was the Blue Devils using other means of offense that ultimately helped them get the win. 

“We scored off the ride twice. We scored off the faceoff, we scored twice with an extra man,” Danowski said. “Of course, every goal was important.” 

Wednesday’s win comes with some weight for the program, which closed out the non-conference slate with a win and aggregate 3-2 record against ranked foes. More notably, though, it was Danowski’s 250th at the helm of Duke.

“Being at Duke has changed my life. It's made me a better person, it's made me a better teacher,” Danowski said. “I've learned from so many people here. I'm just very grateful that I've had the opportunity to serve here as the coach.” 

His quest for number 251 starts next Sunday as top-ranked Notre Dame comes to Koskinen. 

“We just have to play aggressive, help each other, communicate, and keep playing our game,” Johnston said. “There’s no one who can beat us in the country when we play our game.”


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