Under heavy rain, No. 1 Duke men's lacrosse slips up against No. 17 Penn, loses for first time this season

Aidan Danenza scored a fourth-quarter hat trick to give Duke some hope of. comeback against Penn.
Aidan Danenza scored a fourth-quarter hat trick to give Duke some hope of. comeback against Penn.

Despite what their name suggests, the Quakers brought everything but peace to Koskinen stadium Friday night. 

In a sloppy game, No. 17 Penn overcame the rain and field conditions and utilized strong defending and quick transition offense to get the best of the top-ranked Blue Devils 14-12. 

“Penn was excited, they saw an opportunity. And I think our guys were just on our heels,” said Duke head coach John Danowski postgame. 

Entering the fourth quarter down 11-7, it was clear Duke (4-1) was going to need a miracle to pull out a win. It started well with a clear before a shot by Max Sloat, but Penn goalie Emmet Carroll was there with another stop. 

After a clear, Duke maintained possession before senior midfielder Aidan Danenza wrapped around the back and got just outside the crease before bouncing a shot around Carroll, bringing the Blue Devils within three again. 

A 30-second hold on Kenny Brower, and a one-minute unsportsmanlike on Keith Boyer sent two into the box with 10:39 left. Penn (3-1) capitalized off the opportunity and the box cleared for Duke, but the Blue Devils were back down by four. 

The rain picked up, further adding to the drama of the evening. Penn won the faceoff, but long-stick midfielder Tyler Carpenter knocked it out. With 3:10 left, Danenza shook off a defender and ripped in a shot; 13-10. A mere 30 seconds later, he scored again — a hat trick for the senior. 13-11 Duke. 

With 2:11 left, Danenza, wide open in the middle, received a pass from graduate attacker Josh Zawada and scored his fourth of the day, bringing Duke within one with 1:25 remaining. Penn called its first timeout of the half. 

Duke subbed in William Helm in goal and played him outside the crease — which proved to be a costly decision, as James Shipley tossed in another Quaker goal with 51 seconds remaining for the sucker punch. 

From the first whistle, it was clear the Quakers brought another level of energy and physicality Duke hadn’t seen yet this season. Both teams had two shots through the first three minutes, and Carroll had multiple saves early, including a big stop of senior attackman Brennan O’Neill. 

The first goal was scored at the 9:26 mark in the first quarter, when junior midfielder Andrew McAdorey went on a solo run, evading two defenders before rifling a shot in the back of the net to put the Blue Devils on the board. 

But the Quakers’ response was immediate. Off a clear, Duke was caught flat-footed as Ben Smith found Anthony McMullan wide open in front of the goal for an easy netting to tie it up. 

The back-and-forth battle continued through the first half, which ended with Penn up 7-5. The Blue Devils played relatively cleanly through the first 20 minutes, with zero penalties and only five turnovers. Despite this, the Quakers swiped through the Duke defense frequently, playing hard off the counterattack and clearing the ball well. Penn’s pace of play and energy flowed all night, and the Blue Devils simply couldn’t match it.  

“Tip your cap to your opponent — goalie is making some saves, [we] don't win some face offs in the second quarter. They're doing a good job riding us, defensively we only gave up three goals in the box in the first 30 minutes,” Danowski said. “So we were playing well defensively. But [we] gave up seven.” 

Senior FOGO Jake Naso lost the opening faceoff of the second half and Carpenter was called for a trip, sending a Duke player to the box for the first time. While a man up, Penn got off two shots before a third, a close rip off an inside sneak by Tynan Walsh found the back of the net, put the Quakers up 8-5 as the time on Carpenter’s penalty expired. 

The three-goal lead didn’t hold for long, though, as 45 seconds after a faceoff win by Naso, McAdorey found Max Sloat for his seventh goal of the year. But as Penn soon scored again, it was clear that the Blue Devils’ problems clearing the ball would linger throughout the night.

Playing from behind is new to Duke this year and it showed in the second half, as the Blue Devils looked to be along for Penn’s ride. The Quakers scored again with 8:47 left in the third, going up 10-6. Passing the ball around with ease, Luke DiNola found Walsh again wide open a step outside the crease for the team’s 10th goal. 

O’Neill tried to dig the Blue Devils out of their hole. The senior received a pass from Zawada from behind the net before using a strong move to his left and dumping the ball behind Carroll for his first goal of the night. 

But that was it, and the senior fell back into the shadows for the rest of the game. 

“Brennan is such a team person that defers so much. Every time that somebody checks a stick [on him], or somebody makes a play, the crowd goes nuts,” Danowski said. “I think our guys were very aware of that, and he didn't get going early.”

The Quakers played physically, especially in the second half, and the wet grass did no aid to either team.

Following a miss by Zawada, Dyson Williams got sent to the box for Duke for unsportsmanlike conduct. A man up, Penn didn’t squander the opportunity, as DiNola sent a missile past Patrick Jameison for his third netting of the night, putting the Quakers up by four. 

Jameison played well throughout, but unfortunately for the Blue Devils, so did Carroll. The Quaker keeper had a whopping 17 saves, including several in the first half that kept Duke from leading and, later, from coming back completely. 

“In many ways, a loss is a good thing early in the year,” Danowski said. “It's good to lose early to find out in these tough games, what are you made of? And what do you need to work on?”

The Blue Devils look to answer those questions and rebound in another bout against an Ivy League opponent as Princeton comes to town Sunday afternoon. First whistle is set for 12 p.m. in Koskinen Stadium. 


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