Big first quarter pushes Duke men’s lacrosse past Utah, into NCAA quarterfinals

Senior attack Brennan O'Neill attacks the defense in Duke's NCAA tournament win against Utah.
Senior attack Brennan O'Neill attacks the defense in Duke's NCAA tournament win against Utah.

Last week, after a fast start propelled Duke to an ACC tournament victory over Syracuse, head coach John Danowski said “we hope we do that every week.”

That wish came true on Saturday, as a seven-goal first quarter paved the way for a 19-7 victory over Utah in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Five attack goals from senior Dyson Williams and four from graduate Josh Zawada, along with 11 saves by freshman Patrick Jameison powered the Blue Devils, who will advance to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments.

It was the Utes who went up first, though, and an opening faceoff win led to three early shots before Duke (13-5, 1-3 in the ACC) ever got the ball. 

Zawada finally got a shot off for the Blue Devils, but it was saved by Utah’s Colin Lenskold. Back with the ball on the other end, senior attack Tyler Bradbury was left wide open in front of the crease off of a missed defensive communication. He dumped it behind freshman goalkeeper Patrick Jameison for the first goal of the game, putting the Utes (12-4) up early. 

Through four minutes, Duke found itself outshot 7-1. But that soon changed. 

The Blue Devil defense forced a shot clock violation and got the ball back, and freshman Benn Johnston found an open Williams, who ripped in an equalizing goal. Then, senior attack Brennan O’Neill dashed from behind the net, finding a cutting Zawada who threw in another goal, putting Duke up 2-1. But after a cross-check penalty sent junior longstick Jake Wilson to the box for the Blue Devils, a high-powered shot from senior and Raleigh native Jared Andreala tied the game at two. 

From there, Duke went on a run.

The offense got to work after senior faceoff specialist Jake Naso got his first true faceoff win, starting with O’Neill. He blew by his defender into open space and netted his first goal of the game. Next up, senior midfielder Aidan Danenza passed out of a double-team to Johnston, who fired a laser into the upper corner. 

Junior midfielder Andrew McAdorey, looking to join in on the action, could not find an inlet, so he passed wide back to O’Neil. The Tewaaraton Award finalist lifted to shoot, but upon feeling pressure, brought his stick down, bodied through the defense and shot beside goalkeeper Colin Lenskold to make it 5-2. 

When Naso won yet another faceoff, he stayed on the field and was left unmarked, allowing him to dump in his fifth goal of the year. The score came off a pass from O’Neill, the senior’s 100th career assist.   

On the defensive end, Jameison picked up a save from an awry shot by sophomore attack Ryan Stines, allowing sophomore Aidan Maguire to burn up the field unmarked. The Utes’ defense collapsed on him, but that allowed Zawada to catch a pass, shoot and score to push the lead to five — all before the end of the first quarter. 

Duke opened the second quarter with the ball, and the Blue Devil offense passed around before Williams slid off his man just outside the crease in time to receive a Zawada pass. A quick pump fake, then a shot, and Williams had his second goal of the day to give Duke a six-goal lead. 

Utah finally got back on the board with two-straight goals in response, including off a huge shot from junior midfielder Cody Hart from the outside. 

But McAdorey was right there to reestablish the Blue Devils’ dominance. He drew two defenders with him, but cut back with a jab step to give himself space, and bounced in a goal to put Duke’s lead back to five. 

After another goal from the Utes, graduate longstick Tyler Carpenter dashed the length of the half and scored a dart — just his third of the year. This was followed up less than a minute later by a bouncing shot from McAdorey off a man-up chance. It got past Lenskold and pushed the score to 11-5 in favor of the Blue Devils, a lead they held through the end of the half. 

The third quarter started slow, but a huge save by Jameison propelled Duke on the other end, as Danenza found Williams for his third goal of the day. On the other side, Jordan Hyde scored twice for Utah, before three goals in a minute — Zawada’s third, Danenza’s second and Williams’ fourth — closed out the third quarter with the home team up 16-7. 

Fourth-quarter goals from Zawada, Williams and sophomore midfielder Max Sloat buried the Utes and closed out a complete, businesslike performance from the Blue Devils.  

With the win, Duke advances to face No. 7-seed Maryland May 18 in Long Island, N.Y. 


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