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Lax Report: Duke Men and Women Survive on the Road

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On Saturday, the Duke men's and women's teams took on, and survived, stiff challenges from quality opponents. In both cases, they left it late. The men needed fourth-quarter explosions from midfielder Myles Jones and face-off specialist Jack Rowe to finally subdue Georgetown, 15-13. The women broke the sixth tie of the game with eight minutes to go against Louisville, and needed a massive save from Kelsey Duryea to preserve the lead before getting a last-second insurance tally to make the final score 10-8.

Duke Men 15, Georgetown 13

The Hoyas came into the game riding a four-game win streak, albeit against teams ranked between 28 and 60 in the computer rankings. The word was that in his third season, head coach Kevin Warne finally had the Hoya program moving in a positive direction. On Saturday's evidence, it's hard to argue the point.

Justin George started at attack in place of the injured Case Matheis, and for the second week in a row, Jake Seau didn't make it out of the first quarter, so Duke spent most of the game in a five-man midfield rotation of Jones, Deemer Class, Chad Cohan, Kyle Keenan, and Tanner Scott.

Jack Rowe won the opening draw from the Hoyas' Gabe Mendola (a graduate-student transfer who played against Duke last year wearing Harvard crimson), and it took less than a minute for Jack Bruckner to open the scoring. Georgetown responded with two goals from Peter Conley and a single marker by Reilly O'Conner, and after Hoyas goaltender Nick Marrocco grabbed a loose ball in the slot with 2:15 to go, they were in position to clear, hold for the last shot of the quarter, and potentially take a three-goal lead. It all went south when Chris Pauzer's errant pass was picked off by Brian Dailey; the Blue Devils turned the miscue into a Class goal from Cohan, a Rowe faceoff win, and a Guterding goal from Jones, all in the space of 16 seconds, to end the quarter on level terms.

It took nine seconds of the second quarter for Duke to take its first lead of the game, as Rowe won the draw to himself, outran Mendola to the offensive end, and put it on a plate for Bruckner. Both teams' defenses dug in after that, and only two goals were scored the rest of the quarter. Duke went to the locker room with a 5-4 lead and possession to start the second half; The Hoyas committed 30-second and one-minute penalties with 0:31 to go, and after Justin Guterding hit a post, Duke grabbed the rebound and pulled it out to keep the man advantage.

For the third time in three quarters, Duke scored on the opening possession (they would do it again in the fourth); Jones found Bruckner behind the defense, and he finished easily from the doorstep to give Duke a 6-4 lead. The rest of the quarter belonged to the Hoyas: they took advantage of a turnover and two faceoff wins to put up three goals in 1:18 and regain the lead. The teams traded goals for the rest of the quarter, including an unusual six-on-seven goal by Duke. The Hoyas went offside on a Duke clear, and the Blue Devils chose to keep playing rather than throw the ball away and let the officials call the penalty; eventually, Jones dissected a ball-watching Hoya defense to find George curling to the net from behind, and he buried it. Duke had seven turnovers in the quarter, and Georgetown converted four of them into goals.

Going to the fourth quarter trailing 10-9, Duke needed to make a statement, and they did. The brothers Rowe won four consecutive faceoffs, and Duke converted them into four goals in 4:31. Jack Rowe got the first one himself, twelve seconds in; 59 seconds later, after Kyle Rowe drew a violation on Mendola, Jones scored a Myles Jones Special. He ran by one defender in the left alley, shrugged off a second defender to get to the front, and scored from point-blank range while being blasted from behind. On the ensuing extra-man opportunity, Jones found Scott at the top of the slot for a step-down finish, and the fourth came after Keenan drew a slide in the right alley, rolled back, and found Jones unguarded up high. The Hoyas refused to go away, however; Devon Lewis got one back in transition with 8:23 to go after a fine save by Marrocco on Guterding, and four minutes later Ryan Hursey ran by Thomas Zenker in the left alley and finished with his right hand to make it 13-12. After that, Jones took matters into his own hands. He once again bulled his way to the front to score, drew another penalty, and on the extra-man opportunity he lasered a skip pass from the top of the right alley to a wide-open Cohan just off the left side of the crease, who restored Duke's three-goal lead with 3:15 to go. Jack Rowe won his 18th faceoff of the day, and Duke killed clock for two minutes, finally giving up the ball on a shot-clock violation with just over a minute to go. The Hoyas got one back with 53 seconds left on a pretty backhand by Bo Stafford, swinging out from behind to Luke Aaron's left, and an unnecessary-roughness penalty gave them a slim chance at a storybook ending. However, an ill-advised pass sailed out of bounds with 0:32 left, and Duke was able to clear and kill off the remaining time.

Jones led the Blue Devil scoring with eight points (3g, 5a); he continues to lead the nation in scoring with 44 points. Bruckner had four goals, Cohan contributed two goals and an assist, and six other Blue Devils chipped in with single markers. Aaron cooled off after a hot first half, but finished with ten saves. The brothers Rowe combined to go 21-for-29 on faceoffs, including 14 of the last 15. Conley, who left the game with an apparent leg injury with 12 minutes to go and did not return, led the Hoyas with three goals and an assist. Marrocco had 11 saves.

Duke outshot the Hoyas, 49-39, and won the ground ball battle 33-22. Duke ended the game with a plus-nine possession advantage. Offensive efficiency favored the Hoyas, 48.1 percent to 41.7.

Duke goes to 7-1, while the Hoyas fall to 4-3. Duke opens ACC play on Sunday, visiting the Carrier Dome to take on top-ranked Syracuse (6-0, 1-0 ACC) at 12:30 p.m. Eastern; the game will be shown on ESPNU.

Duke Women 10, Louisville 8

Louisville's introduction to ACC women's lacrosse has been, to say the least, an eye-opener. On Wednesday, they lost an overtime heartbreaker to Boston College in which the Eagles led for a total of six seconds. On Saturday, in a crazy roller-coaster ride that featured six ties, the Cardinals fell just short of upsetting Duke.

In a game that was slow-paced throughout (only 45 total possessions), Duke built a 3-1 lead over the first 14:02 on two goals by Taylor Trimble and a Kerrin Maurer strike. Louisville responded with a 3-0 run to take its first lead on a goal by Faye Brust with 9:11 to go in the half. That was it for the half for the Cardinals, and Kyra Harney and Brigid Smith scored late to send the Blue Devils into halftime with a 5-4 lead.

Maurer scored 1:58 into the second half to restore Duke's two-goal lead, but Hannah Koloski scored for Louisville 43 seconds later to trigger a three-goal run that took only 3:22. The tempo slowed way down after that, and Trimble and Erin Tenneson scored to give Duke an 8-7 lead with 12:03 to go. Two minutes later, Louisville's Kaylin Morissette tied it for the sixth and last time, and two minutes after that, Maurer found Trimble for her fourth of the game to give Duke a lead it would not relinquish. Duke's Kelsey Duryea came up huge in net, stopping a free-position attempt with just over five minutes to go; the Blue Devils grabbed the rebound, cleared, and looked to run out the clock. After forcing a turnover with 1:11 to play, the Cardinals called time out to set up for a chance to tie, but Duke was able to get the ball back, and Katie Trees found Harney for an insurance goal with one second to go.

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Trimble led the Blue Devils with a season-high four goals; Maurer had two goals and two assists, Harney had a pair, and Smith and Tenneson contributed single markers. Duryea had seven saves. For Louisville, Morisette, Brust, Koloski, and Cortnee Daley had two goals each, and Ashley Peacock made 11 saves.

Duke outshot the Cardinals, 27-23. Ground balls were even at 13. Louisville won 10 of 19 draws. Duke rang up 45.5 percent offensive efficiency to the Cardinals' 34.8 percent.

Duke moves to 9-0, matching the best start to a season in program history, and 3-0 in ACC play. The win was number 250 of head coach Kerstin Kimel's career. The Cardinals fall to 5-2, 0-2 in the ACC. Duke travels to Charlottesville on Saturday to play Virginia (4-4, 0-2 ACC) at 1:00 Eastern.