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Lax Week Four: Duke Dominates Crimson and Friars

Harvard and PC provide little competition for the Devils.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke men's lacrosse team came into Week Four looking to build on the lessons learned in the Week Two loss to Denver and to take advantage of two weeks of uninterrupted practice (caused by the postponement of last weekend's scheduled game at Stony Brook). Did they succeed? Well, yes and no. On Saturday, they caught number 12 Harvard missing two key defensive players, and parlayed a huge day at the faceoff dot by Jack Rowe into a 21-14 demolition of the Crimson. On Sunday, in dismal conditions, they did enough in the first 2-1/2 quarters to ensure a big win over an outgunned Providence squad; in the end, Duke won 20-8.

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Also on Sunday, the Duke women routed Notre Dame, 17-3, in the two teams' ACC opener.

Saturday: Duke 21, Harvard 14

The Crimson came to town 1-0, with a comeback one-goal win over Massachusetts to their credit. They also came to town minus starting defenders Bobby Duvnjak and Stephen Jahelka, a pair of pre-season All-Ivy League selections. The Blue Devil attack, with Mitch Russell getting his first start in place of the injured Case Matheis, took full advantage, leading the way with a combined 11 goals. In a see-saw first quarter that saw Duke emerge with a 5-3 lead, Jack Bruckner and Justin Guterding combined for the Blue Devils' first three goals, two off rebounds after initial saves by Harvard's Jake Gambitsky. Jake Seau contributed a left-handed rip from the left alley, while Chad Cohan found the net from in close on a feed from Deemer Class.

Duke opened the second quarter with a 5-2 burst, and looked to be taking control at 10-5 with 4:11 to go after Guterding's fourth goal of the half. The Crimson had other ideas, however. Goals by Keegan Michael, Ian Ardrey, and Deke Burns in the last 2:20 sent Harvard to the locker room with plenty of momentum and only a two-goal deficit.

Jack Rowe won the opening faceoff of the second half, and Myles Jones opened the scoring with a sensational goal. He went right at the heart of the Crimson defense, shrugged off checks from no fewer than five defenders, and beat Gambitsky from the doorstep. You mostly see goals like that on grainy old black-and-white film of Jim Brown. After that, both defenses dug in, and it took 7-1/2 minutes for freshman midfielder Joe Lang to answer for the Crimson. Duke won the back half of the quarter 3-1 on goals by Class, Scott, and Russell, and went to the fourth with a four-goal advantage.

Deke Burns' goal off the opening face-off of the fourth quarter cut the lead to three, but Harvard would get no closer. Duke went on a 6-1 run, highlighted by a superb extra-man rip by Cohan, who looked off a defender to create space, and a nifty roll-back in the left alley by Tanner Scott. Down 20-12 with 4:41 to go, Harvard wasn't coming back, although they got two nice late goals by Devin Dwyer and Tim Edmonds sandwiched around Jones' second of the half.

Jack Rowe had a sensational day on face-offs for Duke, going 24-for-35 with 17 ground balls, helping Duke to a 41-27 possession advantage. Guterding had nine points (6g, 3a) to lead the Blue Devil scoring; Bruckner contributed four goals, Cohan had his first career hat trick plus two assists, and Jones, Class, and Scott chipped in two goals apiece. Dwyer, Burns, and Will Walker had two each for Harvard, and eight other Crimson players, including LSMs Matt Ryan and Jack Breit, scored. The teams combined for 100 shots, with Duke holding a 58-42 advantage. Duke shot 36.2 percent on the way to 51.2 percent offensive efficiency. The Crimson offense was every bit as good, exploiting Duke's inexperienced backline to shoot 33.3 percent on the way to 51.9 percent offensive efficiency. Harvard simply didn't have enough of the ball to stay with Duke. Duke moved to 4-1 on the year, while Harvard fell to 1-1.

Sunday: Duke 20, Providence 8

It was a weekend to remember for Duke senior face-off specialist Jack Rowe. He backed up Saturday's big day at the dot with an even bigger day on Sunday, going 18-for-20 and putting Providence into an early hole from which the Friars never came close to escaping.

If you blinked in the first 3:30, you probably missed a Duke goal. Rowe came flying out of the gate, winning the first four face-offs, and Duke converted on its first four possessions, with goals from Class, Jones, Jake Seau, and Bruckner on an assist from Rowe. Providence finally got on the board with 10:09 to go on a 15-yarder by Robert Sheehan, but Class and Cohan added goals before a superb end-to-end run and finish by the Friars' Greg Fitzmaurice with 5:17 to go in the quarter. That was it for the half for Providence, as the Duke possession machine kicked into high gear, and held the Friars scoreless for 22:14; the drought extended into the third quarter. Duke won the second quarter, 7-0, as Rowe went 8-for-8. Guterding led the way with three in the quarter, the last coming on LSM Peter Welch's first career assist. John Shaffer, inserted on the second midfield after Jake Seau went off to protect a foot injury suffered on Saturday, picked up a rebound and put it past the Friars' Peter Badgely from the left alley. The half ended with Duke leading 13-2.

The Friars opened the second-half scoring with a two-goal run courtesy of Buck McClure and Will Mazzone, but after that Duke went back to work, piling on five goals in a 3:07 span midway through the quarter. Duke started to substitute liberally as the quarter wore on; Danny Fowler played the last 21 minutes in goal, and sophomore SSDM Garret Van de Ven picked up his first career point, finding Guterding alone in front in transition. When Jones buried one from up top, it was 18-4, and Coach Danowski cleared the bench in earnest. The Friars ran off three unanswered to cut the lead to 18-7, but junior attackman Alex Prezioso and freshman midfielder Matthew Giampetroni sandwiched their first career goals around one last Friars goal, to make the final tally 20-8.

Led by Jack Rowe's 18-for-20 performance, the Duke faceoff crew went 24-for-31 (Kyle Rowe went 4-for-6, and Thomas Palisi and Teddy Henderson went a combined 2-5 in mop-up duty). Duke ended the day with a 42-21 possession advantage, thanks to its face-off dominance and 42 ground balls to the Friars' 19.

Guterding had his third six-goal game of the young season, giving him a total of 26. Barring injury, he clearly has a shot at the Duke freshman record of 57, set by Zack Greer in 2005. Class and Jones had hat tricks, and Bruckner and Cohan contributed two goals each. After four weeks, Jones and Guterding are 1-2 in the nation in scoring, with 32 and 31 points, respectively. Luke Aaron and Danny Fowler combined for 11 saves. For the Friars, McClure and Fitzmaurice led the way with two goals apiece. Duke out-shot Providence, 52-30.

Duke shot 38.5 percent on the way to 47.6 percent offensive efficiency. Providence shot 26.7 percent on the way to 38.1 offensive efficiency.

Duke moves to 5-1 on the season, while the Friars fall to 2-2.

So far, Duke's offense is leveling everything in its path, giving the defense time to learn and grow. When Tempo-Free Lax updates its database to include this weekend's games, it's likely that Duke will be in the top five in offensive efficiency and somewhere around number 40 in defensive efficiency. With Loyola coming to town on Saturday, and ACC games on the horizon, the defensive learning needs to accelerate.

WLax: Duke 17, Notre Dame 3

If you're a Notre Dame women's lacrosse fan, there is no way to sugar-coat what happened to the Fighting Irish in Sunday's West Campus matinee. Duke simply crushed them, in every phase of the game. The 17-3 final score may actually not reflect the full extent of Duke's dominance.

Not to be outdone by the Brothers Rowe, Duke senior Kerrin Maurer had a phenomenal day at the draw, going 16-for-22. Her dominance of the center circle, a 24-9 advantage in ground balls, and an aggressive ride that broke up five Irish clearing attempts combined to give Duke a plus-12 possession advantage, and Duke took full advantage.

Duke's Katie Trees scored 42 seconds into the game, and the Blue Devils roared out to a 6-0 lead. After Notre Dame's Courtney Fortunato cashed in a free-position attempt to get the Irish on the board, Duke scored the last four of the half to go to the locker room with a 10-1 lead.

Whatever hope the Irish had of a strong second-half comeback was erased when Maurer won the opening draw and senior midfielder Taylor Trimble fed freshman attacker Kyra Harney for a goal 34 seconds in. Fortunato had two more for the Irish, including a sensational behind-the-back shot on the run, but Duke countered with six of its own.

Trees led Duke with a perfect five-for-five shooting day, and added two assists. Brigid Smith added four, and Maurer, Harney, and Chelsea Landon chipped in two apiece. Fortunato was the only Notre Dame player to find the net, as Duke goaltender Kelsey Duryea recorded eight saves. Duke shot 68 percent (17-25) on the way to 58.6 percent offensive efficiency, and held the Irish to 21.3 percent shooting and 17.6 percent offensive efficiency.

The Duke women are now 6-0, 2-0 against ranked opponents, and 1-0 in ACC play. Notre Dame falls to to 3-2, 0-2 against ranked opponents, and 0-1 in the ACC. Duke hosts Virginia Tech, the only ACC team that is currently unranked, on Friday.