Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (32 of 32)
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Duke Fights Off Maryland for Rights at Memorial Day

Duke Blue Devils were able to come out in great form on Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins. The Duke defense was able to slow down Maryland’s offense early on, and the Blue Devils offense responded with long possessions, good individual dodges, and they made good on a couple important attempts, to give them a 2 goal lead through much of the first quarter. Duke was flying early, feeling it, and looked ready to potentially run away with a win.

Early Efforts

Nakeie Montgomery scored the first goal of the game on a great individual effort, and Lowrie followed that up with Duke’s second goal, where the Terps gave Lowrie a little too much space, and he stepped in to drop one from about 12 yards out, right in the middle. Conley extended the lead to 3-0 for the Blue Devils with just over 4 minutes to go in the quarter, and while Maryland won the very next face off and generated a decent opportunity, they again shot the ball over the cage (the 4th time in the first quarter) and Duke was the first to the line, providing yet another long, early possession to the Blue Devils.

Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (6 of 32)
Photo: Ryan Conwell / LaxAllStars.com

Justin Guterding then showed the world what he can do off the dodge as he drew two defenders, made both guys look a little silly, and then threw a pass up to the slot to Kevin Quigley, who snuck Duke’s 4th goal past Morris, and Maryland was reeling. The Blue Devils again got the ball on the next possession, and nearly put one away at the end of the quarter, but the Maryland defense stood tall, and got a very important stop, when they desperately needed it.

However, within 2 minutes of the second quarter kicking off, Montgomery notched his second goal of the game off a beautiful wing dodge, and Duke was absolutely feeling it. Maryland won the next draw, and it looked like they had a golden opportunity in transition, but Blue Devil Cade Van Raaphorst picked off the pass, took it down the field, and fiery-hot O quickly found Joe Robertson open, as he caught a pass from Brad Smith before tucking in Duke’s sixth goal with a slick low placement. Maryland called a timeout at this point to pull their heads together and regain their composure, and they won the ensuing draw.

Still No Room to Breathe

Connor Kelly tried to get Maryland going with action up top, but the D slid quickly and wasn’t afraid to double team on the Terps’ top dodger. This pulled the defense up a little, and Jared Bernhardt was able to take advantage of a far slide when he dodged from X, and finally got Maryland on the board with an unassisted goal. Austin Henningsen won the ensuing draw, and Marlyand got another quick goal on their next settled possession as Logan Wisnauskus found Anthony DeMaio inside for a goal to cut the Duke lead to 6-2.

Maryland again gained possession of the next face off, and tried for another inside look, but Danny Fowler was up to the task, made the save, and then led the Blue Devils through their clear. A turnover gave Maryland another shot, and this time Kelly got a good low look, but Fowler was again up to the task, and Duke went back on offense, settled down, and continued to control tempo and pace via longer possessions.

Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (32 of 32)
Photo: Ryan Conwell / LaxAllStars.com

Harris made a nice save, but a push in the back gave Duke the ball back, and after some quick passing Nakeie Montgomery caught a pass from Joe Robertson, and he placed the ball perfectly in the low corner for his third goal of the first half. Duke was up 7-2 at this point, won the ensuing face off, and cycled the ball around as they had all game. The Blue Devils generated a good chance, but the Terps came up with the ball and while they look a little disjointed on O, Kelly found Wisnauskus with a nice feed, and the lead was cut to 4, at 7-3.

Leaders Lead

Justin Guterding answered back for the Blue Devils with a little over 4 minutes left in the second quarter as he dodged lefty from up top. Two Maryland defenders converged on Guterding, but neither really played him, and #14 took a deceptive overhand shot that found the top of the next, giving Duke an 8-3 lead. Duke got the ball back again, and generated a good chance, but Dan Morris made the save he had to, got it down field, and within a minute Maryland had cut the lead to 8-4, as Wisnauskus caught a pass from Tim Rotanz, for his second goal of the day.

Maryland got the ball back on the ensuing draw, and generated a good shot that Folwer saw the whole way. Fowler was unable to control the rebound, and Connor Kelly found Tim Rotanz, who cut the lead down to 3 goals, at 8-5, with just over 2 minutes to play in the first half.

Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (6 of 32)
Photo: Ryan Conwell / LaxAllStars.com

Duke gained the next possession on a face off violation, and worked it around for about a minute before calling timeout. Coach John Danowski brought the team in, and just looking at the Blue Devils huddles you could see a calm, cool, and collected team. Every player was in tight, eyes were on the coaches, and it was clear that guys had fully bought in. Duke produced some solid, yet somewhat frantic attempts, but the Terps held strong, generated a turnover via the shot clock, and almost notched a final goal of the half, but Folwer once again made a low save, and made it look like the most natural thing in the world.

Duke started the second half off with a long possession, but after three minutes the Terps’ Morris had the ball in his crease, the Terps got the ball down the field, and Connor Kelly beat his man to the outside, got underneath, and put a runner over the shoulder of Folwer to cut the deficit to 8-6. The Blue Devils gained possession off the ensuing face off, and ran a nice pick play to get Guterding the ball around the crease, but Morris was able to snuff out his low shot. Danny Fowler then followed suit for Duke, with a nice save of his own, and the Blue Devils were back on offense yet again.

Maryland was able to generate a turnover when Guterding dodged into a double team twice, with the second double knocking the ball down. On the ensuing clear, Maryland’s clearing middie knocked a Blue Devils attackman offsides, a flag was down, and Maryland put the ball away high via a Bubba Fairman shot, which brought the game back to 8-7, the closest it had been since Duke led 1-0.

Coming into the Contest

Maryland manufactured two good looks on the next possession, and the old familiar “Oooooooh” rose from the Terp fanbase. They could feel a tying goal coming, but an errant pass went over the end line, and Duke went back on the attack, where they ground out a long possession. With about 5 minutes left in the quarter they got going again, and attacked the goal. On the restart after an errant shot, Justin Guterding found Joe Robertson and Robertson smoked one high for a 9-7 Blue Devils lead.

Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (15 of 32)
Photo: Ryan Conwell / LaxAllStars.com

Maryland proceeded to get a couple decent looks on their next possession, but nothing found the back of the net. Fowler was able to run out a missed shot to give Duke the ball back, and Reilly Walsh finished a Joey Manonwn feed to push the Duke lead back up to 3 goals. Maryland took a couple of shots that went wide, but when the Terps tried to dodge into the heart of the defense, the Blue Devils swarmed with four players, and created another turnover. Neither team was able to score before the period ended, and we entered the 4th quarter with Danowski and company up 10-7. Maryland was leading in face offs (12-8) as well as saves (12-9), but Duke was perfect on clears (15 for 15) and had put up 31 shots to Maryland’s 23. Teams were within 1 ground ball of each other, and neither team committed any time serving penalties.

The fourth quarter opened up with Billy Idol blasting on the speakers, and 15 minutes separated one of these teams from a date with Yale on Monday. Maryland won the first face off of the final quarter, and got a great step down look which Fowler saved, but the Terps got the rebound and produced yet another really good chance. This time Folwer left his crease, picked up the rebound, and the Blue Devils went back on offense, getting their six top guys on with about 13 minutes left in the game. At this point Maryland did not press, and a Duke shot that hit the outside of the net allowed Morris and Co. to clear the ball, and give Maryland a shot at a 4th quarter comeback.

Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (15 of 32)
Photo: Ryan Conwell / LaxAllStars.com

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

By the ten minute mark, both teams had gained chances on O, and Duke was eventually able to pull Morris out of his cage as Guterding pressed the edge and looked to the back side, finding Joe Robertson for his third goal of the game. Morris simply could not get back across the crease in time, and Robertson was able to keep Morris moving, and putting it away to extend the lead back to 4, at 11-7. At this point in the game any conversation about Guterding being anything less than a Tewaraaton finalist was proven absolutely ridiculous.

Maryland got back into their settled six on sex offense with about 9:30 left in the game, but Duke’s defense was able to press, extend, and slide, creating a turnover on an alley dodge by Maryland. At the 7:30 mark it looked like Maryland had created a similar turnover to the one Duke had just produced, but a poke check on the ride dislodged the ball, giving it back to the Blue Devils. Guterding put an exclamation point on the day’s performance with his second goal of the game, for his fifth point, off a nice feed from Joey Manown and Duke was up 12-7 with just under 7 minutes to go.

Maryland would need to start scoring at a much more rapid pace and take a lot more risks if they were going to get back into this one with such short time on the clock. The Duke faithful were on their feet cheering, while Terps fans tried their best to encourage their squad on towards an epic comeback. Maryland did win possession of the draw on a nice GB by Matt Neufeldt through traffic, but the Terps’ offense played too slow, and Connor Kelly was eventually dispossessed by Duke. A Brad Smith shot in transition was saved by Morris and Danny Folwer made an off stick save with 4:30 left to give Duke possession, as Maryland’s hopes started to dry up.

Those Dyings Minutes

Joe Robertson was hit with a questionable penalty for tripping with just over 3 minutes left, and Connor Kelly threw a beautiful skip pass to Jared Benrhardt who ripped one high to bring the score to 12-8. With 2:41 left, Marlyand would need to score at a rate they haven’t all year long, and Duke looked comfortable to move on to Monday, where they would face Yale. A face off win allowed Duke to wind a little more time off the clock, and a Matt Neufeldt penalty killed off any hopes of a comeback as Duke proceeded to kill even more clock.

You can’t blame Neufeldt as he needed to create a turnover and take some risks, but Maryland then doubled the ball, with Duke scoring an empty netter from 14 yards out coming off the stick of Justin Guterding. This was his third goal of the day, sixth point on the day, and 66th goal of the year. Duke possessed with a little over a minute left in the game, and while Maryland was able to generate a turnover, the Blue Devils did it right back to them, and ran out the last 20 seconds of the game, as they headed to yet another championship game.

Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (32 of 32)
Photo: Ryan Conwell / LaxAllStars.com

The Blue Devils played a complete game, won little battles where they needed to, and shot the ball extremely well. Justin Guterding made a strong case for himself as a Tewaaraton candidate once again, Danny Fowler was excellent in goal, and the Blue Devils made good on their chances. It was a slower game at times, more methodical offensive possessions were commonplace, but it was great lacrosse, and a very enjoyable contest to take in.

The Duke-Yale match up is an exciting one for lacrosse fans on Monday, and if today’s game were any indication, we will see the best two teams in the country battle it out on Memorial Day in Foxboro.