DURHAM, N.C. -- On a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon in Durham, two Top-20 Division I teams faced-off for the first time this season. The game pitted much-hyped Duke University (#2) against #17 Bucknell University. The Blue Devils proved victorious in this match-up, outscoring the Bison by twelve goals en route to a 16-4 victory.
The big storyline going into this game was Matt Danowski, the winner of the Tewaarton Trophy in 2007, who many surmised would be unable to play following off-season surgery on an injured Lisfranc ligament. However, the 5th year senior took the field in full force, netting 2 goals and contributing 5 assists. In a post-game interview, Danowski noted, "I think I played on it pretty well. It doesn't really hurt that much, I'm not 100% yet; I'm still not as quick as I can be, not as aggressive as I can be, but I didn't want to miss any games, and I was good enough to play, so I turned out here."
Danowski surprised many when he walked on to the field today, but few were surprised when he struck, scoring the first goal of the season for the Blue Devils off a Max Quinzani feed at with 11:17 remaining in the first quarter. Brad Ross was the next to score, sneaking an unassisted shot past Bucknell's Nick Sciubba at 8: 24. Bucknell would retaliate though, as Patriot League Rookie of the Year Austin Winters beat his man and buried a shot over Dan Loftus' left shoulder with 3:24 left in the 1st, ending the quarter with a slim 2-1 Duke lead.
A Whopping 26 minutes would pass before Bucknell would get back on the scoreboard. The Blue Devils took advantage of this, netting 4 goals in the 2nd quarter. Quinzani scored off the power play, and the Dangerous Duo connected at 11:45, with Danowski feeding Zack Greer for the tally. A McDevitt fast break and beautiful cross-crease feed from Greer handed Quinzani his second of the day a minute later. With 25 seconds remaining in the half, Danowski, dodging from the top of the box, found Ned Crotty cutting inside to put Duke up 6-1 at the half.
Two minutes into the second half, an errant pass by Crotty accidentally deflected off of Greer's stick and found the twine behind an unsuspecting Sciubba. The Danowski-Greer Show returned for a second act 20 seconds later, as Greer got a handle on a Danowski pass, and finished from a few feet off the crease line, marking his first Hat-Trick of 2008. Steve Schoeffel got his first of the afternoon, converting a Zack Greer feed into a time-and-room shot that took a strange bounce off of Sciubba's chest protector and into the net. At the 7:26 mark of the 3rd quarter, Bucknell's Tim Brandau saw an opportunity on the EMO following a Duke slash, and put the ball low against Loftus, scoring the Bison's second goal of the game. Schoeffel notched his second goal of the game on a leaping quick-stick finish of a Ross feed. At 2:59, Greer snagged a Danowski pass on the doorstep, avoided three sliding Bison and snuck the ball past Sciubba. Sciubba, despite several impressive saves, was pulled from the cage and replaced by Matt Antonelli. The ever-impressive Matt Danowski pulled a nice inside finish from a Ned Crotty feed, ending the quarter and putting Duke up 12-2.
In the 4th quarter, Duke began to rotate their bench, replacing several starters. At 12:27, Chris Loftus scored in transition off an assist from freshman Zach Howell. 40 seconds later, Brad Ross, set up nicely by Michael Ward, ripped one past Antonelli. At 10:50, Howell and Loftus connected again; this time, Loftus fed and Howell finished. Loftus would pick up another assist with 8:15 to play, feeding Josh Coveleski from X to net Duke's last goal of the game. Bucknell managed to pick up some momentum towards the end, with Joe Mele, assisted by Austin Winters, sneaking past by Duke goalkeeper Rob Schroeder with 4:50 to play. 40 seconds later, Bucknell's last hurrah came in the form of Nick Marks, who scored unassisted, bringing the score to 16-4.
Duke dominated this game from start to finish, making very few mistakes and playing with an intangible panache. Statistically, Duke came out on top of nearly every figure; they won more face-offs, scooped more groundballs, and took far more shots (46, compared to Bucknell's 20). The Duke defense was stalwart, and a strong slide package dissuaded any Bucknell player from venturing too far into the hole. That being said, Bucknell is a very talented team that is primed for a breakout season; they showed good ball movement on offense, and their defense was able to effectively clog the passing lanes, knocking many Blue Devil shots and passes out of the air.
Goaltending was impressive all around, and all five goalies that played in today's matchup showed great potential. For Duke, 5th year senior and 3rd team All-American Dan Loftus showed great poise, stopping 7 shots, allowing only two goals, and sparking transition with aggressive outlet passes. His replacement in the 4th quarter, Rob Schroeder, came out of the cage twice to snag groundballs and start the clear. For Bucknell, Nick Sciubba, statistically the best goalie in the NCAA last season, was impressive, making 10 saves on tough shots from both the inside and outside. Eventually however, the sheer number of Duke shots overwhelmed him, and he was pulled for Matt Antonelli, who made a trio of impressive saves in the 4th quarter. Freshman Sam Finnell finished out the last few minutes of play for Bucknell.
In a Post-Game interview, Zack Greer praised the duke defense, as well as the backups and younger players who got field time today. Coach John Danowski said of his team, "I was happy with the unselfishness we played on offense [only two of Duke's goals were unassisted], and I thought defensively we played with a lot emotion, and we communicated really well." Of Bucknell, Matt Danowski said "They have the skills to make it happen," while his father said, "They're a very difficult team to prepare for, they're very well coached and they do some things you don't normally see during the year.they rotate very quickly defensively, and you really have to be unselfish, and I thought we were unselfish today and I thought were able to generate some really good looks..." About the play of Duke's controversial 5th year seniors, Coach Danowski stated, "[LSM] Nick O'Hara hustled, and Matt [Danowski] played hard and played with his head up.and [SSDM] Mike Ward ran the field and created a lot of tempo, So I thought those guys held themselves well."
Duke plays Vermont next weekend, followed by a big ACC matchup against
Maryland on March 1st. Bucknell will play Hobart next week in Baltimore.
Photos: Mark Abbott
|Matt Danowski||(2, 5)|
|Zack Greer||(4, 2)|
|Brad Ross||(2, 1)|
|Max Quinzani||(2, 1)|
|Chris Loftus||(1, 2)|
|Ned Crotty||(1, 2)|
|Steve Schoeffel||(2, 0)|
|Zach Howell||(1, 1)|
|Josh Coveleski||(1, 0)|
|Michael Ward||(0, 1)|
|Dan Loftus||7 (0.778)|
|Rob Schroeder||0 (0.000)|