DURHAM, N.C.-Duke University sophomore goaltender Dan Wigrizer made eight second-half saves and junior midfielder Robert Rotanz netted four second-half goals to lead the 10th-ranked Blue Devils to a 13-11 win over No. 7 Virginia. The win clinches the ACC men's lacrosse regular season title for the Blue Devils, marking the ninth overall for Duke and fifth since 2005 for the program.
"I've always said from the first time I stepped on campus you feel the power of the conference and the importance of it in any sport," head coach John Danowski said. "To be part of it we are very proud certainly to be able to participate. And to be fortunate enough to have some success means a lot because these programs - Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina - are traditionally year in and year out some of the best programs in the country. We're very proud to be able to compete with them."
Duke improves to 10-4 overall and wins the ACC regular season crown with a 3-0 mark. This marks the sixth time the Blue Devils have gone unbeaten in conference action overall and done so for the third time in the past five years. Virginia falls to 8-4 on the year and 1-2 in ACC action. Duke will head into the ACC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will play the fourth seed Cavaliers on April 22nd at 7:30 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium.
"We were pretty pumped up coming into today," Rotanz said. "We love playing Virginia. We've been playing well at home and everyone was excited to get after it today."
Rotanz finished with a career-high five points from four goals and one assist to lead all Blue Devils. Senior Zach Howell and freshman Jordan Wolf both chipped in two goals and an assist apiece and four other Blue Devils added one goal. Duke registered assists on eight of the 13 goals as 10 different players notched at least one point. Virginia was led by Colin Briggs with four goals. Chris Bocklet and Chris LaPierre both added two apiece.
Duke jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first 4:07 of the game. Virginia responded with a goal and kept it within two until the final second of the first quarter when sophomore Josh Offit netted his 11th score of the year as time expired for a 6-3 Duke advantage.
Scoring slowed in the second session with Virginia controlling play. The Cavaliers held duke to just eight shots and just one faceoff win en route to a 3-1 second quarter. After Duke scored at the 5:47 mark of the period, Briggs posted two goals in 94 seconds to pull the Cavaliers within one, 7-6, at the half.
The third quarter was a turn of events as the Blue Devils outscored Virginia 4-2. Duke scored on four of its eight shots in the frame with six of the eight going on goal. Rotanz netted three markers in the period to lead Duke's 4-0 run over a span of 8:02.
"It was pretty much being patient," Rotanz said. "We kind of rushed a few things in the second quarter and they capitalized and scored in transition. They had the ball a lot and we had to play a lot of defense. But once we started being patient and making the right plays looking for one more and not shooting bad shots we were able to come back in the second half."
The Cavaliers narrowed Duke's lead to three goals with a goal in the final second of the third quarter, but the Blue Devils answered with two more in the final stanza to take their largest lead of the game at 13-8.
Rotanz put in his fourth goal of the game to start the scoring in the fourth and sophomore Jake Tripucka added one two minutes later with a strike from the right side and put the game out of Virginia's reach. After Virginia made it a 13-11 game with 1:56 left, the Cavaliers won the ensuing faceoff and got a great look by Rhamel Bratton on the doorstep. But Duke's Wigrizer made an outstanding save to ice the victory for the Blue Devils.
Trailing by five with less than seven minutes to play, the Cavaliers tallied the game's final three goals, but it was not enough as Duke earned its sixth straight regular season win over Virginia.
Virginia finished with a narrow 39-38 advantage in shots, but Duke won the ground ball battle 33-31. The Cavaliers won 15-of-26 faceoffs and both squads registered one man-up goal. Junior CJ Costabile and freshman Brendan Fowler won five and six faceoffs, respectively. Senior Tom Montelli and Wigrizer both picked up four ground balls.
In goal, Wigrizer had 11 stops, marking the seventh game with double-digit saves for the second-year backstop. Adam Ghitelman had 12 stops for the Cavaliers.
"I don't think Danny made a save on probably the first three goals so you always worry about the goalie's psyche at that point," Danowski said. "But I thought he got better as the game went along. I thought he was really good inside and really made some plays. Normally we don't single out too many guys after a game, but today we singled him out in front of the team. I thought in the second half he was terrific."
Duke will host the 2011 ACC Tournament on April 22-24. The Blue Devils earned the top seed and will take on Virginia as the No. 4 seed on Friday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. The winner advances to the championship game on April 24 at 3:30 p.m. All contests will be played at Koskinen Stadium.
2011 ACC Men's Lacrosse Championship
Koskinen Stadium, Durham, N.C.
Friday, April 22
No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Maryland - 5:00 p.m. (ACC Network on theACC.com)
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Virginia - 7:30 p.m. (ACC Network on theACC.com)
Sunday, April 24
Championship Game - 3:30 p.m. (Fox Sports, RSN-TV)
Duke vs. Virginia