The Duke Blue Devils topped the Virginia Cavaliers on their home turf to capture their first ACC title since 2002, 12-9. Duke exploded for 7 goals in the 3rd quarter to pull away in front of 6,517 fans. Senior Dan Loftus came up big in goal for the Blue Devils with 14 saves, while Matt Danowski (3g, 1a) and Zack Greer (3g, 3a) continue to make play after play on the offensive side. Virginia's Ben Rubeor stepped up in the losing effort with 5 points (3g, 2a), while Garrett Billings did his part with 3 goals an assist.
Durham, NC – This much anticipated match-up held up to the billing from the opening whistle on a beautiful afternoon at Duke’s Koskinen Stadium. From the start, both teams came out firing. They traded possessions before Duke would get a couple of good opportunities. Senior All-American Kip Turner did his part in holding back the Duke attack early. While Duke didn’t struggle to generate opportunities, they did in finishing them.
In holding off the early surge, it opened the door for Virginia’s offense to step in. Sophomore Gavin Gill found Garrett Billings with his hands free and Billings ripped a sidearm right-handed shot in to get the scoring started with 9:52 remaining in the opening period. Billings would strike again soon to punish Duke for a turnover. Two and a half minutes later, the UVA offense displayed some good ball movement until Billings ripped a shot to the far pipe giving Virginia an early 2-0 lead.
This game would prove to be a game of runs and Duke got their first soon after. Senior Dan Loftus made a save and quickly took advantage pushing the ball up-field. Midfielder Michael Ward made a nice one-handed catch on the clear and out-letted it to Matt Danowski just inside the restraining line. Danowski ran through a group of Virginia defenders and put a left-handed shot low to get Duke on the board with 5:57 left in the period.
Both teams would trade possessions, until Duke possessed again. Midfielder Bo Carrington drove down the wing for Duke and moved it behind to Zack Greer. Greer quickly banged it inside to Fred Krom who ripped a shot just inside the pipe with 1:27 left tying the game at 2. The Blue Devils weren’t finished in the opening period. As they tend to do, Duke held for the last shot. To set up a play, Matt Danowski pulled his defender, Ricky Smith, nearly up to the face-off circle. Danowski made a nice right-to-left split dodge and got Smith’s stick so tied up that Smith dropped it. He could only watch as Danowski pulled his stick back to his right hand, stepping just barely inside the restraining line and let got a rocket. The shot gave Duke its first lead with only 3 seconds left in the period.
Both defenses took over in the 2nd quarter. Virginia held Duke scoreless, while they were only able to grab two goals of their own. About three minutes into the period, Drew Thompson moved the ball to Ben Rubeor who found the back of the net, tying the game again. Neither team had much offensive success for rest of the period despite sustained possessions. To end one of those possessions, midfielder Jack Riley made a nice backdoor cut getting open in the crease. Billings spotted him and threaded a pass inside. Riley put the quick stick in to give Virginia a 4-3 lead with 1:20 left in the half. It would prove to be Virginia’s last lead of the game.
Following Riley’s goal, Adam Fassnacht won the face-off for Virginia. He was immediately pressured by Duke LSM Nick O’Hara who stripped him and picked up the loose-ball. Fassnacht then stripped O’Hara and that led into a Virginia fast break. Loftus, however, came up with a big save that he turned into a fast break the other way. Turner answered with his own save, leading to a Virginia possession and timeout with :38 to go. Holding for the last shot, Drew Thompson nearly gave Virginia some more momentum as he drove and banged a laser off the pipe with :12 left in the half. Unfortunately they couldn’t capitalize and the halftime lead stood, 4-3 Virginia.
As unproductive as their offense was in the 2nd quarter, it was just as productive in the 3rd for Duke. The first 5 goals of the quarter would be owned by Duke, the majority coming in unsettled situations. Of course, the first one was the exception, as it came after an extended Duke possession. At the 11:07 mark, Bo Carrington zipped a pass across the Virginia defense to Mike Catalino who was all alone on the far pipe and quick-sticked it past Turner. Carrington received possession after Duke had been warned to “keep it in” the box. A long pass was deflected out-of-bounds and Carrington took the ball in off the whistle. Catalino managed to go unnoticed on the back side and Carrington found him.
On the ensuing face-off, Virginia pushed it forward with the ball rolling all the way into their offensive box. Duke defenseman Tony McDevitt came up with the groundball and drew a push from behind call. Off the quick whistle, Duke pushed it into the transition, Max Quinzani found himself all alone and gave Duke the lead for good, 5-4 with less than five minutes gone in the third period.
Virginia would step up and answer with a stop of Duke’s offense. Unfortunately, Duke stripped the clearing Virginia longpole. This led to Zack Greer finding Catalino and Catalino adding his 2nd of the day stretching the lead at the 6:23 mark. Another defensive stop led to another transition opportunity for Duke. This time Greer was on the finishing end of a Mike Ward pass at 4:21. Sixteen seconds later, Greer again assisted, this time with Danowski finishing to complete his hat trick ending the five-goal run at 8-4.
Virginia managed to stop the onslaught. Ben Rubeor got a step on Tony McDevitt coming back from X without the ball. Gavin Gill saw him, Rubeor caught it, turned and put a lefty shot in to cut the lead to 8-5 with 3:24 left in the third. Exactly a minute later, Duke’s Brad Ross moved the ball to Ned Crotty. Crotty put a perfectly placed shot off-stick hip of Kip Turner and pushed the lead back to four for Duke.
Fighting their way back in, Virginia won the next face-off, but Duke put the ball on the ground again. A questionable loose-ball push against Duke, gave Virginia possession. :18 after Crotty’s goal, Drew Thompson found Brian Carroll to make the game 9-6. A strange “playing with the free hand” call on the next face-off gave Virginia possession again. This time Garrett Billings quickly found some space and ripped a sidearm shot just inside the far corner to make the game exciting at 9-7 with 1:42 left in the third. Again going for the last shot of the period, Brad Ross ripped a nice shot. Kip Turner made a great save on the shot, but couldn’t control the rebound. Zack Greer was there, snagged the ball out of the air and put it away with only six seconds left in the period to send the game 10-7 into the fourth.
Virginia struck first in the fourth period with an unassisted Ben Rubeor goal a minute and a half in. Unfortunately, any comeback attempts were thwarted by Dan Loftus. He pitched in with four saves in the quarter, the biggest coming on an early fourth quarter man-down and then another point blank save shortly after. Virginia had the ball for awhile in the final period and got off 11 shots, but couldn’t cut into the lead any further. Finally Danowski found Greer again to make the game 11-8, and then Ned Crotty found Max Quinzani to make it 12-8. A sick quick-stick by Gavin Gill on a Ben Rubeor pass with :54 left in the game put the game at its final 12-9. Virginia made a push late, but again couldn’t get anything going and had to watch as the final seconds ticked away with the ball in Duke’s offensive box.
Adam Fassnacht again stepped up for Virginia winning 15 of his 22 face-offs. However, Duke proved yet again that they don’t need to win face-offs to win games. They’ve only won 48.3% of the face-offs they’ve taken this year. They did do a good job of jamming Fassnacht and limiting fast-break opportunities out of it, essentially making it a 50-50 groundball battle. And with a wingman like LSM Nick O’Hara, Duke was able to negate the advantage. Both goalies played well, but Dan Loftus proved to be the X-factor for Duke turning away 14 Virginia shots. Virginia outshot Duke by a count of 40-33, with 3 more on goal.
The win gave Duke their 4th overall ACC Championship in Men’s Lacrosse (’95, ’01 and ’02).
2007 ACC All-Tournament Team
Matt Danowski, Attack, Duke (Tournament MVP)
Bo Carrington, Midfield, Duke
Casey Carroll, Defense, Duke
Zack Greer, Attack, Duke
Dan Loftus, Goalie, Duke
Garrett Billings, Attack, Virginia
Ben Rubeor, Attack, Virginia
Ricky Smith, LSM, Virginia
Kip Turner, Goalie, Virginia
Dan Groot, Midfield, Maryland
Michael Burns, Attack, North Carolina
n.b. the ACC named two midfielders to the All-Tournament Team, but strangely no midfielders were named to the All-ACC team in the regular season.
|Zack Greer||(3, 3)|
|Matt Danowski||(3, 1)|
|Max Quinzani||(2, 0)|
|Ned Crotty||(1, 1)|
|Mike Catalino||(2, 0)|
|Michael Ward||(0, 1)|
|Brad Ross||(0, 1)|
|Bo Carrington||(0, 1)|
|Fred Krom||(1, 0)|
|Dan Loftus||14 (0.609)|