Philadelphia, PA – The sun was shining, the fans were flowing in, and the Final Four was in Philadelphia. Both teams used slightly different methods to reach this afternoon: Maryland coming on at the end, even after five losses and Duke being dominant all year with their only slips at Hopkins and to the surging Terps in the ACC Championship game.
Both Programs yearned for a taste of the championship, which has been just out of their grasp of the last several years. Entering the game, Duke would be considered the favorite on paper, but you couldn’t forget that the Terps did beat them just a couple weeks ago. And again, both of these teams have a penchant for not showing up when it matters in May. So, you had to figure one team would choke, or both would and it would be a close game. Unfortunately, for Maryland it was less a matter of choking, but more a matter of Duke being absolutely on today. Maryland couldn’t get anything going offensively early, contrast that with Duke’s up-tempo style of play along with the abundance of Duke offensive talent, it didn’t fair well for Maryland. The one thing that was a given, was that if the Terps wanted a chance, they couldn’t fall behind early.
First team All-American Bill McGlone got the scoring started early for the Terps and it looked like the Red and Black came to play. McGlone drove hard down the right side and ripped a shot off-stick hip of Duke’s first-team All-American goalie, Aaron Fenton. While it looked good early for the Terp offense…they wouldn’t score again for 31 minutes and 56 seconds.
For the Duke machine, the scoring got started with an ironically lucky goal, as the rest of their goals would be earned and deserved. Duke’s sophomore first-team All-American Matt Danowski took the ball and drove right. Got off an average shot that Maryland’s goalie Harry Alford basically stopped. However it just trickled past Alford and over the line for Duke’s first goal, 1:29 into the game. Maryland answered with a long possession. Duke gained possession after two Joe Walters shots and two nice saves by Aaron Fenton.
Duke moved into a circle offense, while Maryland was forced to slide from adjacent. This led to a Duke dodge, pulling the defender, moved the ball to the open man but Maryland recovered quickly. Duke pulled it out, popped into a 2-2-2. This opened up an inside look and Duke senior Ryan Marshall beat Alford low for Duke’s 2nd goal of the game at the 9:17 mark. 45 seconds later, a Duke offensive player got a nice look at the net, had Alford beat, but banged it off the left pipe. Regaining possession, Duke’s Kyle Dowd took a pass from Matt Zash. With way too much time and room, Dowd ripped a righty bounce shot from about 18 yards that Alford had no chance on. Dowd’s goal pushed the early Duke lead to 3-1.
Maryland desperately needed to get something going on offensive. A Maryland attacker beat his man top-side coming around the goal. Unfortunately, he didn’t change the plane of his stick, save Fenton. Duke’s next goal came on a man-up opportunity with 4:32 left in the first quart. Duke started in what looked like a 3-3. As most man-ups start in something and move into a play or formation, Maryland was waiting on their heels. As Duke started to send cutters to get into their desired formation, Dan Flannery crept up from X. Forgotten and alone on the crease, Matt Danowski threaded the needle down to him and he beat Alford to stretch it to 4-1. Fenton contributed two more saves in the late going of the first. With the clock winding down, Duke held the ball looking for the last shot. Matt Zash held it himself and started his dodge with about 25 seconds to go. He eventually beat his defender underneath, pushed to his strong hand, drew no Maryland slide and beat Alford with a low-to-high shot. Duke left the first with a 5-1 lead.
The second quarter started with Duke winning the faceoff. Alford made a save with what appeared to be the shaft. Dan Flannery picked up the groundball off the rebound, banged it across the crease to Zack Greer, who finished with the lefty quickstick. That goal would start a record setting day for Greer as that one set a new Duke single season scoring record with his 54th goal. His four goals on the day would also set the single season scoring record for the ACC. At the end of the day he finished at 57 goals for the season, a nice number for the rookie from Ontario.
The game continued with Maryland continuing their offensive game plan, which consisted of one Maryland player initiating a slowdown and inverting. This then would lead to a drive to the goal, whereby the pass would either be forced into a turnover, a save by Fenton, or they would find an open man to turn it over.
Things got worse for Maryland as the transition that was started by Fenton’s goaltending led to 3 points by Duke’s longstick Nick O’Hara. O’Hara took one Fenton pass the distance and finished it himself. Took another and fed Flannery on the doorstep. And yet another that he put it himself on a bounce shot past Alford. Maryland wouldn’t stop the bleeding until there was just 2:04 left in the quarter as Andrew Schwartzmann made the game 9-2. He would another with just 35.5 left in the half and send Maryland into the half with at least a hint of momentum down 9-3. The tone was also set as the purpose and drive of Duke could be seen as every player sprinted to the locker room, whereas Maryland started out with a confused walk towards the locker room which eventually moved into a trot.
Maryland would make it more of a game in the second half, but Duke was too much all over the field. Late in the first half, Maryland thought they had match-ups against Duke’s shortstick defenders. They, however, came to play and shut down their attempts. Duke’s offense was too much all over the field as they just seemed to pick a match-up and expose it with great ball movement and great finishing.
Aaron Fenton played well for Duke in net with 15 saves. It must be noted that his saves were made easier by poor Maryland shot selection and great defense on all fronts by Duke. Maryland didn’t get many great looks at the net and when they did they had the unpromising prospect at beating Fenton.
For Maryland it is an anti-climatic end to a season where they really turned it on at the end. For Duke, it is just another step in the path for a team with a very clear purpose on its mind: hoisting a trophy in Philadelphia on Memorial Day.
|Matt Zash||(3, 2)|
|Dan Flannery||(3, 2)|
|Zack Greer||(4, 0)|
|Nick O'hara||(2, 1)|
|Ryan Marshall||(1, 1)|
|Kyle Dowd||(2, 0)|
|Matt Danowski||(1, 1)|
|Bo Carrington||(1, 0)|
|Bret Thompson||(1, 0)|
|Aaron Fenton||15 (0.652)|
|Dan Loftus||0 (0.000)|