As two teams known for possessing firepower, the contest between Duke and UVa surprisingly transformed into more of a defensive battle. True, both teams pushed in transition and looked to create a free flowing game, but what should have been offensive opportunities usually became great sick checks, broken passes, or decisions that were rushed because heat was coming. Thirteen goals in a game is about what either of these teams average individually, not collectively. But as each team picked their spots, it was the Blue Devils who struck the final blow of overtime, taking down the Cavaliers 7-6, and assuming the top spot in the ACC.
The game developed a hurried pace early, as both teams’ defenders swarmed ball carriers and tried to force turnovers. Duke tried to press Virginia on the ride from box line to box line, whereas Virginia’s attackmen rode hard, but the Cavaliers left the middle of the field quite open.
Both goalies looked sharp from the start and remained quite steadfast throughout the game. Virginia controlled the pace of play for much of the first quarter, but the Duke defense held strong, limiting the looks UVa could get. Watching the Cavaliers offense, it is clear many of their sets run through standout attackman Ben Rubeor initiating play from X.
UVa drew first blood, as Garrett Billings tossed a feed from behind the cage topside to Jack Riley, waiting all alone. With no one on him, Riley had time to set his feet and fire, giving the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead six minutes into the first quarter.
Duke answered back quickly. As the ball worked behind the cage, UVa’s defense slowly started to get sucked down. With a simple skip pass up top, Matt Danowski found a wide-open Peter Lamade who pinned the top right corner, tying the game at 1-1.
UVa took the lead right back though. Working high on the wing, Foster Gilbert rolled back-and-forth twice on his man. Finally feeling his weight shift, Gilbert changed direction again, burning down the side and ripping a running bouncer with no one on him. The first quarter thus concluded with UVa holding a 2-1 lead.
A goal by Max Pomper put UVa up 3-1, but Duke would grab one more before the half. Brad Ross came streaking in from the edge of the box to the crease, weaving amongst defenders for the unassisted score, Ross’s first of what would be three on the day. At halftime the score reflected a superb defensive effort by both teams, 3-2 UVa.
Most noticeable about play in the first half, especially UVa’s, was how busy the longsticks were. Neither the Blue Devils nor the Cavaliers saw many scoring chances as offensive players constantly felt pressure, and the ball spent a lot of time on the ground, or just being flung quickly from one end to the other. Even on plays where defenders got beat, they were able to fling a pole out and snag a piece of someone’s stick or knock down a pass. For all the comments about the deadly speed of this UVa team, it seems most apparent in their defense.
Ross tied the score with his second goal of the day, the first of the second half. After a nice little shake-n-bake move on the wing, Ross got a step inside on his man and released a high ripper for the score, 3-3.
Rubeor got his name on the board with his first of two scores. Driving from X, Rubeor wrapped around the cage and snuck a ball between the post and Duke keeper Dan Loftus’ leg. Steve Giannone stretched UVa’s lead to two, scoring a goal similar to Ross’ at the start of the half. Giannone rolled inside, fought through two defenders, and got off an awkward bounce shot that went right over Loftus’ shoulder.
Duke began to take control of the game, trying to settle into longer possessions, but the Cavalier defense’s aggressive play did not let the Devils sit stagnantly for long. Eventually the Dukies found pay dirt. With Danowski playing catch and faking like he would rush a post from X, UVa’s defense began to sink. Danowski flipped an over the top pass to a wide-open Mike Catalino who set and fired for the score.
Duke tied the game at five as Lamade fed Zach Greer sitting right off the crease. Greer caught and finished the close shot, his bread and butter.
UVa took the lead right back with some impressive play from Turner. After making a good save, Turner gained control of the ball and looked to clear. Finding no one, he carried the ball all the way down field, to about five yards short of the box. From there, he hit Rubeor streaking across the face of the goal. Rubeor caught and fired in the goal on the run, giving Turner only his second career point (the other was also an assist).
With six minutes left, Danowski then tied the game at six. Driving hard from the top of the box down the wing, Danowski fired a high-to-low shot that somehow squeezed in between Cavalier keeper Kip Turner’s leg and the post.
The teams traded some good rushes up and down the field, but regulation ticked away, and the game was destined for overtime.
UVa won the opening possession of OT but lost the ball on an errant shot. Duke snagged the ball and took a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, they attempted to run a set offense. As the ball worked to X, Danowski carried, looking for an opening. Then, he whipped a pass to Ross, sitting right on the crease. Having little time and space to maneuver, Ross tucked the ball around his back, putting it off-stick-side high, beating Turner for the game winner, Ross’ third of the game; 7-6 Duke.
Perhaps the hardest part of this loss for UVa is the play they got out of Turner. He posted a career high 20 saves, and held Duke, a team that averages almost 12 goals again, to only seven.
Danowski showed that he is the quarterback of this Duke offense. Netting only one goal for himself, he had a hand in three others, leading all scorers on the day with four points. Rubeor, his hypothetical counterpart on the Cavalier end, put up two goals, but could not get the ball to his teammates in places they were finishing.
Duke claimed the top spot in the ACC tournament with the win today. They play Army in Durham, NC, next Saturday afternoon at 1. Virginia will enter the ACC field ranked second. They play Dartmouth in Charlottesville, VA, Saturday afternoon at 1.
If the ACC tournament plays out as expected, a Duke v UVa final would be a contentious and entertaining prospect.
|Matt Danowski||(1, 3)|
|Brad Ross||(3, 0)|
|Peter Lamade||(1, 1)|
|Mike Catalino||(1, 0)|
|Zack Greer||(1, 0)|
|Dan Loftus||15 (0.714)|