April 24, 2009

Courtesy of GoDuke.com

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Duke University senior Ned Crotty matched his career-high eight points tonight to lead the sixth-ranked Blue Devils to a 16-5 victory over top-ranked Virginia this evening in the ACC Men's Lacrosse Tournament Semifinal. It marked Crotty's second straight eight-point performance against the No. 1 Cavaliers this season.

Duke (11-3)used a 14-1 run over a span of four quarters to beat the third-seeded Cavaliers for the second time in three weeks. The Blue Devils held Virginia's third-ranked scoring offense without a goal for 37:15.

"We had a great game plan going in," senior goaltender Rob Schroeder said. "We wanted to get out on them and make them make plays. The defense played great and we executed what we had to do and so did the offense."

"It was totally unexpected," head coach John Danowski said. "You play the No. 1 team in the country and you know how talented they are so it was totally unexpected. I thought we got great efforts from a lot of people. It was truly a team victory. We had a lot of guys who made plays over the course of 60 minutes. I'm very proud of everyone."

Second-seeded Duke advances to the championship game for the fourth time in five seasons and will take on fourth seed North Carolina in the title tilt on Sunday, April 26 at 3:30 p.m., on Fox Sports South. The Tar Heels defeated top seed Maryland 16-10 in the first semifinal of the day.

The win is Duke's seventh straight over Virginia as no current Duke player has lost to the Cavaliers. It is the Blue Devils' second win over the nation's top team as they defeated Virginia earlier in the year when it was undefeated.

"We were confident when we played them the first time and after the way we played them then our confidence grew," Crotty said. "We had a great week of practice and we didn't want to come here and only play one game. We came to play two and we put ourselves in a position to do that."

Crotty posted four goals and four assists to lead all scorers, while sophomore Zach Howell added three goals and two helpers to match his career-high. Junior Will McKee piled on two scores and one assist as Duke got goals from 10 different players and at least one point from 13 different Blue Devils.

Shamel Bratton led the way for the Cavaliers with two goals as Duke's defense stifled the high-powered Virginia offense. Schroeder made crucial saves in the game, finishing with seven on the evening.

It was a quick start for both teams as Virginia (13-2) and Duke traded goals in the opening 19 seconds. The Cavaliers won the opening faceoff, picking up the ground ball in the open field and raced to the cage. Rookie Steele Stanwick fed Danny Glading right in front of the net for the opening score just 11 seconds into the contest.

The Blue Devils came right back eight seconds later with the equalizer. Rookie CJ Costabile picked up the ground ball off the faceoff and took the open lane down the middle of the field. Drawing the defense to his stick, he flipped the ball to senior Ned Crotty who put it away for a 1-1 game at the 14:41 mark.

"They came out to a fast start, but we didn't back down at all," Crotty said. "We weren't at all nervous and we came right back and got pretty much the same exact goal on our end and we never really looked back."

One minute later it was sophomore Zach Howell connecting with redshirt freshman Justin Turri for the 2-1 lead. The blistering scoring pace continued as Crotty handed out a helper to Sam Payton 14 seconds later to make it 3-1 Duke with 13:27 left to play in the first quarter.

From that point on the Duke defense took over as it allowed the Cavaliers just one goal over the next 37:15. Meanwhile, the offense was firing on all cylinders, racking up eight goals for an 11-2 lead with six minutes left to play in the third quarter.

After taking a 5-2 lead after the opening 15 minutes, Duke added two more scores in the second frame for a 7-2 lead after the break. The two goals by Virginia were the fewest for the Cavaliers this season. The second stanza also marked the first time this season the Cavaliers have been held scoreless in a quarter.

"Once you get more confidence it keeps going," Schroeder said. "Especially on the defensive end, when the offense keeps scoring we love it. It makes us play a lot better."

The third frame was all Blue Devils as the offense got four goals from four different players in 6:36 for the 11-2 lead. Crotty started the run at the 13:07 mark with an unassisted score, while Catalino finished the run off an assist from the ACC Player of the Year, Crotty on a man-up opportunity.

Duke made it a 9-0 run in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, getting two goals from Howell and a third from Crotty for an astounding 14-2 advantage.

The Cavaliers scored three goals in the final 7:46 to finish with six for the game, while senior Jay Jennison got his first tally of the season for the Blue Devils in the final minutes. Stephen Coyle rounded out the scoring for Duke off an assist from McKee.

"You can always feel confident, but you can't be overconfident because you know that Virginia is a team that at any point in time can get a run going," Crotty said. "They can get one, two, three, four, five goals and they're right back in it. I would say with about two minutes left we realized we had it in the bag."

Payton won 8-of-18 restarts and picked up two ground balls. Duke finished 11-of-24 Junior Max Quinzani led the way with eight ground balls to go with his career-best two assists.

Duke's man-down defense was outstanding, holding Virginia to just 1-of-7 on extra man opportunities. Defensively overall, the Blue Devils kept the Cavaliers to just 15 shots on goal and 34 shots for the game. The nation's top team had just five shots on goal in the opening 30 minutes.

The Blue Devils fired 44 shots overall and 25 on frame. Duke won the ground ball battle 37-34 and went 1-of-3 on man-up opportunities. Sophomore Sean Brady spelled Schroeder in the final 7:46 and made three saves.

Adam Ghitelman had nine stops for the Cavaliers before being relieved by Mark Wade in the final 9:24.

Duke and North Carolina square off at 3:30 p.m., on April 26 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. The game will be televised live by FSN South. Tickets are available for $10 for adults and $8 for students and youth. Complete ACC Championship information is available by clicking here.

"One of the things I've learned about this tournament is that you're so beat up after Friday night," Danowski said. "It's such a physical game to get to Sunday that really you have to manage Saturday really well."