May 15, 2010

SIDEBAR: Loss Gives Hopkins First Losing Season Since 1971

By Harold Gutmann
Special to

DURHAM, N.C.--Duke unveiled a big surprise in pre-game warmups before Saturday's first-round NCAA Division I men's lacrosse match with Johns Hopkins.

Instead of freshman goalie Dan Wigrizer, who started 14 of 16 games this season, the fifth-seeded Blue Devils went with junior Mike Rock, who had played all of 84 minutes this spring.

But as the game went on, Duke's offense was so dominant it didn't seem to matter who was in net. The Blue Devils scored 10 straight goals to open the second half and wound up with an 18-5 win at its home Koskinen Stadium.

Ned Crotty had two goals and six assists while Max Quinzani had four goals and an assist to lead the Blue Devils (13-4), who beat the Blue Jays (7-8) in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997. That streak includes losses to Johns Hopkins in the 2005 and 2007 championship games and the 2008 semifinals.

"Having them end our season my freshman and sophomore year was horrible," defenseman Parker McKee said. "To come back and be able to do it against them was great."

Duke advances to next Saturday's quarterfinals at Princeton Stadium where it meets the winner of Sunday's first-round game between No. 4 North Carolina and Delaware.

Johns Hopkins, which had advanced to the quarterfinals every year since 1991, went 33 1/2 minutes without a goal, starting early in the second quarter until midway through the fourth.

In the meantime Duke collected 12 unanswered goals and led 18-4 with 9:41 remaining.

"It was a good two weeks of practice and Ned I were able to get in a groove," said Quinzani, who is second in the nation in goals (61). "We went into this very confident and the goal looked about as big as an ocean to me."

After a slow start, Duke's offense has exploded in the last 11 games, scoring 172 times.

While Duke went with an upperclassman in net, Hopkins stuck with its freshman, Pierce Bassett. Duke took advantage, scoring on its first five shots on goal to take an early 5-2 lead.

Steve Schoeffel -- who matched career-highs with three goals and four points -- started the scoring four minutes in, followed quickly by faceoff specialist Sam Payton. Blue Jays' leading scorer Steven Boyle beat Rock to make it 2-1, but Quinzani banked a shot off the post a minute later to keep Duke ahead by two.

Duke opened up a 5-2 lead two minutes later on a pair of assists by Crotty, who fed long-pole Tom Montelli and attackman Zach Howell 11 seconds apart. Crotty -- who came into the game with a nation-best 3.19 assists a game average -- had three in the first quarter alone.

"Our offense has been so fluid recently, finding guys has been really easily," Crotty said.

Despite an 11-3 edge in faceoffs in the first half, the game was still in reach for the Blue Jays when Tom Palasek scored his second goal to get within 6-4 with 11 minutes to play in the second quarter. But the next time Hopkins found the net again with 7:29 remaining, the game was out of reach.

"They played at a different level than we did today," Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala said.

Duke finished with a big edge in shots (40-15), ground balls (37-17) and faceoffs (18-9). McKee thought that the Blue Devils' depth and conditioning may have led to the dominant second half.

"They don't play as many guys as we do, and for us to throw fresh bodies at the faceoff and then offense, make their guys stay on the field, that constant grind wears you down," McKee said. "You don't really see the effect that has but it really grinds you, especially in this heat."

After Quinzani scored with 12 seconds left before halftime to make it 8-4, Crotty found Howell cutting to goal just 57 seconds into the second half. That started an 8-0 third quarter for Duke, who scored twice again early in the fourth quarter before emptying the bench.

Rock finished with two saves and allowed four goals in three quarters.

"It's a long year around here for freshmen," coach John Danowski said about Wigrizer, who played 10 minutes in the fourth quarter. "A long year academically, it's a grind in school. We thought Danny was getting a little tired. We believe we can win with all of our goalies, and we thought Mike Rock deserved a chance."