CHESTER, Pa. -- Duke attackman Case Matheis recorded a career-high four goals to help lead the sixth-ranked Blue Devils to a 13-8 win against No. 1 Notre Dame in the ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship semifinal at PPL Park. The fourth-seeded Blue Devils advance to the title game Sunday.
“It’s awesome,” Matheis said. “This is my first experience actually going to the ACC final. In my first two years we lost in the semis. Those games are turning points in that they were losses. This time we won and it’s another turning point in building our confidence and building our team dynamic.”
Danny Fowler made 12 saves in goal as the Duke defense held Notre Dame to scoreless droughts of 21:02 and 22:43 in the win. The Blue Devils have won four consecutive games and are allowing just 8.75 goals per game in that stretch.
Justin Guterding recorded his ninth-career hat trick and Kyle Rowe chipped in a goal to go with his 14 faceoff wins on 19 attempts. Rowe has won 48 of-60 faceoffs in the past four games for a .800 win percentage.
The first quarter was a sloppy one for both squads as Notre Dame and Duke combined for 10 turnovers overall and just six shots on goal. Fowler was outstanding in net for the Blue Devils in the opening frame with five saves on 12 shots faced. The scoreless first quarter marked just the first time all season Notre Dame had been held without a goal in a period.
Duke’s offense, after making seven turnovers in the first quarter, started to click in the second stanza. Matheis got his first of the day just 41 seconds into the period and the Blue Devils added two more from Kyle Keenan and Matheis over the next 2:38 for a 3-0 lead.
Notre Dame stopped its scoring drought at 21:02 with a Nick Osello tally, but the Blue Devils answered with a pair from Myles Jones and Guterding to take a 5-1 lead into the break. The halftime deficit was the first for the Fighting Irish all season.
The Blue Devils continued to cruise in the third quarter, scoring five goals on its first shots to extend the lead to 10-1 with 3:55 to play in the period. Meanwhile on the defensive end, Duke stifled Notre Dame’s offense in allowing just four shots before the Irish broke its 22-minute scoreless streak with 1:05 to play.
After Duke tacked on two more goals to start the fourth quarter for a commanding 12-2 lead, Notre Dame mounted a furious comeback effort with six unanswered in a span of 6:34 to cut the lead to 12-8 with 4:14 to play.
The Blue Devils got hit with a non-releasable penalty with under four to play, putting Notre Dame’s strong man-up squad on the field with a chance to narrow the deficit even more. Duke’s man-down squad buckled down and Fowler made two huge saves to slow the Fighting Irish’s momentum.
Guterding added a goal off a big ground ball and assist from Jones to ice the victory with 1:28 remaining. Jones finished with a goal and an assist to push his season point total to 68 and two shy of becoming the first midfielder in Duke history to score 70 points in a season. Jones’ 32 assists this season tied Jim Gonnella for the most by a Duke midfielder and rank ninth overall.