May 14, 2011

Duke Survives Furious Delaware Rally, Will Play Notre Dame in NCAA Quarterfinals

by Kelly Parsons | | Live Blog Replay

Duke midfielder Jake Tripucka scored a goal early in the Blue Devils' wild 15-14 win over Delaware, but left the game with an injured leg.

© Peyton Williams

DURHAM, N.C. -- With just less than five minutes remaining in Saturday's first-round NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament matchup, Duke attackman Zach Howell scored his fourth goal of the game to extend the No. 5-seeded Blue Devils' lead against Delaware to five goals.

Trailing 15-10, the Blue Hens appeared to be down for the count at Duke's Koskinen Stadium.

But as far as Delaware was concerned, there was still a lot of lacrosse left to be played.

The Blue Hens went on a 4-0 run late in the fourth quarter to come within one goal, but fell short against the Blue Devils. Duke won the game 15-14, advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Delaware netted three goals in 30 seconds as the clock dwindled in the fourth quarter. Duke called a timeout to stop the Blue Hens' momentum, but when play resumed, a goal from long pole Taylor Burns -- a backhanded gem off the ground in front of the net -- brought the Blue Hens within one with 19 seconds left.

For junior attackman Grant Kaleikau, there was only one way to describe his team's attempted comeback.

"It was just momentum, just riding momentum," Kaleikau said. "This sport is a game of momentum and we rode it out, but we couldn't get that last run. Twenty more seconds... and maybe it's a different game."

Duke came out strong in the first half, and with just more than 14 minutes left before intermission, the Blue Devils led Delaware 7-1.

Zach Howell, who led the Blue Devils with four goals and an assist, said maintaining the urgency after jumping to a quick lead was especially challenging.

"It's very tough," he said. "At that point you just really have to bear down and be strong mentally. We knew that they were going to punch back. We didn't know when it was coming, but we knew that they were going to come back with their best shot."

And just before halftime, that's exactly what Delaware did.

The Blue Hens controlled the game late in the second quarter, and a goal early in the third quarter capped a 5-0 Delaware run. Kaleikau led the Blue Hens with three goals and three assists.

Delaware coach Bob Shillinglaw didn't seem surprised by the game's back-and-forth scoring.

"[Lacrosse] is a game of spurts," he said. "They got their second or third spurt in, and we got ours in as the game was winding down. But they definitely popped us in the beginning."

Delaware outshot Duke 40-30 and the Blue Hens won 19 of 32 faceoffs. But neither advantage was enough to fuel the Blue Hens to a victory in their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

The Blue Devils will travel next weekend and play No. 4 Notre Dame in the NCAA quarterfinals. Having defeated Notre Dame in the national championship game last season, but lost to thethem in each of the last two regular-season meetings, Duke is familiar with the Fighting Irish.

But as the Blue Devils prepare for their next opponent, Duke coach John Danowski said last year's success is far behind them.

"The beauty of coaching, why we do what we do, is that every year is different," Danowski said. "And that makes it so much fun."

News and Notes

Duke's starting goalkeeper, sophomore Dan Wigrizer, did not play Saturday due to a concussion. Senior Mike Rock started in his place and made a career-high 12 saves... Blue Devils midfielder Jake Triupucka scored a goal early, but left the game with an injured leg... There was about a half-hour weather delay between the third and fourth quarters.

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