October 7, 2011

Duke's Goalie Situation Remains in Flux

by Chris R. Vaccaro | LaxMagazine.com

Incumbent starter Dan Wigrizer bulked up in the offseason to stake his claim between the pipes for Duke.

© Joe Rogate

When Duke lost to Maryland, 9-4, in the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse semifinals, it was beat by a physically more mature team.

"We expected that," said Blue Devils coach John Danowski. "There was nothing to do to fix that."

That was then, and this is now. Freshmen and sophomores are now sophomores and juniors. They spent the summer lifting and conditioning, and did the same when they reached campus in September. And for the last week, Duke has conducted its fall ball workouts with many questions on the field still being answered.

"Freshmen are always so far behind the upperclassmen," Danowski said. "The focus was on the weight room. Our strength and speed coaches did a great job with them."

Duke will meet Team USA at Cardinal Gibbons High School in North Carolina on Sunday as the finale of the US Lacrosse Stars & Stripes weekend.

Fall Ball Brief

Net gain: The goaltending situation seems to be a perennial question for Duke. This year there are four goalies on the roster and "they are all making saves in practice," according to Danowski.

Junior Dan Wigrizer started 17 games last season, recording an 11-6 record and .550 save percentage. He also started 16 games as a freshman and was 12-4, leading Duke to the 2010 national championship. "He's a little bigger and stronger," Danowski said.

Then there's Mike Rock, entering his fifth year, sophomore Chris Shannon, who saw limited time in four games last season, and freshman Kyle Turri, the most intriguing of the bunch. The U.S. U19 team member joins cousin Justin Turri on the roster.

"With Kyle's presence being a lefty, it's a little different," Danowski said.

This fall the Blue Devils have let long stick defenders only use short sticks, allowing for different shots and more action in net.

"It's been fun," Danowski said. "They're seeing a few more uncontested shots or looks they wouldn't see during the year."

Howell's replacement: There's no replacing Zach Howell, but Duke will do its best to fill the gap he leaves behind in leadership and stats. Howell scored 134 goals and added 58 assists during his four-year career. Production will have to come from various spots on the offensive side of the ball to recoup what Howell provided. The good thing is the next three scorers from last year's roster are back and are young: sophomores Jordan Wolf (31g, 19a) and Christian Walsh (21g, 34a) and junior David Lawson (23g, 9a).

Injury update: Junior Jake Tripuka had a sports hernia repaired recently, but Danowski is hopeful he will return with at least a week or two left to play in the fall.

Impact freshmen: Duke played eight freshmen and seven sophomores by the end of the 2011 season, so it will be even tougher for the new crop of underclassmen to break onto the field. Kyle Keenan, a Long Island product, will play attack and could be a player who finds considerable playing time. Although Luke Duprey and CJ Costabile are both strong defenders, Brian Dailey has proven to be a speedy and elusive long stick midfielder.

"Down the line, he's going to be very good," Danowski said.

Will Haus is another freshman on attack that Danowski likes after what he has seen through the first week of fall. He likened him to Keenan in terms of his potential immediate impact.

Turri, at goalie, is also the obvious freshman to keep your eye on in net.

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