‘In family’: backed by Michael Sowers, Duke’s men’s lacrosse brings down High Point in the first round
The mythical hydra: cut off a head and two other shoots in its place. Perhaps the same could be said of Duke’s men’s lacrosse. While far from a perfect game, the Blue Devils’ first round victory over High Point was a clinic of skill in every position.
At Dorrance Field in Chapel Hill on Sunday night, second-seeded Duke faced the Panthers, who qualified for the tournament with an automatic offer after winning the Southern Conference, in an annihilation 27 rematch. -8 that the Blue Devils brought to High Point earlier this season. Although the Panthers improved between that date and Sunday, entering the game on a six-game winning streak, the Blue Devils ultimately advanced to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals with a decisive 16-10 win. , anchored by strong performance throughout the roster.
If anyone understands the depth of the Blue Devils and what it means to their opponents, it’s the team’s coach who was trying to beat them.
“In 21 years of coaching, I don’t know if I’ve seen such a complete team from top to bottom – offensively, defensively, the guys they throw at you on faceoff X, the keeper has been fantastic. today. And you know, an incredibly well-trained team and a team that is about as opportunistic as any I’ve ever coached against, ”said High Point head coach Jon Torpey.
That is true. In almost every metric Duke dominated, although High Point kept his foot on the accelerator and didn’t let the Blue Devils come away with an easy win. At a glance, Duke beat the Panthers 43-34, beat them on X 20-7, picked up 37 rushing balls at their 21’s and even recorded more saves, with graduate goaltender Mike Adler saving Panther Parker Green goaltender 14 shots on 12. But all you can say from a box score.
What you can’t say is that Michael Sowers, a graduate 2021 Tewaaraton Prize finalist And one Inside the All-American First Team Lacrosse, was relatively subdued after a four-point tear in the first quarter, only for graduate student Sean Lowrie to land his first hat-trick of the season and the Blue Devils finish with nine single scorers.
“These guys, they work so hard in training and… they played really well today. We weren’t surprised by this; they do it every week in practice. And for them, I think, to have kind of like a night out party today, it’s just great, ”Sowers said of Duke having unexpected contributions.
Nor can the box score show that an aggressive attack from High Point, playing with the zeal of a team with nothing to lose, eventually broke through in the third quarter, the first quarter of the game in which the Panthers recorded more shots on goal. than Duke. Despite this, Adler, an Inside Lacrosse second-team All-American, went on to become a brick wall and made six huge saves, ultimately holding the Panthers scoreless for nearly thirteen minutes in the third despite their best offensive effort. Match.
Not only did the Blue Devils not have an Achilles heel, but the ground anyone who gave up was immediately reclaimed by their teammates. Everyone on the team had their moment to shine, and everywhere, in every position, Duke was making smart plays and decisions that aren’t obvious on the scoresheet but reflect a carefully crafted depth and solidity throughout. throughout the season.
However, more important than the physical makeup was the state of mind that drove everyone into an elimination match.
“I think having that mindset every day, you know, we want one more week together as a group,” Sowers said of what motivates the Blue Devils to perform. “Like, we love each other, we love this team., And we just want one more week together. And next week it will be the same. You know, one more week together.”
This reflects the priorities of this team and of head coach John Danowski. Instead of training or drills, speaking of preparation for this game, the most important the Blue Devils have played all season, Danowski emphasized team dinners, movie and game nights and a PowerPoint with clips from movies like The Sandlot and Happy Gilmore to bring. the team together.
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“[We do] a lot of things in the family and that, I believe, will help us. I think it helped us today and it will help us move forward, ”said Danowski.
From top to bottom, Duke is family, and that dedication to one another shows all the way from supporting each other with smart play, to Brennan O’Neill celebrating the Specialist’s third goal of the season even harder. face-offs Jake Naso than Naso himself. Whether talented or stacked or whatever you want to call this team, the Blue Devils demonstrated on Sunday that they are selfless and willing to play for each other.
While there were certainly any weak spots – the clearance wasn’t as strong as one would like to see and the team had unusually sloppy second-half turnovers – the Blue Devils come forward, confident in each other’s way. others and in their identity as a team. Duke will then be on the field for a quarterfinal game against Loyola Maryland on May 23 in Notre Dame, Ind.