‘Really starting to pay off’: Duke’s men’s lacrosse rides Adler, O’Neill past Virginia at home
Junior forward Dyson Williams had a hat trick with 11:29 left in Thursday’s game to put Duke up 15-6 against previously undefeated Virginia in the conference. When preseason All-American faceoff specialist Petey LaSalla wasn’t on point in the next game despite going 14 for 23, it might as well have been the Cavaliers waving the white flag.
Continuing a streak that began in 2005, No. 14 Duke again defeated No. 6 Virginia in the teams’ regular season meeting. This time at home at Koskinen Stadium just days after falling narrowly to Notre Dame, the Blue Devils did it by a commanding 17-8 margin. And thanks to an otherworldly performance from goaltender Mike Adler and the continued dominance of sophomore forward Brennan O’Neill, the game was never close.
“There’s nothing better than winning a lacrosse game…. Especially against a team like UVA,” Adler said. “We had a really sour feeling after the last game against Notre Dame…. But we stuck together, tough training during the week, and it showed today.
It took almost 10 minutes for each team to score a goal. Around this time, it looked like it would turn into a defensive slugfest, and it was Adler’s time to shine. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native recorded four saves in the first 10 minutes, including one jumping back into the crease, and 20 in total for the game, tying his career high.
Even after the Blue Devils (10-5, 2-2 in the ACC) started rolling offensively – and when they did, they did—Adler never let go, becoming a wall between the back of the net and the Cavaliers (9-3, 4-1 in the ACC).
“He made the saves the team needed and played very, very well…. He had 20 [saves] against those guys, especially after Notre Dame, where he’s only got five. It shows his character, his ability to shake off a bad day,” head coach John Danowski said.
Time and time again, whenever Virginia found a crack in Duke’s otherwise airtight defense, Adler was there to be the backstop. However, Adler himself credits his teammates for making those saves.
“I think I am the product of defense. So when the defense plays well, I play well. Those guys in front of me were the stars of the game,” Adler said.
The whole first quarter turned into a defensive clinic. The Blue Devils doubled the Cavaliers in ground pick-ups and limited them to hard-angled shots which made Adler’s job a little easier. Meanwhile, FOGO second Jake Naso went 3-1 against LaSalla during the first frame, helping Duke keep the ball out of the Cavaliers’ hands.
Although the offense took a while to break through, it ultimately didn’t matter as Blue Devil’s defensive core, led by senior Wilson Stephenson and junior Tyler Carpenter, gave him time to settle. warm up.
“These are the winning one-on-one battles with the ball. It helps whoever is defending the ball…. Today I think we played very well in front of [Adler]”, Danowski said.
However, once someone finally broke through, was it any wonder it was #34 in white? O’Neill, as he is known to do, beat his defender to propel the ball on an assist from senior midfielder Garrett Leadmon.
Thirty-four seconds later, he repotted another. After just 20:36, he scored a hat trick and Duke led 4-1.
In typical O’Neill fashion, when the Blue Devils needed someone to score, he showed up, scoring four goals by the end of the day. But he also showed he was more than a goalscorer, registering a career-high four assists.
“He’s starting to figure out how to play offense at the college level,” Danowski said of O’Neill’s growth. “He has such a unique skill set, and he’s still learning, he’s still growing, and I thought today he was very patient.”
Still, even with O’Neill and Adler showing up the way they did, Virginia wasn’t going to make it easy for Duke, rolling aggressively to regain possession after Adler’s exploits and forcing three missed clearances and 10 turnovers in the first. half time. Despite this, they couldn’t get past Adler more than twice for most of the first half.
Then a goal from rookie Reed Landin just over three minutes into the second, one from O’Neill and two in 35 seconds for Williams gave Duke a solid lead. Although the Cavaliers managed to get past Adler once again with 2:20 to go in the first half, they couldn’t stop Duke entering the locker room with a four-goal lead.
“It’s like a heavyweight fight, [where] they will kick. And they’re going to clinch some, they score a goal, they take the ball on a lap, and you have to recover. You might stagger a bit, but you’ll have to figure out how to resist the punches and then deliver your own,” Danowski said.
When Duke opened the third quarter with two saves from Adler and a strike from graduate forward Joe Robertson, it looked like the second half would be more or less the same. As far as Duke’s dominance goes, it was. As for the low score grind of it all, not so much.
Duke burst. While Virginia was able to respond to Robertson’s goal with relative ease, graduate midfielder Cameron Badour gave Duke a five-goal lead and rallied the crowd. A long-pole goal from midfielder Tyler Carpenter shortly after sent Koskinen into a frenzy.
After a brief intermission for a Virginia goal, senior midfielder Owen Caputo scored and then assisted on another Robertson mark before Landin netted his second. One more goal for Robertson in the third quarter would have virtually canceled the game for Duke, who finished the first 45 minutes with a 13-5 lead.
“We haven’t been able to play a full 60 minutes… but I think we’re all coming together and we’re coming together at the right time. I think past games, past practices – it’s really starting to pay off,” said said Adler.
Although the game was pretty much decided, the fourth quarter was delivered, as Adler tied his career-best save total, Williams completed his ninth hat-trick of the season and Landin completed his second hat trick in as many games.
After some ups and downs this season, the Blue Devils left the field with an uplifting win and played Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” in the locker room, perhaps symbolic of the team’s growth this season. . With plenty of time until their home game against North Carolina on May 1, Duke has plenty to build on.
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Sasha Richie is a junior at Trinity and the blue zone editor of the 117th volume of The Chronicle.