Duke rallied from an early deficit to beat Syracuse 16-10 on Monday and win its second NCAA men’s lacrosse title.
The Blue Devils trailed 5-0 in the second quarter. Jordan Wolf had four goals for Duke (16-5). Josh Offit and Josh Dionne each scored three times.
”We were down 5-0 and we really had no choice, we had to make the next play, and that’s who we are, we responded,” said Duke coach John Danowski, who won his second national championship at Duke. ”We got in their grills a little bit, we told them they had to play a little tougher and a little harder than they were playing. We slowed our slide down, and start to slow things down on offense.”
But the real star for the Blue Devils was junior faceoff man Brendan Fowler, who won 13 straight at one point to give Duke possession for long stretches. Fowler won 20 of 28 faceoffs overall and was honored as the game’s most outstanding player.
”Obviously winning faceoffs and getting the ball back makes it a lot easier to score goals,” said Fowler, a walk-on special teams player on Duke’s football team. ”But early, I violated (the faceoffs circle) a few times and kind of let it get into my head a little bit. Once I cooled down a little and stuck to what I do every day, we got into a groove there and it just felt pretty good going out there every time.”
The Blue Devils failed to score on their first 11 shots but closed out with 10 of the game’s last 13 goals.
”We had the early lead in the game and we were obviously feeling good about things, but we were smart enough to know it’s a game of runs, especially with all of the games we’ve been in,” Syracuse coach John Desko said. ”I told John after the game to buy his faceoff guy a big steak because he deserves one. We just couldn’t get the ball in the second half.”
Dylan Donahue led Syracuse (16-4) with three goals. JoJo Marasco scored two fourth-quarter goals 35 seconds apart, pulling the Orange within 13-9 with 7:36 to play.
Offit gave Duke its first lead of the game, 8-7, on an unassisted goal with 2:01 left in the third quarter. Offit’s goal was part of a 7-0 Duke run.
”We just wanted to get one in, and once that happened, we knew we would get comfortable,” Duke’s Jake Tripucka said. ”We knew if we let that hole get any bigger, we knew we weren’t going to be able to climb out of it. But we had faith in Brendan. We knew he was going to get the ball back for us.”
NOTES: Monday’s championship game was the 10th meeting between Duke and Syracuse . Syracuse leads the all-time series 6-4, but Duke has won the last three meetings . In addition, Monday’s game marked the fifth meeting in an NCAA Tournament game between the two teams, but first ever in the championship game.