BALTIMORE, MD. – The Duke Blue Devils men’s lacrosse team made quite a statement with an emphatic 19-6 first-round NCAA Tournament win over the sixth-seeded Johns Hopkins Blue Jays at Homewood Field on Saturday.
Sitting at No. 6 in the national rankings with a 12-4 record coming in, Duke was selected as the final team of the 17 competing for the 2017 national title – unseeded and playing away from home to start the postseason for only the fourth time in its history.
Though the selection committee followed its list of criteria to seed the field’s first eight teams, the questionable, bordering on erroneous, exclusion of the Blue Devils from that list was evident as they stripped down the Hopkins defense to its core.
Even with a strong RPI, the Blue Jays (8-7) stumbled into the postseason having lost three of their last five games and six of their last ten after a clean 4-0 start to the season.
With the announcement that starting goalkeeper Gerald Logan was academically ineligible, Johns Hopkins wasn’t ready to handle what the Blue Devils threw at them regardless of who stood in the cage.
Attackmen Justin Guterding posted a career-high 10-point (4 goals, six assists) performance and led Duke to the lopsided victory over the Blue Jays.
Fellow attack Joey Manown tallied four goals and an assist, while Sean Lowrie posted three goals and an assist – matching a career-high.
With Guterding and Jack Bruckner coming into the matchup as one of the nation’s most potent one-two combos up front, it actually was Duke’s second midfield that did major damage early.
After falling behind 2-0, Lowrie and Sean Cerrone initiated a run that put the Blue Devils ahead 6-3 by the end of the opening period.
By halftime, Duke’s lead stood at 12-5.
Kieran Eissler led Johns Hopkins with two goals, while Shack Stanwick had one goal and one assist – the only offensive bright spots during the opening 30 minutes as the Blue Jays managed to score only once for the remaining two periods.
Faceoff specialist Kyle Rowe won a season-high 18-of-24 draws and 15 ground balls, and enabled the Blue Devils to control possession for long periods and scoring at-will accordingly.
Goalkeepers Danny Fowler (8 saves) and Turner Uppgren (2 saves) shared duties to contain the Blue Jays offense to half of its 12-goal season average.
With its third straight postseason win over Johns Hopkins, Duke advanced to the quarterfinals next Saturday (May 20) in Hempstead, N.Y., and will face the winner of Sunday’s matchup between No. 3 Ohio State and Loyola.