DURHAM, N.C. – The fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils used a dominating second-half scoring run to complete a commanding 14-8 win over the 14th-ranked Loyola Greyhounds at Koskinen Stadium on Saturday.
Myles Jones and Deemer Class each posted four goals and an assist to lead the seven-goal scoring surge all by themselves as the Blue Devils trailed the Greyhounds 8-7 with 12:17 to play in the third quarter.
It was an erratic start to the game as neither team looked sharp on offense, both turning it over on missed passes and shot coverage.
It would be a ground ball battle throughout, one which Duke eventually won by a 35-20 margin.
Loyola won the opening faceoeff and had possessions early, but turned it over on three straight sequences to start the game.
Draw man Graham Savio (10-23), along with Brendan Donovan (2-2), gave the Greyhounds equal opportunity to gain possessions at the faceoff-X against Duke’s Jack Rowe (13-25) from start to finish.
However, it was the Blue Devils who took advantage of their opportunities earlier rather than later.
Class put Duke ahead at the 10:27 mark, working on an isolation play from top-right before finishing the play with a bounce shot that beat Loyola keeper Grant Limone.
While facing 48 shots around his cage throughout the game, Limone came up with 15 saves in the losing effort.
Duke’s defense showed some strength early and continued to keep the Loyola offense on the perimeter and scoreless through the first 10 minutes of play.
“They have a lot of weapons,” Duke defender Jamie Ikeda said of the Greyhounds offense.
“With their first six, it’s pick and choose who to guard really. It took some time to get settled in. Some people say we’re a young defense. I think we’re really mature now after the first couple of games. We’re finding our own identity I guess. Once we got settled, I think we really locked it in.”
Jack Bruckner beat Limone with a bouncer of his own, coming from the top of the crease to extend the Blue Devils lead to 2-0.
Loyola’s freshman keeper made 10 saves during the first half and kept Loyola’s deficit as small as possible.
At the other end of the field, Luke Aaron was sharp in the Blue Devils cage early on.
“I think it was big for our defense to get a few stops early,” Class said.
“They’re definitely an explosive offense, so being able to limit them early and get the ball to our offense and just get a couple of takes, get our feet settled, and get into our rhythm. Some of those early stops really helped out.”
Tanner Scott scored his lone goal of the game and put Duke up by three.
Brian Sherlock scored his first of three – a quick response to the Greyhounds falling behind by three.
The goal broke the Greyhounds’ 12-minute scoring silence from the opening faceoff.
Attackman Case Matheis was left all alone on a Duke fast break and ripped a high-to-low shot past Limone to give Duke a 4-1 lead.
It was the first of three he would score on the day.
Another low shot from Matheis extended the lead to four goals early in the second quarter.
Romar Dennis then ripped a shot streaking down the right wing that beat Aaron from 12 yards out.
The Greyhounds trailed 5-2 with 11:26 to play in the half.
Matheis completed his hat trick two minutes later, giving Duke its biggest lead of the game at that point.
Sherlock then found space from 15 yards out and cut the Duke lead back down to three, 6-3.
Capping off Loyola’s longest controlled possession of the half, Dennis finished his scoring for the day as he beat Aaron with a high-to-high rip from 15 yards out that cut the Blue Devils’ lead further.
With the lead at two goals, Bruckner hit the post and a turnover eventually put the ball back in the Greyhounds’ crosses.
Nikko Pontrello took advantage of the opportunity, going high-to-low to score his only goal of the day on Aaron.
Loyola trailed 6-5 with 3:25 to play.
Danny Fowler then came into the game to tend the cage for Duke in relief of Aaron.
“It’s not planned, for sure,” head coach John Danowski said of pulling his starting keeper.
“At the end of one quarter, it was 4-1. So now you’re thinkin’ ‘oh, everything’s goin’ great’. They score five goals and make it look pretty easy. I thought we played pretty good defense. I couldn’t tell exactly where the shots were comin’ from, but they looked like they were from outside a little bit and it didn’t look like Luke was seein’ the ball. Like any other player, sometimes you come out for a second, take a break, take a rest, get a drink of water, and we’ll get you back in at the start of the second half.”
Loyola tied the game 6-6 with 1:07 to play.
Rowe then took it upon himself to give Duke the lead back.
He won the draw and sprinted towards Limone and scored to give the Blue Devils a 7-6 advantage at the half.
Aaron returned to the cage to start the third quarter.
He still looked shaky as Zach Herreweyers scored two straight, his production for the day, all in a three-minute span.
Loyola had its first lead of the game, an 8-7 advantage, but it didn’t hold up for long.
The Greyhounds would not beat Aaron for the remainder of the game.
“It’s where you are at the moment,” Loyola coach Charlie Toomey said.
“We want to be the team that has the opportunity to come back. This team’s a little bit at a crossroads. I saw signs of a team that was ready to bull its neck and put a little pressure on Duke. We came out in that second quarter and I thought we played with some energy, and then things started to go Duke’s way, to their credit. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re athletic as advertised in their midfield and they got a couple. I just felt like it didn’t allow us to be comfortable in our zone. We had to come out of that a little bit. You can’t give Duke second chances. They’re gonna’ take advantage of it.”
For the rest of the game, it was Jones and Class who put pulled Duke even and ahead for good.
Jones tied it up with a powerful high-to-low shot that beat Limone at the 11:25 mark.
Class then threaded a sidearm high from a tight goal-line extended angle from the keeper’s left side that picked the corner over his shoulder.
Duke led 9-8.
Tenacious ground ball hustle and a pick up by Scott helped to set up Duke’s next scoring play as Jones finished a pass from Matheis.
The Duke midfielder’s eight-yard bouncer pushed the Duke lead to 10-8 with three minutes to play in the quarter.
Jones scored his third with 49 seconds remaining as Duke finished another productive possession.
The Blue Devils shut out Loyola during the final quarter of play 3-0 as Jones got his fourth and Class matched him by posting his final two goals of the game.
That was all Duke needed as it completed the game’s scoring with 4:39 left on the clock.