DURHAM, N.C. – The 10th-ranked Duke Blue Devils posted their second win in three days, powering past Cleveland State 22-7 at Koskinen Stadium on Sunday.
Following up on Friday’s 10-5 win over High Point, junior attackman Justin Guterding’s 10 points – four goals and six assists – set the tone to simply overwhelm the first-year Vikings.
Jack Bruckner’s five goals, along with a hat trick from Brad Smith and two from freshman Joey Manown helped carry the bulk of scoring from 11 different Blue Devils.
After losing its season opener to No. 17 Air Force on Feb. 5th, Duke’s back-to-back wins over the weekend provided a young team more playing time together to develop chemistry and accumulate valuable game reps.
“It’s Feb. 12 and we’ve played three games already,” head coach John Danowski said.
“We have 180 minutes of game experience that we didn’t have eight days ago and that’s really the biggest thing.”
During Friday’s postgame presser, Danowski pointed out that scheduling two games so close together this early in the season was important to provide a tournament-style itinerary for his team.
The Blue Devils responded resoundingly well and pushed their overall record to 2-1, while Cleveland State suffered its second straight loss, yet to win a game.
Eventually thoroughly beating up on a newcomer to Division I lacrosse, and carrying a 12-6 lead at halftime, Duke showed its commitment to improving its defensive play by allowing only one goal during the final 30 minutes of play.
Cleveland State was led by a pair of goals each from Danny Tesler and Jake Lewis while goalkeepers Caleb Espinoza (8 saves) and Austin Boyer (2 saves) contended with 32 of 42 total Duke shots that made it to the cage.
Three goalkeepers combined for 10 saves for Duke as starter Danny Fowler (3 saves), Turner Uppgren (6 saves), and David McCann (1 save) platooned to post valuable minutes this early in the season.
Uppgren was credited with his first win of the season.
While narrowly beating the Vikings to two more ground balls (38-36) and winning fewer draws (13-31), that was due to faceoff specialist Kyle Rowe not playing and allowing four other draw men to get reps in.
Teddy Henderson (6-15), Brian Smyth (4-6), long-stick midfielder Peter Welch (3-8), and Thomas Palisi (0-2) all took their place at the faceoff-X throughout the game, mostly against Tesler who was credited with 14-of-23 faceoff wins for Cleveland State.
“It takes a while for guys to understand what a game is like,” Danowski said.
“Practice is so compartmentalized that it’s hard to simulate the game experience. Our guys did a really good job I think of getting better each time out. I think we were a little better today than we were Friday night.”