DURHAM, N.C. – The 10th-ranked Duke Blue Devils outpaced the fourth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish by an 11-8 margin at Koskinen Stadium on Saturday.
Jack Bruckner led the Blue Devils with four goals while Kevin Quigley and John Prendergast added a pair of goals apiece.
Justin Guterding, Brad Smith, and Reilly Walsh rounded out the scoring for Duke as goalkeeper Danny Fowler made 10 saves and was critical to keeping Notre Dame’s snipers limited to no more than a pair of goals.
Sergio Perkovic, Mikey Wynne, and Ryder Garnsey each scored two goals for Notre Dame.
The Blue Devils made sure they didn’t fall behind like they did against North Carolina last week.
“The first quarter was an emphasis all week,” Duke head coach John Danowski said.
“We practiced the first quarter segments all week – 10-15 minutes of every day was emphasizing three or four things that we thought we should focus on in that first quarter in order to be successful.”
Highlights: Duke 11, Notre Dame 8 – ACC Digital Network (TheACC.com)
Outshooting Notre Dame 36-32, Duke limited the Irish to one goal in each of the second and third quarters.
Notre Dame keeper Shane Doss, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) leader in goals-against average and save percentage coming in, along with backup Owen Molloy combined for nine saves throughout in the losing effort.
Duke’s Kyle Rowe won 11-of-22 draws, while the Notre Dame tandem of P.J. Finley (7-14) and John Travisano (5-9) matched up evenly.
Duke turned the ball over a game-high 13 times, but took advantage of many possessions after Rowe claimed the ball that eventually established a lead they held throughout.
For Duke, finding the right spots on the cage to score on was a result of productive practice according to Bruckner.
“Good shots go,” he said.
“I think today, we were just hittin’ them.”
Goalkeeping made the difference in this one as Fowler made enough significant stops to keep the Irish from pulling back into the game during the third quarter in particular.
“We didn’t finish with the ball,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said.
“We had great opportunities. We really felt like on every offensive possession, we had a really good shot. We just didn’t put ‘em away. Their goalie played very well, made some big saves and we just did not put the ball in the back of the cage. They did and it gave them the opportunity to play with the lead all day. They’re better when they’re playin’ with the lead because they want to play patiently. They get you to hedge and draw, and your guys are more anxious to do that when they’re down three goals. So, it plays into their hands a little bit.”
While making adjustments in the cage by switching Doss for Molloy and back to Doss, it didn’t slow Duke’s offensive finish.
Duke’s consistent and structured defensive play allowed Fowler to see many of Notre Dame’s outside shots.
However, not converting on man-up opportunities was the Irish’s key problem in not being able to pull back into this one.
Notre Dame came up empty-handed on all four of the man-up opportunities afforded in the game.
Corrigan put it all on the Fighting Irish not finishing the job offensively.
“Our lack of scoring today was not (because of) Duke’s defense,” he said.
“Look back at the possessions and if you can find five possessions where you can find where we didn’t have a great shot then I’ll change my mind. I thought we had great shots, but we didn’t score today. Their goalie played very well, but we had the opportunities we felt we would get. We just didn’t score on them.”
Duke carried a 6-4 lead into the halftime break and added to it with four more to lead 10-5 heading into the final period.
While Notre Dame won the final 15 minutes of play, a successful comeback didn’t materialize.
The win put Duke at 9-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play, while the Irish dropped to 5-3 overall and 1-2 against ACC opponents.
Wynne opened the game’s scoring on a high-low quick-stick past Fowler on a feed from Perkovic just 54 seconds into it.
While Duke earned possessions to even the score, turnovers denied any positive result and provided the Fighting Irish the opportunity to extend their lead.
A strong defensive stand earned the Blue Devils the clear, and with a delayed penalty flag thrown, Bruckner connected on a 10-yard sidearm from top left that beat Doss high to even the score 1-1 with 8:40 to play in the period.
A save by Fowler gave Duke the ball back and eventually resulted in the Blue Devils’ go-ahead goal after a scramble in front of the Notre Dame crease.
As Doss trapped the ball to rake it up, Bruckner managed to swipe his stick underneath and push the ball into the goal.
Quiqley’s running sidearm to Doss’ left extended the Blue Devils lead to 3-1 at the 5:46 mark.
Bruckner tallied his hat trick 42 seconds later, this time a 10-yarder from top-right.
It was Bruckner’s seventh three-plus goal game of the season.
After an 11-minute scoring drought and with the shot clock counting down, Perkovic went high-low from 10 yards at top-left and beat Fowler low and to his right.
Garnsey kept the Irish momentum rolling and beat Fowler high just past goal-line extended and cut the Duke lead to one with 1:54 to go.
Walsh connected on the Blue Devils’ next possession and reestablished the home-side’s two goal lead at 5-3.
A shot off the crossbar from Bruckner ended the period with Duke still leading by two.
Doss was replaced in goal by Molloy to start the quarter.
Both teams were scoreless through the opening minutes of the quarter, each trading turnovers and possessions accordingly.
Notre Dame’s defense withstood an extended Duke possession and eventually drew a penalty to earn its first extra-man opportunity (EMO) of the game.
Still playing through the delayed call, Wynne connected on a quick-stick feed from Garnsey and the Fighting Irish deficit was back down to one with 8:29 to play in the half.
A loss off the draw denied Notre Dame any time with the one-minute EMO as Duke played keep-away until the penalty expired.
The Blue Devils then got a goal back when Smith ripped a 12-yard sidearm that beat Molloy low.
The Duke lead was back to two, 6-4.
For the remaining seven minutes of play, both teams tightened up defensively and carried the two-goal differential into halftime.
Guterding opened the half with a spin-around high-high release following a drive from X to Molloy’s side-right.
Just under two minutes later Prendergast ripped a shot from top-center to put Duke’s stranglehold on the Irish at 8-4 with 11:46 to play in the period.
Notre Dame loosened the grip a little when John Sexton answered back 13 seconds later.
Duke’s lead swelled to four again when Prendergast completed a frenzied run down the right side, cut back in to the left and unleashed a snipe that handcuffed Molloy.
The Blue Devils led 9-5 with 9:10 to go.
Perkovic tried to cut the Irish deficit on an EMO, but a save by Fowler and a successful clear continued to keep Notre Dame off the sheet in man-up situations.
Another 10-yard sidearm from Quigley gave Duke its largest lead, 10-5, and brought Doss back into the game to once again defend the Notre Dame goal.
Two big stops by Fowler during the final three minutes of the period extended the Irish scoring drought to 12 minutes as the Blue Devils carried a 10-5 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame finally showed some life when Perkovic finally beat Fowler high for his second of the game, and made it a four-goal game with 14:20 remaining.
Both teams played scoreless for 11 minutes until Garnsey beat Fowler in close and cut the Duke lead to 10-7.
With 3:42 to go, Notre Dame looked to take advantage of a Duke penalty for pushing to cut the deficit down further.
Smith lessened the chance of a miraculous Irish comeback when he ripped one high past Doss with 1:27 to play.
Though little consolation for Notre Dame, Brenson Gleason finalized the game’s scoring with an in-close high snipe past Fowler.