DURHAM, N.C. – The fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils finished the regular season with a 13-7 win over the Boston University Terriers at Koskinen Stadium on Sunday.
A modest crowd of 623 was on hand to take in the second-ever meeting between the two programs since the Terriers began Division I play last season.
Justin Guterding, the recently-named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Rookie of the Year, led all scorers with four goals and an assist, while linemates Jack Bruckner (3 goals) and Case Matheis (1 goal, 2 assists) supported the effort.
Chad Cohan’s two goals along with singles from Deemer Class, Kyle Keenan, and Justin George rounded out the Blue Devils offense.
Goalkeeper Danny Fowler (11 saves) carried most of the load to earn the win with Luke Aaron (2 saves) coming in for relief during the final six minutes of play.
Jack Wilson’s five points (1 goal, 4 assists) supported two-goal finishes from Pat Myers and Ryan Hilburn for the Terriers, while keeper Christian Carson-Banister stayed busy making 14 saves in the losing effort.
Highlights – ACC Digital Network
What would normally be a Senior Day game with the pomp and circumstance of presenting the team’s graduating players before the game at other schools, was instead just another chance for the Blue Devils to play a game before the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
“We don’t have Senior Days; we don’t do that because we have another game the next week,” Duke head coach John Danowski said.
“We don’t particularly make a big deal out of that.”
Makes sense for the defending two-time national champions who once again were in a position to begin the postseason at home.
Thus, by bringing in the Terriers, Duke was able to remain in game shape even while players worked through a busy week of practice and studying for, and writing final exams.
“It was kind of a disjointed week,” Danowski said.
“But, the fear is if you don’t play at all, you don’t play anybody until the tournament. So you’d rather play, and you take a chance of losing because that was certainly possible with the lack of focus on what we were doin’, but there’s more important things in the world than lacrosse this week.”
Add to that some game day changes that included playing right behind the women’s team, and it wasn’t surprising that Duke’s play seemed a little off to start the game.
That distraction allowed a motivated BU squad to catch the Blue Devils off guard – at least for the first half anyway.
Terriers draw man Sam Talkow won 13-of-21 draws on the day against Kyle Rowe (8-21) and brother Jack (2-3), including the first few pickups to assume early possession and control of play.
BU’s offense looked patient, poised and ready during the first six minutes, eventually opening the game’s scoring when Wilson beat Fowler at the 9:34 mark.
Danowski rolled in attack and midfield combinations of various players, some who’d rarely seen much playing time, and the Blue Devils threatened to even the score, giving Carson-Banister an increasingly busy workload.
Guterding hit the post at 7:19 mark and midfielder Myles Jones followed that up by hitting the crossbar a few minutes later.
Duke then got serious and put together a quick three-goal run which Bruckner started off, tying the game 1-1 with 2:51 remaining in the quarter.
Class then gave the Blue Devils their first lead, 2-1, 24 seconds later as he ripped a high-to-high shot past the BU keeper.
Guterding continued the Blue Devils run, and finished a play initiated by Matheis to extend the lead to two goals.
Trailing 3-1 after the first quarter, the Terriers outworked the Blue Devils for the next 15 minutes, and outscored them by a 4-2 margin.
Both teams went to their respective locker rooms at halftime tied at five apiece.
“You gotta’ tip your cap to BU,” Danowski said.
“I thought they were terrific – very well coached, very deliberate on offense. The goalie made some saves and we missed a couple of plays, and you’re in a game, which is good.”
“We just needed to get into it emotionally,” Matheis said.
“Coming out of the first half, we just weren’t playing emotionally as Duke players, like we know we could. We had to win ground balls, make excitement plays like Coach talked about to get everyone fired up, and we did just that with ground balls and some goals early on in the second half.”
Duke got more mentally engaged as Matheis described.
It only took Guterding 24 seconds to give Duke a 6-5 lead following a BU faceoff violation to start the third quarter.
With all eyes on him, Jones found the team’s leading goal scorer sitting all alone at the top of the crease and he made no mistake in beating Carson-Banister low.
Bruckner extended the lead to 7-5 and Jones was the set-up man again – zipping another feed inside that allowed the attackman to score his second of the game at the 12:40 mark.
Senior midfielder Justin George, scoring only his third career goal, pushed the Duke lead to three goals.
BU matched that as Myers beat Fowler, and pulled the Terriers back to within two goals, trailing 8-6 with 6:11 remaining.
Guterding scored his third on a feed from Class, a shot that hit the bottom bar inside the post and rebounded out quickly.
The official confirmed it was a goal, and Duke’s three-goal advantage was intact again, leading 9-6 to start the final quarter.
The Blue Devils gave the Terriers little time to breathe, and led by Cohan’s second goal just 40 seconds in, went on to eventually end the game with another 4-1 finish during the final 15 minutes of play.
“We’re just happy with the progress we’ve shown in the past few weeks,” Matheis said.
“We had a great week of practice. We’re gonna’ have another great week preparing for whoever we’re gonna’ play. Everyone’s very confident right now.”