The Virginia Cavaliers continued their struggles today in a 17-8 loss to the 14th ranked Duke Blue Devils. Petey LaSalla won 14 of his 23 face-offs and Duke turned the ball over seven more times than Virginia, but the extra possessions weren’t enough for the Wahoos.
The first quarter started slowly with neither team scoring until 5:04 remaining in the first when Duke’s Brennan O’Neil snuck a low angle shot past Mathew Nunes. Duke’s star player followed that up with another tally 34 seconds later to give the Blue Devils an early 2-0 lead.
While the Virginia offense looked stagnant throughout the first quarter, freshman Griffin Schutz drew a flag and gave the ‘Hoos an extra-man-opportunity. A timeout allowed offensive coordinator Sean Kirwan to draw up a play and utilize the advantage to generate a step-down shot for Peter Garno who stung the corner to bring UVA within one by the end of the first period.
The back-and-forth nature of the game carried on into the second quarter. Following a number of up-and-down possessions for either team, Duke’s Reed Landin found pay dirt in transition as he just snuck the ball below the crossbar to put the Devils up 3-1.
O’Neil scored his third of the day a few minutes later, but Matt Moore got himself on the board to match that. Yet, after that Moore goal the Blue Devils went on a 3-0 run that put them up 7-2. Fortunately for Virginia, Jeff Conner cut that off with 2:20 left in the first half of play to bring UVA within four goals at halftime.
The Duke offense stayed hot early in the third quarter with Charlottesville native Joe Robertson notching his first goal of the afternoon to grow Duke’s lead to five. Moore scored on a step-down shot off a Petey LaSalla face-off win and transition opportunity. But O’Neil’s dominance couldn’t be contained as he drew help and found Cameron Badour for an easy step-down a few possessions later.
Duke long stick midfielder Tyler Carpenter broke through that Wahoo defense in transition just over a minute later to put Duke ahead by a whopping six goals. A Xander Dickson tally from a Connor Shellenberger feed off a tick-tack-toe transition play gave UVA some hope of a comeback especially considering how the ‘Hoos had won the possession battle throughout the game.
That wasn’t to be though. Duke’s Owen Caputo dodged down the right wing and slipped a tricky low angle shot past Nunes to jump start a 4-0 run for Mike Danowski’s squad. By the time UVA scored again — as Griffin Schutz bullied his way through Duke’s defense to score and draw a flag — the Duke lead was up to eight. Soon after it became nine after Dyson Williams scored his third of the game to put the Devils up 15-6. That goal was essentially the final nail in Virginia’s coffin before Duke closed out the 17-8 win.
After starting the season 6-0, Virginia is 2-3 in its last five games. Duke has dominated the ‘Hoos since Danowski took over (20-2), but this loss against a Blue Devil squad that has lost five games already this season is a disappointment. This also puts UVA at risk of losing out on hosting a first round game in the NCAA Tournament as the remaining games against Syracuse, Quinnipiac, and Lafayette provide little opportunity to resume boost.