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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #2 Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils didn’t win the national championship, but they did return to the title game for the first time in four years.

2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship - Semifinals Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete and fall ball just around the corner, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series this week with Loyola, Johns Hopkins, Albany, and Maryland.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#2 Duke Blue Devils

Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 16-4 (3-1 in ACC play)
Postseason: Lost to Notre Dame in ACC semifinal, Defeated Villanova, Johns Hopkins, and Maryland in NCAA Tournament, lost to Yale in NCAA National Championship
Head coach: John Danowski (12th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Justin Guterding (66)
Assists: Justin Guterding (47)
Points: Justin Guterding (113)
Faceoffs: Brian Smyth (156-of-303; 51.5%)
Ground balls: Brian Smyth (82)
Caused turnovers: Cade Van Raaphorst (23)
Goals against average: Danny Fowler (8.64 GAA)
Save percentage: Danny Fowler (53.2%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Justin Guterding (66 Gs, 47 As, 33 GBs), G Danny Fowler (8.64 GAA, 53.2% SV %, 38 GBs), M Peter Conley (28 Gs, 10 As, 19 GBs), D Kevin McDonough (36 GBs, 14 CTs), LSM Greg Pelton (56 GBs, 12 CTs, 1 G, 1 A), SSDM Sean Cerrone (15 GBs, 13 CTs, 1 G), LSM Peter Welch (45 GBs, 22 CTs, 1 G, 2 As), A Mitch Russell (1 G, 10 As), M David Gill (3 Gs, 1 A)
Senior scoring departing: 180 of 422 points (42.7%)
Senior starts lost: 88 of 200 (44%)

Season Summary

The last time we saw Duke in the national championship was in 2014 where they won their second title in two years. It took some time for them to return, but the senior class finally made their first trip to Championship Weekend.

The Blue Devils made easy work out of Air Force, High Point, and Jacksonville before taking on Denver in their annual matchup. It appeared as if the Pioneers would run away with the game at the end of the third quarter with a three-goal lead, but a seven-goal rally catapulted the Blue Devils to a three-goal victory. Joe Robertson had four goals in that quarter alone. However, Duke suffered their first loss of the season on the road to Penn, who ended the game on a four-goal run to get a one-goal win.

The Blue Devils picked up on their winning ways by taking care of Richmond and Loyola, stopping a second half run by Towson in a two-goal win, and beating Cleveland State in a low-scoring game before they entered ACC play. Against Syracuse at a rainy Koskinen Stadium, Jamie Trimboli scored the game-winning goal once again to lift the Orange to yet another one-goal victory over Duke for the second straight year. The Blue Devils responded the following week with another one-goal game, this time a win over North Carolina. The conference tournament was up next after regular season play concluded with wins over Notre Dame and Virginia, followed by a nonconference beatdown of Marquette. Unlike the first meeting with Notre Dame, which resulted in an 8-2 Duke win, both teams scored over 10 goals in the 60 minute semifinal. This time, the Fighting Irish went on a 5-1 run in the final 7:44 to upset the Blue Devils, 14-11. Following a win over Boston University on Senior Day, Duke prepared for the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Devils had no problem with Villanova and thwarted a Johns Hopkins comeback in the quarterfinals, thanks in part to two goals from Nakeie Montgomery, to help send the team back to Championship Weekend. Against Maryland in the semifinals, Duke opened the game on a 6-0 run, but eventually let the Terrapins back in the game. But the Blue Devils scored five of the final six goals in the game to advance to the national championship game against Yale. But despite hanging with the Bulldogs for the entire game, Duke didn’t have enough to overtake the Ivy Leaguers in a 13-11 defeat on Memorial Day.

Senior Justin Guterding capped off an unbelievable four-year career with the Blue Devils with 66 goals and 47 assists for 113 points. His 66 tallies led the country. Freshman Joe Robertson and sophomore Joey Manown started alongside the senior for most of the season. Junior Brad Smith continued to grow as a player and a leader at midfield, scoring 65 points to lead all middies. Peter Conley accompanied him on the top unit, and both were joined by a bevy of midfielders including Sean Lowrie and Montgomery near the end of the season. Reilly Walsh, Kevin Quigley, and Mitch Russell were also used on the second and third units. David Gill, Jake Seau, and Matthew Giampetroni were also used during the season.

Cade Van Raaphorst and JT Giles-Harris were joined by Penn grad transfer Kevin McDonough as the starting close defensemen. Senior Jack Harrington served as the man-down defenseman. Two more seniors served as the top LSMs in Greg Pelton and Peter Welch, while the short stick defensive midfielders consisted mainly of senior Sean Cerrone, junior John Prendergast, and sophomore Terry Lindsay with sophomore Blake Leischow getting some runs in as well. Sophomore Brian Smyth and freshman Joe Stein split faceoff duties with both guys winning over 51% of their draws, while Danny Fowler started all 20 games in goal with an 8.64 goals against average and a 53.2% save percentage.

Looking Ahead

Duke has some holes to fill, especially at attack and in goal. It’ll be very tough to replace Guterding, but someone’s gotta do it. Perhaps someone that played midfield such as Walsh or Lowrie could fill that void, or maybe a current reserve attackman like Cameron Mulé. At midfield, Montgomery showed that he’s ready to take the responsibilities of being on the top-line with Quigley also an option as well.

McDonough and Harrington leave from the starting defense, along with both LSMs. Connor Alexander and Raines Shamburger are possibilities at their respective positions. Turner Uppgren might be the leader for the starting goalie spot with classmate David McCann there as well from last year’s team.

Here’s who the Blue Devils will be adding to their roster for next year.*

Duke’s Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Andrew Bonafede Goalie Chaminade (NY)
Braden Burke Defense/LSM John Jay-Cross River (NY)
Owen Caputo Midfield Middle Creek (NC)
Tyler Carpenter Defense/LSM Durham Academy (NC)
Griffin Catlett Midfield McDonogh (MD)
Jordan Ginder Midfield/FO Brunswick School (CT)
Jadon Kerry Midfield Chanhassen (MN)
Garrett Leadmon Midfield DeMatha (MD)
Frank Marinello Defense Chaminade (NY)
Garrett Smith Goalie Mountain Lakes (NJ)
Wilson Stephenson Defense/LSM Brunswick School (CT)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will Duke get in 2019?

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  • 13%
    (6 votes)
  • 39%
    (18 votes)
  • 28%
    (13 votes)
  • 19%
    (9 votes)
46 votes total Vote Now