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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #4 Duke Blue Devils

Duke reached Championship Weekend for the second consecutive season.

Matt Dewkett

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to look back at how all 73 teams did during the season, along with an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review with the teams that advanced to Championship Weekend!

#4 Duke Blue Devils

Conference: ACC
2019 Record: 13-5 (2-2 in ACC)
Postseason: Lost to Notre Dame in ACC Semifinals, defeated Richmond and Notre Dame in NCAA Tournament, lost to Virginia in NCAA Semifinals
Head coach: John Danowski (13th Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Joe Robertson (42)
Assists: Brad Smith (28)
Points: Joe Robertson (59)
Faceoffs: Brian Smyth (158-of-306; 51.6%)
Ground balls: Brian Smyth (98)
Caused turnovers: JT Giles-Harris (26)
Goals against average: Turner Uppgren (9.66)
Save percentage: Turner Uppgren (50.3%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Cade Van Raaphorst (24 CTs, 63 GBs, 1 G, 2 As), M Brad Smith (29 Gs, 28 As, 30 GBs, 5 CTs), LSM Peter Welch (13 CTs, 33 GBs, 2 Gs, 1 A), A/M Sean Lowrie (10 Gs, 3 As, 10 GBs), A CJ Carpenter (21 Gs, 7 As, 13 GBs), G Turner Uppgren (9.66 GAA, 50.3% SV %, 43 GBs, 9 CTs), SSDM John Prendergast (6 CTs, 15 GBs, 3 Gs, 2 As), D Jack Fowler (7 CTs, 33 GBs), M Jake Seau (15 Gs, 10 As, 2 GBs, 1 CT), SSDM Jack Falk (4 CTs, 8 GBs)
Senior scoring departing: 134 of 342 points (39.2%)
Senior starts lost: 92 of 180 (51.1%)

Season Summary

With three national championships, Duke has clearly been the team of the decade. The Blue Devils hoped to snatch their fourth national title to end their dominant run of the last 10 years.

They didn’t look like a dominant team to start, which seems to be normal for them. After beating Furman, Duke was neck-and-neck with High Point entering the final quarter. After scoring the first goal, the Blue Devils gave up six straight to the Panthers and ended up on the wrong side of the upset. But Duke would bounce back in a strong way with seven straight wins, beginning with victories over Jacksonville and a comeback win over Denver thanks to a big fourth quarter and a late Joey Manown goal for the win.

After beating Penn, the Blue Devils were able to pull away late against Richmond for a four-goal win that was tighter than it looked. Duke then won three straight at home, with two of them coming against top-five opponents. Wins over No. 2 Loyola and No. 5 Towson, as well as a midweek triumph over Utah, gave Duke some momentum entering their ACC opener against Syracuse.

Unlike home games in Upstate New York, Duke played the Orange outside. And the Blue Devils continued to dominate for most of the game as they led by four with 6:28 left in the game. But Syracuse scored four goals in just over four minutes and won the game in overtime thanks to a Brendan Curry goal. Similar events happened a week later in Chapel Hill against archrival North Carolina. Duke had a two-goal lead with 2:50 to go in the third quarter against new UNC goalie Caton Johnson. But thanks to three goals in the final 1:29 of the quarter and a 21-save performance for the freshman netminder in his debut, the Tar Heels were able to give Duke their second straight loss.

The ACC is always competitive, but the Blue Devils didn’t seem themselves as the worst team in the conference. And they proved that with two straight wins over Notre Dame and Virginia before barely beating Marquette in overtime at a neutral site in New York. Their stay in the ACC Tournament was short, as the Fighting Irish got revenge from their regular season defeat with a 12-10 win. Despite that, Duke was rewarded with the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a home first round matchup against Richmond. Holding a 12-7 lead, the Blue Devils gave up four straight goals to the Spiders, including two in the final 56 seconds, to see their lead cut to a single goal. But Duke was able to just hold on for the win thanks to winning the final faceoff of the game.

They had to face Notre Dame a third time in the quarterfinals in one of the better games of the season. Down one with seven minutes left, the Blue Devils took a one-goal lead before the Fighting Irish tied things up and forced overtime. Joe Robertson potted the game-winner in the extra session to send Duke to Championship Weekend for the second straight year.

In the way was Virginia, a team the Blue Devils dominated throughout the entire decade with only one loss coming in the 2010 ACC Tournament. Duke had a two-goal lead with 1:56 to go in the game, but the Cavaliers scored twice in a span of 31 seconds in the final minute of regulation to force overtime. Ian Laviano scored the game-winner in double overtime after both teams had quality chances to end the game in the first overtime session.

Joe Robertson and Joey Manown were the two primary starters on attack with Robertson leading the Blue Devils with 42 goals. The third starter fluctuated between Brad Smith, who started the year at attack before moving back up to midfield, Sean Lowrie, and CJ Carpenter. Smith, Nakeie Montgomery, Jake Seau, Kevin Quigley, Garrett Leadmon, and Reilly Walsh were up top at midfield and spent time on both the first and second midfield lines. Cameron Badour also spent time as a depth midfielder.

Whereas the offense had plenty of different starting combinations, the defense had the same starting four for the entire season. Cade Van Raaphorst, JT Giles-Harris, and Jack Fowler started at close defense protecting goalie Turner Uppgren. Peter Welch was the primary long stick midfielder with freshman Wilson Stephenson being a solid backup before suffering a severe injury against Notre Dame in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Walker Scaglione also saw time with a pole. John Prendergast, Jack Falk, Terry Lindsay, and Blake Leischow were the short stick defensive midfielders. Brian Smyth took the bulk of the faceoff draws, but Jordan Ginder and Joe Stein also got some faceoffs and finished above 50%.

Looking Ahead

Over half of Duke’s total starts departs in 2020, but it’s also a team that can reload thanks to talented recruiting and incoming freshmen classes. Two attackmen return, with Cameron Mulé or perhaps Reilly Walsh could fill that third spot. Quigley, Montgomery, Leadmon, and Badour join Walsh as returning midfielders along with Owen Caputo, who spent most of his time on the man-up unit. Ryan Hastings could also see an increased role.

The defense has a lot of holes to fill. Two starting defensemen, at least one long stick midfielder (two depending on Stephenson’s status), two short stick defensive midfielders, and the starting goalie. Frank Marinello, Raines Shamburger, Braden Burke, and Josh White are returning options with a pole. The Blue Devils will have a young goalie in cage in either Garrett Smith or Andrew Bonafede.

Poll

How many wins will Duke get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    0-8
    (2 votes)
  • 36%
    9-10
    (18 votes)
  • 42%
    11-12
    (21 votes)
  • 16%
    13+
    (8 votes)
49 votes total Vote Now