DURHAM, N.C. –Second-ranked Duke outscored Towson 4-2 and forced eight turnovers in the fourth quarter to come away with a crucial 12-10 victory over the No. 2 Tigers in Saturday afternoon men’s lacrosse action. The Blue Devils are 3-0 in top-five matchups this season.
Duke (8-1) garnered its seventh straight win of the year and third over a top-five team heading into ACC play next weekend. Towson falls to 5-2 on the year with losses to the Blue Devils and Cornell.
“We knew this was going to be a 60-minute battle,” said head coach John Danowski. “Towson is well coached and already has some great wins. Going in we knew we would have to buckle up the chin strap for 60 minutes.”
Senior attackman Brad Smith paced the Blue Devils with three goals and an assist for four points, while junior attackman Joey Manown had two tallies and a pair of helpers. Nine different players scored for Duke in the victory and nine of the 12 goals were assisted.
In addition to picking up four ground balls and forcing a turnover, Cade Van Raaphorst scored the tying goal at 8-8 in the third and provided an assist late in the second. He also helped hold Towson’s Brody McLean to one goal and the Tigers to six even strength scores.
“I think [Cade and JT Giles-Harris] have been really consistent all year,” Danowski said. “Cade is playing like a senior and I think JT is playing like a senior as well. The two complement each other really well. They’re very dynamic athletes and I think they’re getting better each week.”
The game was a back and forth affair throughout the 60 minutes with neither team leading by more than two goals until Duke scored an empty net goal wot make it 12-9 with 36 seconds left. The first half alone featured four ties and two lead changes.
After battling back with two goals in the final 1:55 to tie the game 6-6 at the half, Towson carried that momentum into the third with two more goals in the first five minutes for its largest lead of the game at 8-6.
Manown broke the 10-minute scoreless stretch for the Blue Devils with his second of the day to make it 8-7 and sparked what proved to be a 4-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter.
Van Raaphorst evened the score for the final time 18 seconds later as he took a pass from John Prendergast and fired it past Towson goaltender Tyler Canto with 6:26 left in the third period. Canto was outstanding in net for the Tigers with 16 saves.
Duke held Towson without a goal for the next 19:26, while tacking on goals from Joe Robertson and Garrett Leadmon in the opening two minutes of the fourth period for a 10-8 advantage.
Towson senior Brendan Sunday pulled the Tigers back within one with the third of his fourth goal of the day, but Smith seemingly sealed the victory with his third of the day with 1:51 left in regulation. Prendergast added an empty net score out of the timeout to put the game out of reach at 12-9.
Tiger faceoff specialist Alex Woodall was dominant in winning 19-fo-24 restarts and picking up 16 ground balls. Defensively, Duke forced the Tigers into 25 turnovers with JT Giles-Harris causing four of them.
“For my money, [Alex Woodall] is probably the best [faceoff specialist] we’ll see all year,” Danowski said. “He was terrific. But it’s a faceoff game after the ball is picked up and I thought we did a pretty good job of riding and trying to harass him a little bit when he had the ball.”
In goal, Turner Uppgren made five saves to earn his seventh win of the year. Rookie faceoff specialist Jordan Ginder was 4-of-10 at the X and tallied his first career goal to make it 5-3 Blue Devils.
Duke opens ACC play at Syracuse March 24. Faceoff is set for 2 p.m. The location will be announced following the release of the NCAA Women’s Basketball bracket March 18.