DURHAM, N.C. – In the season opener for both teams, it was the Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse team that came out firing on all cylinders, opening up a 3-0 lead on the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils in the first seven minutes of action on Saturday. Eventually, Duke showed the quality of play that made them last year’s national champions and one of the favorites to win the crown again in 2014, scoring six goals in the second quarter to take a halftime lead and opening up the gap further in the second half to come away with a 16-10 win at Koskinen Stadium.
Despite the loss, it was a solid start to the season for JU – the favorites in the Atlantic Sun this season. Facing the highest-ranked team in the program’s five-year history, the Dolphins didn’t back down. Saves from both Pete DeLuca and Duke’s Kyle Turri defined the opening minutes, but Jacksonville was able to find the back of the net first as David Goldman substituted in and was able to run into the middle of the Blue Devil defense and wrist a shot past Turri.
It was a difficult matchup for Jet Harding, who was asked to take the face-offs against Duke All-American Brendan Fowler all afternoon. Nevertheless, Harding got the best of Fowler on the restart and Duncan Clancy fed Tom Moore in front of the cage to make it 2-0. Less than a minute later, a Blue Devil turnover gave possession back to JU and Dakota Rohlin ripped a shot past Turri into the upper-right corner for a 3-0 lead.
The JU pressure continued and Duke was forced into a timeout late in the first quarter, but the Dolphins were unable to add onto their lead any further. The Blue Devils finally broke their drought with a goal at the 1:23 mark of the first quarter, then added six unanswered in the second quarter to take a 7-3 lead with 2:46 remaining until halftime. Jacksonville was able to get back into the contest before the break with goals from Moore and Clancy to make it 7-5 at intermission.
Duke ended Jacksonville’s hopes of a comeback with four straight goals to begin the third quarter, two coming from Josh Dionne, part of a five-goal day for the Blue Devil senior. Though faced with a six-goal deficit, the Dolphins continued to battle and scored the final two goals of the quarter. Clancy converted his second goal of the afternoon and drew an unnecessary roughness penalty at the same time, giving the Fins an extra-man advantage. Rohlin quickly cashed that in and made it 11-7 after three.
Once again the Blue Devils responded to the Jacksonville pressure, and two goals within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter took the game out of reach. Chase McIntyre was able to draw the Dolphins a little closer and Rohlin completed a hat trick with 9:13 to play, but that was as close as Jacksonville would get the rest of the way. Down 16-9 inside of two minutes remaining, Quint Miller scored his first of the year to give the Dolphins their 10th goal on the day, the first time JU has reached double-digit goals in five meetings with the perennial power.
DeLuca was fantastic in front of goal, making 16 saves. Tyler Black led Jacksonville’s defensive effort with five ground balls and three caused turnovers. Clancy added three assists along with his two goals.`
Jacksonville plays host to the Moe’s Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic next Sunday at EverBank Field. The Dolphins will welcome in No. 5 Notre Dame at 7 p.m. before No. 14 Ohio State and UMass close out the doubleheader at approximately 9:15 p.m. NBC Sports Network will have live coverage of both games. Tickets for the Moe’s Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic are available now on Ticketmaster.com or at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena Box Office. Tickets can be purchased in person at the arena or by calling (904) 630-3900.