Even in a season where these two replays on paper would suggest Virginia should have no trouble beating the Duke, the Blue Devils once again proved themselves to be kryptonites for the Cavaliers. Brennan O’Neal scored four goals, four assists and Mike Adler 20 saves, as the No. 6 beat Virginia from start to finish in Thursday’s 17-8 loss at Durham.
Virginia has not struggled against ACC opponents this season, winning its previous four games on a total of 24 goals, while Duke has had some losses against Jacksonville, Loyola and Syracuse. But, there were some incoming factors that suggested such an outcome was possible.
On the Virginia side, previously unfazed Conor Schellenberger has been in the midst of a rare shooting slump over the past few games. UVA also had to deal with injuries to frontman Pete Lasala and Year 5 striker Matt Moore, who both played in the match but weren’t in good health.
For John Danowski Blue Devils, it seemed only a matter of time before the massive talent on the roster would find a beat and pull it together. And what better game to do that than facing Virginia, which has been Duke’s number one for nearly two decades. Duke has won all of his last 15 regular season meetings against Virginia[دت بك]to the 2004 season.
The first quarter was a guard fight, with UVA’s Matthew Nunes and Duke’s Mike Adler making six saves in the opening period. After nearly ten minutes of goalless lacrosse to start the match, Brennan O’Neal managed to beat Nunes with two strikes from sharp corners to give Duke a 2-0 lead. Finally, Virginia climbed to the plate less than a minute before the end of the first quarter as Peter Garneau hit the net with a man’s goal. The Cavaliers didn’t score a strong goal even after 24 minutes into the game.
Brennan O’Neill attacked his standoff with two-time ACC Defenseman of the Week winner Cole Castner and was absolutely in control, putting up four goals on the board in the first half. In two goals, Nunes had a piece of shots but they still made their way into the back of the net. And when Virginia sent assists to his double O’Neill, he made the right passes and set up his teammates for goals. O’Neill finished with four goals and four assists.
Adler continued to be cage excellent for the Blue Devils, but Nunes didn’t match that level of success and didn’t score another block until late in the third quarter. Matt Moore scored to make it 4-2 six minutes before the end of the second quarter, but Duke scored three consecutive goals to finish the game 7-3. Moore, who was playing with an obvious limp after sustaining a lower-body injury against Richmond two weeks ago that caused him to miss Saturday’s game against North Carolina, ended up with two goals on six shots but withdrew from the game in the second half.
Mike Adler was exceptional in the cage, but that had a lot to do with him when he stopped as often as I did with Virginia not taking good pictures. The Cavaliers didn’t win their singles matches, didn’t share the ball, and settled on low-quality shots that Adler easily saved.
Conor Schellenberger, who has been shooting above 50% this season a few weeks ago, failed to score against Duke on Thursday. Schellenberger scored one goal from 10 shots in the loss to Richmond, one goal from six shots against the United leadership, and did not find the back net in any of his seven shots against the Blue Devils.
Besides producing O’Neill, the UVA defense was doing a fair job of containing Duke’s attack in the first half to keep the match close. In the third quarter, things derailed for the Cavaliers.
Five different Blue Devils scored and Duke edged Virginia 6-2 in this period, although UVA had a 14-9 advantage on shots. Duke seemed to fuel the performance of Adler, who saved nine saves in the third quarter, matching the amount of warnings Virginia made in the entire game.
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While the Blue Devils were able to score in groups, the Cavaliers didn’t score consecutive goals until the fourth quarter, when the game was already out of reach and both teams’ seat units entered the match.
Matthew Nunes finished with eight saves to 15 allowed goals, while Adler scored 20 saves to eight allowed goals. Petey LaSalla won 14 of his 23 x Showdown draws and Duke converted the ball more than 19 times, but UVA’s attack failed to capitalize on the possession advantage.
John Danowski is now 20-2 against Virginia as Duke’s head coach and the Cavaliers haven’t defeated the Blue Devils in the regular season since April 17, 2004. UVA’s last win against Duke came in the 2019 NCAA semifinals.
Virginia drops to 8-3 overall and 4-1 in ACC play. UVA goes home to face Quinnipiac on Saturday (4/16) at 8 p.m. at Klockner Stadium.
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