Duke wins the game of the season, 15-14. Seeing the marquee and looking at the match-up, the #2 Duke Blue Devils (9-0) taking on the #4 Syracuse Orange, one could not help to think we would see a classic. An unsung hero, wild finish, this game had just about everything.
Duke struck twice, Brennan O’Neill (3g) at 14:01 and Joe Robertson (2g,1) at the 13:05 mark but Syracuse fired back off Owen Hiltz (1g,2a), Stephen Rehfuss (3g,3a), and Hiltz setting up Lucas Quinn (1g) to seize a lead at 3-2. Nakeie Montgomery (1g,2a)stepped up getting the helper on another Robertson marker and adding one of his own to end the taut first with Duke in front, 4-3.
Hiltz assisted on a Chase Scanlan (4g,1a) EMO tally that Duke matched with a Tyler Carpenter (1g) score. The back and forth continued when Owen Seebold (2g) for the Orange and Michael Sowers setting up Owen Caputo (1g,1a) for Duke that made it 6-5.
Duke continued to score and added six more courtesy of Sowers (3g,3a), Dyson Williams (2g), O’Neill banging his 24th, FoGo, Jake Naso (1g), another from O’Neill, and finally, Charlie O’Connor (1g). Syracuse ended the half with Brendan Curry (2g) and with :43 remaining, Seebold cut the lead to 12-7.
The second half was almost all Syracuse. Rehfuss and Sowers matched tallies before Syracuse closed the stanza with scores from, Scanlan nabbing his 16th and 17th and Curry to make it a two-goal event 13-11 Duke. Rehfuss, Scanlan, and Tucker Dordevic (1g,2a) changed the lead to 14-13 Syracuse.
Then the intrigue kicked off. Sowers hit Dyson Williams on the advantage and with 5:47 to play, it was knotted, 14-14. Sowers fired a Caputo feed to put Duke up, 15-14 with 3:25. Duke was called for a :30 offside call at :33 and the wild ending was on. After a scrum, another Duke penalty, this one 1:00, and Syracuse had a huge opportunity with :24 left.
A Syracuse rocket went wide and the Orange promptly called time out. The plan was to have Brendan Curry do his best against Duke netminder, Mike Adler. As time expired, Adler made his last and biggest save of the day to keep the undefeated season alive.
All eyes will be on UNC-Duke April 1st, The “Brawl for it All?” Shots went to Duke, 41-36 with on goal also going their way, 28-24.
Turnovers were flat even at 16-16 but Duke handily controlled ground balls, 31-15. Drake Porter made 13 saves for Syracuse with Mike Adler stopping 10 for Duke with his two biggest coming in the final :38. Duke wins the game of the season.
The surprise story of the game was Duke faceoff specialist, Jake Naso who went a headshaking, 24 of 32 with 14 ground balls and a goal. “We’re as surprised as anybody [about Jake Naso’s success tonight],” said Danowski. “In the first game of the season he took one draw and he violated. He wasn’t in our plans in early February and then through practice and opportunities early in the season, he has been coming on. His exits were clean. He made good decisions with the ball. He didn’t turn it over. He scored a goal. He continues to evolve. We’re surprised but honestly happy.”