March 1, 2014

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Maryland Bolsters ACC Status By Topping No. 1 Duke

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Lambrecht Archive

In-Game Blog Replay

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In a men's lacrosse league as packed with talent as the six-team Atlantic Coast Conference is, it's impossible to tell which school will emerge as the best over the next two months. At this early stage, however, the Maryland Terrapins clearly are the front runners.

On Saturday before 5,055 spectators at Byrd Stadium, no. 2 Maryland wobbled a bit early against top-ranked Duke. But behind the steadying hands of senior goalie Niko Amato and senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk, the Terps found another gear in the second quarter then controlled the Blue Devils throughout the second half of a 10-6 victory.

The clash of undefeated rivals ended with the defending national champions absorbing their first loss after a 4-0, nonconference start in February, while Maryland (4-0, 2-0 ACC) followed up last week's stunning, 16-8 blowout at Syracuse impressively. Maryland scored seven of the game's last eight goals.

It started with Amato, who was the rock of a stout defense that held Duke to its season-low offensively. He out-dueled Duke sophomore goalie Luke Aaron with a season-high 17 saves. It included Chanenchuk, who sparked the offense by matching his career-high with five goals. And it featured a host of players who chipped in to help the Terps hold Duke scoreless for more than 26 minutes, as Maryland erased Duke's 5-3, second-quarter lead with patience and authority.

"It wasn't our best start. I'm proud of the way we fought our way out of it," said Maryland coach John Tillman, who saluted a team effort but quickly singled out the guy ranked third on the school's all-time saves list with 516. "[Duke's shooters] got some really good looks early. I don't have to watch the film to know that No. 31 [Amato] in the goal bailed us out."

"[Maryland] just kind of relaxed in front of a big home crowd. They just kept playing," said Duke coach John Danowski, who said he voted the Terps no. 1 last week, a spot Maryland undoubtedly will claim this week. "Their goalie was terrific."

During a frenetic first half that yielded a combined 45 shots and produced back-and-forth highlights by Amato and Aaron (15 saves), the Terps were full of effort and disorganization, and Duke took advantage of the latter with some familiar weapons. Attackman Jordan Wolf and Case Matheis each scored twice to lift the Blue Devils to a 5-3 lead with 7:58 left in the second quarter.

Then Maryland began to assert itself. Charlie Raffa knuckled down against faceoff man Brendan Fowler, the MVP of last year's final four. The defense, with Goren Murray shadowing Wolf, cut off the favorable angles Duke was after, and the Blue Devils faded to finish with 6-for-36 shooting. Maryland's attack rode exceptionally hard and created failed clears that earned the Terps some important, extra possessions.

Leading the momentum swing were Amato and Chanenchuk. Amato demoralized the Blue Devils by stopping seven shots and surrendering just one goal in the second half, and his point-blank stop on Wolf with 3:05 left was the exclamation point. Chanenchuk solved Aaron by peppering him with 13 shots while confronting several different defenders.

"When you come out to play against Duke, you know you're going to come out with that extra bounce," said Amato, who has a career record of 39-15. "I was ready to go."

"I expect to get a lot of shots every game, but our offense revolves around 10 different guys," Chanenchuk said. "I just happened to be the one that had pretty good success today."

Aaron held the rest of Maryland's shooters to a combined 5-for-31 afternoon and allowed single goals to Jay Carlson, Matt Rambo, Joe LoCasio, Colin Heacock and Raffa.

Chanenchuk shined all day in a timely manner. He scored the Terps first two goals to give them a 2-1 lead. He fed Heacock for the goal that reignited Maryland and cut Duke's lead to 5-4. He evened the contest at 5-5 with 3:11 left by beating defenseman Casey Carroll on the right wing and bouncing a beautiful, 10-yard runner under Aaron's stick into the left corner.

Rambo's unassisted score gave Maryland a 6-5 halftime lead, and the Terps took control with a methodical third quarter, during which they out-shot Duke, 14-5. Amato saved four of those Blue Devils shots.

The momentum really shifted after Chanenchuk scored back-to-back, unassisted goals in a 99-second span to give Maryland an 8-5 advantage with 1:52 left in the third. Seven seconds later, Raffa (8-for-19) scored after winning a huge draw from Fowler to make it 9-5. Then, 43 seconds into the fourth quarter, LoCasio broke a 0-for-8 shooting drought by beating Aaron to make it 10-5.

Duke midfielder Myles Jones cut the lead to 10-6 with 10:12 left – ending Duke's longest scoreless streak of 2014 at 26:26. But Maryland never let the Blue Devils back into the contest during a quarter in which Duke committed seven turnovers.

"[The Terps] were shooting at corners, and they definitely started hitting them," Aaron said. "You're not going to save every shot. When [the shots] keep coming in wave after wave, it's hard."

Maryland Recap

Duke Recap


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