Touch of Class: Duke Hammers Notre Dame
by Matthew DeFranks | LaxMagazine.com
|Sophomore Deemer Class had five goals and two assists as the Blue Devils continued to look strong in a win over Notre Dame. (Peyton Williams)|
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Riding a six-game winning streak, Duke seems to be hitting its stride.
But Blue Devils coach John Danowski hopes not.
"I hope we keep getting better," Danowski said. "I hope this isn't the ceiling."
No. 3 Duke kept its recent hot streak going with a dominant 15-7 win over No. 8 Notre Dame.
Sophomore midfielder Deemer Class led the Blue Devils with five goals and two assists while senior attackman Jordan Wolf added four goals and three assists.
Class has been on fire for Duke as of late, with 12 goals and nine assists in the last three games, including a six-goal, four-assist performance against Syracuse on March 23.
"He just seems to be playing with a calmness about him," Danowski said. "You can see he's relaxed."
Class and Wolf helped the Blue Devils jump out to an early lead that they never game up. The pair of Duke stars scored the first seven goal for the Blue Devils and both had hat tricks before Notre Dame had three goals.
"It gives us a little bit of balance and we're able to stretch the defense a little bit from the perimeter where in the beginning of the year, we didn't have that," Danowski said. "Now that we can stretch you a little bit, it keeps the defense honest."
The Duke offense carved up the characteristically tough Notre Dame defense for 15 goals on 44 shots. The 15 goals allowed were the most by the Irish since a 19-13 loss to Syracuse in 2004.
The Blue Devils have scored at least 15 goals in five of the last six games, including a 21-7 thumping of Syracuse.
"It's hard to explain," Danowski said. "You watch individuals gain confidence over the course of the season and then some group chemistry begins to develop because kids have confidence not only in themselves but also in each other. You play with a different calmness or a different energy and it's interesting to observe. We're observing it like everybody else."
Six different Blue Devils registered a goal and nine of the 15 scores were assisted.
"We just keep developing with the couple sets we're in and the more we work at it, the more different looks we can give the defense out of those sets," Class said.
Since falling to Loyola on March 9, the Blue Devils have rebounded with six wins by an average of 9.2 goals.
"It was definitely a good loss for us in that we were able to keep working and had to refocus and build from that loss," Class said. "There were a lot of things that we learned and it really motivated some guys. I think that's been important for our recent success. We just got to keep staying hungry."
Notre Dame had opportunities early on but Duke sophomore goalie Luke Aaron stood tall for the Blue Devils, making five saves in the first quarter alone. Aaron finished with 10 saves.
"Every team in the country will say 'We want our goalie to make the first save' so he feels good about his role and about seeing the ball," Danowski said. "We made a couple of saves early and we were able to get the ball out."
After trailing 6-2 at halftime, the Irish scored the first goal of the second half but Duke responded with seven unanswered tallies to give them a 13-3 edge.
"We felt we were in good shape there," Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We didn't do anything with the possessions we had so it felt like they had the ball for the whole time. It kind of got away from us at a time where we didn't feel like we did much in terms of controlling the ball to keep it out of their hands, which makes it a hard climb."
Notre Dame freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh struggled again, failing to record a goal for the second time in as many games. Since scoring seven goals against Ohio State on March 25, Kavanagh has just two assists in the two Irish losses.
"People are playing him a certain way," Corrigan said. "If we have bad possessions, he's not going to be good. If we have bad possessions, he's got to break down his guy one-on-one every time and that's not going to happen with the competition we play."
Junior midfielder Nick Ossello scored two for the Irish and five other players scored one goal.
"Offensively, all day, we just never got in sync," Corrigan said. "It wasn't at all the way we talked about playing and so when you're not executing your game plan, I don't know what Plan B is.
"We, frankly, didn't have four possessions all day where we got to that point in the possession and that's on us."
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