(Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)
Down one goal and up two men with less than 10 seconds left in regulation, Brendan Curry missed wide on a shot that could have forced overtime. The Orange were able to backup the ball and regain possession with 4.4 seconds left on the clock, and call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Owen Hiltz found Stephen Rehfuss on the crease for one last shot in the dying seconds of the game, but Mike Adler was there to make what can only be described as the save of the year for the Blue Devils thus far, and secure the 15-14 victory.
Adler’s game-clinching save, which was his 10th of the day, not only secured the win for the Blue Devils in their ACC opener but officially put an end to a strong second-half Syracuse comeback effort. The Orange went on a three-goal run from late in the second quarter through the 9:28 mark in the third and tallied six straight, which included a hat trick from Chase Scanlan, from the 3:47 mark in the third through the 7:10 mark in the fourth to take their first lead, 14-13, since being up 3-2 early in the contest.
Dyson Williams (2G) and Michael Sowers (3G/3A) registered their second and sixth points of the game in the final six minutes of the contest to end put a dent in Syracuse’s second-half run and take back the one-goal lead, essentially ending the game just as they had started it: looking like a tier above their ACC rival.
Duke started the game hot right out of the gate, getting two straight from Brennan O’Neill and Joe Robertson to put them up 2-0. They ended the first quarter with two straight from Robertson and Nakeie Montgomery, who assisted on O’Neill’s first goal of the contest and the prior Robertson score. From there, Duke was able to take a narrow 4-3 lead into the second quarter and really get hot.
The Blue Devils outscored the Orange 8-4 in the second quarter alone, which included a seven-goal run that put them up 12-5 with 3:28 in the first half. Freshman faceoff man Jake Naso (24-for-32) was crucial all game, but especially so during that second-quarter run. The freshman went 9-for-3 in the second quarter alone and also added a goal during that same period.
Duke also dominated the ground ball battle (31-15) and was able to cash in on those extra possessions they gained off the ground. The Blue Devils gobbled up 12 ground balls in the second quarter alone.
Stephen Rehfuss (3G/3A) and Chase Scanlan (5G/1A) led the Orange offense in the contest and were crucial in the Orange’s second-half comeback effort. Drake Porter made 13 saves (5 in the second half) with a 46% save percentage and had to bail out the Syracuse defense multiple times.
The Orange and Blue Devils will not see each other again this regular season and with no ACC Tournament, the only opportunity these two would get at a rematch would be in the NCAA Tournament.
Duke moves on to face in-state, arch-rival North Carolina next Thursday while Syracuse prepares to face Notre Dame next Saturday.