(Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)
The Delaware Blue Hens had one of the more memorable tournament wins in recent history last season when they upset No. 2 seed Georgetown 10-9. And with nearly that entire roster back, Delaware aimed to pull off an even bigger upset on Sunday evening when the Blue Hens took the field against No.1 Duke.
Delaware started the contest as good as possible, taking an early 2-0 lead off scores from Jason Solar and Tye Kurtz. Later in the frame Kurtz put home two more to give himself a hat trick and pull the Blue Hens ahead 4-1 with 5:52 remaining in the opening frame.
The Blue Hens continued their strong start early into the second with JP Ward finding the back of the cage on consecutive possessions to make it a 7-3 game in favor of Delaware. It would be largest lead of the day for the Blue Hens but they would not be able to build upon much at all as the rest of the contest saw Duke chip away until they were able to get ahead and finish the job.
Dyson Williams put one home on the doorstep off a Brennan O’Neill feed to cut the Delaware led to 8-5 with 5:39 left in the second quarter. Williams’ score was the first of a five-goal run that saw the Blue Devils take the 9-8 advantage with 8:48 left in the third quarter.
While a pair of scores from Tye Kurtz and Brendan Powers late in third and early in the fourth allowed Delaware to take back the lead, 10-9, they wouldn’t be able to hold on to it for long as Duke soon put together another run to pull ahead and stay ahead.
Aidan Danenza, Brennan O’Neill, and Charlie O’Connor each found the back of the net to complete a three-goal Duke fourth-quarter run that pulled the Blue Devils ahead 12-10 with 4:25 remaining. While Duke won the ensuing faceoff, the possession would produce no more than an O’Neill shot sailing wide and ended in a shot clock vilation.
Delaware cleared the ball across midfield and called a timeout with 53 ticks remaining and needing two goals to force overtime. The Duke defense would stand tall on that possession and Tyler Carpenter would grab the loose ball after a turnover from JP Ward. Carpenter sprinted up field and over the midline to help run the clock out and ensure the Duke win.
Between Jake Naso going 4-for-6 at the dot during the frame and Duke’s defense causing five turnovers, Delaware was held to just three shots during those final 15 minutes of play.
William Helm anchored the Duke defense with 11 saves on the day. Andrew McAdorey and Dyson Williams each had hat tricks. Brennan O’Neill had one goal and three assists for four points.
Jake Naso went 15-for-26 (57%) on the day.
Tye Kurtz had four goals for Delaware. Matt Kilkeary had 15 saves in cage for the Blue Hens.
Duke advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals where they will meet Michigan.
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