NCAA Quarterfinals: O’Neill Helps Duke in Defeat of Michigan

(Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)

The Duke Blue Devils are headed back to Championship Weekend.

Duke took down Michigan 15-8 on Saturday afternoon to become the second team to advance to next week’s semifinals.

An even first frame opened up with Brennan O’Neill striking twice to give Duke the early 2-0 lead. Following three empty possessions to start the game, Isaac Aronson put home a low-angle look to get Michigan on the board. A man-up situation late in the frame ended with Josh Zawada finding Bryce Clay for a score to make it a 2-2 contest.

That even score held as the horn sounded on what was an even opening quarter. However, it was the only instance where things were tied as Duke was able to pull away and stay ahead through the final three quarters of play, outscoring the Wolverines 13-6 in those 45 minutes of play.

O’Neill was a primary difference maker for the Blue Devils on Saturday afternoon as he ended the contest with seven points off six goals and one assist. O’Neill’s six goals came off of just eight shots with one of his misses being stopped by Huter Taylor in the firs quarter and the other sailing over the cage in the third.

It was his the final goal of the day for O’Neill that was perhaps the most impactful. Coming with 10:17 left and via a behind-the-back shot, O’Neill’s score sparked a game-clinching four-goal run that helped put this contest to bed late.

Up until that final run, the largest lead of the day Duke has held was five goal. The Blue Devils led 7-4 at the half, entered the final frame with an 11-6 lead. Prior to O’Neill’s highlight reel BTB score, Duke was up 11-7 due to a Josh Zawada score off a Ryan Cohen feed that cut the lead down once more for Michigan.

Man-up success played a role in Michigan being able to stay in a somewhat comfortable range of the lead for the majority of the contest. Michigan went 3-for-6 on the man-up. The first instance of Michigan capitalizing on such a situation came late in the first with Clay’s score to make it a 2-2 contest. Zawada tallied a man-up score in the second frame to cut the Duke lead to 5-3 and the Peter Thompson put one home on such a situation in the third to make it an 8-5 game.

Between Jake Naso’s 51% (14-for-27) performance at the faceoff dot and William Helm’s 14 saves (63%) in cage, Duke was able to limit and stop many of Michigan’s chances and efforts to wholly get back into the contest.

It was a three-goal run early in the third that saw Williams, O’Neill, and Andrew McAdorey score that pulled Duke ahead 5-2. The Blue Devils never looked back much after that.

McAdorey and Williams also netted hat tricks to help lead the Duke offense in the win.

Josh Zawada had two goals and one assist for three points to lead Michigan. Peter Thompson and Jacob Jackson each had two goals.

Duke advances to the NCAA Semifinals where they will play the winner of Sunday’s Penn State-Army game.


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