The 2021 season for the Duke Blue Devils started in the most assuming way possible: a Michael Sowers feed to Brennan O’Neill for their first goal of the season. It would be just one of three such plays during Duke’s season-opening win over the Denver Pioneers.
While it has taken a bit longer for teams and conference to get their schedules together for the 2021 season due to the Coronavirus outbreak and various restrictions surrounding the virus, Schedule release schedule has finally begun!
The college lacrosse season is just a few months away, and while it will be a bit longer than usual before everyone gets underway and the season as a whole may look different, at least in the beginning, due to the impact the Coronavirus has had on sports, teams will still be fighting to be the last one standing on Memorial Day Weekend. And after the way last season ended, it will be extra bittersweet for whoever is crowned champions on that special day in May.
Since the 2020 season was abruptly ended in mid-March due to the Coronavirus outbreak, you could argue that it has been somewhat of a “free agent” frenzy across the college lacrosse landscape. Seniors were announcing their returns to their previous program for a fifth-year or entering their name into the NCAA Transfer Portal in hopes of finding a new home for the 2021 season.
Since John Danowski’s arrival in Durham ahead of the 2007 season, the Blue Devils have done nothing but win. They have made 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, which include five semifinal appearances, five championship appearances, and three national titles.
The number 6 ranked Duke Blue Devis took down the number 3 ranked Loyola Greyhounds 12-7 in a Thursday night home contest. Duke used a big offensive spurt in the third quarter to help them run past Loyola. This was Duke’s third straight win over Loyola since the first round of the 2016 NCAA tournament when Loyola last beat Duke.
While the Blue Devils were able to dominate in almost every area of the game, things started off a bit tighter than they ended, for sure. Loyola was able to keep it close until Duke went off in the second and third quarter’s. Loyola was able to find their offense late in the game, but the deficit was too big for a comeback.
Duke was led by Joey Manown who had 4 goals in the win. Brad Smith contributed heavily as well, tallying 5 points (2G,3A). Nakeie Montgomery also had 4 goals as well. In goal, John Upgren made 10 saves for the Blue Devils.
Chase Scanlan led Loyola with 5 points (3G,2A), while Pat Spencer tallied 3 points (1G,2A) for the Greyhounds. Jacob Stover made 15 saves in cage for Loyola.
Nakeie Montgomery got the scoring started for Duke early on to get the Blue Devils on the board first. Montgomery found the back of the net again a few minutes later, making it a 2-0 Duke lead. Less than a minute later, Pat Spencer got Loyola on the board to cut it to 2-1. A Chase Scanlan goal tied things up at 2 with 5:21 in the first, and that’s a close as it would get.
A three goal run from Duke, lasting from late in the first through early in the second, put the Blue Devils up 5-2. Each team scored once more before the half. That made it a 6-3 lead for Duke going into the half.
Coming out of the half, Duke dominated in every facet of the game. Their defense wasn’t allowing anything. The Blue Devils scored five straight unanswered goals in the third and held Loyola scoreless. That third quarter performance pretty much sealed the deal for the Duke win, but Loyola still had some fight left.
Just as the third was owned by Duke, the fourth was owned by Loyola. Bailey Savio got the Greyhounds going early on in the fourth, and they kept rolling from there. That Savio goal was the start of a four goal run from early in the fourth until late in the fourth. That helped Loyola get back into it, somewhat. The Blue Devils scored the last goal of the game and held on for the 12-7 win.
Duke’s next contest will be a home game against Utah on Tuesday, March 12th. Loyola will play Navy on Saturday, March 16th in their next contest.