Danowski sparks Duke to title

Senior leads Devils over Virginia for first ACC crown since '02

No. 2 Duke 12 No. 3 Virginia 9

April 30, 2007|By Stephen Whyno | Stephen Whyno,Sun reporter

DURHAM, N.C. -- Whenever No. 2 Duke needed a goal yesterday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final, it was Matt Danowski who found the back of the cage or cleared the way for his teammates with his daunting presence.

In front of a favorable home crowd at Koskinen Stadium and led by Danowski's three goals, the Blue Devils beat No. 3 Virginia, 12-9, for their first ACC title since 2002.

"I kind of let the game come to me and not try to force anything or push something that's not there," Danowski said. "Fortunately, I had the opportunity to make some plays and I made them."

In the first quarter, the senior attackman scored a transition goal, and minutes later he showcased his footwork by juking two Virginia defenders and goalie Kip Turner for an unassisted highlight-reel goal.

But the Blue Devils still trailed by a goal at halftime. Then Duke put on an offensive clinic in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavaliers 7-3. Five different Blue Devils scored in the quarter, including Zack Greer, who put the exclamation point on the surge when he got the rebound off a Danowski shot and tapped the ball in.

That goal was indicative of how the Blue Devils' other offensive options chipped in when Virginia focused on Danowski.

"When he's drawing attention like that and they're so conscious about what he's doing, it opens up for other guys," Greer said. "As long as people are starting to put the ball in the net, then that's a huge threat if we have everybody firing on all cylinders."

Danowski also had an assist on a fast-break goal by Greer, who also finished with three goals. The Blue Devils got two-goal efforts from freshman attackman Max Quinzani and sophomore midfielder Mike Catalino.

"We were able to generate offense in a lot of different ways," Duke coach John Danowski said. "But that's not unusual. That's by design."

Virginia coach Dom Starsia said the Blue Devils (13-2) capitalized on his team's mistakes and admitted that his team failed to cash in on some offensive opportunities.

For the Cavaliers (12-3), the loss should hurt their NCAA tournament seeding, but Starsia said his team left Durham better prepared for that tournament.

Duke should be one of the top two seeds after beating Virginia for the second time, but Matt Danowski cautioned that the Blue Devils' goal is the national championship.

"[This is] the first step of the goals we set for ourselves back in August," he said. "Today's one of those payoffs, but we can't fall back on that. This is not the end-all-be-all for us."

Duke 3 0 7 2 - 12

Virginia 2 2 3 2 - 9

Goals: V-Rubeor 3, Billings 3, Gill, Riley, Carroll. D-Greer 3, Danowski 3, Quinzani 2, Catalino 2, Crotty, Krom. Assists: V-Gill 2, Rubeor 2, Billings, Glading, Thompson. D-Greer 3, Carrington, Crotty, Danowski, Ross, Ward. Saves: V-Turner 8. D-Loftus 14.

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