DURHAM, N.C. — Juking and twisting, avoiding stick checks and shoves, attackmen for the Duke men's lacrosse team were unstoppable Saturday afternoon.
Scoring in droves, they led the Blue Devils to an 18-5 win over Johns Hopkins at Koskinen Stadium, securing their first NCAA tournament victory over the vaunted Blue Jays program since 1997.
The No. 5 seeded Devils (13-4) advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they await the winner of today's game between No. 4 seed North Carolina and Delaware.
Leading 6-4 midway through the second period, the Devils stormed on a 12-0 scoring run and comfortably pulled away from the Blue Jays (7-8).
"They played at a different level than we did today," Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "We were outplayed."
That's unusual for the Blue Jays, winners of nine NCAA titles, who last captured the championship in 2007.
While the Blue Jays have never missed an NCAA tournament — qualifying for 39 in a row — this season proved challenging, as they integrated freshmen and sophomores into the lineup.
It took a 9-6 victory over Loyola in their season finale for the Blue Jays to earn a berth in Saturday's first round. That victory marked just the second time Hopkins has needed a season-finale win to be eligible for the tournament.
Against the Devils, the Blue Jays seemed to revert to the errors and gaffes that marked their play earlier in the season. They fumbled passes and appeared soft on faceoffs. They took poor angles and were knocked off-balance by thunderous hits.
"We rushed our shots," Hopkins senior Steven Boyle said. "They were good defensively. They were picking off passes."
Bombarding their opponents with 40 shots, the Devils scored from every angle, finding success on set plays and freelance looks alike.
"The goal looked about as big as the ocean," said Duke senior Max Quinzani, who led Duke with four goals and has 61 this season.
Fellow senior Ned Crotty added six assists and two goals, while Steve Schoeffel pumped in three goals. Zach Howell and Mike Catalino each scored two goals.
The Devils attacked faceoffs, scooped ground balls and were simply more aggressive on offense than their opponents.
Facing 15 shots, Duke goalie Mike Rock made two saves. The team's defense helped his cause, with the Devils checking and roughing up their opponents at every turn.
These teams last met in the 2008 NCAA semifinals.