By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/27/13
Jordan Wolf (Lower Merion) had four goals and two assists and Duke rode an amazing 12-1 run to wipe out an early 5-0 deficit as the Blue Devils defeated Syracuse, 16-9, today before 28,224 at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Blue Devils (16-5) won their second national title in four years – and they did it with Wolf leading the attack and Malvern Prep graduates Billy Conners (senior) and Henry Lobb (junior) leading the defense.
“I have been downplaying it all week, but this was the culmination, this feeling,” said Wolf, who was named to the All-Tournament team and had eight goals and three assists in the Final Four. “I would love to win it in Maryland, Boston, anywhere … but being in Philly is unbelievable.”
A major key to this title was the face-off play of Duke’s Brendan Fowler, who won 20 of 28 from the X and grabbed 14 groundballs. Fowler, named the Most Valuable Player, set an NCAA record this year with 339 face-of wins and today won 14 of 15 face-offs in the middle quarters.
Syracuse (16-4) started off impressively, shutting out thew Blue Devils in the first period and taking leads of 5-0 and 6-1 behind the scoring of Dylan Donahue (three goals, one assist). But after Wolf – an all-tournament pick – scored 2:06 into the second quarter, the Blue Devils completely dominated the game.
“Winning this in your hometown is a dream come true; winning it with the group of guys we had, it was an incredible journey,” said Conners.
“Starting down 5-0 was pretty unbelievable, but when you have Brendan at the X and the offense we have you always have faith. I knew we would score goals. It was a matter of letting the game settle in and making the next play.”
Duke scored the last four goals of the second quarter to draw within 6-5 and then after the teams traded goals to start the third period the Blue Devils reeled off seven straight goals.
Josh Offit and Josh Dionne each had three goals and Jake Tripucka added two goals and two assists. David Lawson also scored twice.
Duke won the battle of groundballs (44-27) and shots (46-36), but again the key was having possession practically the entire final three periods.
“I’ll be honest, I was nervous to start the game,” Lobb said. “Before the game coach (John Danowski) asked who was nervous and everyone raised their hand.
“But when you have a guy like Brendan Fowler, you are so confident. He literally was unbelievable. The only word you can use is domination!”
“Brendan played great, as he has done every single game this year,” added Wolf. “There are no five-goal goals; once we got the first one we all settled down and played our game.”
Also from Philly, sophomore long pole Brian Dailey (Conestoga) had a groundball. Philly players on the roster also included freshman defenseman Jamie Ikeda (Conestoga), sophomore midfielder Tanner Scott (Conestoga) and injured senior goalie Dan Wigrizer (Haverford School).
Lobb admitted that the Philly players had this date circled on their calendars for a long time.
“Honestly, it hasn’t really set in yet,” said Lobb. “I dreamt of this my whole life in Philly at the Linc, can’t really describe it.
“When we saw the placement of the game few years ago, Wolf, myself, Brian Dailey; all we wanted was to come here and win it.”
One reporter suggested to Conners that the game was a microcosm of the season since Duke started off 2-4 as it headed into games with Loyola and North Carolina (which the Blue Devils won).
“To go out the way we came in is pretty special,” said Conners. “For us as a team, being 2-4, there were definitely some dark days.
“Everybody kept working and nobody panicked. Practice never changed. You’ve got to credit everyone for fighting hard and credit the coaches for pushing us.
“It’s a dream come true for me. To come back (where I) watch the Eagles on Sundays and win the national championship…
“Especially with these seniors – we have been through so much; winning our freshman year and (then having the) lows of the past few years. This was probably my last competitive game I’ll play in the my life and it’s an unbelievable way to go out.”
“We definitely had some tough times,” added Wolf. “We started off slow, but we have the best seniors in the world and they challenged us and we wanted to win it for them.”
Rob Pannell (Cornell)
Eric Law (Denver)
JoJo Marasco (Syracuse)
Sean Young (Syracuse)
Dylan Doanhuie (Syracuse)
Dominic Lomolinara (Syracuse)
Brendan Fowler (Duke) – Most Outstanding Player
Jordan Wolf (Duke)
David Lawson (Duke)
Jake Tripucka (Duke)