The 2016 college lacrosse season is upon us. The Syracuse Orange take on the Siena Saints at 1 pm in the Carrier Dome this Saturday and in preparation SU's first game I will be previewing each ACC team. Today we look at the Duke Blue Devils to see what we can expect out of the powerhouse from Durham, NC.
DUKE BLUE DEVILS
2015 Season: 12-6
All-Time Record vs. SU: 5-9
2015 vs. SU: L 7-19, L 14-15 (ACCT)
First Meeting vs. SU: 4/16/1938 L 5-17
Streak vs. SU: L3
2016 Games to Watch:
- 2/20 vs. Denver: This could be a #1 vs. #3 matchup and will be played in Kennesaw, GA. In what could be a Championship Weekend preview, I think this is a must watch game.
- 3/26 vs. Syracuse: The ‘Cuse was one of the few teams last year that found a way to slow down Myles Jones. Obviously, the Orange will be an underdog in this matchup, but I think SU could make it interesting.
- 4/10 @ Notre Dame: Here we have the unofficial ACC regular season championship game.
The Dukies are a lock for that second spot in the ACC. Two of the last three National Champions have come from Durham, NC. In fact five of the last 11 National Championship games have featured the Blue Devils; this program has become a national power under Head Coach John Danowski. In 2015, however, the Blue Devils fell to Ohio State in the first round of the tournament. This year Duke will be looking to get back to the Championship game.
At attack, Duke is set with returners Chad Cohan (14 G, 7 A), Case Matheis (20, 19), and Justin Guterding (52, 18), who combined for a stunning 130 points in 2015. The Blue Devils offense, with these three, and Myles Jones should be a spectacular group to watch. Case started 12 games last season picking up three hat tricks. Guterding led the Blue Devils in goals with 52 goals in 2015 and finished the year as the ACC Rookie of the year. The sophomore had three games tallying six goals. Cohan started 10 games on both midfield and attack last year and pulled in 21 points.
Next year's season could be all about Myles Jones (40, 37). In my opinion, Jones and Matt Kavanagh of Notre Dame are my front-runners to win the Tewaaraton this year. Standing at 6'5", 240 pounds Jones has an insane ability to muscle his way past defenders. He can split double teams like a warm knife through butter, and his shot is unbelievably hard. In short, he is unstoppable.
Duke may feature the best midfield crew in the country in 2016. Besides Jones, Duke returns Deemer Class (34, 19) who has a heck of a deep shot and is very good on the dodge, and Jack Bruckner (47, 13).
At the faceoff X, the Blue Devils lose Jack Rowe (.544 F/O%, 112 GBs) but return his brother Kyle Rowe (.614, 63).
The defense had some troubles in the first half of the 2014 season but really pulled together in the second half looking better and better after each game. I expect the defense to be much improved in 2016 with Brian Dunne (30 GB, 15 CT) anchoring the close defense. Dunne will switch between the LSM and close defense positions. Ethan Powley (24, 12) is listed as an LSM but should see some time at close defense. Ian Yanulis (28, 9) started 11 games in 2015 and is likely to be a starter this year as well. Greg Pelton (18, 5) is a beast on groundballs an option for the third starter after playing in 16 games last season. The Blue Devils also add the number one defensive recruit in Cade van Raaphorst.
In net, the Dukies have two capable goalies but I think Danny Fowler (11.76 GAA, .489 SV%) will start the year in net after an excellent second half of the year. Fowler finished 2015 having played in 16 games with 9 starts and a .489 save percentage and an 11.76 goals against average. Don’t be surprised if Luke Aaron (11.30, .486) gets some time in net and could end up challenging for the starting position if Fowler struggles.