For the third time this season, Georgetown found itself in a one-goal game in the fourth quarter against elite competition, and for the third time this season, No. 8 Georgetown came up empty in crunch time.
After a tightly contested 45 minutes that saw No. 9 Duke (6-3) take a one-goal lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter, the Hoyas (4-3) looked helpless as Duke took over in the game’s final 15 minutes en route to a 15-10 victory at MultiSport Facility on Saturday. The loss is Georgetown’s third in three contests against top-10 teams.
“We just did not play as well in the fourth quarter as in the first three,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Urick said. “And that’s somewhat of a concern. We’ve had some other [games] where the fourth quarter hasn’t been that good for us. It’s something we need to address, that’s for sure.”
The Hoyas controlled possession early, winning the faceoff battle 6-2 and the groundball battle 10-7 in the first quarter, and the Hoyas methodically worked the ball around waiting for good scoring chances. Junior midfielder Max Seligmann opened the scoring for the Hoyas at the 12:15 mark of the first quarter on a feed from senior attack Craig Dowd from behind the cage. Sophomore attack Zack Angel made it 2-0 a minute later off a dodge from the top before the Duke offense got going.
The Blue Devils then ripped off a four-goal run to take their first lead of the afternoon, as senior Max Quinzani scored his first two goals of a hat trick and fellow senior attack Ned Crotty notched his first two assists of the game.
Senior midfielder Andrew Brancaccio reduced the lead to one near the end of the first quarter before the scoring pace slowed down, in large part due to outstanding goalkeeping on both ends.
Senior Jack Davis showed no ill effects of the herniated disk that has limited his playing time all season, stopping six of 11 shots in the first half. On the other end, nine saves from Duke freshman Dan Wigrizer prevented the Hoyas from fully taking advantage of their edge in possession, as the teams entered halftime tied up at five goals each.
Both sides came out of the break looking to light up the scoreboard, and the third quarter produced an exhilarating display of end-to-end lacrosse. Both goalies continued to be tested constantly, as the two teams registered a combined 16 shots on net and nine goals.
Although the Blue Devils’ offense has been characterized by the dominance of Quinzani (34 goals, six assists), Crotty, (eight goals, 29 assists) and junior Zach Howell (25 goals, nine assists), it was sophomore midfielder Justin Turri and junior defender Tom Montelli who led the way with two goals each – Montelli’s first two goals of the year – in the third quarter to give Duke a 10-9 advantage.
Turri scored his first goal of the day to start the third quarter, and after goals from Georgetown’s three starters at attack – seniors Rickey Mirabito and Craig Dowd and junior Ryan Shuler – Montelli, Turri and Howell each scored to take a 9-8 lead.
Dowd and freshman Zach Guy then teamed up for a nifty pick-and-roll play near the top of the box to tie the game with 6:30 remaining in the third. Over six minutes of scoreless play ensued until Montelli capped a frenetic final minute of the quarter with his second goal of the game with a single second left on the clock.
The goal appeared to provide an emotional lift for Duke entering the fourth quarter and Georgetown’s subsequent poor play hinted at a damaged psyche. Urick, however, suggested otherwise in his postgame comments.
“It certainly didn’t help,” Urick said. “But I don’t think [Montelli’s goal at the end of the third quarter] in itself was a big deal.”
The fourth quarter was nearly all one-way traffic, with Duke repeatedly creating scoring opportunities and Georgetown struggling to clear the ball and maintain possession. The Blue Devils outshot the Hoyas 14-7 and outscored the hosts 5-1 in the quarter, as the Blue and Gray looked like an entirely different team than the one that went toe-to-toe with the Blue Devils in the first three quarters.
“Duke just made the plays,” senior defender Chris Nixon said. “They made the extra pass and we just didn’t hang with them until the end there.”
The loss narrows Georgetown’s margin for error in the second half of the season as the Hoyas seek to return to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence. Friday night’s visit to struggling Navy (4-4) takes on added importance now, as 10th-ranked Georgetown can ill afford to fall to .500 with dates against top-20 opponents Notre Dame, Loyola (Md.), Massachusetts and Villanova remaining. Faceoff against Navy is scheduled for 7 p.m.