Although it was known this Duke team was good, few were prepared for the dominance they displayed in their 12-7 victory over Loyola on March 7. The Greyhounds were a formidable challenger, especially attackman Pat Spencer who leads the nation in goals per game. Still, Loyola’s powerful offense was shut down by the Duke defense.
“Pat is a great player but we like to focus on ourselves,” says Nakeie Montgomery, a midfielder for the Duke Blue Devils. “We think if we play Duke defense we can go against anyone in the country. We think our way is best.”
Montgomery himself was a key part of Duke’s upset of the Greyhounds. Montgomery, who had missed two of the last three games because of injury, came out guns blazing. He scored a hat trick in just the first quarter of the game.
“Tonight was Nakeie’s night,” says Duke Coach John Danowski. “When he’s able to just catch and release, he’s extremely accurate. He has a goal scorer’s feel.”
The electric Blue Devil offense gave them the upper hand on Loyola. According to Danowski, the strategy for outscoring the Greyhounds’ pro- lific offense was to shoot the ball more frequently to limit the goalie’s saves. This strategy came to fruition on the field with Duke taking 43 shots on goal with Loyola only managing 22.
Although the victory over Loyola was huge for the Blue Devils, it meant a lot more than this single game. The matchup marked the halfway point in Duke’s regular season, and the win will hopefully give them the momentum to continue their dominance going into the playoffs.
The game came at a difficult time, too, with the student-athletes also going through midterms. Thankfully, spring break arrived the week after the game, which offered the players some time to recover and continue building team chemistry.
“Everything kind of came together and now we’ve got a lot of confidence going into spring break,” Montgomery says. “We’re all excited to get a break from school and focus on ourselves.”
Spring break breakfasts are a great time for the team to bond, Montgomery explains, and one destination is above all others. “Best breakfast spot? Cracker Barrel,” Montgomery says.
The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse tournament runs from May 8 to 27 with the semifinals and championship game being held in Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.