CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — It's April, so it is time for Duke's men's lacrosse team to start its annual march toward the NCAA championship.
The Blue Devils, behind stellar defense and three goals effort from sophomore attackman Josh Dionne, won their ninth straight game Friday, beating Maryland 6-5 in the ACC semifinalsat Klockner Stadium.
The fourth-seeded Terps (7-3) had two good scoring opportunities in the last 13 seconds, but Duke goalie Dan Wigrizer saved both as time expired.
The top-seeded Blue Devils (11-3) haven't lost since March 10 against Loyola. In the past five years under coach John Danowski, Duke has won three ACC titles, appeared in five national semifinals and won the 2010 national championship.
Duke always seems to peak at the right time, but in the past the Blue Devils won with offense, like they did in a 13-5 win against Virginia last week.
Unfortunately for the rest of the nation, they can now win with defense as well.
The Terps also didn't help themselves Friday, as they weren't as patient or selective as usual and only converted five of 31 shots.
"It was pretty much a slugfest," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "We played hard, and I was proud that we battled to the end. But it's hard to win many games scoring five goals.
"Thirty one shots, five goals, that's something we have to improve on. We didn't get into a flow. Duke is very athletic, and they've got some tall, rangy guys. Part of their scheme is to disrupt your rhythm, and it's hard to spin and cycle the ball against them."
But Wigrizer stopped two low shots at the end, including one by Cummings, as time expired.
"I had a good look, it was a good shot and I may not have gotten as much on it as I wanted, but you've got to give their goalie credit," said Cummings, who scored two goals.
Duke led 4-3 at the half thanks to a goal from Dionne with 1.2 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Long pole midfielder C.J. Costabile scored for the Blue Devils just six seconds into the game after gaining the opening face-off.
Maryland tied the score at 1-1 nearly three minutes later on a goal barely inside the left pipe from Cummings, and Terps junior midfielder John Haus put Maryland up, 2-1, with 2:17 remaining. The Terps seemed like they were going to end the quarter with a one goal lead, but Duke sophomore attackman Christian Walsh got a bouncer past Maryland goalie Niko Amato with 39 seconds remaining.
The teams exchanged goals midway in the second period, but Dionne scooped up a loose ball in a scrum outside the crease and backhanded a shot past Amato for the Duke lead at halftime. Amato never saw the shot as it sailed by.
The teams finished even in shots (31-31), and Duke held a 27-26 edge in ground balls.
"Duke is the hottest team in the country, and we finished only one goal behind them, so that's not bad," Tillman said. "If we go back and correct some things, I'll like our chances against anybody."