Many athletes have refrained from heaping praise on an opponent. But the Maryland men’s lacrosse team did not shy away from sounding impressed with Duke senior attackman Justin Guterding after his performance in the No. 4 seed Blue Devils’ 13-8 victory over the No. 1 seed Terps in Saturday’s NCAA Division I tournament semifinal at Gillette Stadium.
After amassing only one goal and one assist in the first half, Guterding racked up two goals and two assists in the final 20 minutes to help Duke turn a one-goal lead into the final margin of victory.
Junior defenseman Curtis Corley, who had the unenviable task of guarding Guterding, acknowledged the Tewaaraton Award finalist got the upper hand in their matchup.
“He’s a really good dodger,” said Corley, who had marked Albany senior attackman Connor Fields, Rutgers senior attackman Jules Heningburg and Johns Hopkins sophomore attackman Cole Williams. “So he draws a lot of attention. … He got me on some rolls. I’ve just got to put in some work for next year. He’s a really good attackman.”
Terps coach John Tillman conceded that Guterding is so diverse on a talent level that the Maryland coaching staff considered shutting him off as they did with Cornell sophomore attackman Jeff Teat in Sunday’s 13-8 win over the Big Red in the quarterfinal round.
“I just think we felt like that would have been much harder because of all their movement and motion,” Tillman said. “We felt like it was going to cause more problems if we did that.”
Guterding, who leads all Division I players in goals (64) and extended his NCAA record for career goals to 210, is fortunate to be complemented by teammates such as junior midfielder Brad Smith (28 goals, 35 assists) and freshman attackman Joe Robertson (46 goals, 12 assists) who make it difficult for opposing defenses to focus much of their attention on him.
Even so, Guterding said he has a tendency to try to carry the offensive burden, which he tried to do when Maryland put together a 4-0 run spanning the second and third quarters to draw within one goal at 8-7 with 8:05 left in the third period.
“There was a point where the game got a little tight, and I felt like I needed to kind of take over, and that wasn’t the way we were playing in the first half,” Guterding said. “[Offensive coordinator] Matt Danowski came up to me and just said, ‘Remember, it’s Duke versus Maryland, not you versus Maryland.’ Obviously, he’s done that to me in the past. It was just a couple-minute stretch where I turned it over or just wasn’t really playing team offense. That’s on me.”
Blue Devils coach John Danowski said Guterding’s confession to a group of reporters was an example of his maturation and his desire to capture a national championship.
“Justin wants to win,” he said. “You know, the great ones, the thoroughbreds that we’ve been really allowed to coach here, they all have that in them. They have this drive, this belief that they can get it done, and every once in a while, they just need to be refocused a little bit. But at the end of the day, they want to win.”