Local Hero Joe Robertson Scores Duke's OT Game-Winner Against UVA


The tide looked as though it was turning in Virginia’s favor as clock winded down in the fourth quarter of another ACC classic.

Dox Aitken had found his shooting stroke once again, blasting two goals past Duke’s Mike Adler and causing Lacrosse Twitter to simultaneously erupt. Petey LaSalla won every faceoff in the fourth quarter, just as he did in last week’s victory against Notre Dame.

The Blue Devils needed to find an answer to reverse the trajectory of the two teams heading into Thursday night’s matchup. Virginia was fresh off wins over Notre Dame and North Carolina, while Duke had just suffered its first loss to the Fighting Irish.

Luckily for the Blue Devils, they had a wealth of players from which to look to avoid a two-game losing streak. Down a goal with less than two minutes left, Garrett Leadmon took his defender to the crease and scored his second goal of the year to force overtime.

In the overtime period, goalie Mike Adler made a series of close-range shots on Aitken to keep the game alive — continuing his trend of stellar play late in games. Then, as Aitken barreled toward the cage with a lane to shoot, JT Giles-Harris stripped him with a late check.

On the next possession, Joe Robertson, who grew up in Salem, Va., curled from x and flicked a bouncer past Alex Rode to seal a 13-12 Duke victory — one that put the preseason favorites back on track in an ultra-competitive ACC. It was also Robertson that scored the game-winner in overtime against North Carolina on April 1 — making the most of a the 2021 season after he tore his ACL in last year's preseason.

The hero of Thursday night’s game attended St. Anne’s-Belfield, which sits less than a mile from Virginia’s Klöckner Stadium — the site of his latest clutch performance. Also on that STAB team was his brother, Philip, and top-ranked recruit Connor Shellenberger. Each played a pivotal role in Thursday night’s thriller.

Robertson wasn’t the only clutch performer for Duke. Adler finished the game with 16 saves, including another game-saver. Giles-Harris kept Virginia’s Matt Moore in check for most of the night, and added a long-distance outlet pass that resulted in a Brennan O’Neill goal. Robertson, though, scored his second goal and fifth point to seal the victory.

Joe Robertson connected with his brother, Phil, for the first goal of the game to get Duke off to a fast start. Virginia, though, answered with goals from Aitken, Shellenberger and Charlie Bertrand to take an early two-goal lead.

Robertson then kickstarted a five-goal Duke run that featured goals from Aidan Danenza, Owen Caputo, Michael Sowers and O'Neill. The Blue Devils led throughout the second quarter and out of halftime, until Matt Moore tied the game at 8-8 with 9:01 left in the third quarter.

LaSalla won nine second-half faceoffs (18 of 27 overall) to give the Cavaliers the momentum in the third quarter. He took one faceoff win coast-to-coast for his seventh goal of the season. Aitken capped a run with a roll dodge and a high-powered shot to give Virginia an 11-9 lead late in the third.

Moore pushed the lead back to two goals at 12-10, scoring with 14:24 remaining in the game. The Cavaliers would not score again thanks to Adler’s three saves and a Duke offense that committed just one turnover in the final quarter.

O’Neill cut the deficit to 12-11 with less than 10 minutes left and, many shots later, Leadmon tied it with 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. Virginia won the ensuing faceoff, but Shellenberger’s shot went wide and Adler saves another attempt from Payton Cormier.

With less than 10 seconds left, Bertrand looked to have scored the game-winner, but it was ruled that his left arm had landed in the crease. The call essentially ended regulation and sent the game to overtime.

Adler and Giles-Harris made game-saving plays to allow Robertson to score the game-winner just minutes from where he career blossomed.

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