Robertson Keys Duke Fourth Quarter Rally Past Denver

PHOTO BY PEYTON WILLIAMS

Freshman Joe Robertson scored all four of his goals in the fourth quarter as No.1 Duke overcame a four-goal deficit to beat No. 3 Denver 15-12.


Justin Guterding was as good as advertised, but freshman Joe Robertson stole the show as No. 1 Duke rallied from a four-goal deficit to start the fourth quarter and beat No. 3 Denver 15-12 before 1,508 fans at rainy Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.

Robertson, an attackman from St. Anne's Belfield in Charlottesville, Va., scored all four of his goals in the fourth quarter as the Blue Devils rallied from a 12-8 deficit, outscoring the Pioneers 7-0 in the final frame. Robertson has 12 goals in his first four collegiate games.

Robertson scored just 45 seconds into the fourth quarter, and then Duke strung together four goals in a span of just 1:52 to take the lead for the first time since Brad Smith's game-opening goal 48 seconds into the contest. Robertson's extra man snipe from just to the left of the cage off a great look from Guterding gave the Blue Devils a 13-12 lead with 9:47 to play.

The most amazing part of Duke's run is that they did it without winning faceoffs. Trevor Baptiste won 23-of-30 in the game, including 6-of-8 in the fourth quarter, but Duke pressured Baptiste and the Denver wing players into key turnovers. Denver won the first five faceoffs of the fourth quarter, but turned it over each time before getting off a shot. Seven of Denver's 15 turnovers came in the fourth quarter.







After Robertson's go-ahead goal, Duke fought off a man-down situation and then Robertson scored his fourth goal of the game with 7:01 to play, chasing Denver starting goalie Alex Ready from the game. Ready made just five saves while allowing 14 goals. David Winsor came on for the final seven minutes and allowed just one goal, an empty-netter by Reilly Walsh with 1:13 to play as the Pioneers were pressuring the ball.

"Being down 12-8 at the end of three, we challenged them a little bit," said Duke head coach John Danowski. "I’m really proud of the character. Denver is a terrific team and at that point it wasn’t so much about trying to win the game as it was just to continue to compete and learn from your mistakes in the first three quarters."

Duke's fourth quarter comeback spoiled a banner day from Denver sophomore Ethan Walker. Walked scored a career-high six goals and added two assists. His second goal of the game came with 1:21 left in the opening quarter and pushed the Pioneers lead to 5-2. He added two more goals during a 5-1 Denver run in the third quarter that stretched their lead to four entering the fourth quarter, but then the wheels came off.

"You play so few games that each one is so very important,” said Denver head coach Bill Tierney. “If you win this one, you get one in the bank and can almost put yourself in the tournament on February 16. Overall, that was a great lacrosse game between two teams that are both going to get better as time goes on."

Duke, a notoriously slow-starting team in recent seasons, improved to 4-0 heading into next Saturday's game at Penn.

Guterding, had three goals and three assists, pushing his season total to 33 points in four games. Peter Conley added three goals and an assist for the Blue Devils.

Danny Fowler got the win in goal for the Blue Devils. He made six first half saves and then gave way to Turner Uppgren to start the second half, but after Denver's fourth goal of the third quarter, Fowler came back and finished the game. Fowler made eight saves and allowed eight goals in just under 50 minutes of action.

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