8. #4 Duke Blue Devils vs #12 Harvard Crimson (2016) | Top Lacrosse Games on LSN

by Bailey Kennedy Dec 22, 2021

Next on our countdown of Top 10 Games on LSN VOD, we get to number 8. 

We take you to the early 2016 regular season for this game it was a tale of two different programs at the time. Duke was the powerhouse program #4 in the country at the time last year was their worst season in Head Coach John Danowski’s tenure at the time for Duke. That worst season was a 1st round exit in the NCAA tournament and was the 1st time since Danowski was the head coach the team didn’t make it to Championship Weekend. While on the other hand, Harvard was on the opposite side since trying to replace Head Coach John Tillman who after the 2010 season left to become Head Coach at Maryland. Harvard hired Chris Wojcik to take over and lead the program. The team was coming off a difficult 7-7 finish last season after making the NCAA tournament in 2014 for the first time since 2006. The program had hope that things were turning around and they would be a force to be reckoned with the next year. But the 7-7 record nipped any chance of continued success. 

Now entering this game these two teams were on different pages as well. #4 Duke was 4-1 on the year rolling through teams with their lone loss on the year coming to the #2 Denver Pioneers at the time 14-12. Take away that one game Coach Danowski and his team were outscoring opponents 67-31. While on the other side coming into the game 12th ranked Harvard hadn’t been winning in such a dominant fashion they had been winning heroically. In each of their first three games Harvard needed extra time to beat their opponents beating Villanova 13-12, then Holy Cross 11-10, and then their most recent win heading into this Duke game a 10-9 victory over UMass. 

Harvard was riding into this game high with the successful start to the season but I’m sure as most people thought. How does this team match with Duke? How do they stop the Duke offensive firepower they had in Justin Guterding (Whipsnakes LC) Myles Jones (Redwoods LC), Brad Smith (Whipsnakes LC), Deemer Class, Jack Bruckner, and Case Matheis. On the defensive side of the ball, a young pole in Cade Van Raaphorst (Atlas LC) would get a little bit of run for the team on defense. 

Now on the flip side of things, Harvard had a couple of talented players but none had long professional lacrosse careers. Devin Dwyer was the face of this Harvard offense and had been since he stepped on campus as the #4 recruit in the country. Dwyer wasn’t the only Top 5 player in the country in that 2012 recruiting class who came to play at Harvard he was also joined by the #2 recruit in that class Bobby Duvnjak who had a short pro career playing for the Charlotte Hounds. The rest of the team was filled out with solid pieces and guys who became recognizable names in college lacrosse in Morgan Cheek, and goalie Robert Shaw. 

For the 1st quarter, the game was very back and forth Duke with Duke getting on the board first but Harvard would respond by scoring the next two goals coming from Dwyer off an assist from Cheek, then a fastbreak created offensive for Cheek to score in tight and put Harvard on top. But a man advantage for Duke leads to a Deemer Class goal off an assist from Justin Guterding to tie us up at 2. That Goal was also Class’ 100th goal of his career.

The first quarter would end with a 3-3 score thanks to Guterding once again finding a cutting teammate this time it was Bruckner finishing the goal it was Guterding’s 3rd assist in the quarter alone. Guterding kept the scoring streak going when he scored to put the Blue Devils on top 4-3 with 13:01 to go in the 3rd quarter. Morgan Cheek and Harvard would respond with a goal of their own to tie us back up, but Guterding was feeling himself and added his 2nd Goal of the game to put Duke back on top 5-4 with 10:24 remaining in the 2nd quarter. 

Guterding was unstoppable up to that point Duke had 5 goals and Guterding had been involved with every single one of them 2 goals 3 assists not a bad start from the future PLL player. Now trailing by 1 goal Harvard wanted to put a stop to the fun that Duke was having and boy did they. Harvard went on a 6-0 run to end the 1st half thanks to 3 goals from Dwyer. The Blue Devils were shell-shocked and went into halftime with their largest deficit of the season trailing by 5 goals. The 5 goal lead had been the largest lead of the year for Harvard a team who had been accustomed to coming back into games and winning them found themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum now trying to hold onto this 5 goal lead with a whole half of lacrosse left. 

The third quarter saw just 1 goal scored and it came Joe Lang to put Harvard up 11-5 and make it a now 7-0 run for them. The Crimson would also get the 1st goal to start the 4th quarter which would give them a 12-5 lead with 12:24 to go. 

In the 8-0 run for the Crimson the man in between the pipes Robert Shaw had been fantastic making 7 saves in the 8-0 run. Including making 3 saves on Myles Jones in that 8-0 run. The 8-0 run would finally come to an end for Harvard when Case Matheis found Justin Guterding for his 3rd goal of the game and make it 6 goals with 9:48 left in the game. With that goal, the Duke offensive slowly started to wake up with Jack Bruckner then scoring a minute later. The offensive would get one more goal when Myles Jones found Deemer Class for his 2nd goal of the game to make it a 12-8 ball game with just 7 minutes left. With it, just a 4 goal game with 7 minutes left momentum seemed like it was swinging to the Blue Devils. But the Crimson said not so fast as Morgan Cheek would score to put Harvard back on top by 5 with 5:35 to go in the ball game. 

Duke and Harvard would exchange goals each to end the game and Harvard would upset Duke giving Harvard its first victory over the Blue Devils for the first time in 5 games. These two teams also have not met since this date.

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