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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VADuke bolted to a big early lead and got a tremendous performance from goalie Dan Loftus to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship with an 11-9 win over Virginia this afternoon at Klckner Stadium.

Loftus recorded 17 saves and was named tournament MVP. He recorded nine saves in the first half to help the Blue Devils set the tempo and build the lead.

The championship is the Blue Devils’ second in a row; last year they defeated UVa 12-9 in the title game. It is also their sixth league championship overall. The win is Duke’s seventh in a row as the Blue Devils improve to 15-1 this season.

The loss is Virginia’s fifth consecutive to the Blue Devils. The Cavaliers fall to 12-3 this spring.

Brian Carroll scored the first of this three goals with fewer than two-and-a-half minutes elapsed to give Virginia an early 1-0 lead.

The lead was short-lived however, as Duke rattled off the next six goals over the next 18-and-a-half minutes to build a 6-1 advantage. Brad Ross got the Blue Devils going by capitalizing on a loose ball in front of the Virginia net with his 21st goal of the season. Steve Schoeffel notched his only goal of the game to put Duke ahead 2-0 at the 8:36 mark of the first quarter. Zack Greer and Max Quinzani scored on nearly identical plays on the crease as Duke took a 4-1 lead into the second quarter.

Freshman Zach Howell scored early in the second quarter and was followed a short time later by the first of Ned Crotty’s two goals as the Blue Devils built a big lead.

“I told my team at the end that (Duke) is the lacrosse team we want to be,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. “But we gave a very good lacrosse team the first 20 minutes of the game and dug ourselves a hole that was too deep to get out of.”

Garrett Billings and Gavin Gill sandwiched goals around another one by Crotty as Duke took a 7-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.

ACC Player of the Year Matt Danowski scored three goals in a span of three minutes and 21 seconds midway through the third quarter, while Greer tallied on extra man in that time to give the Blue Devils a commanding 11-3 lead. Danowski’s blistering shot from 14 yards out with 6:36 to play in the quarter proved to be Duke’s last goal of the game.

Trailing 11-3, Ben Rubeor scored consecutive goals to help UVa creep with six at 11-5 early in the fourth quarter. Carroll’s extra-man goal, his 12th of the season, inched the Cavaliers a little closer with 11 minutes to play. Freshman Rhamel Bratton converted a nice pass from Rubeor for UVa’s third goal of the period.

Seven minutes passed with no scoring as the teams traded possessions before Carroll notched his second extra-man goal of the game to cut Duke’s lead to 11-8 with 1:42 remaining. The Cavaliers won the ensuing faceoff and scored 10 seconds later as Mike Thompson found Rubeor alone in front for a goal that cut UVa’s deficit to two.

Duke won the next faceoff and turned the ball over with less than a minute to play, but Duke intercepted UVa’s clearing pass and ran out the remaining seconds to secure the victory.

“We showed a little grit at the end of the game. I was glad to see that. I never had any sense that we were going to let down,” said Starsia. “If you want to win lacrosse games against teams like this, you can’t make as many mistakes as we did early in the gamewe just dug ourselves too big a hole.”

Bud Petit was outstanding in goal for Virginia and joined Loftus on the All-Tournament team. Petit finished with a career-high 18 saves, the most by a Cavalier netminder in the ACC Tournament in four years.

The All-Tournament team consisted of: MVP Dan Loftus, Ned Crotty, Matt Danowski, Zack Greer, Tony McDevitt, Parker McKee, Nick O’Hara, and Max Quinzani of Duke, and Garrett Billings, Danny Glading, Petit and Rubeor from Virginia.

The Cavaliers will take some time off for exams this week and await a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Bids will be extended next Sunday.

Virginia 1-2-1-59 record: 12-3
Duke 4-3-4-011 record: 15-1

Scoring (G-A) V: Ben Rubeor 3-2, Brian Carroll 3-0, Garrett Billings 1-3, Rhamel Bratton 1-0, Gavin Gill 1-0, Peter Lamade 0-3, Mike Thompson 0-1. D: Matt Danowski 3-1, Ned Crotty 2-2, Zack Greer 2-0, Max Quinzani 1-1, Steve Schoeffel 1-1, Zach Howell 1-0, Brad Ross 1-0, Nick O’Hara 0-1.

Goalie SummaryV: Bud Petit 60 mins., 18 saves, 11 goals allowed. D: Dan Loftus 60 mins., 17 saves, 9 goals allowed.

Shots: V47, D39
Ground Balls: V40, D36
Clearing: V20x24, D19x27
Faceoffs: V13, D10
Penalties: V7-5:30, D6-5:30
EMO: V4x6, D3x6

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