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  1. #1

    Lacrosse: The 2020 Season

    After coming that close to a second consecutive Memorial Day appearance in 2019, the Duke menís lacrosse program enters 2020 facing more uncertainty than in any of the last several seasons. There is an abundance of talent all over the field, but a large number of unproven players will need to step up in order for the Blue Devils to meet or exceed expectations.

    The Blue Devils won with defense in 2019; they were top-ten in both goals allowed and defensive efficiency. However, they lose a number of key players on that side of the ball, along with an alpha-dog and undisputed leader in midfielder Brad Smith. The defensive losses start with first-team All-American defender Cade Van Raaphorst, but donít end there. Also lost to graduation are lead LSM Peter Welch, lead SSDM John Prendergast, starting close defender Jack Fowler, and complementary SSDM Jack Falk. Midfielder Jake Seau, who finally got a chance to show what he could do when uninjured, also departs.

    Among the returnees, the undisputed top dog is defender J.T. Giles-Harris. A consensus pre-season All-American, the lockdown cover guy is the prohibitive pre-season favorite for the Schmeisser award given to the nationís top close defender, and on the periphery of the Tewaaraton discussion. Heíll be called on not only to blanket the oppositionís top threat, but also to lead what will be a very green unit. Also back are senior SSDMs Terry Lindsay and Blake Leischow. Turner Uppgren, who started all 18 games in net, returns; his 50.9 save percentage is a little uninspiring, but he made the saves that needed to be made (note that Duke has won championships with barely-better-than-average goalkeeping, and hasnít had an All-American since Aaron Fenton in 2005). Sophomore Wilson Stephenson, who showed enormous progress at LSM before his horrific injury in the NCAA quarterfinal, is widely expected to be a medical redshirt in 2020.

    In the midfield, the Blue Devils return four double-figure scorers, led by the electric Nakeie Montgomery. After two seasons of running at shorties, this year, with the absence of Brad Smith, Nakeie will draw the pole. He will need to prove that he can meet the challenge. Heíll be joined by seniors Kevin Quigley, Sean Lowrie, and Reilly Walsh, junior Cam Badour, and sophomores Garrett Leadmon and Owen Caputo. The entire faceoff triumvirate of senior Brian Smyth, junior Joe Stein, and sophomore Jordan Ginder returns; they will be expected to improve on last yearís wildly inconsistent performance and overall 50.9 percent winning percentage, and do so with a completely new compliment of wings.

    Up front, Duke returns all three starters, led by 42-goal-scoring junior Joe Robertson. Senior Joey Manown and redshirt senior C.J. Carpenter also return, but one of them is likely to be asked to step aside.

    Duke brings in what by all accounts including the IL rankings is the nationís top recruiting class. The group includes eight (!) of ILís top 100, including four of the top 15, and is mostly oriented toward defense. Thing One and Thing Two are defender Kenny Brower (Massapequa, NY/Massapequa) and attackman Dyson Williams (Oshawa, ON/Hill Academy). Brower, an elite combination of physical and cerebral, led his squad to a New York state championship as a senior. Williams, the son of Canadian legend Shawn Williams, was the number three scorer in the Ontario Junior A box league last summer; he can feed and finish in traffic (36G, 59A in 19 regular-season games for Whitby). Jake Caputo (Apex, NC/Middle Creek), son of assistant coach Ron Caputo and brother of Owen, was ILís number two midfielder and number six overall; he has a complete skill-set and off-the-charts lacrosse IQ. The new poles also include three who project as either close defenders or LSMs: IL number 14 Will Frisoli (Westwood, MA/St. Sebastianís), number 49 Tyler Carpenter (Durham, NC/Durham Academy), and number 50 Cameron Henry (Marietta, GA/McCallie). Midfielders Connor Drake (Wilton, CT/Salisbury School) and Michael Swirbalus (Westwood, MA/St. Sebastianís) will also vie for immediate playing time; Swirbalus may project as a SSDM. Rounding out the newcomers is grad transfer LSM Austin Meacham, a two-time all-Ivy performer at Dartmouth.

    As for the annual futile exercise Ö

    Uppgren is likely to start the season in net, but he will be pushed by sophomore Garrett Smith and redshirt freshman Andrew Bonafede. Giles-Harris and Brower look to be locks to start on close defense, along with one from senior Walker Scaglione, sophomore Frank Marinello, or Frisoli. If he doesnít start, Frisoli will get experience playing on the man-down unit.

    Duke has enough quality depth to run three midfield lines, but the Blue Devils have never done that under Coach Danowski, so we will try to pick a top six. To us it looks like Mongomery, Leadmon, and Quigley on the first unit, and J. Caputo, Badour, and Walsh on the second. If O. Caputo, Lowrie, or Drake forces his way into the top six, look for Badour to be the designated sniper on man-up. J. Caputo, who will wear number six this year (previously worn by alpha SSDMs Will Haus and John Prendergast), might be a candidate for a year at SSDM, along with Lindsay, Leischow, and Swirbalus. If Stephenson were healthy, he would be the obvious choice at LSM; in his absence, itís likely to be a committee, with Meacham, T. Carpenter, Henry, and perhaps Scaglione sharing responsibility.

    Up front, itís likely to be Robertson, Manown, and Williams as the starters. C. Carpenter and Lowrie will provide depth, run out of the box to create matchup problems, and help out on the man-up unit.

    As it was last year, the non-conference schedule is a Mudererís Row. After todayís opener against Air Force, Duke faces High Point, Denver, and Penn on successive Saturdays. Richmond, Loyola and Towson await in March. The breathers, relatively speaking, are Jacksonville, Marquette, and Utah. The ACC is, well, the ACC. Nuff said about that.

    Everything is up for grabs this year. Itís been a very long time since Duke has depended on newcomers to this extent. The Blue Devils could make a third consecutive Championship Weekend, or they could be out of the top 20 on March 1 and have to fight hammer and tongs to get to the bubble. Your guess is as good as mine.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Thanks for the excellent overview!

    Iím anxiously awaiting the start of todayís game on ACC Network.
    Bob Green
    DBR Survivor Football Champion
    2010 & 2016

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    very nice review, Paul..but I think I saw today that Robertson has suffered an unspecified knee injury? Ack?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    We can't afford a slow start this year - very little margin for error.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Duke up quickly 3 - 0.
    Bob Green
    DBR Survivor Football Champion
    2010 & 2016

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    4-0. CJ W/ 2 goals coming from behind the goal. I like the physicality of the D early.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    End of 1Q: Duke 6, AF 3
    Bob Green
    DBR Survivor Football Champion
    2010 & 2016

  8. #8
    Somebody please explain that Duke foul at the end of the quarter. It looked like the AF guy put a moving pick on the Duke defender and the defender was penalized. I realize I'm applying basketball terminology here, but I cannot for the life of me see that as a foul on the defender.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    6-3 after one. Defense showing our youth.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by 75Crazie View Post
    Somebody please explain that Duke foul at the end of the quarter. It looked like the AF guy put a moving pick on the Duke defender and the defender was penalized. I realize I'm applying basketball terminology here, but I cannot for the life of me see that as a foul on the defender.
    Bad call. No way thatís interference on Brower. Moving screen all the way.

  11. #11
    Are you kidding me, that was a shot? Not at all impressed with the refs so far.

  12. #12
    Is it my TV, or does the Duke trim almost look like Tar <W>Hole blue? Air Force colors look more Duke to me than Duke does here.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Halftime: Duke 9, AF 5

    I thought we were impatient a couple times on offense in 2nd quarter.
    Bob Green
    DBR Survivor Football Champion
    2010 & 2016

  14. #14
    Off-ball defense is about what youíd expect for Week Zero.

  15. #15
    A lot a lot a lot of first game slop.

    To be expected.

    Letís go Duke!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    End of 3Q: Duke 11, AF 9

    The 4th quarter should be exciting.
    Bob Green
    DBR Survivor Football Champion
    2010 & 2016

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by 75Crazie View Post
    Is it my TV, or does the Duke trim almost look like Tar <W>Hole blue? Air Force colors look more Duke to me than Duke does here.
    Itís your TV. The numbers do look, how shall I put it, pixilated. Close up itís a mixture of pixels of different colors but the overall effect is Duke blue on my TV.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Can't figure out why Montgomery is being passive.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Badour with the rocket,, 12-10 Duke
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  20. #20
    Air Forceís goalie is...quite good.

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