Duke’s Brendan Fowler gets into ‘groove’ and puts on a show against Syracuse

On Memorial Day, Duke rose to the top of the NCAA men’s lacrosse ranks for the second time in four years, as they beat the #1 seeded Syracuse Orangemen, 16-10, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

The story of the game was perfectly centered at the midfield faceoff X for the announced crowd of 28,244. There Duke’s Brendan Fowler dominated, winning 20-28 draws, including 12 straight at one point midway through the game. The midfield specialist from Wantagh, New York helped Duke (16-5) erase a 5-0 deficit and go on a 12-1 scoring run from which the Orangemen (16-4) never recovered.

For his efforts he earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award, and more importantly helped his team win the national championship.

photo (25)“I got into a groove and felt pretty good after some early nerves. It was a big stage; I think I kind of calmed down after that first quarter. Our wings were phenomenal all day,” said Fowler after the game, sharing credit with his fellow middies on the draw.

His efforts were not lost on Syracuse head coach, John Desko. “I told [Duke head coach] John [Danowski] after the game to buy his faceoff guy a steak,” said Desko in a post-game interview.

In Saturday’s semifinal against Denver, the Orangemen were able to overcome a 6-0 deficit to beat the Pioneers, 9-8, in the waning seconds. In that game, Denver (14-5) held the upper hand on draws behind specialist Chase Carraro, but the Orangemen were able to win faceoffs at strategic points late in the contest. Against Fowler, Syracuse was unable to gain possession, or mount a similar comeback, in the fourth quarter.

Duke’s win represented a triumphant return to the city that was the site of one of four losses in their first six games earlier this year. Beneath snow flurries at Penn’s Franklin Field, the Blue Devils were outmatched by the Quakers, 14-9 in late February. Three months, five miles, and 14 wins later Duke left Philadelphia for a much shorter return trip to Durham.

Feature photo from NCAA.com

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