FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The game tightened up. Justin Guterding did not.
Duke’s early six-goal lead against defending national champion Maryland had shrunk to one. It wasn’t a time to be tentative. “I felt like I needed to kind of take over,” said Guterding, a former star for Garden City.
The senior had a hand in four of the Blue Devils’ next five goals as No. 4 Duke defeated No. 1 Maryland, 13-8, in the second NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse semifinal before a crowd of 30,616 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
“There was a couple of minutes where I turned it over and wasn’t really playing team offense, and that’s on me,” said Guterding, who had three goals and three assists to help the Blue Devils (16-3) advance to Monday’s championship game against Yale.
Duke scored the first six goals, including two by freshman Nakeie Montgomery, but Maryland’s Tim Rotanz, a former Shoreham-Wading River star, set up Bubba Fairman for a rocket that cut Duke’s lead to 8-7 with 8:05 left in the third.
About three minutes later, Guterding found Joe Robertson for a much-needed goal to make it 9-7. Early in the fourth, Guterding, from behind the cage, fed Robertson on the left wing for a laser and an 11-7 lead. Guterding, the all-time leading goal-scorer in NCAA D-I history with 210, scored two more goals down the stretch and Duke pulled away.
“I think the fact that Justin shared that with you, among strangers in this room, is an example of his maturity,” Duke coach John Danowski said of Guterding’s mea culpa. “He’s becoming very comfortable in who he is. You know, it’s the great ones, the thoroughbreds, that all have that in them. They have this drive, this belief that they can get it done. At the end of the day, they just want to win.”
Guterding had help from Duke’s young guns. Freshman midfielder Montgomery had a hat trick on his birthday and freshman attack Robertson also had three goals.
“Like Coach always says, at this time of the year, the freshmen aren’t freshmen anymore,” Guterding said. “And you can really see that the way they’re playing. They’ve done an incredible job offensively.”
Especially in a 4-0 first quarter and a 3-1 fourth quarter. “It’s just kids at this time of year making plays,” Danowski said. “You put them in position but now it’s up to them. The game happens very quickly. We call it the gray. There’s black and white and X’s and O’s, but the game is won in the gray.”
The game also was won on defense. Duke limited Maryland to 28 shots and created some easier angles for goalie Danny Fowler (Wantagh/Chaminade), who made 12 saves.
“At this time of year, it’s all about making the next play,” Fowler said. “You’re not going to hold down a team like Maryland for an entire game. So obviously they made their run.”
The Terps’ run included a five-goal second quarter that cut it to 8-5 at the half, plus the first two goals in the third quarter to make it a one-goal game. It was gut-check time.
“We like to think that our defense is going to make a stop and get it back to us,” Guterding said. “Offensively, we were able to get pretty much whatever we wanted. Out mindset is that we can’t really be stopped.”
In tight spots, they stayed loose.