DURHAM, N.C.-Duke University senior midfielder Robert Rotanz led the Blue Devils with four goals to help No. 3 Duke to a 16-8 victory over Rutgers in the 2012 season opener. The win was head coach John Danowski’s 300th of his career, making him the sixth head coach in Division I men’s lacrosse history to reach the 300-win benchmark.
“It was the first game of the year and everybody was excited to get out there,” Rotanz said. “Coach [Danowski] told us earlier in the week that 300 was just another game for him and I think everyone was just excited to get out of preseason and just get started.”
Danowski improves to 300-158 for his career and to 81-19 at Duke. He currently ranks fourth all-time among active coaches in career wins and is ninth among active coaches in win percentage (.655). He is the second coach this season, joining Delaware’s Bob Shillinglaw, to reach 300 career wins.
“It’s really insignificant, the number,” Danowski said. “It’s about this team and 2012 and their season and these 41 young men. It’s really about them. Those numbers are, when you’re retired, you can look back and can think about these things. It was important today. The guys have worked really hard all fall and all preseason and now this is their first time to compete. I was very proud of how they handled themselves and competed today for 60 minutes.”
Junior midfielder David Lawson added three goals for Duke (1-0), while the trio of Jake Tripucka, Christian Walsh and Josh Offit all had two goals. Ten different Blue Devils registered a point in the game, including Jordan Wolf notching a pair of assists. Rutgers (0-1) was led by Will Mangan, Nick Depaolera and Michael Diehl with two goals apiece.
Rotanz put Duke on the scoreboard just 1:01 into the game with an unassisted tally. Diehl evened the score for Rutgers at the 10:17 mark of the first period before Lawson and Rotanz added goals as Duke took a 5-2 advantage after 15 minutes of play. Rotanz had three of the Blue Devils’ five goals in the opening quarter.
The Scarlet Knights started the second quarter with a pair of unanswered man-up goals to pull with one at 5-4. Duke sophomore Josh Dionne stopped the Rutgers run with an extra man goal off an assist from Wolf. The goal sparked a 4-0 Blue Devils run that put them up 9-4 at the break.
“We have a tough schedule,” Rotanz said. “Every game you have to come week in and week out and play hard during practice and prepare. There really are no gimmes. Every team is tough. You have to play your best every week.”
Rutgers started the third quarter with consecutive goals to pull within three, but it was all Duke in the final 22 minutes of the contest. The Blue Devils outscored the Scarlet Knights 7-2 in that span, including Offit netting a man-down goal in the final two minutes of the contest to secure the 16-8 victory.
A quartet of Blue Devils lined up at the X, with junior Henry Meyer winning 5-of-7 and sophomore Brendan Fowler going 5-of-10 in restarts. Senior CJ Costabile won 4-of-7 at the X and Greg DeLuca rounded out the group, going 2-of-4.
Four different Blue Devils picked up four ground balls apiece and senior Michael Manley led the way with two caused turnovers. Duke won the ground ball battle overall 34-25.
In goal, junior Dan Wigrizer made six stops in 59 minutes of action. Senior Mike Rock came in and made one stop. Rutgers goaltender Rudy Butler had 16 saves in the loss.
Duke heads to South Bend, Ind., to take on Notre Dame next. Faceoff is set for February 18 at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.