UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. – The seniors on this year’s University of Richmond men’s lacrosse team have talked all offseason about getting back to the NCAA Tournament.
Sunday at Robins Stadium sure had a NCAA Tournament feel to it when the Spiders hosted perennial national power and 20th-ranked Duke in front of over 3,500 strong.
A second-half surge by the potent Blue Devils offense proved too much as the Spiders took their first loss of the season, 9-8.
“When you have a team that is as athletic and explosive as Duke is, it’s a matter of limiting their run because they’re ultimately going to make one at some point during the game,” Head Coach Dan Chemotti said. “We just didn’t execute the game plan in the second half like we did in the first and they made the plays when they needed to, that made the difference.”
Senior J.P. Forester led the offensive attack for Richmond with his first hat trick of the season, while sophomores Teddy Hatfield and Ryan Lee each had two goals and an assist.
Defensively, seniors Brendan Hynes and Ryan Berning were outstanding, combining for eight ground balls and seven caused turnovers. Classmate Benny Pugh finished with eight saves on the afternoon.
“We just didn’t execute in the second half,” Forester said. “They made it tough for us offensively and we weren’t as crisp, which helped them get out and run and have some explosive plays. We’ll get back to work and focus on conference play starting on Saturday.”
The Spiders started with a bang when Dan Ginestro found a cutting Lee, who deposited his 14th goal of the season into the back of the net less than three minutes into the contest.
A great defensive play by Ryan Dennis led to a transition opportunity, which led to a 2-0 Spider lead after Dennis found Hatfield for the goal.
Duke answered back with two goals in less than 90 seconds to even the score at 2-2, but a goal by Eric Haehl off a feed from Lee gave the Spiders a 3-2 after one quarter.
Richmond’s defense would lock in and shutout the Blue Devils in the second quarter, which allowed the offense to go to work with goals from Hatfield and Lee in the first five minutes of the stanza to send the Spiders into the break with a 5-2 lead.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Forester made a beautiful cut and fired it home to push Richmond’s lead to 6-2.
That’s when the explosive Duke offense caught fire, scoring four goals in the final nine minutes of the quarter to even the score at 6-6 heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
Forester struck once again to start the fourth when he took a feed from Hatfield and gave Richmond a 7-6 cushion.
Duke would go on another run, scoring three goals in less than a minute span to take its largest lead of the day at 9-7.
Forester made another great cut to finish off his hat trick with 5:35 to play and bring the Spiders within 9-8.
Richmond would make it interesting late, firing four shots in the final three minutes, but they were turned away as the Blue Devils held on for the one-goal victory.
The Spiders are back in action next Saturday when they open up conference play against VMI. Game time at Robins Stadium is set for 3 p.m.