DURHAM, N.C. – Sophomore midfielder Myles Jones tallied three goals and five assists to lead top-seeded Duke to a 20-9 win over visiting Air Force in opening round action of the 2014 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament on Sunday evening at Koskinen Stadium.
The Blue Devils improve to 14-3 on the year and advance to meet Johns Hopkins next Sunday in the quarterfinal round in Newark, Del. Game time will be either noon or 2:30 p.m.
The Falcons conclude the season with an 11-6 overall ledger.
"We want to congratulate the Air Force Academy on a fabulous season," said Duke head coach John Danowski. "Their young men played four games in nine days and two trips. We have tremendous respect and admiration for how hard they played and for their season."
Jones led Duke's group of eight multi-goal scorers which included Jordan Wolf's 31st career hat trick. Case Matheiscontributed three markers while Jack Bruckner, Deemer Class, Josh Dionne, Will Haus and Kyle Keenan had two goals apiece.
"All week we worked on dodging with our head up and got away from selfish play and start filling the net up as a team," said Jones. "You can't get 20 goals by yourself or with one or two guys. Getting everyone involved was awesome. I love how Case [Matheis] came out after a long week of practice and put on display what he worked on all week."
After the two squads traded goals to open the game, Duke netted three straight tallies for a 4-1 advantage 10 minutes into the contest. Air Force's Tommy McKee later scored at the 13:36 mark of the second period to close the margin to 5-3, but the Blue Devils responded with seven unanswered goals – including two by Keenan – to take a 12-3 lead into intermission.
"Myles [Jones} is 240 pounds and there are not too many 240-pound midfielders in the country and so that's a bit of anomaly," Danowski said. "He's such a terrific athlete, has great stick skills and vision. You can see his basketball skills at play when he plays with his head up and he just continues to get better each week."
The Blue Devils, who held a 52-35 shot advantage on the day en route to posting their 17th consecutive win at home, led by as many as 12 goals at 18-6 early in the final period.
After totaling 13 points on nine goals and four assists through Duke's first nine games of the season, Jones has compiled an impressive 37 points on 21 goals and 16 helpers over the last eight outings. Included in the run of success which started on March 23 against Syracuse are four games with six-plus points against the Orange (5-1=6), Virginia (4-2=6), Rutgers (1-5=6) and Air Force (3-5=8). The eight total points on Sunday against the Falcons marked a career single-game best for Jones.
With his three goals and one assist against Air Force, Wolf moved into a tie for second place on the ACC's all-time scoring chart with 285 points (174 goals & 111 assists), matching the total of former Duke standout Zack Greer (206-79=285). Former Duke standout and current Blue Devil assistant coach Matt Danowski sits atop the list with 353 career points on 170 goals and 183 assists.
"Today you saw a whole bunch of examples of the right play where we made the extra pass," Danowski said. "You could hear guys calling 'one more', which means one more pass. There were a couple times where I think we moved the ball three, four times and finished the ball because guys were playing right, playing together and playing right."
At the faceoff X, Duke's Brendan Fowler secured 17-of-28 draws and registered a game-high 13 ground balls to move into a tie for fifth place on the NCAA's all-time chart for ground balls with a career total of 436.
In the Duke net, Luke Aaron (6 goals allowed; 8 saves; 45:00) and Kyle Turri (3 goals allowed; 1 save; 15:00) shared the duties. For the Falcons, netminders Brett Dadiego (9 goals allowed; 6 saves; 22:21) and Doug Gouchoe (11 goals allowed; 6 saves; 37:39) split the action.
Kyle Cassady and Mike Crampton paced the Falcon offense with three goals each.
With the victory, Duke improved to 29-15 all-time in NCAA Tournament play including a 14-4 slate in first round games. Under eighth-year head coach John Danowski, the Blue Devils are now 26-5 in the month of May.