PHILADELPHIA - Coming out of the preseason scrimmage season, the University of Pennsylvania men's lacrosse team had generated some buzz with their performances.
That buzz was turned up a bit on Friday night, as the Quakers opened their 2013 regular season with a 14-9 win over a Duke team that was ranked 14th in this week's USILA national coaches poll and playing its fifth game already this season.
This win was not a fluke. Penn outshot Duke 45-35, matched the Blue Devils on man-up situations (both teams going 3-of-5), and committed just 12 turnovers in its first game of the year.
Tim Schwalje led the way for Penn; the senior captain had three goals and dished off four assists, and he figured in three of the Quakers' five fourth-quarter goals that sealed this contest. Sophomore Isaac Bock announced himself to the college lacrosse world with four goals, while freshman Nick Doktor scored twice.
The only other time these teams met at Franklin Field was two years ago, when Penn stunned Duke with a 7-3 win. The pace was slightly faster on Friday night; in fact, the Quakers and Blue Devils scored more goals in the first quarter than were scored in that entire game two years ago.
Duke set the tone with Jordan Wolf's first of the night just 52 seconds in. Zack Losco matched that goal to get Penn on the board 2:35 into the game, and 24 seconds later Bock netted his first. Myles Jones scored for Duke to again tie the game, but Penn reeled off the next three goals as Doktor, Drew Belinsky and Schwalje all scored within a span of 1:36. Just six minutes into the game, the score was 5-2.
Duke stormed back with goals from Deemer Class and Josh Dionne 58 seconds apart, but Doktor scored his second of the period off a Ryan Parietti feed with 6:03 left in the quarter.
Things slowed down after that, with only Wolf scoring in the final minute of the quarter. Still, when the frenetic period was over the score was 6-5, Penn.
Duke scored the only goals of the second quarter, the first coming from Josh Offit and the second from Myles Jones. The Blue Devils led at the break, 7-6.
Offit got the scoring started in the third quarter, as well, finishing a Christian Walsh feed. However, less than a minute later freshman Mark Leonhard scored an unassisted goal and that seemed to steady the Quakers. Six minutes later, Schwalje finished a Bock feed to tie the game at 8-8, and a little less than three minutes later the duo reversed roles to give the Red and Blue a lead they would not relinquish.
Schwalje scored the first goal of the fourth quarter -- the fourth straight Penn goal -- before Duke ended a goalless streak of 15:50 when Walsh scored unassisted with 11:04 left in the contest.
The stage was set for a fantastic finish, but Penn had other ideas. Instead, another senior captain, Anthony Santomo, sent the Penn bench into bananas mode when he grabbed a loose ball in the defensive end, raced to the other end and finished the Quakers' first long-pole goal of the season with 8:46 left.
Two minutes later, Bock finished a Schwalje feed that made the score 12-9, and then three minutes after that Bock did it himself to make the margin four goals. Parietti closed out the scoring with 2:42 left, as Penn took advantage of a pressing Duke defense and Schwalje found his classmate wide open in front.
Both goalies had tough first quarter, but they settled down after that. Penn goalie Brian Feeney, in particular, was simply spectacular at times Friday night. After allowing five goals and making just three saves in the first quarter, he responded with 12 saves and only four goals the rest of the way. In the second quarter alone, he made six stops while giving up just two goals.
Penn returns to action Tuesday night, hosting local rival Saint Joseph's at Franklin Field at 7 p.m.