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Penn lacrosse players celebrate after scoring a goal in a 14-12 win at Duke

Penn Defeats No. 1 Duke to Start Tobacco Road Twofer in Style

March 1, 2024
Matt DaSilva
Peyton Williams

For the second time in five days, the consensus No. 1 team in the country has been defeated. It turns out the rest of college lacrosse has something to say about prematurely crowning Notre Dame or Duke as the best team in the land.

In driving rain Friday at Koskinen Stadium, Penn neutralized Duke’s high-octane offense save for a late fourth-quarter surge that the Quakers withstood to defeat the top-ranked and previously unbeaten Blue Devils 14-12.

It was Penn’s first win over a No. 1 team since the Quakers defeated Duke in 2018.

And just as Georgetown defenseman Ty Banks was the talk of the lacrosse world after defusing Pat Kavanagh in the Hoyas’ overtime upset at Notre Dame on Sunday, so too should Penn defenseman Brendan Lavelle draw widespread praise for limiting Tewaaraton Award winner and world championship MVP Brennan O’Neill to just one goal on 1-for-8 shooting.

Fittingly, Lavelle, a two-time honorable mention All-American, landed a stick check on O’Neill on the Blue Devils’ final possession to help seal the victory.

Penn’s masterful defensive performance went beyond just one player. The Quakers consistently clogged the interior and disrupted exchanges on the perimeter with near flawless on-ball approaches, forcing Duke to settle for low-percentage shots that red-hot goalie Emmet Carroll (17 saves) easily corralled.

Even on an off night for O’Neill, the Blue Devils proved plenty dangerous. Midfielder Aidan Danenza ignited Duke’s offense with four fourth-quarter goals and made it a one-goal game with 1:22 remaining.

But Penn faceoff specialist Mac Eldridge won the ensuing draw clean, James Shipley scored an empty-netter and the Quakers’ defense took care of the rest.

The Blue Devils (4-1), who came in averaging 20.75 goals per game, scored just nine through the first 56 minutes. They were just 16-for-22 on clears (Penn was a perfect 17-for-17) and got just one extra-man opportunity (the result of taunting penalty on midfielder Gabe Furey).

Attackmen Luke DiNola and Ben Smith each contributed three goals and two assists for the Quakers (3-1).

Both teams play again Sunday. Duke hosts Princeton and Penn visits North Carolina on the back end of an ACC-Ivy League double-up on Tobacco Road.  

Princeton Handles North Carolina

Princeton made it an Ivy League sweep Friday, riding the hot hands of Coulter Mackesy and Nate Kabiri to a 15-9 victory over North Carolina at Dorrance Field.

The Tigers (3-1) dominated the middle of the field and the middle of the game, using a 7-1 run spanning the second and third quarters to take control.

Mackesy and Kabiri did most of the damage. They combined for nine goals on the night. Mackesy led all scorers with five goals — including a 50-yard snipe with Krieg caught out of the cage — and two assists. Kabiri netted four goals and Colin Burns had a hat trick.

The Tar Heels (2-2) had no answer for the talented attack trio, pulling starting goalie Collin Krieg and struggling to generate any offense beyond Owen Duffy (four goals, two assists).

Some of it was self-inflicted. UNC committed 18 turnovers and five penalties. Princeton held the Tar Heels scoreless for nearly 22 minutes in the second half.