No. 6 Duke Barely Outlasts No. 14 Delaware

Kaleikau led the high-octane Blue Hen offense with three goals and three assists while Smith, who scored a point in every game this season, had two goals and two assists, Burns and Sean Finegan each scored twice, and Kevin Kaminski scored a goal and dished out an assist. Delaware outshot the Blue Devils 40-30 and thanks to Cooney held a 19-13 advantage on faceoffs.

Zach Howell led Duke with four goals and an assist while Jordan Wolf added three goals and two assists and Josh Offit contributed two goals and an assist. Goalkeeper Mike Rock, who got the start in goal with regular Dan Wigrizer out with a concussion, recorded 12 saves to pick up the win.

The loss marked the second straight year that the Blue Hens gave an Atlantic Coast Conference power all it could handle before falling short. Last season Delaware dropped a 14-13 decision to fourth-ranked North Carolina in the first round.

The Hens made a habit much of the season of bouncing back to win games after falling behind early, most notably in a mid-season 7-6 win over CAA rival Towson when Delaware rallied for the win after going down 5-0 early.

Delaware went down 5-0 to Duke on Saturday as the Blue Devils stormed out immediately, beating Delaware goalkeeper Noah Fossner (five saves) for four goals in the first four minutes of action. Duke increased the lead to 6-1 and held leads of 7-1 and 9-3 in the second quarter before Delaware rallied, eventually cutting the margin to 9-7 at the break. The score could have been even closer if the Hens had not hit the pipe on five shots during the half.

"When we got down early, we just stayed positive," said Kaleikau, a second team All-CAA attackman who led the team with 30 assists this season, including 10 in three post-season games. "We've been there before and knowing that helped out a lot. We got on a run and didn't look back but we could never get over the hump. We just couldn't get that last one."

Despite all the fireworks, the Blue Hens never did hold the lead the entire game. After Duke built the 9-3 lead with 9:10 remaining in the first half, the Hens scored the final four goals of the stanza with Kaminski and Smith scoring six seconds apart and Kaleikau converting with just 1:27 remaining.

A goal by Delaware redshirt freshman John Mills just three minutes into the third quarter cut the lead 9-8, but Duke answered with goals by Offit, Josh Dionne, and Bill Conners to push the lead back to four at 12-8. Offit's goal with 7:37 left in the stanza ended a Duke scoring drought that lasted over 16 minutes.

Duke, which has now won four of its last five games, extended the lead back to five at 13-8 when CJ Costabile scored just seven seconds into the final stanza. The goal came immediately after a 45-minute game delay due to lightning that hit the Durham area at the end of the third period.

After Costabile's goal, the Hens came back once again. Freshman Brenden Gilson and Kaleikau scored two minutes apart to narrow the gap to 13-10 but Duke responded with two goals by the Howell, the second with 4:50 left that pushed the lead to 15-10 and appeared to put the game away.

But in a game like this, no lead was safe. Delaware made one last push for the upset as Kaleikau took a feed from Dom Sebastiani and scored with 3:45 left and Smith followed just 12 seconds later to cut the lead to 15-12. Burns scored his first goal off a Smith feed at the 3:16 mark, and after a timeout by Duke, cut the lead to one with a goal with 19 seconds left. Unfortunately for the Hens, the comeback would end there.

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