- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2007

Matt Danowski didn’t have a chance to turn in his usual dynamic performances last spring after Duke’s season was suspended and subsequently canceled in the wake of a rape investigation.

He’s quickly making up for the loss now that the Blue Devils are back.

Danowski tied a career-high with six goals as No. 3 Duke coasted past No. 6 Maryland 14-7 before 5,283 at Byrd Stadium in the program’s first road game since the team was reinstated last summer.

“The first road game kind of sets in that ‘OK, we’re actually into the season,’ ” Danowski said. “We can play ourselves at home. … It’s great for us. We’re not scared to go anywhere, but that first road game kind of sets in that the season is going, and hopefully it keeps going the way it’s going.”

The Blue Devils (3-0, 1-0 ACC) endured few pointed barbs other than a “No Means No” sign held by fans in the front row. Duke warmed up in relative silence, and a small section of fans cheered when the Blue Devils darted onto the field at the start.

Danowski soon provided even more reason for them to make noise and to silence the handful of persistent hecklers perched behind the Duke bench.

The senior scored two goals in a three-minute span in the first quarter, beating Maryland’s Steve Whittenberg for the first and zipping a perfectly placed shot on goalie Brian Phipps (13 saves) for a 4-1 lead.

Danowski added two more impressive goals before the break. He came around the right side of the cage, slipping past Whittenberg again just enough to place a shot just above Phipps’ right shoulder. Moments later, Zack Greer intercepted Ryan Clarke’s clearing pass and slipped it to Danowski, who deposited it in transition for an 8-3 halftime edge.

“We try not to put it on anybody’s shoulders, but certainly when one of your seniors starts to make plays, it does allow the other guys to relax,” Duke coach John Danowski said.

Whittenberg’s frustration only grew when Matt Danowski scored twice more in the third quarter.

Danowski’s sixth goal came on a charge from behind the cage followed by a pinpoint shot into an upper corner of the goal. The Terps switched Ray Megill onto Danowski for stretches, but it hardly mattered who was covering the Duke star.

“He was the best player on the field, the best player in the country,” Clarke said. “We knew this going into the game. We thought we could slow him down. We’ve got the best defenseman in the country in Whit, but he just had our number today. He was pretty much unstoppable out there. He could have shot the ball behind his back and it would have went in.”

Added Maryland coach Dave Cottle: “Any player has five or six, and you have seven, you don’t have a good chance of winning.”

It was a sobering outing for the Terps (2-2, 0-1), who have dropped consecutive games before April for the first time since 1984. Maryland, still searching for offensive consistency, struggled to generate many settled scoring opportunities.

Max Ritz scored twice for Maryland, which struggled to generate offense in any settled situations and allowed Phipps to face several high-percentage shots in his fourth career start.

“We haven’t had a whole lot of continuity, and we’re going to have to really improve to be a good playoff team,” Cottle said.

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