BALTIMORE (AP) — Duke is so talented offensively that even its backups are dangerous.
The Blue Devils lost a key cog in their high-scoring offensive machine when All-American attackman Josh Dionne suffered a season-ending knee injury in last Sunday’s quarterfinals.
Kyle Keenan filled in and scored four goals to lead top-seeded Duke to a 15-12 victory over No. 5 Denver in the NCAA semifinals on Saturday.
Keenan was an attackman in high school, but was forced to play midfield this season in order to crack Duke’s loaded lineup. Head coach John Danowski said Keenan was the ideal choice to replace Dionne and the sharp-shooting left-hander wouldn’t let the Blue Devils didn’t miss a beat.
“I was just at the right place at the right time,” Keenan said of his career-high goal output. “I have to credit my teammates. I got a bunch of greet feeds today and just had to finish.”
Attackman Jordan Wolf totaled three goals and two assists for Duke (16-3), which will seek its second straight national championship and third overall on Monday against Notre Dame.
Deemer Class contributed three goals while fellow midfielder Myles Jones added two goal and an assists for Duke, which will be making it fifth finals appearance. Midfielder Christian Walsh contributed a goal and three assist for the Blue Devils, who hit their season average of 15 goals per game.
“Duke has a phenomenal offense. They just put so many weapons on the field and any one of them can have a big game,” Denver midfielder Jeremy Noble said.
Attackman Wesley Berg scored a game-high five goals for Denver (16-3), which has lost all three of its semifinal appearances. Attackman Jack Bobzien had three goals for the Pioneers, who had a school-record 13-game winning streak snapped.
“We had our chances to win the game. We dropped a few passes and hit a few pipes and that was the difference in my opinion,” Noble said.
Denver used a 3-0 run to cut a four-goal deficit down to 11-10 at the 13:46 mark of the fourth quarter. The two teams then traded scores before Duke reeled off three straight goals to stave off the comeback attempt.
Backup goalie Kyle Turri came off the bench after Denver pulled within one and made four saves in the fourth quarter to help Duke regain control.
“We showed tremendous heart and made that run to get within one. To Duke’s credit, they made the last run,” Denver head coach Bill Tierney said.
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