Rich Barnes- USA TODAY Sports

Duke routs Air Force in first round of NCAA lacrosse tournament

There was no slowing down the Duke men’s lacrosse team in the opening round of the NCAA lacrosse tournament. The defending national champions routed Air Force 20-9 on Sunday.

Duke sophomore midfielder Myles Jones helped lead the Blue Devils to victory, as he tallied three goals and five assists during the contest.

“He is a quite large human,” said Air Force coach Eric Seremet of Jones. Stopping the 6-foot-4. 240 pound midfielder wasn’t a task the Falcons could handle.

“Myles [Jones] is 240 pounds and there are not too many 240-pound midfielders in the country so that’s a big of anomaly,” said Duke head coach John Danowski. “He’s such a terrific athlete, has stick skills and vision. You can see his basketball skills at play when he plays with his head up and he just continues to get better each week.”

Duke is looking to repeat their post-season success of last season, where the Blue Devils went unbeaten in NCAA tournament play, securing their national championship.

“Duke is a very good lacrosse team. You can’t focus all your energy on one person,” Seremet said. “They move the ball well, the move the ball quickly, they’re pretty slick. You don’t just pick one guy to focus your energy on. Duke can attack you from a lot of different angles and with a lot of different people.”

And that’s exactly what Duke did. Three different Blue Devils recorded hat tricks in the game against Air Force—Jones, Case Matheis and Jordan Wolf.

Jones finished the game with a career-high of eight points with his goals and assists.

“An ton of it is confidence,” said Jones of his performance. “As a freshman, you’re kind of tense and tight, you don’t want to make mistakes in your first go-around in the playoffs. It’s hard to be mentally focused, not trying to mess up. As a sophomore, just being here, being there last year, it’s just a new world for me. The game moves a lot slower now. I’m able to just see the game a lot better.”

With the win over the Falcons, the Blue Devils improved to 29-15 in NCAA Tournament play, including a 14-4 record in opening round games.

Up next for Duke is a road game for the quarterfinals. Duke heads to Newark, Del. to take on Johns Hopkins. If Duke secures a win there, it will be Duke’s seventh consecutive year in the Final Four.

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