Red, White and Blue Devils: Team USA Ties Run Deep at Duke


Brennan O’Neill is the top-ranked recruit in his class and billed as a generational talent.

This article appears in the March edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today! Thank you for your support.

Even with a massive roster featuring 15 graduate students, Duke proved unafraid to put a couple of freshmen into the fire at the outset of this much anticipated college men’s lacrosse season.

And as the diamonds of the Blue Devils’ latest recruiting haul, U.S. U21 standouts Brennan O’Neill and Jake Naso sparkled under pressure for the consensus No. 1 team in the country that is off to a 9-0 start for the first time since 2005.

O’Neill, the top-ranked recruit in his class billed as a generational talent, showed off his much talked about size, body control, stick skills and shot speed with a three-goal outburst in his collegiate debut, as Duke defeated Denver 12-10 on Feb. 5.

“A lot different than when he played against Kellenberg High School two years ago,” Blue Devils coach John Danowski said of the step up in competition and lack of senior season for O’Neill.

“The speed of the game is definitely faster,” O’Neill said. “But I have so much talent around me that the game slows down in a way.”

Naso, the most coveted faceoff specialist in the recruiting class, surfaced as the Blue Devils’ top specialist two days later with a 19-for-28 performance in a 16-12 win over Robert Morris. He was named the US Lacrosse Player of the Week on Tuesday for his performance against Syracuse, a game in which Duke won 15-14 behind his 24-for-32 showing.

In addition to being U.S. and Duke teammates, O’Neill and Naso also played together in high school at St. Anthony’s (N.Y.).

They’re far from the only Blue Devils with Team USA ties.

Red, White and Blue Devils

  • Jake Caputo, midfield — 2022 U21 team

  • Ned Crotty, assistant coach — 2010, 2014, 2018 senior team

  • Matt Danowski, assistant coach — 2003 U19 team, 2018 senior team

  • John Danowski, head coach — 2018, 2023 senior team (HC)

  • Terry Lindsay, midfield — 2016 U19 team

  • Michael Sowers, attack — 2016 U19 team

  • Brennan O’Neill, attack — 2022 U21 team

  • Jake Naso, faceoff — 2022 U21 team

  • Cole Krauss, defense — 2020 U19 training team

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