By Stacey Kilpatrick
FOXBOROUGH, MA – Last year’s NCAA men’s lacrosse champions, the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils are still in contention for a championship repeat as they edged No. 4 Notre Dame 7-5 in the second game of Sunday’s Quarterfinals at Gillette Stadium.
“We knew that Notre Dame, defensively, is one of the toughest groups that we’ve faced in the last several years,” said Duke head coach John Danowski. “Not just this season, but last season as well, so we know that defensively it was going to be almost similar to a street fight – although, for the record, I’ve never been in a street fight – but if there were one, I imagine that’s what it was like.”
“I think it was pretty clear if you watched the game to know we know each other well,” said Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan. “You got to make plays at this time of year to win games, and we didn’t make enough plays,” Corrigan continued. “We had our opportunities – we just didn’t finish them. “(Duke) finished [opportunities] more than we did.”
Notre Dame held a 3-1 lead against Duke with 0:11 remaining in the first as freshman attackman Westy Hopkins scored the Irish’s third goal with an assist from freshman midfielder Tyler Brenneman.
“From the very first game of the year [Hopkins has] played with a lot of poise,” said Corrigan. “I’m happy for him. It’s a great way for him to end his freshman year and it’s something to build on.”
Duke then took at 4-3 lead in the third quarter when junior midfielder Justin Turri scored his second goal of the game with 4:21 to go in the third quarter.
Notre Dame junior midfielder Max Pfeifer tied it 4-all with 2:30 remaining in the third, with help from senior attackman teammate Colin Igoe on the man-up score.
Duke was not to be denied and reeled off three consecutive goals to make the score 7-4.
Duke Freshman attackman Jordan Wolf scored unassisted at 13:30 in the fourth, his 31st goal of the season. Three minutes later senior attackman Tucker Virtue netted his fourth of the season with an assist from freshman Christian Walsh. With 3:44 left in the game junior midfielder Robert Rotanz netted his 23rd for the season, with sophomore midfielder David Lawson recording the assist.
Notre Dame’s attempt at a comeback was hard-fought, albeit fruitless.
Hopkins threw in Notre Dame’s fifth goal of the game, cutting the lead to two goals with only 0:16 left. Pfeifer assisted on Hopkins’ 18th goal of the season.
“We’re the type of team that doesn’t stop, we keep fighting,” said Hokpins. “I don’t think there was ever a moment that we didn’t think we could win. We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities – that’s what it comes down to.”
Fighting Irish freshman midfielder Liam O’Connor won the ensuing face-off for Notre Dame, but Blue Devil junior long stick midfielder CJ Costabile caused a turnover, effectively ending the contest.
“Playing in the ACC, we see these teams all the time and we kind of said that the ACC, with the exception of a few other teams, the ACC is the cream of the crop in Division 1 lacrosse,” said Turri. “And going through the ACC Tournament, playing these teams at least once every year really prepares you for the postseason.”
“We play up-tempo, fast-paced,” Turri continued, “so we really think that we distinguish ourselves a bit from the rest of the Division 1 field.”