Philadelphia, PA – The Duke Blue Devils had to hold off a late comeback to get back to the Championship game.
The Blue Devils advanced to their second Championship game appearance in three years. They also advanced to the 2010 Championship game, which is when they won their first Championship in school history.
Duke University beat Cornell University, 16-14, yesterday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field. This was the first of two Division 1 semifinal games played at Lincoln Financial Field, as they host the Men’s Lacrosse Championship.
“First we want to congratulate the Cornell Big Red, Coach DeLuca and his staff,” said Duke head coach John Danowski. “I said to our guys after the game that if we were in that situation, down by seven goals, would we have given up? And everybody strongly agreed that we would not have and certainly they did not. They played brilliantly at the end and played fiercely, so we congratulate them.
“For us, once again it was a team victory. A lot of guys making plays. I think it was nine different people scored goals, eight different people had assists. Greg DeLuca scored a goal. It was a short stick d‑middie, Billy Connors hits a pole. You know, a lot of people that really had a lot to do with today’s victory and that has been certainly our MO all year is that it’s a total team concept, and we were delighted with the effort of our guys for 60 minutes.”
Duke improved to 15-5 on the season. Cornell dropped to 14-4 on the year. Duke is now 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament against the Big Red with wins in 2005 and 2007, as well, and are now have 4 wins and are 4-6 all-time against Cornell.
Connor Buczek made it 15-14 with 52.9 seconds left. But two seconds later, Wolf scores the game-winner to make it 16-14.
Lawson broke up the Big Red’s dominance, as it increased the Blue Devil’s lead to 15-12. Max Van Bourgondien made it 15-13 with a minute and a half left in the game.
Cornell mounted a comeback with four straight goals to open the fourth quarter. Connor Buczek started the quarter with a goal, before he was followed by Connor English and back-to-back goals by Rob Pennell.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team and the way we battled back in the fourth,” said Pannell.
With the two goals, Pennell became the all-time Division 1 leader with 354 points. He passed Matt Danowski, who saw his record broken from the Duke sidelines, where he now serves as an assistant coach.
“How lucky I am to be a part of this program,” said Pannell. “Five years as fast as they go through my head at that point, and it’s been a special five years. Every year I’ve ended up crying, but I knew I’d be back the next year. And this is the last time I’m going to put this jersey. It’s going to take a while for me to take it off; I’ll tell you that much. I came back to win a National Championship at the end of the day. I’ll leave Cornell with 15 new best friends and a career at Cornell that I can be proud of but more importantly I’ll be a young man that was shaped by the Cornell lacrosse program, and I feel extremely fortunate, the luckiest person in the world to be able to spend five years at such a fine institution and play for the best program in the country, and that’s pretty much what flashed through my head, and the fact that I couldn’t believe it was over.”
In the third quarter, the Blue Devils were a new team, as they completely dominated the quarter. They out played the Big Red, leading to a 7-1 difference on the scoreboard in the quarter.
Tripucka would lead the charge with 2 goals in the quarter. Case Matheis, David Lawson, Christian Walsh, Jordan Wolf, and Greg DeLuca also scored in the quarter.
“Yeah, I think it was a combination of things (of why they couldn’t score in the third quarter),” said Pannell. “I think we had some opportunities offensively early in that third quarter to score some goals and tie the game, and their goalie played great all game and did a great job at making saves. We seemed like we hit him on every part of his body and they just weren’t falling. And when you’re not scoring goals it’s tough to put that much pressure on your defense, and I think Duke did a great job with the face‑offs and gaining that momentum and building on it. It’s a credit to them. They’re a great team and they have athletes and great coaches and did a great job that third quarter of separating themselves.”
The Big Red’s lone goal came from Pennell.
Shortly after Pennell’s goal to make it 6-5, the game was tied again. Bill Connors tied the game at 6-6, before Wolf gave the Blue Devils their first lead with seconds left before halftime to make it 7-6.
Josh Offit would make it 5-4, before his teammate Jordan Wolf scored to tie the game at 5-5. Pennell would end the Blue Devil’s two-goal run with a goal of his own to make it 6-5.
Steve Mock increased the Big Red lead to 5-2 early in the second quarter. Shortly thereafter, Josh Dionne scored on an incredible shot that will likely be on SportsCenter’s Top 10 later tonight to make it 5-3.
Dionne snapped the Big Red’s two goal streak when he opened up the second quarter with a goal. His goal make it 3-2, before Donovan struck again to make it 4-2.
Cornell scored two additional games after the game was tied. Connor Buczek scored to make it 2-1, followed by a goal by Donovan to make it 3-1.
Duke midfielder Jake Tripucka tied the game at 1-1 a short time later. Attacker Rob Pannell gave Cornell a 1-0 lead to start the game.
“Every Division I game, week after week, is 60 minutes long, and you’ve got to keep playing, whether you’re down by seven goals like we were against Carolina, or whether you’re up by seven goals, and you just got to keep playing, and that’s part of the fun,” said coach Danowski. “It’s part of the fun is that you’re competing, and I think we’ve all watched enough athletic contests to know we’ve witnessed great comebacks and teams that fall short, and you’ve just got to keep playing and stay true to what you do and who you are.”