BALTIMORE, Md. – Sophomore CJ Costabile scored the game-winning goal five seconds into overtime to give Duke University its first NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Title in program history. Winning the opening faceoff, the longstick midfielder raced down the middle of the field, dodged several Notre Dame defensemen and unleashed a high shot into the net to lift the No. 5 seed Blue Devils to the 6-5 overtime victory in front of 37,126 fans at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday afternoon.
“It’s sick,” Costabile said about scoring the game-winning goal. “The best feeling about it is we set this goal from the beginning of the year. Guys who have been here before me, [those guys] who have been here three times before and finally seeing them walk-off that field with a big smile on their faces are the best moment about that.”
In a contest marked by strong defensive play, the two teams combined for just 11 goals, marking the lowest scoring output in an NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship game. Neither team led by more than one goal during the game as it featured four lead changes and five ties. The Blue Devils’ attack struggled to find the net against Notre Dame’s Scott Rodgers, who tallied 15 saves in goal.
“Kevin Corrigan and his staff...what a job,” head coach John Danowski said. “Those kids defensively were phenomenal on the ball and phenomenal as a unit. When we did get an opening Scott Rodgers was terrific. I am extremely happy and joyful for our students and anybody who has ever worn a Duke jersey. This game was a great battle.”
Senior Max Quinzani, juniors Zach Howell and Michael Manley and sophomore CJ Costabile all were selected to the NCAA All-Tournament Team. Rodgers was voted as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Duke finishes the season with a 16-4 overall record, while Notre Dame was 10-7.
“We knew that was the challenge coming into the game, and the coaches did a great job of telling us, ‘Don’t change anything that we do,” Howell said. “Keep shooting, keep taking opportunities, and they’ll fall.’ And I think that, since we stayed on it, nobody got discouraged when [Scott Rodgers] was making the good saves. We just stayed on it, and that just helped us grind through.”
The Fighting Irish and Blue Devils traded goals throughout the opening 15 minutes with the two squads heading into the first break knotted at two apiece. Notre Dame’s Zach Brenneman struck first, 49 seconds into the game with an unassisted tally.
The Blue Devils won the ensuing faceoff and went down the field to even the score 36 seconds later. It was Howell finding the back of the cage for Duke off an assist from Crotty. The goal was Howell’s 50th of the season.
Both defenses tightened up, keeping the offenses off the scoreboard for the next seven minutes. Schoeffel put the Blue Devils in front for the first time of the afternoon with a strike past the foot of Rodgers from seven yards out. Without a goal since the 14:11 mark of the frame, Brenneman registered his second of the game to tie the score with 50 ticks left on the clock.
Freshman goalie Dan Wigrizer came up with the first of his five saves to start the second quarter, stopping a fast-break opportunity by the Fighting Irish to keep the game even at two. After a save from Rodgers, Notre Dame put together a long possession, but was unable to crack the Blue Devil defense for the go-ahead goal.
The second quarter defensive battle continued with both teams being held scoreless until the 1:24 mark when Schoeffel registered his second goal of the game to put Duke back in front 3-2 at the half.
Similar to the start of the game, Notre Dame scored early in the third quarter to tie the game at 3-3 with just 1:19 off the clock. Wigrizer came up with a save on the next Irish possession and the Blue Devils successfully cleared. After a shot from Quinzani sailed high, Howell got the ball back behind the cage and beat his defender around the crease to net his second score of the game and put Duke back in front 4-3 at the 9:30 mark of the third quarter.
Just over eight minutes later, Brenneman netted his third goal of the game to tie the score for the fourth time of the afternoon. The Blue Devils had the final possession of the frame, but a kick-save from Rodgers kept the score even at four heading into the final quarter.
Rodgers continued to come up big for Notre Dame, making two point-blank saves in the early minutes of the fourth quarter. After a turnover by the Blue Devils, the Fighting Irish raced down the field and Rogers and Earl connected to give Notre Dame its first lead since 14:11 in the first quarter.
A big save from Wigrizer on Notre Dame’s next possession gave the Blue Devils the ball back on offense. Duke set up its offense with Howell behind the cage. Howell fed Justin Turri on the right side and the West Islip, N.Y., native fired a low shot through the legs of Rodgers to tie the score at 5-5 with 8:44 left to play.
Both teams failed to capitalize on extra-man opportunities late in the fourth quarter. With less than two minutes remaining, the Blue Devils regained possession following a turnover. Duke’s attack got off several shots, but was unable to score as the game was sent into overtime for the 10th time in NCAA history.
Duke held a narrow 33-31 edge in shots and won the ground ball game 26-22. The faceoff game was an even battle with the Fighting Irish winning eight to the Blue Devils’ seven. Neither team scored on man-up opportunities.
The victory gives Duke 12 National Championships in school history.
2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse All-Tournament Team
C.J. Costabile, Long-Stick Midfielder, Duke University