By Christian Swezey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 1, 2010; D01
BALTIMORE -- As Duke sophomore longstick midfielder CJ Costabile raced toward the Notre Dame goal in the opening seconds of overtime in the NCAA lacrosse championship on Monday, the Notre Dame defense had a couple of options. Either leave open a member of the Duke attack -- two players with 50-plus goals and one with 60-plus assists -- or let Costabile shoot.
They let Costabile shoot. Fifth-year senior goalie Scott Rodgers, with 15 saves at that point, guessed low. Costabile shot high. And his nine-yard shot went into the top corner of the goal and gave the Blue Devils a 6-5 victory five seconds into overtime.
They also earned their first NCAA lacrosse title in the final year of the NCAA's decision to give 33 players and extra year of eligibility following the cancellation of the 2006 season after an exotic dancer falsely accused team members of rape.
The championship game was the lowest scoring in tournament history and the crowd of 37,126 at M&T Bank Stadium was the lowest since the NCAA moved the sport's Final Four to NFL venues in 2003.
None of it mattered to Duke (16-4).
"They were really tight on the attackmen," Costabile said. "So I took my lane, it was open. I kind of just let it rip."
Notre Dame (10-7) advanced to the title game with a defense that gave up five, five and seven goals in its three tournament wins.
As the Duke players were breaking up their initial celebration following the winning goal, Notre Dame's players stood waiting for the postgame handshake.
Rodgers, the most outstanding player of the Final Four, was at the front of the line. His spot at the front of the line gave him an unobstructed view of the Jumbotron, which showed the replay of the winning goal. As the screen showed Costabile's shot land in the top corner of the goal, Rodgers put his hands to his head.
Notre Dame junior Kevin Ridgway held Duke all-American Ned Crotty to one assist, though Ridgway's streak of not giving up a goal to the player he was guarding was snapped after nearly 178 minutes on a goal by Zach Howell early in the third quarter (Ridgway had switched).
"Kevin Ridgway is probably one of the most underrated defensemen in the country," Notre Dame Coach Kevin Corrigan said. "Guys like Kevin don't get enough credit."
Notre Dame took its last lead at 5-4 following a goal by sophomore Sean Rogers with 11 minutes 56 seconds remaining. On the play, Crotty turned the ball over and Notre Dame junior David Earl controlled the loose ball at the top of the offensive box.
Earl then sprinted 45 yards and fed Rogers, who for one of the few times on Monday got his hands free from defenseman Parker McKee. Rogers scored on a left-handed jump shot past freshman goalie Dan Wigrizer.
Rogers had the next shot of the game, too. After Notre Dame senior Trever Sipperly won the ensuing faceoff, a long possession ended with Rogers having a shot from nine yards in the middle of the field. Wigrizer saved it with 10 minutes left.
The score was tied on the following possession. Duke sophomore Justin Turri caught his defender, sophomore Kevin Randall, watching the ball.
Turri drifted just far enough to have time to catch a pass from Howell and put an open shot past Rodgers to tie the game at 5 with 8:44 to play.
Zach Brenneman finished with three goals for Notre Dame. Howell and senior Steve Schoeffel scored two goals for Duke.
"I am extremely happy and joyful for our students and anybody who has ever worn a Duke jersey," Coach John Danowski said. "This game was a great battle."
The Blue Devils had been winning with a fast-paced offense. In their three previous games they scored 18, 17 and 14 goals.
Monday's game was played decidedly at Notre Dame's pace. Duke had one fast-break chance early in the first quarter, but it resulted in a turnover. Other than that, Duke's first quarter possessions lasted 46 seconds (goal), 37 seconds (turnover), 1:26 (goal), 1:21 (save by Rodgers) and 44 seconds (turnover).
The other story line was Wigrizer. Only five teams in the tournament's 39 years had won a title with a freshman goalie. Notre Dame had victimized Cornell freshman goalie A. J. Fiore for five early goals in a 12-7 semifinal victory on Saturday.
Whether Wigrizer was there for the taking will never be known. Notre Dame put only three of 19 shots on the goal in the first half. Wigrizer saved one. He finished with five saves but crucially did not face a shot on goal in the final 10 minutes.
Note: Former Maryland coach Dave Cottle will interview for the Penn State job on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to two sources in the coaching industry. Cottle's interview was first reported by the Baltimore Sun.