May 29, 2010

Notes | Statistics | Quotes

BALTIMORE (AP) -With one flick of his stick, Duke's Max Quinzani ended Virginia's gallant bid to put a positive finish on a season clouded by sadness.

Quinzani scored the tie-breaking goal with 12 seconds left, and the Blue Devils defeated the top-seeded Cavaliers 14-13 Saturday night to advance to the NCAA men's lacrosse national championship game.

Fifth-seeded Duke (15-4) will play unseeded Notre Dame (10-6) on Monday for the title. Notre Dame earned a berth in the finals for the first time with a 12-7 victory over Cornell.

This was an incomparable season for the Cavaliers, for reasons that have little to do with lacrosse. Everything changed May 3, when UVA women's player Yeardley Love was found beaten to death in her campus apartment.

George Huguely, a senior on the men's team, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Virginia carried on, but it wasn't easy. Not only were the Cavaliers striving for their fifth national championship, but they were also playing for Love and the women's team, which was eliminated from the NCAA tournament last week.

All that pressure finally caught up with Virginia (16-2) in the second half against Duke.

After Chris Bocklet scored for the Cavaliers early in the third quarter to put Virginia up 8-5, Duke took over. Quinzani scored three times during a seven-goal blitz that made it 12-8 with 12:11 left.

Rhamel Bratton ended the Cavaliers' scoring drought at just over 18 minutes, and two more goals made it 12-11 with 6:55 to go.

A goal by Duke's Zach Howell blunted the comeback bid, but Steele Stanwick answered for Virginia with 1:50 remaining, and a goal by Brian Carroll tied it at 13 with 1:21 to play.

Quinzani then ended the Cavaliers' hopes with his fourth goal of the game.

Both of Virginia's losses this season came against Duke. This one, obviously, hurt most.

In the first game, Notre Dame become the first unseeded team since Massachusetts in 2006 to earn a spot in the title game.

The Irish ended the regular season by dropping three of five to fall to 7-6. But the Irish received a berth in the postseason tournament anyway, and they haven't lost since.

"I thought we had the talent all year. We were just a little inconsistent," goaltender Scott Rodgers said. "I believed in the team, and I knew we could do this."

Neal Hicks scored four goals, Zach Brenneman had three and Rodgers stopped 16 shots for the Irish - including eight in the first quarter.

Seeking its first win over Cornell (12-6) in six tries, Notre Dame used a four-goal run to take an early 4-1 lead. It was 6-3 at halftime, and after the Big Red scored twice in succession to make it 7-5 midway through the third quarter, Hicks restored the three-goal cushion by scoring on a rebound.

Rodgers and the Irish defense made sure there would be no fourth-quarter comeback for the Big Red.

"Scott Rodgers did a great job. Give the credit to him and his defense around him," Cornell's Ryan Hurley said. "We were getting great looks, but the momentum never seemed to start rolling."

Cornell's Rob Pannell, who came in averaging a nation's-best 4.59 points per game, was limited to two assists. Steve Mock scored three goals for the Big Red, playing in the semifinals for the third time in four years.

"There's no loss that's easy to swallow throughout the course of the regular season, but there's nothing more difficult than a season-ending loss," coach Jeff Tambroni said.

Cornell became the third straight seeded team victimized by Notre Dame. The Irish opened with a win over sixth-seeded Princeton, then beat No. 3 Maryland to advance to the semifinals for only the second time.