In a battle of two powerhouse programs, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish emerged victorious against the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils 12-10 after a scrappy 60 minute contest to book a ticket to the ACC finals.
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The Fighting Irish started Saturday's game in an almost identical fashion to their April 6 matchup against the Blue Devils in Durham, but this time, Notre Dame finished stronger, reversed the outcome, and left the field victorious. Just like the last matchup, Notre Dame took the lead from the start, and this time the first scoring play came when Griffin Westlin sent the ball to teammate Bryan Costabile who shot it flying past Duke goalkeeper Turner Uppgren for the first point of the day.
Duke quickly followed with a goal of its own, but the Blue Devils couldn't continue to hold pace with the Irish. Costabile notched another goal and Connor Morin and Kevin Quigley also put up points before Duke added a second goal in the first quarter. The dominance of the Notre Dame offensive continued to roll in the second quarter, as they put up five more goals to Duke's three.
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL BOUND!— Notre Dame Lacrosse (@NDlacrosse) April 27, 2019
For the 3rd straight year the Irish defeat Duke in the ACC semifinal to go to the title game! Costabile tied his career high with 5 goals and Schmidt made a career-high 18 saves!#GoIrish☘️ pic.twitter.com/bJLKOL3Qu8
The Blue Devils worked to fight against the force of the Irish, and they outscored Notre Dame 3-2 in the third quarter, but the last half efforts weren't enough. CJ Carpenter lead the comeback attempt for the Blue Devils with his goal that came just four minutes after Costabile found the back of the net to give Notre Dame its 11th point of the day.
Walker Scaglione then added another goal for the Blue Devils, and Carpenter finished it out with his second of the period to put the Fighting Irish in danger. Leading by just one, 11-10, with minutes to play in the game, Notre Dame, a team that had led the game with its offensive, needed to become suddenly reliant on its defense to survive the final stretch.
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But they also still had Costabile to help. The junior notched one final goal to give his team a sense of insurance with less than a minute to go. The goal marked his fifth of the day, meaning he converted on over 40 percent of his shots. Notre Dame needed everything Costabile had to give, and he delivered, but in the post-game press conference, Costabile gave credit to his goalkeeper, the sophomore standout who helped the Irish take down the top-10 Blue Devils and send his team to the finals.
Heading to the Ship!@NDlacrosse leads wire-to-wire against #2 Duke and advances to the ACC Men's Lacrosse Championship Game to play #1 Virginia on Saturday, May 4 at 2 p.m....a rematch of the 2018 title game #ACCMLax | 🥍🏆 pic.twitter.com/HmTXV1hYVa— ACC Men's Lacrosse (@ACCMLax) April 27, 2019
Notre Dame's Matt Schmidt made 18 saves in his performance on Saturday, and he'll need an equally impressive night to stop Virginia, the team that the Irish will compete with for the conference title.
The upset win should give the Irish confidence heading into the championship game, but Virginia proved in its semifinal game against North Carolina that the Cavs are a comeback, fourth-quarter kind of team, and that's exactly the kind of team that will challenge Notre Dame. The last battle went 13-11 in favor of Virginia, but Notre Dame has already reversed the score of one previous matchup this tournament. They also beat the Cavs in the 2018 championship in a convincing 17-7 fashion.
Duke couldn't finish in the second meeting of the season against the Irish, but Virginia will pose a new test when these two teams meet on May 4.