May 22, 2011

Duke Beats Notre Dame in 'Street Fight'

by Dan Hickling | | Live Blog Replay | Blog/Chat Center

Sophomore goalkeeper Dan Wigrizer returned from a concussion to make 14 saves, including 11 in the first half of Duke's 7-5 NCAA quarterfinal victory over Notre Dame.

© Kevin P. Tucker

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Duke moved one step closer to a second straight NCAA men's lacrosse championship with a stout, 7-5, win over fourth-seeded Notre Dame in a national quarterfinal clash at Gillette Stadium before 14,122 fans Sunday.

And if you're looking for explanations, try this one: the Blue Devils simply executed better than the Fighting Irish. Maybe not in the first quarter, or the second. But certainly in the fourth, when they snapped a 4-4 tie with three goals and a defensive effort that snuffed the life out of the Irish and sent Duke into next Saturday's semifinals against their ACC cousins, Maryland.

The teams split their two regular season meetings.

"They have a great faceoff unit," said Duke junior Justin Turri, who scored twice against the Irish. "We're going to have to get on it, offensively and defensively. We can't let them score in transition. They're very good when they get running in transition."

The same could be said about Notre Dame, that is, until the Blue Devils managed to crank open the trap doors.

"We knew defensively," said Duke coach John Danowski, "that it was going to be almost similar to a street fight. For the record, I've never been in a street fight. But if there [was] one, I imagine that's what it was like."

Wielding the biggest stick was Duke goalie Dan Wigrizer, who came back from a concussion that kept him out of last week's first-round win over Delaware to make 14 saves, 11 of them in the first half.

Wigrizer kept Notre Dame from building on an early 3-1 lead and allowed the Blue Devils to pull into a 3-3 halftime tie.

"[He] is a goalie that is very good low," said Notre Dame freshman attack Westy Hopkins, who netted three goals. "We gave him a lot of opportunities to save the ball by shooting at his feet."

"Danny played great," Turri said. "And by our defense letting Danny see low-angle shots, and shots from the outside, he got in a rhythm. Going into halftime, 3-3, we knew looks were going to fall and open some stuff up in the second half."

The teams swapped tallies in the third stanza, which tied the score at 4 and set up a sprint through the fourth quarter.

Duke needed just 1:30 to grab a 5-4 lead, as Jordan Wolf slid around the net and wrapped in his 31st goal of the season.

The Blue Devils never lost the lead after that, as they opened up a 7-4 advantage, before Hopkins closed out the scoring with 16 seconds left.

News and Notes

Wigrizer suffered his concussion after taking an errant shot to the face during practice before last week's first-round win against Delaware. He said he failed two concussion exams during the past week, but was cleared to return on Thursday. However, according to Danowski, the decision to play Wigrizer over backup Mike Rock wasn't made until the late hours Saturday night.
"We didn't pull the trigger until about midnight at our coaches' meeting," Danowski said. "We made the right decision..." The Gillette Stadium crowd was the second-largest for a men's lacrosse quarterfinal event, trailing only the throng of 17,017 at Navy in 2008.

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