PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Duke is heading back to the NCAA lacrosse tournament championship game, surviving a late surge by Cornell to play for a second national title.
David Lawson scored the winning goal with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter to lift Duke to a 16-14 victory against Cornell in the semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
“We were forcing the issue early on, but once we calmed down and started hitting shots, we took over,” said Duke’s Jordan Wolf, who scored our goals. “We kept moving the ball and kept up what we were doing all year. This is the farthest I’ve been in the tournament, and we’re all trying to enjoy this the best we can right now.”
Duke (15-5) will play Syracuse in Monday’s championship.
The Blue Devils are in the finals for the first time since 2010, when they won their only national championship.
Cornell’s Rob Pannell became the NCAA Division I career scoring leader with five goals and two assists to give him 354 career points, passing the mark held by former Duke star Matt Danowski.
Duke’s Henry Lobb did a decent job against Pannell for three quarters, denying him the ball, getting physical with him when he did possess it.
“We thought in the box, we did fine, but overall we were really pleased with what Henry did (against Pannell),” Duke coach John Danowski said. “Henry has played well against other really excellent attackmen, like Steele Stanwick and Peter Baum.
“This team truly loves each other and our motivating factor was they wanted to stay and play together for another couple of days.”
Duke broke open what had been a close game by outscoring Cornell (14-6) 7-1 in the third quarter to wipe out a 5-2 deficit.
After Pannell’s second goal tied the game at 6-6 with 2:16 left in the first half, the Big Red fell into a scoring draught that lasted 15:07.
It was Pannell that finally broke the spell on his third goal, with 2:09 left in the third quarter. By then, Duke held what appeared to be a comfortable 14-7 lead_thanks to the fine goaltending by Kyle Turri and sharp shooting from Jake Tripucka and Wolf.
Pannell changed the game in the fourth quarter, scoring two goals and handing out two assists. His fifth goal of the game, with 8:04 left to play, brought Cornell to within 14-12 and was the record-breaker.
“I wasn’t going to go out like that,” said Pannell, a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. “I don’t think it was my best game ever. I took about 20 shots, but our team, we were never going to stop fighting down by seven at one time. You had to find it in you to step up.”
But Duke responded with the Lawson goal, followed by Wolf’s fourth goal of the game with 39 seconds left and Cornell chasing with an additional defender and an open net.
Pannell led all scorers with seven points (five goals, two assists), while Connor Buczek added three goals and an assist for the Big Red.
With 53 seconds remaining, Buczek made it interesting on his third goal, drawing Cornell to within 15-14, but Duke’s Brendan Fowler won the ensuing faceoff, setting up Duke’s clincher.
Wolf led the way for Duke with five points. Duke had seven players score goals. Lawson scored twice, while Tripucka had a hat trick and Josh Dionne also scored twice.
NOTES: Cornell is 0-3 against Duke in the NCAA tournament . In between games Jeff Keith, founder of CT Challenge, was honored in recognition of the positive impact the CT Challenge has had on the lives of cancer survivors throughout the country. Keith lost his leg to cancer at the age of 12 and went on to become an accomplished athlete and Division 1 lacrosse player at Boston College, graduating in 1984. In 1985, Jeff became the first cancer survivor and amputee to run across America, raising $1 million for cancer research.