Heading into Duke’s quarterfinal matchup against Notre Dame, the team’s senior class did not want to break the Blue Devils’ streak of championship weekend appearances.
David Lawson made sure his team would live to play another week.
The senior scored a career-high five goals, including the game-winner with 2:16 remaining as the seventh-seeded Blue Devils (14-5) upset No. 2 seed Notre Dame 12-11 Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Trailing 11-9 with 9:29 remaining, the Blue Devils scored three unanswered goals to survive and advance.
“About a month ago, he started smiling during practice,” said Duke head coach John Danowski of Lawson. “He’s relaxed, he’s playing like a senior and he’s having fun. And it shows—he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Lawson’s effort earned Duke a seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA semifinals.
“We tried not to think about that because you try not to get nervous about being the first team not to get to [championship weekend] under Coach Danowski,” Lawson said. “But we’re obviously very happy about it.”
With 8:31 to play, attack Christian Walsh cut the Duke deficit to 11-10 with a quick goal off the restart.
Five minutes later, after a save by Fighting Irish goaltender John Kemp, Notre Dame recovered a ground ball and headed back to Blue Devil territory. Fighting Irish attack Sean Rogers’ shot from point-blank range was stopped by sophomore goaltender Kyle Turri, who recorded just two saves in the game.
“The defender tripped on the back of the goal and I just saw the ball all the way,” Turri said. “It was nice to get that last one.”
Turri threw a long outlet pass to midfielder Greg DeLuca, who pushed the ball to attack Jordan Wolf and found attack Josh Dionne wide open in the middle for his third goal of the contest to tie the game. The score was Dionne’s third of the game, and Wolf recorded a team-high four assists in the contest.
Lawson scored an unassisted goal with 2:16 remaining to put Duke ahead for good, and key ground balls and pressure defense by the Blue Devils in the game’s closing minutes helped seal the victory.
“I hitched it to my left hand and I just let it rip,” Lawson said.
Duke held an advantage in possession throughout the fourth quarter thanks to the play of faceoff man Brendan Fowler. The junior won 16-of-26 draws on the afternoon, including 5-of-6 faceoffs in the fourth quarter.
Duke and the Fighting Irish traded scores for the game’s first four goals. It appeared the Blue Devils and Notre Dame would go into the second quarter tied at 2-2, but a Jake Tripucka goal with four seconds remaining in the quarter gave the Blue Devils a 3-2 lead.
Rogers tied the game for the Fighting Irish just 25 seconds into the second period, but back-to-back goals by Lawson gave Duke a 6-4 advantage. Notre Dame scored two unanswered goals to head into the locker room tied at six goals apiece.
Kemp limited the Blue Devil offense, recording 13 saves throughout the contest. Turri went nearly 40 minutes without a stop, but bounced back with his crucial fourth-quarter save to aid Duke’s comeback.
“Kyle Turri didn’t have a great day in the goal statistically, but comes up with a big save and the outlet and keeps his poise and helps us to score the tying goal,” Danowski said. “I think that was indicative of the spirit of our group—keep competing, keep playing and at the end of the game see what happens.”
The Blue Devils and Fighting Irish have squared off seven times since the 2010 season. Duke has dropped all four contests in the regular season, but has won all three matchups in the postseason, including the 2010 national championship game.
With the victory, the Blue Devils advance to face Cornell Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.