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Duke downs Big Red in final four thriller

Top-seeded Duke propelled its storybook season into the NCAA Championship game with a thrilling 12-11 victory over fourth-seeded Cornell (15-1).

After trailing by as many as seven goals late in the second half, the No. 4 Big Red fought back to tie the game at 11 with 17 seconds remaining after an Ed Douglas turnover set up a goal by Cornell midfielder Brian Clayton.

But even when overtime seemed imminent, Duke was not done.

As the seconds ticked down towards zero, attackman Zack Greer caught a pass from Peter Lamade a few feet in front of the Big Red cage. Greer, the NCAA leader in goals, pivoted to his right around defender Dan Nathan and snapped a shot that sailed past goalie Matt McMonagle's right leg and into the net with three seconds remaining.

Greer triumphantly sprinted towards the end line with outstretched arms-the Blue Devils were back in the finals for the second time in three years.

"That one hurt," Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "That one hurt a great deal."

After a back-and-forth first quarter, Brad Ross ended an 11-minute scoring drought when he buried a pass from Peter Lamade in the back of the cage to give Duke (17-2) its first lead of the game at 4-3 with 4:55 remaining in the second quarter

Ross' goal sparked an offensive explosion for the Blue Devils, who tallied three more goals in 48-second span to take a 7-3 lead into halftime.

Duke's momentum continued in the second half as Zack Greer, Ned Crotty and Fred Krom added three more goals to push the margin to 10-3 with 3:46 remaining in the third quarter.

But just when it seemed the Big Red's offense had disappeared, the nation's only undefeated team came to life with four unanswered goals of its own. Spinning through two defenders in front of the cage, attackman David Mitchell closed the gap to 10-7 with 13:13 left in the fourth.

With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Douglas dropped a clearing opportunity, opening the door for Clayton to complete the comeback.

"For this particular team, this was a unique situation," Duke head coach John Danowski said. "You're never quite sure whether you've allowed a team to come back or they just fought back. And they fought back and they made plays."

The Blue Devils escape to face Johns Hopkins, which won its semifinal game over Delaware 8-3, Monday, 1 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium. The contest is a rematch of the national title in a rematch of the 2005 championship game, which the Blue Jays won 9-8.

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