Duke players celebrate their 6-5 overtime win against Notre… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
CJ Costabile lived the dream.
As a youth, Costabile imagined scoring the game-winning goal. As a sophomore long-stick midfielder for Duke, Costabile did just that, scoring just five seconds into overtime to lift the No. 5 seed Blue Devils to a 6-5 victory decision over unseeded Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament final at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday.
On the opening faceoff of overtime, Costabile popped the ball away from Fighting Irish senior Trever Sipperly and collected it. He sprinted into the offensive zone and fired a shot from about 10 yards over goalkeeper Scott Rodgers' right shoulder to set off a wild celebration just outside the Notre Dame cage.
It was the fastest goal to start an overtime period in NCAA history, and it concluded the lowest-scoring game in NCAA history.
"Everyone kind of thinks about that," Costabile, who won six of 10 faceoffs, scooped three ground balls, and caused two turnovers, said of his game-winning goal. "You think, 'Oh, maybe I can do something like that.' For it to actually come true, it's fairy tale stuff. You don't think it's going to happen, but I guess it kind of happened."
Duke coach John Danowski said players integral to the team's faceoffs and transition have always had the green light to shoot, and Costabile recognized that no Fighting Irish defenders were sliding to him as he carried the ball into the box.
"They were really tight on the attackmen," he said. "So I took my lane. … I kind of just let it rip and saw the back of the net move and saw Max [Quinzani], [Zach] Howell and Ned [Crotty] jump around me."
Said Rodgers, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after he finished with 15 saves: "You don't know what you're looking for because he's got a 6-foot pole in his hands and he could put it low on you like a catapult or he could bring it up top. We had two guys chasing back, and that's the kind of shot you don't want to see if you're a goalie."
The Blue Devils (16-4) captured the school's first national championship before an announced 37,126 despite being handcuffed by Notre Dame's deliberate pace and Rodgers' brilliant play.
Understanding their athletic limitations, the Fighting Irish (10-7) slowed the pace and extended their possession to keep the ball out of the sticks of Duke's explosive offense, which had beaten top-seeded Virginia, 14-13, in the semifinals Saturday.
"It was not the game that people saw the other night with Virginia, but we certainly hoped it wouldn't be," Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We didn't think we'd be in good shape in a game like that. But we thought we could win a game like this. We came up one play short."
The contest featured five ties and two lead changes, as neither team ever led by more than a goal.
The Fighting Irish took a 5-4 lead when sophomore attackman Sean Rogers converted a pass from junior midfielder David Earl (one goal and two assists) on a four-on-three fast-break opportunity with 11:56 left in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils tied the score at 5 with 8:44 remaining in regulation when Howell, a junior attackman who led the team with two goals and one assist, passed the ball to sophomore midfielder Justin Turri, and his shot from an extreme angle right of the cage found its way between Rodgers' legs and into the net.
In addition to Howell, Duke also got two goals from senior midfielder Steve Schoffel. But Crotty and Quinzani — a duo that had combined for 91 goals and 75 assists entering the game — finished with just one assist each.
Junior midfielder Zach Brenneman scored three times for Notre Dame, which became only the fifth unseeded team to advance to the title game.
"It hurts because we knew we executed our game plan pretty well," said junior defenseman Kevin Ridgway, who contained Crotty. "I thought we could beat them, and as Coach said, we just came up one play short. It's kind of a bummer. It hasn't really sunk in right now, but I think over time, it's going to start hurting more and more."
Notes: The attendance is the smallest for a Division I title game since the tournament moved to NFL stadiums for the 2003 season. The three-day attendance of 116,289 was larger than the 106,861 fans in 2003 and the 102,601 in 2009. … In addition to Rogers, the All-Tournament team included: Costabile, Howell, Quinzani and junior defenseman Michael Manley from Duke; Brenneman and Ridgway from Notre Dame; sophomore attackmen Steele Stanwick and Chris Bocklet from Virginia; and sophomore attackman Steve Mock from Cornell.