On Monday, May 26, 2014 the Duke Blue Devils completed their outstanding season, defeating the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame 11-9 in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship. The Memorial Day win gave Duke their third championship title since 2010.
Duke dominated the first half, but Notre Dame made an incredible third-quarter comeback, going on a five-goal run to get back in the game. While the Irish put up an incredible come-from-behind effort, it wasn’t enough to stop Duke from taking the title.
The 2014 Championship Game featured seven Major League Lacrosse Draftees, all who played a role in Monday’s action.
Much of Duke’s dominance can be attributed to its MLL draftees, Jordan Wolf (Rochester), attack; Brendan Fowler (Charlotte), faceoff; and Henry Lobb (Charlotte), Chris Hipps (Charlotte), and Luke Duprey (New York) on defense. Senior Josh Dionne (Charlotte), attack, did not play due to a knee injury suffered in Duke’s quarterfinal win over Johns Hopkins. Casey Carroll, defense, a member of the 2013 MLL Draft Class (taken by the Hamilton Nationals and traded to the Charlotte Hounds), returned to Duke for his final year of eligibility after taking time off to serve in the U.S. Army, where he completed tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wolf, a Tewaaraton finalist, had an outstanding game, with 2 goals, 4 assists, and 5 shots on goal against Notre Dame. While Fowler did not have his usual production in faceoff wins in the first half, he managed to beat Notre Dame’s faceoff specialist, Liam O’Connor, late in the game to help give Duke the 2-point advantage. He also managed to pick up 6 groundballs throughout the game. Lobb, Hipps, and Duprey were all near perfect on defense against the Irish. The seniors each contributed in forcing Notre Dame’s 11 turnovers. Lobb spent much of the game guarding Notre Dame sophomore Matt Kavanagh, and was able to hold him to 2 goals. Duprey, who many predicted would sit out the final game due to an ACL tear, put pressure on the Notre Dame offense as they moved toward the crease. This Memorial Day proved to be special for Carroll, who was able to celebrate not only as a veteran, but also as a national champion. Carroll who helped the Duke defense shutdown Notre Dame, picked up 2 groundballs and forced a turnover.
Notre Dame’s championship team featured only one MLL draftee, defensive player Steve O’Hara (Ohio). O’Hara faced the tough task of guarding Wolf, doing his best to try and shut down the explosive Duke offense. Although Notre Dame could not pull out the win, it was clear that O’Hara and the Notre Dame defense were capable of stopping the Blue Devils.
All of the MLL Draftees featured in the Championship Game, minus Luke Duprey who will miss the season due to his injury, may join their respective teams in the coming weeks. Fans can look forward to these incredible players and the production they should be bringing to the MLL.