Postscript from Duke vs. Virginia
In a fitting and unsurprising way, Duke advanced to the NCAA Tournament final courtesy of the connection between attackmen Ned Crotty and Max Quinzani.
Quinzani’s fourth goal of the game off of a pass from Crotty with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter propelled the No. 5 seed Blue Devils to a 14-13 victory over top-seeded Virginia Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Thanks to almost two full seasons of playing together, Crotty, a fifth-year senior, and Quinzani, a senior, have developed an instinct on finding each other and parlaying opportunities into goals.
A good majority of Crotty’s nation-leading 62 assists have found their way into Quinzani’s stick, and a significant portion of Quinzani’s 68 goals – also tops in the country – have come from Crotty’s pinpoint passing.
"We give each other leeway," Quinzani said of his relationship with Crotty. "Coach [John Danowski] definitely lets Ned throw it throught the defense to me. It doesn’t connect all the time, but I have all the confidence in him and we let him do it. I tell him all the time, ‘If you throw it, at least you know I’m going to catch it. It might not go in, but I’m going to catch it and something good’s going to happen.’"
Added Crotty: "Obviously, we’re kind of different. I’m feeding and he finishes. But we’re both just players. Playing him the last couple of years on the same attack line, we’ve just kind of developed that chemistry and it’s something that definitely works well for us."
That Duke is playing for a chance to capture the school’s first NCAA title on Monday because of Crotty and Quinzani was not lost on Danowski.
"Tonight might have been a little more storybook," he said. "We certainly didn’t design for Ned to throw it to Max. We would have been delighted for anybody to catch it at that point and for anybody to throw it in. The way it worked out today was epcial because those kids have worked so hard."
*Crotty, who finished with one goal and two assists, and Quinzani were shut out in the first half by Cavaliers senior defensemen Ken Clausen and Ryan Nizolek. Quinzani did not soften his words when he was asked about the difference in the second half. "At halftime, Coach D gave us a rash of [expletive], which is good," he said. [At this point, Danowski interjected, "We had a discussion, for the record."] "We started getting the ball more, and I explicitly said that I’ve got to take more shots. I ripped a couple underhands that probably looked gross, but they were good for me to just kind of feel the ball in my stick and get that confidence." Said Crotty: "Basically at halftime, we just kind of said that we couldn’t have played any worse than that. So we put that behind us. We probably played our worst first half in I-don’t-know-how-long and we were only down two goals to the No. 1 team of the tournament. So we knew we could do it. The effort’s always there. We just need to, like Coach said, just start catching it and throwing it."
*The Blue Devils will get a shot at avenging a regular-season loss when they meet unseeded Notre Dame in the championship final on Monday at 3:30 p.m. The Fighting Irish stunned Duke, 11-7, on Feb. 20, and Crotty said that team’s status as an unseeded squad should have no bearing on the title game. "The numbers that are put next to the teams are done by the people who pick them," he said. "It’s definitely the 16 best teams in the country, and they are now one of the two best teams in the country. So the fact that they’re unseeded is definitely not in any way a factor to us. They’re almost similar to us. We came out not the way we wanted to. We kind of had a lull in the season and started hitting our stride towards the end. They came out strong, had their lull, and now they’re playing their best lacrosse. They’re a great team, and we’re definitely excited to play them andf avenge that one loss to them."
*Virginia came undone in the second half Saturday night. Not only did the lack of face-off wins (just 11-of-30 for the contest and 8-of-17 in the second half) play a role, but the Cavaliers offense didn’t put their shots on cage with any regularity. After firing 11 of 22 shots on net in the first half, the shooters tested Duke freshman goalkeeper Dan Wigrizer just nine of 24 times in the second frame. "I thought we moved the ball pretty well, but we were settling on offense for just OK shots, not good shots," sophomore attackman Steele Stanwick said. "That kind of hurt us there."
*One of the most trying seasons in Virginia history came to an end, and coach Dom Starsia was somewhat at a loss for words about what to do next. The program has been rocked by the deaths of former short-stick defensive midfielder Will Barrow after the 2008 season, sports information information director Michael Colley after the 2009 campaign and Starsia’s father Dominic on May 7. Four days prior to the death of his father, Starsia had to deal with the murder of women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love and the subsequent homicide charges against George Huguely, a former second-line midfielder. So Starsia was a little uncertain what was next for him. "I can’t say for sure," he said after pausing. "I think a lot people helped me stand up and get through all this and I owe them an awful lot. So I probably need to just figure that out for a little bit before I just sort of jump into the recruiting again, which is what we usually do."