BALTIMORE — Duke long-stick midfielder C.J. Costabile's five-second play relieved five years' worth of frustration for the Blue Devils' men's lacrosse program.
The sophomore scored off the faceoff in overtime of Monday's NCAA championship game, lifting fifth-seeded Duke to a 6-5 defeat of Notre Dame before 37,126 at M&T Bank Stadium.
At long last, the Blue Devils (16-4) had their national lacrosse title, the first in school history.
"It's sick," Costabile said. "When it really comes down to it, the best feeling about it is we've set this goal from the beginning of the year. Guys who were here before me, like [attackmen] Max [Quinzani] and Ned [Crotty], they've all been here three times before. Finally to see them walk off the field with a big smile on their faces was the best moment about that."
It was a long time coming for Duke, which became the eighth school to collect a Division I title and the tournament's first first-time winner since 1992.
The Blue Devils fell a goal short in the 2005 title game, then had their next season cut short by rape accusations later proven false. The emotionally driven 2007 team fell flat in the title game, and the two succeeding teams - led by groups of fifth-year seniors after an NCAA ruling restored eligibility to members of the '06 team - stumbled in the semifinals.
There was no close call this year, much to the delight of several former stars - including Matt Danowski, Zack Greer and Tony McDevitt - who were in attendance Monday.
Much of the credit goes to Costabile, a potent long-stick who was a game-changer in transition as a freshman. He injured an ankle in a sledding accident in December but rallied to return in time for Duke's season-opener - even though he wasn't fully healthy until mid-April and didn't score his first goal until the NCAA quarterfinals.
"He probably came back well before he should have," Duke coach John Danowski said. "But now, I'm glad he did."
Costabile took the majority of the draws, going 6-for-10 against the capable Fighting Irish (10-7). But Notre Dame held a 5-4 lead until Duke midfielder Justin Turri scored with 8:44 remaining.
Turri's shot as time expired in regulation sailed high, placing Costabile in a crucial spot as overtime commenced. He won the draw cleanly and took off down the middle of the field before shooting from 10 yards out.
"Everyone was pretty much shut off," Costabile said. "They were pretty tight on the attackmen, so I took my lane and it was open. Whether I decided to shoot high or low, I really couldn't tell you. I just kind of let it rip."
It was the worst possible scenario for Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers, who stymied the Blue Devils with 15 saves as he and an efficient close defense limited the high-scoring duo of Crotty and Quinzani to one assist apiece.
But Costabile zipped his shot over the 6-foot-4, 254-pound goalie's right shoulder to set off a raucous Duke celebration.
"You don't know what you're looking for, because he has a six-foot pole in his hands and he could put it low on you, or he could bring it back up top," said Rodgers, the tournament's most outstanding player. "We had two guys chasing back, and that's the kind of shot you don't want to see if you're a goalie."
It was perfect, though, for Duke. The explosive Blue Devils won in atypical fashion, collecting their first Memorial Day triumph in the lowest-scoring title game in tournament history.
Unlike its past four visits, Duke left with some championship gear - and a trophy the Blue Devils had coveted for so long.
"It's definitely ecstasy. It's definitely relief," said midfielder Sam Payton, a fifth-year senior. "It's like an epiphany. I couldn't believe I was wearing this [NCAA champions] hat. ... It's just been a goal everyone has worked so hard for, [and] for so many years."