PHILADELPHIA — Duke probably didnt anticipate a career day for freshman goalie Kyle Turri in Saturdays NCAA tournament semifinals.
The seventh-seeded Blue Devils happily took it en route to a 16-14 defeat of Cornell.
Turri made a career-high 16 saves as Duke took an eight-goal lead late in the third quarter, then fended off the unseeded Big Red at Lincoln Financial Field.
It took me a little while to get settled in, but I felt like I was seeing the ball today, Turri said. They were giving a lot of low-angle shots and our defense was on their hands early. I was pretty happy about getting my saves up.
The Blue Devils (15-5) will face top-seeded Syracuse in Mondays championship game.
Jordan Wolf scored four goals for Duke, which will play on Memorial Day for the first time since winning the national championship in 2010.
Nine players scored for the Blue Devils, including defenseman Bill Conners. The senior disrupted the connection between Big Red attackmen Rob Pannell and Steve Mock by limiting Mocks touches. Mock, who entered with 59 goals, scored only once.
A lot of people really had a lot to do with todays victory, and that has been certainly our M.O. all year, Duke coach John Danowski said.
Duke built a 14-6 lead, only for Pannell and the Big Red (14-4) to chip away at the deficit. Pannell played a part in five goals during a 6-0 run as Cornell closed within 14-12.
David Lawson responded with 6 minutes, 35 seconds to go to halt the Big Reds run. After Cornell managed a pair of goals in the final two minutes, Wolf scored with the goalie outside the crease with 38.8 seconds left to seal it.
We tried to stay composed there and not freak out when they were coming back, faceoff specialist Brendan Fowler said. Weve made runs this year when teams are up big on us. You know theyre going to give their best shot. Its a lot easier sometimes to play when youre down big because you have nothing to lose. We just needed to get one goal, to get one thing going and Dave Lawson came up huge.
Fowler won 16 of 31 draws, and has now captured a Division I-record 319 this season. He helped Duke control possession for much of the third quarter, when they scored seven straight goals to burst open what was a 7-6 Blue Devils lead at the half.
Meanwhile, Turri was steady throughout, making four saves in each quarter to stymie the Big Red.
Sometimes we didnt produce good enough shots and I dont think we made it very challenging for him at times, Cornell coach Ben DeLuca said. There were times he made some very nice saves and other times we didnt challenge him as much as we could have or should have, but you have to credit that young man for making plays. That was probably the difference.
It wasnt expected. Turri was credited with only four saves in last weekends quarterfinal defeat of Notre Dame, and hes been up and down since taking over as the Blue Devils starter in early March.
Kyle has been solid, but theres never been a time where hes been spectacular, Danowski said. That could be a function of the way you play defense in front of him and you cant really help that, but his record is now 13-1. So hes getting the job done.
Well enough, it turns out, for Duke to still harbor championship hopes entering the last day of the season.