Duke never trailed in Saturday’s NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament semifinal until the moment it mattered most.
Virginia attackman Ian Laviano scored off a Matt Moore feed 51 seconds into the second overtime period as the third-seeded Cavaliers capped a comeback with a 13-12 defeat of the second-seeded Blue Devils at Lincoln Financial Field.
Brad Smith scored three goals for Duke (13-5), which led by two goals entering the final minute of regulation but ended up with its first loss to its conference rival since the 2010 ACC tournament.
“They’ve been doing this to people all year,” Duke coach John Danowski said. “They don’t give up. They play with great skill and great confidence and poise to the end. They beat us. They clearly beat us.”
Laviano scored four goals for Virginia (16-3), which improved to 5-0 in overtime this season and will face either top-seeded Penn State or fifth-seeded Yale in Monday’s title game.
For much of the afternoon, it seemed the Blue Devils were ticketed for a return trip to Memorial Day a year after falling in the final to Yale.
The Blue Devils led 5-2 after a sloppy first half, and seemingly had an answer every time the Cavaliers closed within a goal. Duke appeared to be in good shape after Kevin Quigley capped a possession of about four minutes when he scored with 1:56 remaining to make it 12-10.
But Virginia -- aided by the work of Petey LaSalla, who won the game’s final eight faceoffs -- controlled the ball for much of the rest of regulation. The Cavaliers’ Michael Kraus scored with 45.9 seconds to go, and Laviano forced overtime with his goal with 14.4 seconds remaining.
Duke would get the only two shots on goal in the first overtime, only for Virginia’s Alex Rode (19 saves) to come up with stops. The Blue Devils shot 12 of 48 on the day, including a pair of goals from faceoff specialist Brian Smyth.
“Offensively, the story of the day was shooting,” Smith said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. To get that number of shots and outside the faceoff game we only scored nine goals, that’s not a great shooting day.”
There would be no chance to win it in the second overtime. LaSalla won the faceoff, and Moore passed from near the crease to the middle to Laviano, who deposited an eight-yard shot past Turner Uppgren (10 saves).
Duke had won 11 in a row and 19 of 20 against the Cavaliers, the latter stretch dating back to 2005.
“We worked so hard after last year and losing the championship to get back,” defenseman Cade Van Raaphorst said. “To fall short, it hurts. More than anything, it’s saying goodbye to this group of guys and this program.”
It was the conclusion of an occasionally frustrating season for the Blue Devils, who were stymied by hot goalies in regular-season losses to High Point and North Carolina and an ACC tournament setback against Notre Dame.
The theme resurfaced Saturday. But it wasn’t the only way Danowski viewed it as a microcosm of an entire spring as the Blue Devils played tight as the game wound to a conclusion -- an uncharacteristic trait in a program making its 10th semifinal appearance in 13 years.
“We went offsides in the fourth quarter, we couldn’t win a faceoff in the fourth quarter,” Danowski said. “All the things we did for three quarters [we didn’t at the end]. Sometimes you tip your cap to your opponent and you say they made you do those things, and I get that. When we look at it from our perspective, these are some plays we would hope we would make at this time of year, but we just didn’t.”