Foxborough, Mass – If there was ever a doubt at the end, Yale doubled down with everything it had.
With Duke on the extra man with 23 seconds to go and Tyler Warner on the sideline, the Bulldogs defense forced an off angle shot and a Jack Starr save, and time expired with a two-goal lead.
Yale’s defense stepped up to never allow Duke back into the game, winning 13-11 to take its first ever NCAA Division I lacrosse title on Monday at Gillette Stadium. Tournament MVP Matt Gaudet scored four times as the Bulldogs continued to pull away, giving themselves enough space to sustain Duke’s late rally.
“I told them last night, you push them and you push them and you push them, and sometimes your season ends in a loss, and you feel like maybe you let them down,” said coach Andy Shay. “Didn’t want to let them down, and we didn’t lose. So I’m just really happy for them. I’m happy for myself too, of course. But I’m happy for Yale. Yale lacrosse, the alums, all the guys that played for me. All the guys that didn’t play for me.”
Much like the semifinal against Albany, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead. This time, it was Jack Tigh doing the honors, striking twice early before a Gaudet tally as time expired on an extra man opportunity. Duke pressed, but could only put four tallies on the board before the half.
It was more of the same in the second half, with the Bulldogs scoring the first three goals of the third quarter, including an extra man goal, to take momentum right back. Duke scored three in a row in the third, a rally cut short from a Bulldogs goal, but Duke didn’t let up.
The Devils scored with the clock waning in the third, but Yale kept pace with a response 13 seconds later, which seemed to deflate Duke. The Devils weren’t completely done, keeping it at a two goal game late with a Peter Conley tally with 3:13 left in the game.
The Bulldogs won the final faceoff to get possession, and with the shot clock expiring rung the post to reset the clock. Despite Ben Reeves missing an open net at the end of the game, the Bulldogs defense withstood the late Duke attack, forcing a Justin Guterding shot wide.
Starr came up with the final save as the clock expired, and the Bulldogs rushed the field to celebrate their first ever national title.
The win gave New England a sweep in the men’s lacrosse national championships, with Merrimack and Wesleyan winning the Division 2 and 3 titles respectively on Sunday.
“I’m really proud of my guys for sticking with it,” said Shay. “My guys are just a coach’s dream. Really a coach’s dream in every sense of the word. It’s just unbelievable that they have accomplished this.”