Duke Defeats Penn State on Controversial OT Goal


Garrett Leadmon's shot that was ruled the winning goal in overtime.

PHILADELPHIA — Notable moments in the last dozen or so NCAA tournaments brought inflection points for some form of a shot clock and the urgency to restore the dive to men’s college lacrosse.

One day, Saturday might be remembered as a reason for the expansion of instant replay into the sport.

Duke’s Garrett Leadmon scored the winning goal 65 seconds into overtime, even as replays showed he stepped on the edge of the crease with his right foot, lifting the top-seeded Blue Devils to a 16-15 victory over fifth-seeded Penn State at Lincoln Financial Field.

“It certainly wasn’t a malicious call,” Nittany Lions coach Jeff Tambroni said less than an hour after enduring an agonizing end to his team’s season. “I haven’t even seen it. I have no idea if it was the right call or the wrong call. It was a call. … I think there should be [review], especially on that stage in a game like this. It’s available. At the same time, I recognize it’s not a part of our game and we understand we have to live with the result and just move on.”

According to NCAA men’s lacrosse rules, video replay review is available during the tournament only to correct timing errors, review if a shot was released before the clock expires at the end of a shot or game clock, to review if a ball deflected off an offensive or defensive player before it enters the goal or if it hits a camera mounted inside the cage.

For its part, Duke wasn’t about to quibble with the current rules or push for an immediate expansion.

“Not today,” Blue Devils coach John Danowski quipped.

Leadmon and Brennan O’Neill both scored three goals for the Blue Devils (16-2), who advanced to their seventh national title game and first since 2019. Duke will attempt to win its fourth NCAA championship when it meets either second-seeded Virginia (13-3) or third-seeded Notre Dame (12-2) in Monday’s final.

It wasn’t the blowout some anticipated, with the Blue Devils needing to fend off a man-down late in regulation before Leadmon came around the cage and dove across the crease to beat Nittany Lions goalie Jack Fracyon (12 saves) for the winner.

“I saw the referee put his hands up in the air and figured we won the game,” Leadmon said.

TJ Malone scored six goals and added two assists for Penn State (11-5), which fell short of its first title game appearance. Kevin Winkoff added a goal and five assists, the first player to deliver five assists in a semifinal since Grant Ament did it in a Nittany Lions loss to Yale in 2019.

That was a considerably different scenario for Penn State. Then, it was the top seed and owner of an offensive juggernaut. This year, it was more of a whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts team, albeit one exceptionally comfortable in close games.

The Nittany Lions had already become the first team to make the semifinals a year after losing 11 games, a turnaround from 3-11 that just edged 2001 Towson reaching the final weekend after going 3-10 a season earlier. And unlike four years ago, Penn State was never frazzled by the sport’s biggest stage or a faceoff disparity.

“At one point, I just turned to someone and said, ‘This is going to be a 60-minute bar fight,’ and it felt that way,” Danowski said. “It just felt like they were going to take a punch, we were going to take a punch, we were going to have to absorb a couple.”

While Duke flirted with opening things up when it took leads of 7-4 and 9-6, the Nittany Lions never let the Blue Devils get away. And despite some first-half turnovers, Malone doggedly kept the Penn State offense plugging away. His fifth goal pulled the Nittany Lions within 13-12 late in the third quarter.

“We were exactly where we wanted to be,” Malone said. “We knew if we were close in that fourth quarter, they were going to start feeling the pressure, and that’s exactly where we wanted to be, and that’s where we play our best. We just couldn’t get over that edge.”

Yet Duke repeatedly summoned answers on offense from unconventional places. When Jake Morin finally knotted it at 13 with 9:35 to go off a Morin feed, Jadon Kerry delivered his first goal since February 17 less than a minute later. Winkoff’s goal with 6:26 remaining was answered 14 seconds later by Jake Naso, who had two goals and an assist to go with a 22-for-34 outing on faceoffs.

Malone scored the last goal of regulation with 5:07 to go, a finish that was part of Penn State’s brilliant 51.7-percent shooting day.

“I don’t know if it was our best game defensively or if Penn State just played lights out,” Danowski said.

Truth was, it was both a stellar day for the Nittany Lions’ offense and a rocky one for the Blue Devils’ defense. But Duke got the stop it needed most when it denied a shot on a 30-second man-down after Jake Caputo’s pushing penalty with 1:31 remaining. Penn State eventually committed a shot clock violation, handing it over to Duke for a possession that ended with Leadmon shooting wide of the cage as time expired.

Duke won the faceoff to open overtime, and the Blue Devils were content to run their offense rather than call timeout. Leadmon eventually took the ball around the cage, cut sharply to roll inside of short stick Grant Haus and wrapped a shot around Fracyon in what figures to be one of the most replayed goals of the season.

“I can’t imagine the hurt they’re feeling right now relative to our exhilaration,” Danowski said.

It was enough for Penn State to linger on the field a little longer than usual after a semifinal loss — probably a bit dazed, probably a bit angry, probably a bit unbelieving its turnaround season ended so abruptly.

And that maybe sometime down the road, that play would bring on a video review.

In 2023, it’s very clear. The rules don’t permit it.

“It was really tough to see how that ended,” Malone said, “but that’s how it happened.”

Most Recent

Florida State Adds Women's Lacrosse for 2025-26 Academic Year

Florida State will become the 118th Division I women's program in the country.

Now Cancer-Free, Allison Kwolek Hopes Her Story Inspires Others

Allison Kwolek almost skipped a mammogram appointment that might have saved her life.

Xavier Coach Meg Decker Honored by IWLCA with Kristina Quigley Award

The award honors Kristina Quigley, the former Seton Hill coach.

Wonder No More: Delaney Ott has Made the Jump from WLCA to Division I

The WCLA goalie of the year in 2022 and 2023, Ott is now testing herself at Duke.

Twitter Posts

Get the best and latest from USALaxMagazine.com delivered weekly straight to your inbox: