Duke Roars Back to Top Notre Dame in OT, Another Thursday Night Classic


Thursday nights have become synonymous with chaos — providing an entertainment level fit for a show on the Las Vegas strip.

There have been heavyweight battles, thrilling comebacks and unexpected triumphs, all of the ingredients of a box-office hit.

The protagonist in this season’s edition of Thursday Night Lacrosse? The Duke Blue Devils — a team that has toyed with defeat on several Thursdays, but somehow found a way to win in the end.

On March 25, Mike Adler’s point-blank save at the buzzer helped halt a surging comeback from Syracuse and clinch a 15-14 win.

On April 1, Joe Robertson’s soaring overtime game-winner sealed a thrilling victory in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup with North Carolina.

On April 15, Robertson scored another overtime game-winner in a battle with defending champion, Virginia on another Thursday night that captured the excitement of the lacrosse world.

Three one-goal Thursday night classics. What could top that?

Notre Dame dominated the first half of a rematch with Duke on Thursday night and looked poised to sweep the Blue Devils in ACC play. The script seemed destined to end with a Fighting Irish victory, thus anointing Kevin Corrigan’s men as the team to beat in the ACC, and potentially the entire country.

But as has been the case on Thursday nights throughout this college lacrosse season, the Blue Devils, the heroes in this series of thrilling dramas, rallied to win 13-12. Down five goals in the fourth quarter, Duke’s Nakeie Montgomery and Michael Sowers took over, dodging past defensemen and finding space to ignite a run that tied the game with 14 seconds remaining on a long-distance blast from Sowers.

The Blue Devils seemed poised for overtime, but Notre Dame’s Pat Kavanagh dodged toward the cage with seconds remaining and scored what would have been the game-winning goal — but referees blew the play dead seconds before when his shoe came off during his initial charge, sending the ACC tilt to overtime. If an offensive player loses a piece of equipment, the play is blown dead.

With 2:05 left in the first overtime period, Sowers found a cutting Cameron Mulé, who slotted the ball past Notre Dame’s Liam Entenmann to seal Duke’s fourth one-goal win and third overtime victory on Thursday night — an escape that would have made Harry Houdini proud.

Mulé, the unlikely game-winner, had not scored since a win over Jacksonville on March 14. A useful extra-man asset, he found space in the Notre Dame defense to finish in front of the cage. The senior from Dix Hills, N.Y. has notched his career-high with three goals against High Point on March 10, and started against Virginia last week, but had played in just 16 games prior to 2021.

Sowers finished with four goals and an assist. His performance was an improvement upon the last meeting with Notre Dame on April 10, where he was held scoreless being defended primarily by Jack Kielty. Montgomery added three goals and an assist in the Duke comeback.

The Blue Devils victory spoiled what looked to be another strong performance from rising star Pat Kavanagh. He finished with four goals and three assists, all coming in a dominant first half.

The Fighting Irish jumped on Duke early, just as they did at Arlotta Stadium two weeks ago. Kavanagh had three first-quarter goals to help his team take a 4-0 lead entering the second frame.

Brennan O’Neill, Sowers and Dyson Williams each scored for Duke in the second quarter, but Kavanagh continued his hot streak. He played a role in all of Notre Dame’s first-half goals, helping it take a 7-3 halftime lead.

Freshman Eric Dobson fired home two straight goals to start the second half, giving Notre Dame breathing room, up six goals in the second half. Montgomery and Sowers began to find success against the Fighting Irish defense late in the third quarter, a period of momentum that continued into the final frame.

Brennan O’Neill flicked in a one-handed shot to pull Duke within three goals at 10-7 with 12:31 left before Morrison Mirer and Reilly Gray pulled Notre Dame back to a five-goal lead.

With 8:12 remaining, Montgomery sped around the Notre Dame defense for his second goal. Then, Joe Robertson fed Owen Caputo for a high-percentage strike to make it 12-9 with 4:17 left.

After a failed clear by Notre Dame, Montgomery founds space again to fire home his third goal and cut the deficit to two goals with 2:31 left in regulation. With 34 seconds left, Sowers ripped a shot from distance following a failed clear to give the Blue Devils hope.

Freshman Jake Naso won the ensuing faceoff, and 20 seconds later, Sowers dodged left of his defenseman and beat Entenmann low to send the game to overtime.

Mulé gave Duke the victory on the extra-man opportunity, his seventh goal of the season.

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