Duke advances to lacrosse final

PHILADELPHIA -- Duke is heading back to the NCAA lacrosse tournament championship game, surviving a late surge by Cornell to play for a second national title.

David Lawson scored the winning goal with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter to lift Duke to a 16-14 victory against Cornell in the semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.

"We were forcing the issue early on, but once we calmed down and started hitting shots, we took over," Duke's Jordan Wolf said. "We kept moving the ball and kept up what we were doing all year. This is the farthest I've been in the tournament, and we're all trying to enjoy this the best we can right now."

Duke (15-5) will play Syracuse in Monday's championship.

The Blue Devils are in the final for the first time since 2010, when they won their only national championship.

Cornell's Rob Pannell became the NCAA Division I career scoring leader with five goals and two assists to give him 354 career points, passing the mark held by former Duke star Matt Danowski.

Duke's Henry Lobb did a decent job against Pannell for three quarters, denying him the ball, getting physical with him when he did possess it.

"We thought in the box, we did fine, but overall we were really pleased with what Henry did (against Pannell)," Duke coach John Danowski said. "Henry has played well against other really excellent attackmen, like Steele Stanwick and Peter Baum.

"This team truly loves each other, and our motivating factor was they wanted to stay and play together for another couple of days."

Duke broke open what had been a close game by outscoring Cornell (14-6) 7-1 in the third quarter to wipe out a 5-2 deficit.

After Pannell's second goal tied the game at 6-6 with 2:16 left in the first half, the Big Red fell into a scoring drought that lasted 15:07.

It was Pannell that finally broke the spell on his third goal, with 2:09 left in the third quarter. By then, Duke held what appeared to be a comfortable 14-7 lead-thanks to the fine goaltending by Kyle Turri and sharp shooting from Jake Tripucka and Wolf.

Pannell changed the game in the fourth quarter, scoring two goals and handing out two assists. His fifth goal of the game, with 8:04 left to play, brought Cornell to within 14-12 and was the record-breaker.

"I wasn't going to go out like that," said Pannell, a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. "I don't think it was my best game ever. I took about 20 shots, but our team, we were never going to stop fighting down by seven at one time. You had to find it in you to step up."

But Duke responded with the Lawson goal, followed by Wolf's fourth goal of the game with 39 seconds left and Cornell chasing with an additional defender and an open net.

Pannell led all scorers with seven points, while Connor Buczek added three goals and an assist for the Big Red.

With 53 seconds remaining, Buczek made it interesting on his third goal, drawing Cornell to within 15-14, but Duke's Brendan Fowler won the ensuing faceoff, setting up Duke's clincher.

Wolf led the way for Duke with five points. Duke had seven players score goals. Lawson scored twice, while Tripucka had a hat trick and Josh Dionne also scored twice.

NOTES: Cornell is 0-3 against Duke in the NCAA tournament . In between games Jeff Keith, founder of CT Challenge, was honored in recognition of the positive impact the CT Challenge has had on the lives of cancer survivors throughout the country. Keith lost his leg to cancer at the age of 12 and went on to become an accomplished athlete and Division 1 lacrosse player at Boston College, graduating in 1984. In 1985, Jeff became the first cancer survivor and amputee to run across America, raising $1 million for cancer research.

Syracuse 9, Denver 8

Derek Maltz scored with 19.2 seconds left to give Syracuse a 9-8 come-from-behind win over Denver in the NCAA lacrosse semifinals.

Syracuse advances to Monday's championship game against Duke, another perennial lacrosse power. It's the first time the two programs will meet for the title. They have combined for 21 appearances in the NCAA championship and have 12 titles between them.

The Orange (16-3), who will play in their first final since 2009, didn't lead until Maltz scored.

Denver (14-5) grabbed a 3-0 lead, and led by 4-1 and 5-2 in the first half. The Pioneers entered the fourth quarter holding a 7-4 edge.

With 2:42 to play, Denver's Eric Law and Carson Cannon each drew 30-second pushing penalties, giving Syracuse a two-man advantage. JoJo Marasco scored the first of their three goals with 2:35 left, setting the stage Luke Cometti's tying goal with 59 seconds left.

The Pioneers' Chase Carraro won the faceoff and Denver coach Bill Tierney called a timeout with seven seconds left, but the Pioneers couldn't get a last shot off.

Ryan LaPlante made 13 saves for Denver in the first half, while giving up just two goals. Regardless, Tierney stuck with what he had been doing throughout the season, rotating goalies and replacing LaPlante with Jamie Faus, who allowed seven goals on 11 shots in the second half.

Cometti led Syracuse with three goals, while Maltz and Marasco had two each. Law led Denver with three goals and second-leading scorer Wesley Berg was held without a shot.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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