follow us on...

No. 16 Top Story of the Year: Freshmen Wigrizer (Haverford School), Conners (Malvern Prep) helped Duke to first NCAA title

Saturday, 1st January 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  

This is part of a continuing series of articles counting down the Top 20 stories of the 2010 year in Philly lacrosse, Posted 1/1/11

Rarely does a freshman play a key role in the NCAA men’s Division I championship game.

But there was Haverford School alum Dan Wigrizer standing right in the middle of the goal as his Duke Blue Devils defeated upstart Notre Dame, 6-5, in overtime last May for the school’s first NCAA crown at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Duke's Dan Wigrizer (left) and Billy Conners, two scholastic rivals, celebrated a National title together (Photo by Steve Layne)

Wigrizer, who started nearly every game as a freshman, was joined by freshman defenseman Billy Conners (Malvern Prep), who saw some time throughout the year and also in the title game. The contribution from the Philly rookie combo was the No. 16 Story of 2010 in Philly lacrosse as chosen by

“The bottom line was staying composed and confident,” said Wigrizer (five saves) after celebrating the championship. “During the whole game I didn’t let myself get nervous.

“Billy Conners kept coming up to me saying, ‘It’s just like Haverford-Malvern.’ This feeling is surreal.”

Notre Dame (10-7), which was unseeded and a surprise to many as a finalist, got brilliant defensive work from senior co-captain Mike Creighton (Malvern Prep). Creighton had two groundballs and reserve middie Adam Felicetti (Central Bucks East) had one groundball for the Irish.

    1. Follow is on Facebook and Twitter
  • The game was a defensive battle. Neither team led by more than a goal the entire way and the Blue Devils were stymied by Irish goalie Scott Rodgers (15 saves).

    Notre Dame, which dominated time of possession for much of the game, was not sharp with its shooting, except for Zach Brenneman, who tallied a hat trick. Steve Schoeffel and Zach Howell netted two goals each for Duke.

    Costabile won the face-off to open the overtime from Trever Sipperly and glided downfield before beating Rodgers with a shot from directly in front of the net.

    The Blue Devils had the fastest goal to start an overtime in NCAA championship history. Duke had advanced twice before to the title game – and lost by one goal both times.

    It was the lowest-scoring title game in history, yet what it lacked in offense it made up for in drama. There were five ties, and neither team led by more than one goal.

    The previous lowest-scoring game was in 1982, when North Carolina beat Johns Hopkins 7-5.

    The loss ended a brilliant postseason run by Notre Dame, which defeated three seeded teams to advance to the title game for the first time.

    The game was played cautiously by both sides, with defense and possession the priority. The teams set a championship-game record for fewest combined goals through three quarters (eight) and tied the mark for fewest at halftime (five).

    Notre Dame went up 5-4 with 11:56 by converting a rare fastbreak. David Earl picked up a loose ball and ran 30 yards before passing across the field to Sean Rogers, who pumped a shot past Wigrizer.

    Justin Turri scored for the Blue Devils with 8:44 left to tie the game for the last time.

    Duke led 3-2 at halftime after scoring the lone goal of the second quarter.

    The Blue Devils took 13 shots, including nine on goal, but Rodgers had six saves and Duke committed five turnovers.

    It took only 49 seconds for Notre Dame to go up 1-0 on a goal by Brenneman. Then, after Duke used goals by Howell and Schoeffel to take the lead, Brenneman scored again with 50 seconds left during a first quarter in which both teams worked the ball for several minutes at a time.

    That only served as a precursor for a dreary second quarter in which the only goal came on a shot by Schoeffel with 1:24 left.

    Early in the third quarter, Earl provided hope for a more offense-oriented game. With a Duke defender on his back, he scored with a low shot while being knocked from his feat. The goal ended Notre Dame’s 17-minute scoring drought.

    Howell put the Blue Devils back in front, and Brenneman’s third goal tied it at 4 with 1:12 left in the quarter.

    Tags: ,


    Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

    Latest Headlines