Men's lacrosse: Duke bids for 7th straight Final Four today

May. 18, 2013 @ 07:55 PM

Duke had been to the men’s lacrosse national semifinals six consecutive years and Dan Wigrizer was in goal for three of them.

As a freshman, he was in the nets when Duke won the NCAA Tournament championship in 2010.

But today, as the Blue Devils play Notre Dame (2:30 p.m., ESPNU) needing a win to reach the sports final four for a seventh consecutive time, they are counting on another young, talented player as the last line of defense.

Six games into this season, sophomore Kyle Turri stepped in for Wigrizer, who was advised by doctors to stop playing due to multiple concussions. Rather than the loss of an experienced, accomplished player derailing Duke, it has spurred them to greatness.

The No. 7-ranked Blue Devils (13-5) have won 11 of 12 games with Turri in goal. He’s averaging a little more than eight saves per game and owns a 9.17 goals against average and a save percentage of .505.

“He is a winner,” Duke coach John Danowski said. “Not only does he have the ability to stop the ball, but he is a terrific outlet passer. He can run out of the goal and pick up a ground ball, which he did the other day against Loyola. He can throw his stick in the passing lanes.”

Turri entered the season as one of four goalkeepers that Danowski said he felt comfortable giving major playing time. Having suffered concussions earlier in his career, Wigrizer reported not feeling his best when he absorbed yet another blow to the head.

The final game Wigrizer played in was a 16-7 loss to Maryland on March 2. Turri took over as the starter for the March 8 home game with Loyola (Md.), which the Blue Devils won 9-8.

Turri’s been stellar ever since. But he said Wigrizer, who watches game film to help Turri prepare, gets an assist.

“It was definitely a surprise when he was injured and couldn’t play the rest of the season,” Turri said. “But along the way he’s helped me a ton. He’s just been so helpful, helping me in the transition to become the starter.”

Turri saw playing time as a freshman behind Wigrizer, so Duke’s players were familiar with his abilities. Still, as a younger player, he had to find his leadership voice. Now, two months later, he clearly has it.

“It’s tough to tell them what to do. As the goalie you are directing the defense. I’ve definitely got more confident over the season in directing them and helping them out and that’s given them more confidence in me.”

Last Sunday, Turri and the Blue Devils survived sudden-death overtime to eliminate Loyola, the reigning national champions, 12-11 in an NCAA Tournament first-round game at Koskinen Stadium.

In today’s quarterfinals, the pressure ramps up against Notre Dame on a neutral field at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

Duke has a history of winning these games. The face in goal is new, but the expectations are well known.