FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In his remarkable four-year career at Duke, Justin Guterding scored 212 goals, the most of any player in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse history. But as far as the former Garden City star is concerned, he finished one goal short.
“I came here to win a national championship,” Guterding told Newsday in February. “I’ll be quite upset if I don’t win any.”
That explains how distraught Guterding was after the Blue Devils’ 13-11 loss to Yale in Monday’s championship game. Shoulders slumped, head down, carrying his lacrosse stick over his head with two hands, Guterding needed to be consoled by a Duke assistant as he trudged off the Gillette Stadium turf.
Later, when he met the media, Guterding needed a comforting arm around his shoulders from Duke coach John Danowski as he choked up several times.
“Right now it hurts and he’s upset,” Danowski said after Guterding’s two-goal, one-assist finale. “For him it ends, but the goal was to get here. He almost put the team on his back at times with his work ethic and his drive and commitment. We just fell two goals short at the end.”
In his senior year, Guterding led the nation with 66 goals and added 47 assists. He finished with 351 points in his career, second all-time at Duke to Danowski’s son Matt, an assistant coach, and fourth in NCAA history. But relationships, not statistics, were on his mind after Monday’s game.
“I’d like to say thank you to all my coaches and everyone I played with,” Guterding said tearfully. “It’s been an incredible ride. I can’t believe it’s over and that’s why I’m so upset.
“Obviously, I’m not happy that we didn’t win, but I would have been upset either way because these are some of my best friends. [The coaches] have been like fathers to me. It’s going to be so hard to say goodbye to them.”