PHILADELPHIA - Duke goalie Kyle Turri picked a good time to have the best game of his career, making 16 saves Saturday to help the Blue Devils outscore Cornell, 16-14. Did his coach see such a game coming for the redheaded sophomore from West Islip?
"Absolutely not!'' coach John Danowski said, drawing laughter in the postgame media session. "Kyle has been solid, but there's never been a time when he's been spectacular.''
But here he is, back in another championship game and with his confidence soaring as the Blue Devils face top-seeded Syracuse in Monday's NCAA men's lacrosse final at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I was pretty happy about getting my saves up,'' Turri said after the shootout against Cornell. "Early on, it took me a while to get settled in, but I was seeing the ball well.''
Turri is a master at picking his spots.
In a comeback victory over Notre Dame May 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, a graphic flashed on the giant scoreboard that said Turri had not made a save in 37 minutes.
"I was saying to my coaches, 'I hope Kyle doesn't see that,' '' Danowski said. "Next thing you know, Kyle makes a great save, gets the fast break going, we score and we're on our way.''
Despite being blitzed for six consecutive second-half goals by the Big Red, Turri made numerous big saves in big spots. "We just had to hold them off for the last few minutes and keep our composure,'' he said.
He'll have to do that again Monday against a Syracuse team that doesn't have the firepower of Cornell but runs a motion offense with several dangerous scorers.
"His record is 13-1, so he's obviously getting the job done,'' Danowski said of Turri, who replaced injured starter Dan Wigrizer after six games. "We only see tremendous upside for him as he gains experience.''
The Orange will challenge Turri in a nontraditional way, with a high-scoring midfield led by JoJo Marasco and Luke Cometti instead of an attack-based offense like Duke's, which is led by Jordan Wolf, Josh Dionne and Case Matheis.
For Marasco, a senior, it's his first shot at a national championship.
"I went to Syracuse because they played in the Final Four so many times,'' Marasco said of a school that won it all in 2009 but hasn't been back since. "To finally make it here is huge.''