Duke sophomore midfielder Deemer Class and senior midfielder Christian Walsh grew up playing with fiddle sticks in the parking lots of M&T Bank Stadium prior to attending Championship Weekend as spectators.
The Blue Devils practiced Sunday night at Boys' Latin, Walsh's alma mater, to prepare itself for Monday's title game matchup with Notre Dame.
A day later, the duo completed their homecoming trip to Baltimore, helping propel top-seeded Duke to its second consecutive national championship.
"It hasn't really settled in yet. I don't even know how to explain it," said Walsh, who finished with one goal and one assist in his final game at Duke. "Freshman year, we showed up here and got walloped by Maryland. I really just wanted to come back and make that right in my last chance here."
Class finished the game with two goals, including a momentum-grabbing score with 8 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 advantage.
Later, after Notre Dame attackman Matt Kavanagh gave the Fighting Irish its first goal in the second quarter, the former Loyola Blakefield standout took a pass from Walsh and buried a shot past goalie Conor Kelly for a 4-1 lead.
"I was driving in on the bus, and it brought a lot of memories back," said Class, who had 11 multigoal games this season while setting the program's single-season scoring record for midfielders. "Now coming in, playing on the big stage and winning it, it just means the world."
Lowest attendance in years
Duke coach John Danowski said he didn't have any issues with the attendance figures for Championship Weekend.
But the decline continues.
This year's Championship Weekend had an announced 78,234 fans over the three days, which is the lowest total since the event was moved from college campuses to NFL stadiums in 2003. Attendance figures for Championship Weekend have now declined every year since 2007.
Anthony Holman, the NCAA's associate director of championships and alliances, said Championship Weekend should be defined by more than attendance numbers.
"Would we have liked more? Sure," Holman said. "But I don't think Duke, Maryland or anybody else who played on Saturday in front of 30,000 people felt like it wasn't successful."
To be exact, Saturday's semifinal matchups drew an announced 30,428. Sunday's Division II and Division III championships had an announced 22,219, while the announced attendance for Monday's national championship game was 25,587.
Without a local team playing in the Division I final, Holman said fans may have elected to stay home and watch on television instead of making the trek to the stadium.
"There are other things going on downtown with things like the Orioles," Holman said. "There are just other entertainment opportunities and values."
Name in the record books
Duke's second consecutive national championship was 31.5 seconds away.
With the Blue Devils leading by only one goal, Duke's Jordan Wolf picked up the ball just above goal-line extended and had two defenders covering him before the whistle blew.
Eight seconds later, he buried his second goal of the game into an empty net to squash the Fighting Irish's comeback hopes.
"I missed the [shot] 2 minutes before, so I had to make up for it on that one," Wolf said. "They doubled, the goalie was out, and I just ran past it and dunked it."
It was the final shot he ever took as a member of the Blue Devils, giving him 303 career points — the ninth-highest point total in Division I history.
Wolf's 103 points in 2014 are the most in Duke history, breaking current Blue Devils assistant coach Matt Danowski's 97-point total in 2007.
Irish star in the making
It took Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan two practices to tell his assistant coaches that freshman midfielder Sergio Perkovic could be the best player he has ever coached in South Bend, Ind.
On Monday, Perkovic showed that Corrigan's prophecy is on its way to fulfillment.
With Kavanagh having trouble getting involved in the offense, Perkovic exploded in the second half to score five goals, and he almost single-handedly brought Notre Dame all the way back from its early deficit.
"I think he's going to be one of the absolute stars in college lacrosse for the next three years because he's terrifically talented," Corrigan said.
Next season, Notre Dame will return seven starters from Monday's game.
Notre Dame was held scoreless for the first 21:55 of Monday's game, which is the longest a team has been held scoreless to begin a Division I national championship game since 2000, when Syracuse didn't allow Princeton to score for the opening 23:53. … Monday's loss is the Fighting Irish's fourth consecutive postseason loss to Duke. The Blue Devils also defeated Notre Dame in the 2010 national championship game, the 2011 quarterfinals and the 2013 quarterfinals. … The all-tournament team included Class, junior short-stick defensive midfielder Will Haus, sophomore midfielder Myles Jones, junior attackman Kyle Keenan and senior defenseman Henry Lobb from Duke; Kavanagh, Perkovic and Kelly from Notre Dame; and junior attackman Wesley Berg from Denver.
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