FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Duke's 2006 lacrosse season was scuttled by a rogue prosecutor and a since-debunked rape charge.
In every other year since these Blue Devils seniors were freshmen, Johns Hopkins has beaten them in the Final Four.
Kevin Huntley scored four goals as fifth-seeded Johns Hopkins beat top-seeded Duke, 10-9, yesterday to earn a spot in the national title game against Syracuse tomorrow. The third-seeded Orange beat No. 2 Virginia, 12-11, in double overtime in the other semifinal at Gillette Stadium.
Hopkins (11-5) beat Duke in the 2005 and '07 championship games, but Duke's 2006 season was ended by the school after three players were charged with raping a stripper. Five players on this year's team were granted an extra year of eligibility to make up for the aborted season.
Coach John Danowski defended his players against complaints that the extra year gave Duke an unfair advantage in age and experience as it racked up an NCAA season-record 18 wins. The team had two losses.
"They've been vilified for choosing to play a fifth year. They love to play lacrosse. It's a no-brainer for these kids," Danowski said.
Hopkins is a nine-time national champion that was 3-5 after a 17-6 loss to Duke on April 5.
"Things were going poorly for us, and we all came together in the hard times," Huntley said. "After the way that they beat us in the regular season, we knew that we had something to prove."
Syracuse (15-2) also is going for its 10th national title, and it will meet Hopkins in the championship game for the fifth time; each team has won twice. The Orange won the regular-season matchup this year, 14-13, in overtime March 15.
The Orange rallied from a season-high five-goal deficit in the early game to beat Virginia, 12-11, advancing when Mike Leveille scored his fifth goal of the game 2 minutes, 17 seconds into the second overtime.