BALTIMORE - With one flick of his stick, Duke's Max Quinzani ended Virginia's bid to put a positive finish on a season clouded by sadness.
Quinzani scored the tiebreaking goal with 12 seconds remaining, and the Blue Devils defeated the top-seeded Cavaliers, 14-13, Saturday night to advance to the NCAA men's lacrosse national championship game.
Fifth-seeded Duke (15-4) will play unseeded Notre Dame (10-6) on Monday for the title. Notre Dame earned a berth in the finals for the first time by beating Cornell.
Virginia's loss marked the end of Ken Clausen's college career. The Downingtown native and Hill School graduate was a senior defenseman.
This was an incomparable season for the Cavaliers, for reasons that have little to do with lacrosse. Everything changed May 3, when Virginia women's player Yeardley Love was found beaten to death in her campus apartment.
George Huguely, a senior on the men's team, has been charged with first-degree murder.
Virginia carried on, but it wasn't easy. Not only were the Cavaliers striving for their fifth national championship, but they also were playing for Love and the women's team, which was eliminated from the NCAA tournament last week.
All that pressure finally caught up with Virginia (16-2) in the second half against Duke.
"It's been a fairly extraordinary spring in so many different ways," said Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia, who had a patch that read Y.L. 1 on his shirt, a tribute to Love and her jersey number. "The final score may be the least important part of what has transpired here throughout the spring, really and truly," Starsia said.
Virginia's Chris Bocklet wiped away tears as Starsia spoke. Later, the sophomore said, "It's been a very emotional season for us. This has probably been the hardest season to play in for any of us."
Notre Dame 12, Cornell 7 - Notre Dame defeated seventh-seeded Cornell to become the first unseeded team since Massachusetts in 2006 to earn a spot in the title game.
The Fighting Irish ended the regular season by dropping three of five to fall to 7-6. But they got a berth in the postseason tournament anyway, and they haven't lost since.
"I thought we had the talent all year. We were just a little inconsistent," goaltender Scott Rodgers said. "I believed in the team, and I knew we could do this."
Neal Hicks scored four goals and Zach Brenneman added three, while Rodgers stopped 16 shots for the Irish (10-6) - including eight in the first quarter.
Cornell's Rob Pannell, who went in averaging a nation's-best 4.59 points per game, was limited to two assists. Steve Mock scored three goals for the Big Red (12-6).
The Irish opened the tourney with a win over No. 6 Princeton, then beat No. 3 Maryland to advance the semifinals for only the second time.