Then there were the three former Duke players who had watched from the sidelines: Zack Greer, Tony McDevitt and Matt Danowski, son of the Duke head coach, John.
"They were all crying,'' the elder Danowski said.
The stunning 6-5 victory on the fastest overtime goal in NCAA championship-game history did more than deliver a long-awaited championship to, arguably, the best college lacrosse program never to have won it (Duke was in its fifth Final Four and third national championship game in six years). Duke supporters fervently hope that it also closes the door on the year-long situation that made the program more infamous than famous: the 2006 rape allegation against the team, which led to that season being canceled and three players being arrested, and then led to the charges being dropped in 2007 after the accuser's story was debunked.
Greer, McDevitt and Danowski played for those teams; seven redshirt seniors from that 2006 team were in uniform for Duke Monday. The "redemption'' angle to Duke's story, as one player had described it, clung to them every year since, then got fresh attention this month in the wake of the criminal investigation surrounding Virginia's program.
Thus, John Danowski was asked, does this championship put an end to that chapter of the story? "I hope so,'' he said. "I will.''
If that wasn't necessarily the motivation for Costabile to go on his charge toward the net to start overtime, it did the trick anyway. Costabile did admit that winning the title for the seniors who had been through the failed Final Four trips of recent years -- this was the Blue Devils' fourth in a row -- was a nice parting gift: "Finally seeing them walk off that field with a big smile on their faces is the best moment about that.''
More immediately, Duke (16-4) just wanted to end the tense, defense-oriented game in the steam bath of M&T Bank Stadium as fast as possible. The game-time temperature was 90 degrees, with a heat index of 96, which likely played a role in the crowd of 37,126 being the smallest for a final since the NCAA moved them to NFL stadiums in 2003.
Danowski said he told the players before taking the field for overtime, "We've been here before. Play to win.'' Costabile, a long-stick midfielder and Duke's second-best faceoff man, followed orders.
It was even more unexpected and ironic that he pulled it off against Rodgers, the senior Notre Dame goalie who had been so brilliant in this game and throughout the unseeded Irish's run to the final that he was named the tournament's most outstanding player. Rodgers is only the fifth player since the award began in 1977 -- and the first since 1996 -- to win it while playing for the losing team.
Rodgers was the main reason the game was the lowest-scoring final ever and had the fewest goals by the winning team ever. He again got help from the smothering, no-frills defense that had helped Notre Dame (10-7) hold three previous national champions -- Princeton, Maryland and Cornell -- to just 17 goals total on the way to its first title game in school history.
Explosive Duke had scored at least that many in each of its two tournament wins to get to the Final Four, and had put up 14 in edging out top-ranked Virginia in the semifinal Saturday night. But when Notre Dame visited Durham early in the regular season, the Blue Devils tied for their fewest goals in a game this season, losing 11-7.
Asked if he would have been happy beforehand knowing that his team would hold Duke to five goals in regulation, Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan answered with a grim chuckle, "No, our goal was to hold them to one less than we had.''
Corrigan almost got that: Notre Dame led 5-4 with 11:56 left in the fourth quarter, but Duke's Justin Turri tied the game with a shot between Rodgers' legs with 8:44 to go. Notre Dame turned aside one last Duke charge in the final minute and a half of the deliberately-played game.
So, overtime began, and in contrast with everything that had gone on before, it ended abruptly. When Costabile won the faceoff, he was stunned to see an open path to Rodgers, especially with every faceoff having been a major test of wills (one earlier had lasted 36 seconds before the ball had finally come loose).
"To come out that clean, to get my hands in there and pull it out really quick, the ball popped out in front of me -- it was awesome,'' Costabile said, still in mid-adrenaline rush a half-hour later.
Asked how it felt to pull off such a bang-bang play with so much at stake, he blurted, "It's sick.''
Whether or not Duke lacrosse can now move forward without being defined by the events of 2006 remains to be seen. Even in its moment of triumph, it could not be overlooked. Danowski himself admitted that he would not have been where he sat Monday afternoon -- leaving Hofstra after 21 years to replace the fired Mike Pressler in 2006 -- had his son, Matt, not been on the team.
Danowski also pointed out that the championship was for all the teams that had preceded this one, including the 2006 team. "Everyone who ever wore a Duke lacrosse jersey, I'm so proud to be associated with all those men,'' he said.