Scouting the final four Three coaches whose teams...

May 26, 2001

Scouting the final four

Three coaches whose teams played all four of the NCAA Division I semifinalists agreed to scout the championship weekend for The Sun. Loyola's Dave Cottle, whose Greyhounds beat Syracuse, 14-13, in overtime, but lost to Notre Dame, 10-7, broke down the semifinal between the Orangemen and the Fighting Irish. Virginia coach Dom Starsia, whose Cavaliers lost to Princeton, 8-4, and beat Towson, 12-8, analyzed the tale of the Tigers. Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala will scout the championship game in Monday's Sun.- Paul McMullen

No. 1 Syracuse (12-2) vs. No. 5 Notre Dame (14-1)

Dave Cottle's analysis

Syracuse offense vs. Notre Dame defense: One of the few teams that attacks poles, the Orangemen come right at you. With the balance they possess on attack, all three of your defensemen must withstand pressure. Notre Dame's matchups on Michael Powell (28 goals, 34 assists), Liam Banks (16, 30) and Michael Springer (34, 13) will go a long way toward determining if it can stop Syracuse. The X-factor is if Syracuse moves Josh Coffman (33, 17) to attack. That would give the Orangemen three dodging attackmen and throw off the matchups for Notre Dame.

Syracuse's midfield has good players with great size. The first unit of Coffman, Brian Solliday and Spencer Wright is difficult to match up with. Syracuse will play three units, and Notre Dame must decide whether to slide or not. Notre Dame's short sticks played great against Johns Hopkins. Its close defense is going to be tested, but goalie Kirk Howell (.641 save percentage) has had a great year.

Notre Dame offense vs. Syracuse defense: The biggest question here is who will John Glatzel guard? Will it be his twin brother, Tom (40, 27 ), or the very active David Ulrich (19, 27). If Syracuse decides to place John on Tom, then the matchup that will determine the success of the Fighting Irish will be Billy St. George on Ulrich. Ulrich's quickness is the same in the fourth quarter as it is in the first, and he is extremely hard to defend.

Look for Notre Dame to invert its offense and slow down the game. Syracuse goalie Rob Mulligan (.591 save percentage) is a big-game player, and he has another opportunity to show that. His play, however, must improve.

Key matchup: Look to the faceoffs, where Notre Dame's Chad DeBolt (.557) challenges Syracuse's Chris Cercy (.708), who is lacrosse's version of basketball's make-it, take-it. By constantly possessing the ball, Syracuse puts pressure on opponents. Notre Dame needs solid wing play here to manufacture possessions.

What Syracuse has to do to win: The Orangemen must dominate the faceoffs, break even in the goalie matchup and win the matchups against Notre Dame's Glatzel and Ulrich. If Powell and Coffman run together on attack, can Notre Dame guard both?

What Notre Dame has to do to win: The Fighting Irish need at least 17 saves from Howell, Glatzel and Ulrich to win their matchups and their offense to get 14 goals. Seldom does anyone beat Syracuse without getting to double digits. Syracuse averages 40 half-field possessions a game; Notre Dame must cut that to no more than 32.

Team comparison:

................................................Syracuse Notre Dame

Goals scored..........................13.9........... 12.3

Goals allowed.......................... 8.1............. 6.6

Shooting %................................ .280.......... .284

Opp. shooting %........................ .257 ..........196

Faceoff %..................................... .701......... .538

Ground balls............................... +12.2....... + 3.8

Clearing %................................... .810......... .796

Opp. clearing %......................... .746........... .677

Extra-man offense.................... .358............ .316

Man-down defense.................. .244 ...............255

No. 2 Princeton (12-1) vs. Towson (14-3)

Dom Starsia's analysis

Princeton offense vs. Towson defense: Princeton prefers a classic, half-field, disciplined game. It will be Towson's responsibility to force the issue - stay aggressive, pressure Princeton on the perimeter and make it go to the goal before it gets the matchup it wants. The key to defending Princeton is to turn its players into dodgers - don't let them get comfortable handling the ball.

Towson needs to limit shots by Sean Hartofolis (29, 5) and B.J. Prager (29, 3) and consistently challenge Ryan Boyle (16, 32). While Princeton may prefer extended possessions, it might also look to exploit transition opportunities. Towson does a great job of subbing on the fly for its first, big midfield of Hunter Lochte (17, 14), Josh Tankersley (25, 2) and Brian Myers (17, 1). That unit goes from offense to defense, but not without creating opportunities for a team that looks for them.

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