Today's Men's Semifinal

May 24, 2008|By EDWARD LEE

No. 1 Duke (18-1) vs. No. 5 Johns Hopkins (10-5)

Time -- 2:30 p.m.

Site -- Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Weathering the storm

The Blue Devils have outscored opponents 145-56 in the first half. Johns Hopkins played Duke to a 4-4 tie in the second quarter April 5 before the Blue Devils cruised, 17-6. Whether the Blue Jays can slow Duke and keep the score in single digits might determine Johns Hopkins' fate.

Focus on faceoffs

Junior Sam Payton won 10 of 15 faceoffs to help the Blue Devils jump out early on the Blue Jays in their regular-season matchup, but Payton won only 12 of 23 faceoffs against Ohio State. If senior Stephen Peyser can either win the ball or get it to his teammates on the wings, that's half the battle for Johns Hopkins.

Capitalizing on penalties

The Blue Devils have committed 101 penalties - the most of any semifinalist. The Blue Jays, who rank sixth in the nation with a .429 success rate on man-up opportunities, need to take advantage of those situations.

KEY MATCHUPS

Johns Hopkins defensemen Michael Evans and Eric Zerrlaut get the tasks of guarding Duke attackmen Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, respectively. Danowski and Greer combined for seven goals and seven assists April 5.

COACHES

Duke coach John Danowski has abandoned the traditional practice of walking the ball into the box to capitalize on unsettled situations. Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala has simplified his defense. His team has allowed an average of 4.4 goals during its seven-game winning streak.

WHEN DUKE HAS BALL

The Blue Jays better be ready to run when the ball finds its way into a Blue Devils stick. Greer (64, 27) is a finisher who usually positions himself in the slot, while sophomore attackman Max Quinzani (59, eight) patrols the cage. Matt Danowski (39, 55) is dangerous behind the net.

WHEN HOPKINS HAS BALL

Conversely, the Blue Jays will slow it down. Midfielders Paul Rabil (29, 12) and Peyser (19, eight) will work the ball up top and try to dodge their way to the slot.

BOTTOM LINE

Motivation is certainly on Johns Hopkins' side as the team has an opportunity to get to the school's 18th tournament final. The Blue Jays are 26-5 in May under Pietramala. But only Georgetown has limited Duke to fewer than 10 goals. The Blue Devils won't let themselves get handcuffed again. Count on Duke to reach its third national final in four years.

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