Preview: Men's lacrosse semifinals

At M&T Bank Stadium

May 27, 2010

Notre Dame vs. No. 7 seed Cornell

Saturday, 4 p.m.

Notre Dame

Fighting Irish

Record: 9-6

Coach: Kevin Corrigan

Leading scorer: Junior midfielder Zach Brenneman (23 goals, 13 assists)

Goalie: Senior Scott Rodgers (7.74 goals-against average, .586 save percentage)

Cornell Big Red

Record: 12-5

Coach: Jeff Tambroni

Leading scorer: Sophomore attackman Rob Pannell (29 goals, 49 assists)

Goalie: Freshman A.J. Fiore (8.46 goals-against average, .552 save percentage)

When Notre Dame has the ball

The Fighting Irish have the ability to run and create transition, but the team's strength is controlling the tempo by slowing the pace and working six-on-six. The ball will usually run through the sticks of Brenneman, senior midfielder Grant Krebs (23 goals, 4 assists) and junior midfielder David Earl (21, 3). Senior Neal Hicks (19, 14) has been the most consistent attackman, but can Notre Dame get production from other sources? Sophomore attackman Sean Rogers' three goals were instrumental in the team's 7-5 upset of No. 3 seed Maryland in the quarterfinals.

When Cornell has the ball

Unlike Notre Dame, the Big Red relies on its attack of Pannell, senior Ryan Hurley (45, 12) and freshman Steve Mock (18, 2). At 6 feet 3 and 185 pounds, Hurley is especially dangerous when he barrels in from the wings and uses his strength to get close and take high-percentage shots. The midfield lacks a standout player, but senior Chris Ritchie (17, 8), junior David Lau (12, 7) and sophomore Roy Lang (15, 6) have been contributors. Cornell usually runs two midfield lines but can send out a third to give the starters some rest.

Matchup to watch

On paper, Notre Dame would seem to be an overwhelming favorite in the cage, as the 6-4, 254-pound Rodgers is a huge presence in the net. He has surrendered just 10 goals and made 22 saves in tournament victories over Maryland and No. 6 seed Princeton. Fiore has been solid for Cornell, but he and the defense have had a tendency to surrender big leads in the second half. How Fiore fares could play a big role in whether the Big Red advance to the championship final for the second consecutive season.

—Edward Lee

No. 5 seed Duke vs. No. 1 seed Virginia

Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

Duke Blue Devils

Record: 14-4

Coach: John Danowski

Leading scorer: Senior attackman Ned Crotty (22 goals, 60 assists)

Goalie: Junior Mike Rock (5.79 goals-against average, .444 save percentage)

Virginia Cavaliers

Record: 16-1

Coach: Dom Starsia

Leading scorer: Sophomore attackman Chris Bocklet (49 goals, 14 assists)

Goalie: Junior Adam Ghitelman (7.87 goals-against average, .563 save percentage)

When Duke has the ball

The Blue Devils lean on Crotty, a Tewaaraton Award finalist, to quarterback the offense. From behind the net, Crotty has plenty of options in senior attackman Max Quinzani (64, 13) on the crease or junior attackman Zach Howell (47, 17) on the wing. The key for Duke in the tournament has been increasing production from waves of midfielders. If sophomore Justin Turri (16, 16) and senior Steve Schoeffel (17, 5) can initiate from the top of the box, they can force defenses to extend outward, thereby opening the middle for the attack.

When Virginia has the ball

The Cavaliers rank third in the country in scoring because they have multiple options on offense. Nine players have scored 10 goals or more. Sophomore attackman Steele Stanwick (26, 30) tends to carry the ball and direct the unit, but the offense is just as likely to have junior midfielder Shamel Bratton (23, 17) and senior midfielder Brian Carroll (23, 13) create from the midfield. Virginia is quite adept at scoring in unsettled situations, but the team might not want to get into a horse race with Duke, which thrives on fast breaks.

Matchup to watch

In Duke's 13-9 win on April 17, the Blue Devils won 17 of 25 (68 percent) faceoffs. Six days later, Virginia returned the favor with a 16-12 decision in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal by taking 22 of 32 (68.8 percent) draws. In both contests, Duke played without senior Sam Payton. In two tournament games, Payton has won 22 of 33 (66.7 percent) faceoffs and could be a tough challenge for Cavaliers senior Brian McDermott, who has won 101 of 168 (60.1 percent) restarts.

—Edward Lee

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