Scouting report: Duke vs. Notre Dame

Previewing the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse championship

May 30, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

NCAA men's Division I final

Notre Dame

vs. No. 5 seed Duke

Time: Monday, 3:30 p.m.

Site: M&T Bank Stadium

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH

Record: 10-6

Coach: Kevin Corrigan

Leading scorer: Junior M Zach Brenneman (26 goals, 13 assists)

Goalie: Senior Scott Rodgers (7.68 goals-against average, .596 save percentage)

DUKE BLUE DEVILS

Record: 15-4

Coach: John Danowski

Leading scorer: Senior A Ned Crotty (23 goals, 62 assists)

Goalie: Freshman Dan Wigrizer (9.71 goals-against average, .509 save percentage)

When Notre Dame has the ball

The Fighting Irish have an athletic midfield, but their best hope at knocking off the Blue Devils is slowing the pace and controlling the tempo of the game. And when the offense gets into its six-on-six sets, the first midfield line of Brenneman, senior Grant Krebs (24 goals, four assists) and junior David Earl (21, four) can usually dodge and create from the top of the box. That can open the interior of the defense for senior attackman Neal Hicks (23, 14). Whatever Notre Dame does, the offense must be efficient with its shots and test Wigrizer, who made only seven saves in Duke's 14-13 semifinal win over top seed Virginia.

When Duke has the ball

The Blue Devils almost lost to the Cavaliers in Saturday's semifinal because they did not get the ball often enough to Crotty, a Tewaaraton Award finalist, and senior attackman Max Quinzani (68, 13) in the first half. Crotty and Quinzani draw so much attention from opposing defenses that teammates like junior attackman Zach Howell (49, 18) and sophomore midfielder Justin Turri (19, 17) can step into shooting spaces and take advantage. The quandary for Duke is whether to pepper Rodgers with a ton of shots in the hope that some will get past or be efficient and perhaps make the extra pass or two for high-percentage chances.

Matchup to watch

In Notre Dame's 11-7 win Feb. 20, the Fighting Irish pretty much battled Duke to a draw on faceoffs, with the Blue Devils claiming 11 of 21 (52 percent). Possession will be key as Notre Dame would like to have the ball for extended stretches and keep Duke's explosive offense under wraps. That puts the onus on senior Trever Sipperly (173 of 310 for a .558 win percentage) to either match or beat Blue Devils senior Sam Payton (132 of 229, .576) on the restarts.

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