Sticks of the Week: Virginia scrambles for first ACC victory, Hopkins, Buckeyes look to stay on top of Big 10

Liam Oram

Sports Blogger

@liam_oram

 

 

Virginia Cavaliers at North Carolina Tar Heels

5 p.m. Saturday

VisitPlano/Flickr

No. 13 Virginia has seen much improvement in its offense this year, but it still has yet to gain a victory in ACC play. With only two ACC games left for the Cavaliers (8-3) this season, this will be a crucial game for them. The Cavaliers have gained massive help from some young stars this season as freshmen have been helping all over the field. On offense, young stars such as Ian Laviano have provided the goal help the Cavaliers were missing last year and have made them easily one of the better offenses this year. On the defensive side, the Cavaliers have gotten good play out of their freshman goalie Alex Rode. The only problem with having such a young team like the Cavaliers do is that they have heavily struggled to play against teams in their conference. The Hoos have floundered against some of the high-powered offenses that many of the ACC teams have, and that is why they should be worried that this North Carolina squad comes in with one of the best players in the nation, Chris Cloutier. The Tar Heels (6-5) have a young defensive squad, and that has benefited and hurt them. They have struggled against stronger offenses this season because of how young they are. Chris Cloutier leads the Tar Heels on offense with 28 goals. He has been unstoppable around the crease. In UNC’s last game, Cloutier provided a hat trick. The Tar Heels also had a great performance from fourth-string goalkeeper Alex Bassil in an attempt to hold off the Blue Devils. The positive for the Tar Heels this year is they have shown major improvement in their young defense and look to keep that going. Virginia and UNC each have yet to receive an ACC victory this year, so they are likely going to play with a lot of intensity.

Ohio State Buckeyes at Johns Hopkins Blue Jays

11 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU

No. 5 Johns Hopkins has had a great season so far. The Blue Jays (7-2) nabbed a big victory against Rutgers in their last game to claim their first Big Ten game this year. They have received major offensive help in their last couple of games from sophomore attackman Cole Williams, as he has provided 21 goals on the season and has been a surprising player on this Blue Jays squad. The Blue Jays have had one of the best offenses in the nation behind Shack Stanwick and other young stars. They play well from behind, as they have had to come back in their last three games. They might have to do it again as they come up against a strong offensive Ohio State squad. Although Ohio State (5-5) has dropped its last four games, it has been a dangerous team. The Buckeyes have gotten great production out of Tre Leclaire as he has provided 17 goals on the season so far and has been a key factor for the Buckeyes’ offense this season.  The Buckeyes are going to need their goalie Matthew Smidt to step up and play like he has in their last couple of games. The Buckeyes’ biggest problems come at the face-off x as they struggle to get a good number of possessions in games. They will have to perform better there if they hope to stifle this Hopkins offense. Hopkins has been a controlling team this season, so it should be a close game.

Duke Blue Devils at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

3 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU

No. 12 Notre Dame has had arguably one of the best offenses this season. The Irish (5-3) have one of the most impressive sophomores in the country, Bryan Costabile. Costabile has provided 17 goals on the season and shows no signs of letting anyone stop him. Mikey Wynne has also been just as good as ever for the Irish. Wynne has put in 13 goals on the season and has been an imposing force going up against ACC defenses. The Irish have also received great performances from freshman Matt Schmidt. After taking their first ACC loss to Syracuse in their last game, they will have to be careful in their matchup against No. 6 Duke. The Blue Devils (9-2) have been on a tear after beating North Carolina. They have received great performances from their Tewaarton Watch List attackman Justin Guterding, who has 37 goals on the season and has been imposing to rival goalies. All over their offensive lines, the Blue Devils have some star players who have lifted them past certain teams. The Blue Devils have had stellar goalie play this season from senior Danny Fowler, who has looked unstoppable in net. Last year, Notre Dame and Duke met twice in both regular season and ACC tournament play, in which the Irish took the final matchup to move to the ACC championship. These teams don’t like each other and want the joy of beating each other.

ozone@ocolly.com

 

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