Sticks of the Week: Fight for ACC Championship begins

Liam Oram

Sports Blogger

@liam_oram

 

 

Duke Blue Devils vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

5 p.m. Friday, ESPNU

VisitPlano/Flickr

The beginning matchup of the ACC tournament will start it off with a bang. This No. 2 Duke squad comes in to the tournament holding the second seed. The Blue Devils (12-2 overall, 3-1 ACC) come into this matchup with a great offense that senior attackman Justin Guterding leads. Guterding is one of the best players in the nation, as he has put up a staggering 49 goals on the year and has 10 goals in his last two games. The rest of Duke’s offense is just as good. The other players on the Blue Devils’ main attack line have put up 57 goals on the year. The Blue Devils have also received great help from the defense. Their goalie Danny Fowler has stopped 55 percent of the shots that have come his way, and the rest of the defense has helped as well. The Blue Devils have given up only 109 goals this year. The Blue Devils’ defense and offense will have to be ready for this first-round matchup. No. 18 Notre Dame comes into the tournament as the third seed in the tournament and needs to build its tournament resume.  The Fighting Irish (6-5 overall, 1-3 ACC) are coming off a loss against North Carolina and need to post big wins in the ACC Tournament if they want to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The Irish have been surviving in most games with their defense this season, but that has been the problem in the last couple of weeks. Freshman goalie Matt Schmidt has let 34 goals go past him the last four games. Their offense has also struggled recently, as they have put up only 24 goals in the last four games. The Irish’s last ACC win came in week five when they beat Virginia, and they have not looked good in ACC play since. The last time these two teams met earlier in the month, the Irish looked lost. Expect nothing less in this matchup, but with a tournament, anything can happen.

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Syracuse Orange

7:30 p.m. Friday, ESPNU

No. 13 Virginia has had a big rebound season this year but has still struggled to play in the ACC. The Cavaliers (10-4 overall, 1-3 ACC) have a great offense that great young players, like Michael Krause and Ian Laviano, lead. Krause has been the main offensive leader as he has scored 40 goals and has also been a big vocal leader. The rest of the Cavaliers’ offense has 65 goals in its last five games, and that has been the thing that has lifted it above other teams it has played. The Hoos’ young offense has struggled against ACC teams, though, as the only ACC team it has beaten is North Carolina. Virginia has one of the hardest matchups in the ACC tournament. It plays No. 12 Syracuse, which comes into the ACC tournament as the first seed due to its incredible conference play. The Orange (7-5 overall, 4-0 ACC) have a young team that has played well when the time came. The Orange have most of their wins off of last-second wins, which has earned them the nickname “Cardiac ‘Cuse.” Brendan Bomberry has been the main vocal leader for the ‘Cuse offense because of his experience. The Orange have also received great performances from junior Nate Solomon, who was one of the main performers last season and has continued it this season. The ‘Cuse defense has struggled somewhat this season as goalie Dom Madonna saved only 45 percent of the shots that came his way in their upset loss against Navy. The Orange will need him to perform for the win here. When these teams last meant in week four, Syracuse won off a last-minute goal. Both these teams want to use this matchup as a résumé builder, so expect just as good of a game as last time.

Maryland Terrapins at Johns Hopkins Blue Jays

1 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU

One of the greatest rivalries of college lacrosse returns again for this season. This year’s addition of “The Rivalry” has the one seed in the Big 10 tournament on the line. No. 3 Maryland is coming off an upset loss to Ohio State at home. The Terrapins (10-2) have the best defense in the nation. Dan Morris has been one of the most efficient goalies as he has saved 54 percent of the shots that have come his way. The Terrapins have also received a ton of offensive production this year as their senior leader Connor Kelly has put up 36 goals and has been the main vocal leader. The Terps have rallied well after their losses. After they fell to Albany, they pushed through one of the hardest schedules in college lacrosse with only one more loss. They will have to be ready defensively as they go up against one of the best offenses in the nation. No. 7 Johns Hopkins has one of the strongest attack lines with Cole Williams, Shack Stanwick and Kyle Marr. The Blue Jays (9-3) run a balanced attack on offense that runs from behind the goal. The Blue Jays’ main problem is that they lack defense, as their senior goalie Brock Turnbaugh is hovering around a save percentage of 50. Johns Hopkins has had one of the toughest schedules and has dropped only three games, though. Last year’s matchup wasn’t close as the Terps’ defense controlled most of the game, but Johns Hopkins made major improvements to its offense from last year, so expect a tight game.

ozone@ocolly.com

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