In another rematch game, Duke takes on Notre Dame. This is a rematch of last year’s final as well as an earlier season match up. Duke won last year’s Championship, but ND won the regular season game this year.
Duke is 13-5 with losses to Notre Dame, Penn, Maryland, Syracuse, and Denver. Duke has wins over Maryland, UNC, UVA (twice) and Delaware.
Notre Dame is 11-2 with losses to Syracuse and UNC. Their wins include Penn, Duke, Denver, and Villanova.
Duke didn’t look well in the game against Delaware. The first quarter, Duke dominated Delaware, and was up 9-3 in the 2nd quarter before taking a nap and letting Delaware claw back to within 2 (9-7) at the half. Again, Duke came out and pulled away to 15-10 lead with about 5 minutes left in the game. Again Delaware clawed back, and Duke didn’t go for the kill, and Delaware scored 3 goals in 2 minutes. The final score of 15-14 Duke did not reflect the fact they were outshot, struggled at Face Offs, turned the ball over more (21!), struggled on clears (80%), and only converted 1 of 5 on EMO (20%). Add the fact that the Delware goalie had 5 saves and 15 goals against (25%), and the Blue Devils got a gift last week. It was like watching Hofstra implode against UMass years ago, only Coach Dano’s team held onto the win this time. (I know…there is something wrong with me…I just can’t let it go).
Duke owes its success to its potent offense, and they continue their recent history of ridiculous attack duos with Zach Howell and Jordan Wolf who have combined for 72 goals. Notre Dame’s close defense will have their hands full, especially since Wolf was playing midfield when they last met. In fact since their last meeting, there have been many line up changes for Duke. That contest was early in the season, and Notre Dame was playing at peak level (yes I am saying this tongue in cheek as it was the first game of the season). The Irish outshot Duke, won 59% of the Face Offs, Converted 33% EMO chances, and only committed 10 turnovers (Avg 14/game). Many of Duke’s top scorers (at the end of the season) were held scoreless in that early game (Lawson, Wolf, Walsh).
As the season progressed, coach Danowski got a better feel for his team and shook up his lineup. Guys that didn’t get that many looks early on are now leading the way. The question that remains (and has for the past 2 years) is Duke’s goalie situation. In that first game Dan Wigrizer for Duke was pulled after three quarters (7Goals Against and 6 saves) and replaced by Mike Rock (5GA, 1 save). Wigrizer at times looks great, and other times looks like a sieve. There is no consistency with Wigrizer in net. There is also no consistency when he is out, as he was out with a concussion for their 1st round game against Delware. Rock stepped in and actually played acceptable (14GA, 12saves). The big question not only will be IF Wigrizer is healthy to play against the Irish, but HOW will he play.
Notre Dame on the other hand seemed to right their ship taking out Penn 13-6 last week. The Irish looked real good the first part of the season, before stumbling on their last two regular season games losing to Syracuse and UNC. It was the second and third time this season Notre Dame let their opponents score 9 or more goals. It brought out a lot of doubters who were too quick to yell, “overrated”. I agree ND is not a #1 team, but are definitely deserving to be in the final four.
Between Duke’s poor defensive performance last week, their questionable goalie situation, the fact they are 0-3 at neutral sites, and Notre Dame’s stingy defense, I am picking Notre Dame to advance. Even CJ Constabile (4G/5A/93GB/19CT/53%FO) type heroics won’t save the Blue Devils this year.
Tale of the tape:
Duke is averaging 12.9goals and is led by Zach Howell (42G/16A), Jordan Wolf (30G/20A), Chris Walsh (19G/12A), Dave Lawson (21G/8A), Rob Rotanz (22G/4A).
Duke’s defense is averaging 9.3 goals against and in net will either be Wigrizer 9.52GAA, SV54% or Rock 9.06GAA, SV49.2%.
Special Teams EMO 32%, Opp EMO 32%. FO 52.6%
Turnover average 16.7/game
Notre Dame is averaging 9.8 goals per game and is led by Sean Rogers (18G/6A), Colin Igoe (16G/3A), Zach Brenneman (16G/5A), David Earl (15G/10A).
Notre Dame’s defense is averaging 6.5 goals against, and in net will be Kemp 6.57GAA, SV60.6%
Special Teams EMO 29%, Opp EMO 20%. FO 54.7%
Turnover average 14.0/game