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2014 Final Four Preview - Maryland vs Notre Dame

So Maryland and Notre Dame play a lacrosse game…stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
For a re-re-match, and tie-breaker, these two teams will meet for the third time this year. Each team has one once.

Maryland comes into this game off of a solid, yet expected win against Bryant. Chanenchuk blew up the game with 9 points (5Goals/4Assists), and looks to be 100%. About the only surprising play of the win over Bryan was the unforced turnovers (10), and Niko Amato saving 43%.

Notre Dame comes into this game off of a thriller, a classic, one for the ages game against Albany. It was tough to watch either team lose as ou just wanted to bring both down to Baltimore for the FF. Notre Dame scored 6 goals over the span of 5 minutes in the 4th quarter to force overtime. In OT a hard play of Kavanagh kept a wild pass in play retaining possession as Notre Dame called time out. On the ensuing play Kavanagh took the ball, and scored the game winning goal. Call it heart, never say die attitude, or the luck of the Irish.

The surprising play in this game came from the pressure Notre Dame put on Albany in forcing 11 turn overs (7 alone in the 4th quarter). Also of note, Conor Kelly was shelled as expected by Albany, letting in 13 and saving 6 (32%).

Since these teams have played each other twice already…back to back (4/19 and 4/25), with two vastly different outcomes. Maryland won the first game 12-8, and Notre Dame won the second game 6-5.
Same old Same old:
Maryland Face Off dominance (Game1 = 83%, Game2 = 77%)
For being Turtles, they get after the ball more than the Irish (Game1 = 35 to 21, Game2 = 30 to 14)
Turnovers for both teams were consistent (Game1 = 16 to 13, Game2 = 16 to 12)
Maryland outshot Notre Dame in both games (40-21 and 37-30)
Niko Amato made 9 saves in each game for MD

Key differences:
Notre Dame’s defense…period.
Caused turnovers increased from 6 to 10
Forced lower quality shots from Maryland – Even though total shots didn’t change much, shots on goal decreased by 19% This directly helped to…
Conor Kelly improvement – Between confidence, familiarity with the Terp shooters, and lower quality shots, His save percentage went from 54% to 71%.
All of this led to Maryland’s Attack unit going from 8 Goals off 21 shots to 2 Goals off 20 shots.

Keys to THIS game:
Maryland can win the possession battle on GBs and FOs, but then the need to hold onto the ball and not turn it over.
Notre Dame’s defense needs to find that magic from their second meeting with the Terps and dip into that bag again.
Notre Dame can play either a slow or up-tempo game and have done both well all year. Maryland can play both as well. It will be interesting to see how each of these teams game plans.
Conor Kelly is only at a save percentage of 48% which is not typical for an Irish goaltender. However both games against MD he actually put up decent numbers.
Luck/Heart – In 4 of the last 6 games, Notre Dame has come from behind in the 4th quarter (won all but 1). Optimistically they know how to dig deep and kick it up. Pessimistically, they start too slow and are struggling.

These two teams are matched up well. I can see this being yet another 1 goal game. Heart says ND but brain says to go with Maryland.

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