Thursday, May 22, 2008


From ESPN:

Cinderella wasn't invited to college lacrosse's championship weekend in Boston. Four of the top five seeds -- all annual title contenders -- made it to the semifinals. No. 1 seed Duke, No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Syracuse and the defending champion, No. 5 Johns Hopkins, will compete in front of 50,000 fans at Foxborough Stadium on Saturday (ESPN2).

What was the most impressive quarterfinal performance?
Duke's first-quarter, nine-goal run against Ohio State was an example of total dominance. They made any type of shot they wanted. This Duke attack is reminiscent of the Johns Hopkins teams of the 1980s, the Syracuse teams of the late '80s and the 2006 Virginia championship team.

What are the keys for each team in the semifinals?
Syracuse vs. VirginiaThe individual matchup to watch in Saturday's first semifinal will be Syracuse's Mike Leveille vs. Virginia's Ken Clausen. Both are outstanding players. Thanks to Danny Brennan, Syracuse has the advantage at the faceoff X. Brennan leads the nation in faceoff percentage and was 19-for-30 when the teams met in March -- an overtime 14-13 win for the Cavs. Virginia has a slight edge in overall experience: the Cavs play in the ACC and won four overtime games.

Johns Hopkins vs. Duke This is a rematch of the 2005 and 2007 national championship games -- both losses for the Blue Devils. Duke enters this matchup heavily favored and very hungry. When these teams met in early April, Duke walked out with a commanding 17-6 win.

Since then, Hopkins' Stephen Peyser has become a commanding presence on the faceoff X, and goalie Michael Gvozden has improved both his save percentage and his goals against average.

Overall, Hopkins is a much better defensive team than it was in the teams' first meeting. This game will come down to tempo: Duke's defense will come out and get you, while Hopkins' offense likes long possessions that frustrate opposing offenses. The Blue Jays will have to play a near-perfect game to upset Duke.

(Photos by Doug Kapustin and John Mecionis for the Baltimore Sun)

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