We are here! We did it, y’all! Championship Weekend is upon us!
In Foxborough, we’ll have five games on tap in three days. Three of those games will involve Division I teams, while the other two will be for the Division II and III games respectively.
Here’s a recap of where things are right now:
We already previewed out first semifinal with Yale and Albany. Now let’s move on to the second semifinal between the Duke Blue Devils and the Maryland Terrapins.
Tale of the Tape: #4 Duke Blue Devils vs. #1 Maryland Terrapins
|#4 DUKE BLUE DEVILS||#1 MARYLAND TERRAPINS|
|#4 DUKE BLUE DEVILS||#1 MARYLAND TERRAPINS|
|Justin Guterding (61)||Goals leader||Connor Kelly (44)|
|Justin Guterding (43)||Assists leader||Connor Kelly (33)|
|Justin Guterding (104)||Points leader||Connor Kelly (77)|
|Brian Smyth (69)||Ground balls leader||Justin Shockey (58)|
|Peter Welch (21)||Caused turnovers leader||Curis Corley (13)|
|Brian Smyth (132-250, 52.8%)||Face-off leader||Justin Shockey (110-208, 52.9%)|
|Danny Fowler (8.40 GAA, 53.8%)||Goaltender||Dan Morris (9.00 GAA, 53.1%)|
|13.78 (2nd)||Scoring offense||11.88 (9th)|
|7.56 (7th)||Assists per game||6.65 (T25th)|
|21.33 (5th)||Points per game||18.53 (13th)|
|8.44 (10th)||Scoring defense||9.24 (19th)|
|50.0% (6th)||Man-up offense||58.1% (2nd)|
|69.2% (23rd)||Man-down defense||78.0% (5th)|
|37.5% (2nd)||Shot percentage||35.6% (5th)|
|88.7% (25th)||Clearing percentage||89.1% (17th)|
Duke is making their first Championship Weekend appearance since 2014, which was the second of their back-to-back titles. That was before this senior class. So for Justin Guterding and Peter Conley and company, this is all new. But not for John Danowski and the coaching staff, obviously. The only player that was on the 2014 championship roster was goalie Danny Fowler, who took a redshirt year. But many of these players have gotten to know guys that have played in championship situations.
Welcome Back, Again!
This feels like a habit, but the Terrapins are back in Championship Weekend for the fifth consecutive season. Seems like John Tillman has mastered this with his eyes closed. He’s always brought championship caliber teams to the big stage, and this year isn’t any different. Connor Kelly leads the Terps this year, with young guys such as Jared Bernhardt, Bubba Fairman, and Logan Wisnauskas contributing as well. Their defense from a year ago also remains the same, with Dan Morris backstopping Maryland.
Players To Watch
- Nakeie Montgomery, M, Duke: I’ll be watching him for the second straight week. Last week, I said if he got a short stick on him, he could have the potential to make the difference against Johns Hopkins. He did with two goals when the Blue Devils led by a goal in the fourth quarter. Danowski has noted his growth so far, but he isn’t surprised by it. If that’s the case, maybe we’ll see more of the Texas native and the other midfielders against another Maryland team.
- Bubba Fairman, M, Maryland: Speaking of freshmen midfielders from nontraditional hotbeds, how about Bubba? The scorer from Utah had a hat-trick and two assists to lead the Terps past Cornell on Sunday. Fairman creates some nice offense up top and complements Kelly very well, wherever he is. This is another game for Fairman to step up his game.
- Justin Guterding, A, Duke: The all-time leader in goals scored will continue to make his mark on the record books against Maryland. How many times he’ll score is unknown, but he can also dish the ball if need be. He’ll need to have a nice offensive game and be the best against his matchup, which will probably be Bryce Young.
- Connor Kelly, A/M, Maryland: So what position does Connor Kelly play? Attack? Midfield? Does it matter? Not really. He’s still good, which is why he’s a Tewaaraton finalist. But talking to some Maryland guys, they say Kelly plays midfield from the attack position. He stays on the field and gets covered by a close defenseman when the ball is on the opposite end. When Maryland’s on offense, that close defenseman still takes on Kelly as he plays up top as a midfielder. So there you have it.
Matchup To Watch
- Duke’s midfielders vs. Maryland’s LSM/SSDMs: Each team’s attack and close defense units should be evenly matched. I think Maryland’s midfielders could face some trouble as well with Duke’s rope unit. But the difference maker could be Duke’s midfielders against Maryland’s rope unit, especially if the Terps decide to double pole Brad Smith and Peter Conley like Hopkins did last weekend. That would open Montgomery for some action. Reilly Walsh scored last week as well, and Foxborough native Sean Lowrie would love to get some goals going on his end in his homecoming. Maryland’s SSDMs have some question marks, but have played well recently.
According to Lax Vegas Lines, Maryland is a 1.5 goal favorite against Duke. The over/under for goals is 23.
We kind of know what we might get from this game. It’ll be a fun brawl to watch, led by two experienced coaches. Maryland’s been here before and they know what it takes to win it all, as well as to not win it all. But Duke has the senior leadership it takes to win a national championship. Either way, either one of these two teams will play in the national championship for the ninth consecutive year. That’s absurd. But the team that’ll play Monday won’t be the one that won it all last year.
Pick: Duke 13, Maryland 12.