Notre Dame to welcome conference rival Duke on Sunday
Kit Loughran | Friday, April 8, 2016
The Irish make their way back to South Bend to host ACC-rival Duke on Sunday.
After two road wins, No. 1 Notre Dame (7-1, 2-0 ACC) return for home-field advantage against the No. 13 Blue Devils (7-5, 1-1). Notre Dame shut down then No. 7 Syracuse (6-3, 1-2) on Saturday by a 10-point margin, 17-7, handing the Orange their worst home loss in 29 seasons. The week before the Irish came out of Columbus, Ohio, with a narrow 9-8 victory over Ohio State (5-6, 0-1 Big Ten), thanks to a dominant third quarter.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup against Duke, the Irish have begun to find their rhythm, something they only hope to build, senior defense Matt Landis said.
“We want to keep our momentum going and make sure we don’t take any steps back,” Landis said. “Duke is a great team and an ACC rival so it’s a game we’re going to take very seriously.”
Following a slow offensive start early on against then-No. 2 Denver on March 13, Notre Dame saw itself holding a five-goal lead against Syracuse at the end of two periods. They then scored eight of the last nine goals of the contest. And it’s that focus that’s going to be key against Duke, Landis said.
“Our offense was on fire [against Syracuse], moving the ball with efficiency, finishing shots and playing unselfishly,” Landis said. “If we can keep that up, defenses will have a tough time staying with us in extended possessions.
“I think the biggest challenge we face is internal. We need to stay disciplined and not lose our focus heading into this weekend’s game. We’ve had some very impressive wins heading into this game, but we can still improve.”
The Blue Devils, despite an overtime loss to No. 11 North Carolina on Friday, have posted several high-scoring games this season. They fell, 17-16, to the Tar Heels but beat Syracuse on March 26 with 16 goals, Georgetown on March 19 with 20 and Loyola on March 12 with 15.
“Duke has some very impressive dodgers and shooters in [senior midfielders] Myles Jones [and] Deemer Class and the rest of the offense, so we need to play very disciplined and make sure we limit their opportunities,” Landis said. “It’ll take all six guys — seven including [junior goalie Shane] Doss in net — to maintain Duke’s offense.”
Like the Irish, the Blue Devils push every game to the very end. Their last three contests were decided in overtime, just as Notre Dame’s matchup against Denver and an extra-frame victory over Virgina on March 19 ended.
“[Duke is] a team that doesn’t quit, very much like ours,” Landis said. “It will be a battle right until the final whistle, and I think it’ll be a great experience for the fans at the already sold-out game.”
Notre Dame hosts ACC-rival Duke on Sunday at Arlotta Stadium. The teams face-off at noon.