Irish prepare to take on Blue Devils in ACC tournament
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, April 27, 2018
No. 18 Notre Dame will open the ACC tournament as the conference’s third seed, matching up against second-seeded and No. 2 Duke on Friday at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Irish (6-5, 1-3 ACC) and Blue Devils (12-2, 3-1) will be meeting for the second time this season, as Duke handed Notre Dame its widest margin of defeat this season in an 8-2 Blue Devils win at Arlotta Stadium on April 7, though the eight goals scored is the lowest total Duke scored in a game this season. The two programs also met in last year’s ACC semifinal round, and the Irish won the matchup 7-6 before falling to North Carolina in the conference championship.
The Blue Devils are led by senior attack Justin Guterding, who leads all of college lacrosse in goals scored with 49. He also has 36 assists this season, and his 2.57 assists-per-game average is the eighth-best mark in the country, helping to power the nation’s third-ranked scoring offense.
The Irish will counter with a defense that is one of six in the country to allow fewer than 100 goals this season. The unit is led by senior long-stick midfielder John Sexton, who was the only long-stick midfielder named a nominee for the men’s 2018 Tewaaraton Award on Thursday. Sexton has forced a team-high 13 turnovers this season and is third in the ACC in ground balls per game.
Friday’s matchup will also feature some of the conference’s best talent, as the two teams tied for the most All-ACC selections this season with five apiece. For the Irish, Sexton was joined by graduate student short-stick defensive midfielder Carlson Milikin, junior short-stick defensive midfielder Drew Schantz, junior attack Brendan Gleason and sophomore midfielder Bryan Costabile. For the Blue Devils, Guterding was joined by graduate student goalie Danny Fowler, junior defenseman Cade Van Raaphorst, junior midfielder Brad Smith and freshman face-off specialist Joe Stein.
The two teams will square off Friday at 6 p.m. at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. The winner will take on the winner of Friday’s other semifinal match between top-seeded Syracuse and fourth-seeded Virginia in Sunday’s championship at noon.