ND looks forward to postseason competition
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, April 26, 2019
After bouncing back in their regular season finale against North Carolina last weekend, No. 11 Notre Dame will look to open its ACC title defense this Saturday when the Irish faces No. 2 Duke in North Carolina in the conference semifinals.
The two teams have faced off in each of the last four ACC semifinals, and while Notre Dame has won the last two conference tournament meetings, the Blue Devils (11-3, 2-2) beat the Irish ( 7-5, 2-2 ACC) earlier this season 14-8.
With an all-time ACC tournament record of 5-3 and two conference wins under their belt, Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan and his squad will be looking to cement their status in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Another upset of Duke — the Irish defeated the then-top seeded Blue Devils last year’s tournament — could jumpstart another run to an ACC title.
Considering Duke held Notre Dame to one of their lowest outputs of the year April 6, allowing the Irish just eight goals, much of the weight will be carried by Notre Dame’s three headed offensive monster: senior attack Brendan Gleason, junior midfielder Bryan Costabile and junior FOGO Charlie Leonard, all of whom earned All-ACC honors this past week.
Costabile has stepped up his game even further from last year’s 30-goal campaign, scoring a career-high 31 goals in only 12 games this year with three hat tricks, a four-goal game and two five-goal games. Gleason leads the team’s attacks with 23 goals on the year, while Leonard has emerged as a premier faceoff man, finishing with the advantage in nine of 12 games this year, recording a 59.1% conversion rate along the way.
On the back end, Corrigan’s decision to switch starting goalies midway through the season has paid off. Jack Zullo’s first start of the season came in the loss to Duke, but since then, the junior has settled in and helped anchor a strong back line that has given up an average of just under 10 goals per game over the last three games of the regular season.
The ACC semifinal is set to kick off 4:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill. The game will be nationally broadcasted on ESPNU.