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NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview - Final Four Edition

Back in Boston. Strap on the booze lacrosse shoes.

Syracuse is in another semi-final game. This isn’t new. But this game, on paper, is easily the best semi-final of the two. The #2 seed Syracuse is facing a very good #3 Duke team and this will be a lacrosse fans delight. Duke is the only program in the Final Four without a National Championship, but this will again not be the year as Syracuse should advance to Memorial Day.

Syracuse is an offensive machine, averaging 12.9 goals a game. They have balanced scoring, attaining sometimes ten different players putting the ball in the cage. The depth of Syracuse’s attack unit is crazy delicious, with the likes of Stephen Keogh, Kenny Nims, Chris Daniello, Greg Niewieroski, the coach’s son Tim Desko, and of course the very hot as of late Cody Jamieson. Keogh is second in the nation in goals per game with 2.9, and has 46 on the season. The same depth can be talked about in the midfield as well, as Dan Hardy, wearing famed #22, has 23 goals and 14 assists on the season. The SU defense is nothing to scoff at as well, with Syracuse only allowing 7.3 goals per game, a team low since 1970. Jovan Miller, Joel White, Matt Tierney, and the star Sid Smith will have their hands full with Duke’s offensive duo of Matt Danowski and Ned Crotty. These two can score and can score big. The two have combined for 68 points on the year and lead a very good Duke team that beat #1 seed Virginia twice during the regular season. The key match ups in this game are if Duke’s defense can stop this Syracuse offense. Duke goalie Rob Schroeder has played well in the NCAA Tournament and this season, with a save percentage of 52%, and again stopped Virginia’s offense. However Syracuse features a depth at attack and midfield that Duke has not seen this season. Similarly, Syracuse will have to contain Danowski and Crotty. Look for Tierney to take primary duty, while Smith should defend more inside. Smith is slower than these two Duke players however, so Syracuse will have to force more outside shots for the Blue Devils. Additionally, at the face off X, Syracuse is averaging exactly 50%, while duke is winning 54% on the season. Syracuse will again have to at least win half or better to limit Duke possessions, as Jake Moulton will have to step up big this weekend. Goalie John Galloway looks to be healthy again and should make the start for Syracuse. He has been sensational in the NCAA Tournament in his one game against Siena this year, and all four tournament games last season including two in Foxborough. If he plays well, Syracuse’s offense should take over and win this game. The experts are giving Syracuse a one goal edge in this game, but I say that Syracuse will outscore Duke in the second and fourth quarters and should make this a three to four goal game. Look for Syracuse to advance to Monday’s Natty Championship by three.

I will be making the trek to the greater Boston area this weekend and will be in the stadium live for this game, so look for my recap most likely on Sunday, with a hopeful preview of Monday’s game. Tailgating is always optimal at these weekends, and I look forward to enjoying some BBQing and consuming with fellow lacrosse aficionado, Orange::44 founder, and blogger Matt Glaude of Hoya Suxa, as well as some other excellent Syracuse alumni. Athough I am not on Twitter so I cannot provide live in game updates (but I'm sure Matt will), look for some special coverage coming your way Sunday besides my recap if all goes well. Stay tuned to Orange::44 all Championship Weekend for complete coverage of the 2009 Lacrosse Final Four.

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