Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse (#12/#10, 5-3 (1-1 ACC) host the Duke Blue Devils (9-2, 1-1 ACC) at Arlotta Stadium this Saturday at 4:00 pm EDT, ESPNU. Don’t let the April date fool you, near-freezing temperatures are expected at game time.
The Irish are hosting a pregame biergarten, and a near sellout is expected if the cold doesn’t dampen the mood.
Preseason #1 Duke opened the season hot but has since cooled down a bit after a surprise loss to Penn and a few middling performances before losing to Syracuse and squeaking by North Carolina last week. They are still no doubt one of the top teams and will present a difficult test for the Irish.
The Blue Devils are led by the fantastic Justin Guterding, who has amassed 37 goals and 29 assists so far this year. That is only a few assists shy of the team total for Notre Dame. Brad Smith (21g, 16a), Joe Robertson (24g, 8 a), and Peter Conley (20g, 7a) provide the remaining bulk of the Duke offense.
On defense Cade Van Raaphorst and J.T. Giles-Harris are excellent defenders, and we also like Greg Pelton, who has been vacuuming up ground balls. Danny Fowler has been their main goalie, and Joe Stein has been their most productive faceoff specialist.
Our pregame issues
Notre Dame needs this win to get back on track. Another ACC loss would put the Irish in a difficult spot, but they do tend to play Duke well. We’ll be focused on a few things this game:
- Costabile without Gleason: The loss of Gleason’s scoring due to injury is challenging enough, but our concern is the impact his absence will have on Costabile. Costabile scores a lot of unassisted goals, but his even-strength assisted goals are almost exclusively from Gleason. There are a lot of combinations between Wynne, Garnsey, Willets, Byrne, etc., but Costabile relies heavily on Gleason, and his ability to find new partnerships will be critical.
- Man-up offense: The 0-8 showing in Syracuse set off many alarm bells. The Irish need to find a way to rotate the zone to find opportunities for their two premier closers on the crease, Wynne and Willets, along with finding some step-down opportunities for Costabile.
- New faces: Will we finally see some new faces make appearances for the Irish? McNamara got a few runs in last week, but we hope the coaching staff is inspired to extend the bench.
Odds and Ends
- 32 degree gametime in April, brrr. We picked the wrong game to make an appearance on campus.
- Baseball and Softball also hosting game that afternoon, so the stadiums will be busy!
- Immediately after the game, tune in to watch the Irish hockey skate for the National Championship!
- Notre Dame +2, o/u 20.5 for those interested in that sort of thing.