ACC Semi-Final Preview vs Duke (5/2/24, 8pm) | Syracusefan.com

ACC Semi-Final Preview vs Duke (5/2/24, 8pm)

Powellfan

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The Syracuse Orange and Duke Blue Devils face off in the ACC Semifinals this Friday. Both teams are assured of home games in the NCAA Tournament due to their high RPI rankings, but this weekend will have a big impact on seeding implications. SU defeated Duke earlier this season in a defensive battle, 10-4. With two typically high scoring offenses, I have a hard time thinking the rematch will be as low scoring as the first meeting.

Syracuse comes into this game on a two game winning streak, righting the ship after two disappointing losses to Notre Dame and Cornell. Duke is smarting from a upset loss to North Carolina to end their regular season (though they did manage to save their ACC Tournament hopes, losing by less than 5 goals). Despite owning the earlier head to head victory, and being the higher seed, SU is the underdog in this match up. What will the motivations of each team be? Duke looked pretty out of it against UNC last week, rallying late by turning a 13-5 deficit into a 15-12 loss. The Devils are one of the most unpredictable teams this season. Do they care much about an ACC Tournament title? How motivated are they for this weekend? SU has a lot to prove, as despite their high rankings in the polls right now, there are a good amount of doubters. An ACC first round win would certainly instill some confidence, and be a big boost to the RPI.

SU's defense obviously played very well against Duke the first time out, holding Duke to just four goals. The Duke attack, one of the best in the country finished just 2-19 shooting with two assists. It's hard to imagine Brennan O'Neil and company finishing with a similar stat line again, but SU's defenders matched up very well, with the Duke attack. The biggest worry for SU this time around would probably be face-offs - SU of course didn't win a first half draw, but did rebound well in the second half to go 6-9. Jake Naso struggled against UNC last weekend, winning just 5-20. FOGOs are very matchup dependent, but hopefully the SU guys figured something out in that second half that will help them in a re-match. Last but not least, SU will need to do a better job of figuring out Duke goalie Patrick Jameson. The Duke freshman made 14 saves against SU and kept the Blue Devils in the game. He's at 56% for the season, but in the five games since the SU game, he's at 49%. SU has to hope that the youngster might be hitting a bit of a freshman wall. Duke's defense is not good off ball, SU really needs to move the ball well. If they play their typical game with sharp passing and two man games, I think they should exceed the goal total they put up in the first matchup.

So what does this game mean for the big picture? I think a win could mean the difference between a top 2-3 seed, and somewhere in the 4-5 range. Not a huge impact, but sometimes every little bit helps. It's a game of margins after all. I expect SU to play fast and loose, hopefully their depth comes though in this one, especially with a win they play two days later. Should be a fun one. As always, Go Orange!
 
LET'S GO!
I missed the Hopkins game in CLT because of work travel but not missing this one!
 
Also missed the Hopkins game due to a prior committment, but looking forward to a weekend of lacrosse in Charlotte
LGO!
 
It was nice to see the staff insert Leo in the final possessions of the UVA game.

I don’t want to get greedy here but I think our potential “death lineup” on offense would be Spallina, Hiltz, Leo, Stevens, Thomson, Rhoa. Athletically it’s our best group. I like English, but replacing Stevens with him due to Stevens feeding and shot making. English’s shooting is tough to watch sometimes.

I’d like to see these 6 on the field together this weekend. Don’t think it’s happened yet this year. Oh, and Stevens had a tendency to really improve his game come postseason play when he was at Princeton. I’ll be curious to see if he elevates his game tomorrow night.
 
It was nice to see the staff insert Leo in the final possessions of the UVA game.

I don’t want to get greedy here but I think our potential “death lineup” on offense would be Spallina, Hiltz, Leo, Stevens, Thomson, Rhoa. Athletically it’s our best group. I like English, but replacing Stevens with him due to Stevens feeding and shot making. English’s shooting is tough to watch sometimes.

I’d like to see these 6 on the field together this weekend. Don’t think it’s happened yet this year. Oh, and Stevens had a tendency to really improve his game come postseason play when he was at Princeton. I’ll be curious to see if he elevates his game tomorrow night.

That's an interesting mid line but your unlikely to see it because of the lack of dodging. Thomson and Stevens have been playing very well but Thomson is not a dodging threat and while Stevens can do it, its definitely not his strong suit. In that lineup, Rhoa likely draws a long pole and your gonna struggle to see much initiation from the midfield. The best overall O lineup would be Spallina, Hiltz, Leo at attack with English, Rhoa and Thomson/Stevens rotating in.
 

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