In the years Duke did not advance past the semifinal round, the Blue Devils wound up winning the national championship. But with a rematch against No. 4 Syracuse slated for Friday at 5 p.m. at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., No. 2 Duke will be poised to take the game and break the correlation between conference semifinals and national championships.
The Blue Devils (12-2, 4-1 in the ACC) enter the contest on an eight-game winning streak, with six of those victories coming handily. During this run, they have won their contests by an average of 8.3 goals and have scored 16.9 goals per contest.
The first meeting against Syracuse came in the midst of the winning streak, with the Blue Devils notching their fifth-straight victory against the Orange March 23.
In the regular season bout, sophomores Deemer Class and Myles Jones played beyond their years, as the duo racked up a combined 11 goals and five assists as the Blue Devils rolled the Orange 21-7 in Durham.
The win against then-No. 7 Syracuse marked the highest-scoring output by Duke in a conference matchup since it poured on 22 goals against N.C. State in 1973.
The Orange (9-3, 2-3) did not let the rout affect the remainder of their season, though, as Syracuse has rebounded by winning five straight games, with three of the victories coming against top-10 squads. The Orange's success stems from a balanced attack, as three players have accrued more than 23 goals on the year.
If Syracuse wants a chance of upsetting the Blue Devils, the Orange will have to stop a red-hot Duke offense. Syracuse could counter the Duke attack with a potent offense of its own, as the Orange average 12.5 goals per game, a number that the Blue Devils have allowed opponents to surpass just twice all season.
Should Duke win, it will face either Notre Dame or Maryland Sunday at 1 p.m. as the Blue Devils search for head coach John Danowski's fifth conference championship. Both games can be viewed on ESPNU.