If the men's lacrosse team wants to keep alive any hopes of winning the ACC regular season championship and earning a high seed in the ACC Tournament, it must win Saturday. But if this weekend's game against North Carolina is about so much more as bragging rights and NCAA Tournament standing are on the at stake.
The No. 8 Tar Heels (4-1) travel to Koskinen Stadium for a noon matchup with the fifth-ranked Blue Devils (4-1, 0-1 in the ACC) Saturday for what promises to be an intensity-packed contest resulting from all that is on the line. Duke will try to break a two-game losing streak to their Tobacco Road rivals.
Both teams are coming of consecutive victories during which each team displayed its offensive potency. The Blue Devils pummeled Canisius earlier this week 15-1 and scored an 11-3 road triumph over Loyola last Saturday.
While the Blue Devils have cruised to a pair of victories, the Tar Heels have squeezed by opponents Denver and Notre Dame in their previous two contest. North Carolina's only loss came in overtime to ninth-ranked Navy 9-8 in Chapel Hill.
This season, the Blue Devils have been led by freshman standout Matt Danowski who has been the catalyst for the team offensively. The Long Island, N.Y., product leads the team in goals (15) along with dishing out nine assists. The Blue Devils also expect to get significant offensive production out of Dan Flannery, a sophomore, and senior Chris Haunss who are the second and third leading scorers behind Danowski.
On the defensive end, the Blue Devils will have to defend against reigning ACC Player of the Week Jed Prossner. The attackman has racked up 20 points through five North Carolina games. If the Blue Devils repeat their defensive performance against Maryland when they gave up 18 goals, it could be a long afternoon for Duke.
The Blue Devils have gotten off to hot starts on a consistent basis this season. The team has outscored it opponents 20-6 in the first period of games this year, and combined with a home crowd, a strong start could will bode very well for the Blue Devils Saturday.
Losing their primary face off men to graduation at the end of last season, such situations have been a concern for head coach Mike Pressler all season. Matt Zash and Dan Oppedisano have shared face off duties this season and each has won around 50 percent of his opportunities. Still, the face off circle is a place where the Tar Heels may be able to exploit a weakness of the higher-ranked Blue Devils.
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