BALTIMORE — Notre Dame is known for its tradition-rich football program. Talk about Duke, and the first thing that comes to mind is a basketball dynasty led by coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Both schools, however, have also built powerhouse men’s lacrosse programs.
Since taking over in 2007, John Danowski has led Duke to a pair of national championships. Before Kevin Corrigan arrived at Notre Dame, the school’s lacrosse program was virtually unknown outside of South Bend. During Corrigan’s 26-year tenure, the Fighting Irish have made the NCAA tournament 18 times and reached the Final Four on four occasions.
Duke will seek its third national title and Notre Dame will vie for its first Monday at M&T Bank Stadium. It is a rematch of the 2010 national championship, won by the Blue Devils 6-5 in overtime.
Both teams boast high-powered offenses. Duke is averaging 15 goals and Notre Dame 12. The top-seeded Blue Devils have put up 19 goals or more five times this season, including twice in the tournament. The sixth-seeded Fighting Irish have netted 18 goals or more on three occasions.
First team All-American attackman Jordan Wolf leads the Blue Devils with 97 points on 62 goals and 35 assists, and midfielders Deemer Class and Myles Jones have 63 and 60 points, respectively. Corrigan said stopping transition and unsettled opportunities is the key to beating the Blue Devils (16-3).
“I think it starts with taking away some of their early offense. They’re so effective when they come down the field and they love to attack early in possessions when it’s maybe 5-on-5 and there is subbing going on,” Corrigan said.
Attackman Matt Kavanagh has amassed 72 points on 40 goals and 32 assists for Notre Dame (12-5). Conor Doyle (49 points) and John Scioscia (29 goals) round out a potent attack. Danowski was asked how Duke will contain Kavanagh, a second team All-American who had five goals and two assists in Saturday’s 11-6 semifinal victory over Maryland.
“You want to limit or reduce his touches. While you want to defend him individually, you have to make sure you’re sliding to him, that you’re driving him to certain areas on the field where there is help,” Danowski said. “So we always have to be mindful of where (Kavanagh) is and be able to slide to him quickly.”
Neither team has gotten great goaltending. Notre Dame’s Conor Kelly lost his starting job for seven games, but regained it late in the season and has been solid in the NCAA tournament, making a career-high 17 saves against Harvard in the first round and 14 on Saturday.
Duke pulled starting goalie Luke Aaron early in the fourth quarter of its 15-12 semifinal win over Denver. Kyle Turri, the season-long starter on the 2013 national championship team, made four saves to stave off the Pioneers’ comeback attempt. Danowski said Sunday that Aaron would start the championship, but that he would not hesitate to insert Turri.
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