(Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)
Eight teams enter the weekend and only four will come out on the other side and advance to Championship Weekend.
Saturday will see Virginia and Georgetown go head to head at noon while Duke-Michigan follows at 2:30pm. Penn State-Army gets Sunday’s action underway while Notre Dame-Johns Hopkins caps the weekend.
Here’s a look at some of the most intriguing storylines to watch during Saturday’s contests.
Virginia vs Georgetown (Saturday, 12:00pm)
A nine-goal win on Saturday pushed Virginia past in-state foe Richmond and into the NCAA Quarterfinals. For Georgetown, a 19-17 victory over Yale in an absolute shootout was needed to advance. The pair will meet on Saturday at high noon in Albany, N.Y., with a trip to Championship Weekend on the line.
Virginia D vs Georgetown O
Maybe the biggest storyline to watch in this contest as how the Virginia defense holds up and approaches the tough matchup it faces versus Georgetown. The Hoyas, who are led by a group of grad transfers in Tucker Dordevic, Brian Minicus, Jacob Kelly, and Nicky Solomon, and are complimented by multi-year mainstays on that end, are averaging 14.88 goals per game as the sixth-highest scoring offense in DI. Georgetown is coming off a 19-17 win over Yale in the firs round and is averaging 17.3 goals per game this postseason.
While also being led by its high-flying offense, which ranks first nationally (17.60 goals per game), Virginia has seen its defense really step up in May. The Cavaliers allowed eight goals versus Notre Dame in their regular season finale and eight against Richmond in the first round last weekend. Goalie Matthew Nunes was particular good in those outings, posting a 70% and 56% save percentage in those contests. The two-headed monster of Cade Saustad (36GB/32CT) and Cole Kastner (33GB/16CT) have lead things out in front at close while Griffin Kology has stepped in as of late following the injury to Quentin Matsui.
The Faceoff Dot
Virginia’s Petey LaSalla has gone 56% (240-for-424) this season while James Reilly has faced off at a 58% (217-for-270) clip. LaSalla ranks 21st nationally in faceoff win percentage while Reilly sits 16th in the nation in that category. The pair will go up against each on Saturday. The battle between LaSalla and Reilly will be one of more important battles within this game as every possession will likely matter with how hot both of these offense are known to get.
Duke vs Michigan (Saturday, 2:30pm)
It will be a battle between an old blue blood and a the new kid on the block when Duke and Michigan meet Saturday at 2:30pm in Albany, N.Y. Duke is coming off a hard-fought 12-10 win over Delaware while Michigan is coming off a 14-13 overtime victory over Cornell.
Duke’s Jake Naso ranks fifth in DI in faceoff winning percentage as he has gone 269-for-423 (63.6%) this season. Saturday will see Naso and the Blue Devils go up against possibly their toughest challenge yet at the dot with Michigan’s duo of Justin Wietfeldt and Nick Rowlett. Wietfeldt ranks third nationally with a 64.9% winning percentage (137-for-211) while Rowlett (145-for-254, 57%) sits 18th nationally in winning percetage.
Both Michigan (18-for-33, 54%) and Duke (15-for-26, 57%) won their matchups at the dot in close games last weekend. With both of these offenses being top-20 units, gaining those extra possessions at the dot will be crucial. And especially with the talent on both sides at the position, the battle at the dot is arguably the most intriguing matchups of this contest.
How Does Michigan Handle O’Neill?
Brennan O’Neill comes into Saturday as both Duke’s point leader as well as a top-five point-getter nationally as he has scored 45 goals and dished out 39 assists for 84 points. O’Neill lowest outing came versus Notre Dame (1G). Last week versus Delaware (1G/3A) and earlier in the year against North Carolina (1G/4A) are the only other times where he was held to one in terms of goals. Michigan, last week, held Cornell’s CJ Kirst to 0-for-7 shooting through the first three quarters. He got two goals in the fourth. Andrew Darby drew that matchup. It’ll be something to watch as to how the Wolverines play O’Neill.