(Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame 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 Sunday’s contests.
Penn State vs Army West Point (Sunday, Noon)
A fierce comeback from down 7-1 led Penn State to a 13-12 victory over Princeton last weekend to advance to the quarterfinals. Army pulled of the upset of Maryland, 16-15, on the road to move past the first weekend. The pair will meet on Sunday at high noon in Annapolis, Md., with a trip to Championship Weekend on the line.
Knox Dent has been tremendous in between the pipes for Army this spring, continuing the tradition of strong goalie play at West Point. He sits 12th nationally in save percentage as he has he has stopped 145 shots at a 53.9% clip this year. On the other end, Jack Fracyon anchors a Penn State defense that has bene drastically improved this season. Fracyon had recorded 199 saves with a 57.3% save percentage and ranks third nationally.
With Dent and Fracyon both coming off big 16-save performances in their teams’ respective first round wins, and the seasons that both have had, seeing how each of these goalies perform on Sunday will be something to watch closely.
Who Wins In Between The Boxes?
Coming into Saturday, Penn State is holding their opponents to an 84.3% clip in the clearing game while coming up successful on 85.7% of their own attempts. Army has held the opposition to a 81.7% clip in the clearing game this season while going 84% in that category themselves. Both of these teams have defenses that will make big stops and offenses that have shown to be deep and can catch fire. Winning the battle in between the boxes will be massively important and who every wins it may very well come out on top.
Notre Dame vs Johns Hopkins (Sunday, 2:30pm)
Neither the Irish nor the Blue Jays faced too much trouble last weekend. Notre Dame blew out Utah 20-7 while Johns Hopkins topped Bryant 22-8. Coming off of those big wins, the Irish and Blue Jays will face each other in what will be the final game of the weekend to decide that final spot on Championship Weekend.
Notre Dame O vs Hopkins D
Notre Dame has shown to be one of the fiercest offenses all season. Led by the Kavanagh Brothers (Pat and Chris) at attack and also featuring the likes of Eric Dobson at the midfield, Notre Dame has the No. 2 scoring offenses (16.15 goals per game) in DI. The Irish are second only to Virginia in that regard and have only once (vs UVA) been held under double digits this season. This matchup will likely give the Johns Hopkins defense its toughest test of the season.
Anchored by Tim Marcille in cage and with poles such as Alex Mazzone and Scott Smith IV leading the way in front of the cage, the Blue Jays have shown real talent on the back end this season and been able to lean on that close unit. Where the questions come in for this Hopkins D is with its SSDM unit and its ability to effectively clear the ball against a Notre Dame squad who can be very tough on the ride with its attack unit leading that effort.
Can Hopkins Win The Faceoff Dot?
Of all this weekend’s games, this one features two of the more mediocre teams at the faceoff dot. Tyler Dunn has led Johns Hopkins at the position, going 119-for-223 (51%) this season. Notre Dame has seen Will Lynch go 123-for-253 (48%). With how impervious this Notre Dame offense can be, the Blue Jays will need to find more than one way to keep the ball out of that end of the field. Winning the faceoff battle would be big for Hopkins and allows its balanced offenses more opportunities to attack.
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