Men's DI Semifinal Preview: Maryland, Duke Meet for First Time Since '14

PHOTOS BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Tewaaraton finalists Connor Kelly and Justin Guterding will battle for the first time on Saturday.


No matter the sport, no matter the conference, no matter when these teams play, the Maryland-Duke rivalry is among the best in college athletics.

The Terps have left the ACC for the Big Ten, but memories of classic basketball, football and lacrosse matchups still persist. We might have another one come Saturday afternoon, when Maryland and Duke will meet in the NCAA semifinals in what is now a rare meeting between the storied programs.

Maryland and coach John Tillman are back in the final four for the fifth straight time, this time hoping to defend the national championship they won at Gillette Stadium last season. For Duke and coach John Danowski, winners of two of the past five national championships, it’s a new era getting a chance at glory.

The Terps and Blue Devils haven’t met since 2014, a game in which Mike Chanenchuk scored five goals to help Maryland win 10-6. Maryland’s Tim Rotanz and Dan Morris were there that day.

The two teams have met in the semifinals on multiple occasions — 2005, 2011, 2012 — with Duke holding the 2-1 edge.

"It's a thrill for all of us," Duke coach John Danowski said. "We saw saw a bunch of their guys and got to know them through Team USA. My son Matt always says the Maryland guys and the Duke guys are like kindred spirits because they are cut from the same cloth. It's an honor to play against the defending national champions."

It’s a matchup that’s no longer an annual fixture, but when it happens, it will capture the attention of the lacrosse community. Two of the most complete teams in Division I will meet Saturday in Foxborough. Will it be another Maryland final appearance, or will Duke’s core, led by Justin Guterding, get a chance at a championship? Rest assured, it will be a ninth straight championship game to feature either Maryland or Duke.

Let’s break it down.

Offense

Scoring Offense
Maryland: 11.86 (9th) 
Duke: 13.78 (2nd)

If you like teams spreading the wealth, this is your game. Duke and Maryland are two of the deepest teams in the nation, and they showcased that on Sunday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. 

Maryland got past Cornell thanks to goals from seven different players. Tewaaraton finalist Connor Kelly scored just once — he didn’t need to shine in this game thanks to the efforts of players like freshmen Bubba Fairman (3G, 2A) and Logan Wisnauskas (2G, 2A), and sophomore Jared Bernhardt (3G, 1A).

Kelly has accounted for 25 percent of the Maryland offense, with 45 goals and 33 assists. He’s helped this team maintain its offensive efficiency despite losing three of its top five scorers from last year (Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock, Dylan Maltz). 

As for Duke, Tewaaraton finalist Justin Guterding leads the way. He leads the nation with 3.39 goals per game and sits second with 5.78 points per game. He is the focal point of the Blue Devils offense, but like the Terps, there is plenty of talent with which to work.

Guterding, middie Brad Smith (28G, 33A) and Peter Conley (25G, 10 A) are the veterans on the Duke offense, and have each come up big on different occasions this season. Both Smith and Conley dropped six points in a win over Loyola on March 10 — a game that saw Guterding score just once while being defended by Foster Huggins.

And it’s not just the upperclassmen contributing for the Blue Devils. Freshman Nakeie Montgomery burst onto the scene with two straight goals in the quarterfinal win over Johns Hopkins on Sunday. Fellow freshman Joe Robertson is second on the team with 43 goals. Sophomores Joey Manown (13G, 8A) and Reilly Walsh (15G, 3A) have each stepped up for the offense.







Defense

Scoring Defense
Duke: 8.44 (10th)
Maryland: 9.24 (19th)

Both teams have the talent to shut down individual threats on the opponents’ offense and have shown it at different times this season.

Let’s start with the Blue Devils, who have allowed 20 goals so far this NCAA tournament. Defenseman Cade Van Raaphorst was named a USILA First Team All-American in 2018, with 37 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers for the Duke defense. 

Van Raaphorst, out of Arizona, pairs with sophomore JT Giles-Harris, a third-team All-American, to form one of the strongest lockdown duos in the nation. Highlights included holding Pat Spencer goalless with three assists, John Wagner to one goal and Notre Dame to just two in a road win on April 7.

Maryland also boasts an All-American defenseman in the form of Bryce Young, whose energetic and physical play has helped contain opposing attackman all season. He’s tallied 21 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers this season. He helped body up Albany freshman Tehoka Nanticoke when they met on March 10. And he can score, too.

But Young isn’t the only man on the Maryland defensive unit capable of handling the best that Division I has to offer. Curtis Corley leads the team with 13 caused turnovers and often draws the opposing No. 1. LSM Matt Neufeldt sits second on the team with 53 ground balls.

It may not be last year’s unit that included Tim Muller and Isaiah Davis-Allen, but Maryland can match up with anyone.

FACEOFF

Faceoff Win Percentage
Duke: 51.6 (27th)
Maryland: 52.4 (25th)

By no means does Maryland or Duke dominate the faceoff X like the two teams on the other side of the bracket, but each has stepped up in crucial situations.

Duke boasts a two-man unit of Brian Smyth (52.8 percent) and freshman Joe Stein (56 percent). Each has had his moments this season, with Stein going well over 50 percent in March against Richmond, Loyola, Syracuse and North Carolina and Smyth handling the primary spot in the ACC tournament loss to Notre Dame (15-for-27) and NCAA tournament wins over Villanova (18-for-25) and Johns Hopkins (18-for-25).

The faceoff unit is matchup-dependent, but it sees Smyth is the hot hand at the moment.

Maryland lost Jon Garino, the faceoff man that helped fuel the championship run, to graduation. Junior faceoff man Austin Henningsen returned, and freshman Justin Shockey stepped onto campus out of Landon (Md.).

Henningsen began the season as the primary faceoff man, but Shockey took over most of the duties by the Penn game on Feb. 21. Shockey has won 52.9 percent of his faceoff this season, good for 34th in Division I. However, he struggled against the premier faceoff men like Penn State’s Gerard Arceri and Albany’s TD Ierlan. 

Shockey leads all faceoff men in this game, but the advantage is slim.

Goalie

This game could very well come down to the battle between the pipes — and for both teams, they have one of the nation’s best to rely on. Duke’s Danny Fowler and Maryland’s Dan Morris both rank among the top 25 goalies in Division I in save percentage.

Fowler has provided the Blue Devils with consistency in the cage this season, stopping 53.8 percent of his shots. He’s broken 10 saves in eight games this season, including a season-high 14 saves in a 10-8 win over Towson on March 17.

He had 11 saves to help keep the Johns Hopkins offense at bay in the NCAA quarterfinal win in Annapolis, Md.

Morris, who had 19 saves in two games on Championship Weekend last year, will be back as the Terps’ primary goalie. He’s stopped 52.9 percent of shots on the season, good for 21st in Division I. 

The senior has become one of Maryland’s goal leaders, and he’s stepped up when his team needed him. Morris had 11 saves to open the season against Navy, 13 saves against a surging Penn team on Feb. 21, 12 saves in a one-goal win over Penn State and 13 saves in the triple-overtime thriller with Johns Hopkins. He’s certainly had experience playing in big games — something that should help come Saturday.

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