Syracuse squares off against Duke in NCAA championship game

Syracuse lost to Duke in the NCAA finals last year

Syracuse is one win away from their first national championship since 2009. They will meet Duke, who eliminated them from the 2012 NCAA tournament.

IN SYRACUSE’S LAST GAME: Junior attack Derek Maltz’s rebound goal of a Luke Cometti shot with 0:19 left gave the Orange (16-3) their first lead of the game at 9-8, and it was the team’s second-straight, last-second win in as many weeks in the NCAA tournament. Denver (14-5) led 5-2 at halftime before SU began to claw back, something the ‘Cuse did successfully time and again in winning six of nine single-goal games during the regular season and last week against Yale.

Duke defeated Cornell to advance to the finals

IN DUKE’S LAST GAME: Duke eliminated Cornell, 16-14, thanks to a 7-0 surge in the third quarter that gave the Blue Devils a 14-6 lead. The Big Red responded with a 6-0 scoring binge of their own, led by Rob Pannell, as Cornell pulled to within 14-13 with eight minutes to go. But Duke goaltender Kyle Turri made several of his career-high 16 saves late, and Duke hung on. Jordan Wolf scored four goals and added an assist to lead the Blue Devils.

» Related: Last minute goal propels SU to title game

SCOUTING THE BLUE DEVILS: Duke’s biggest advantage will be their face-off game. Brendan Fowler holds the NCAA record for single-season face-off wins with 319 and finished second in the country with 195 ground balls. That has been SU’s weakest department all year, as the Orange check in at 43 percent at the X. The Orange finished at that number, winning just 9 of 21 face-offs against Denver, and in the NCAA tournament, are winning just 36 percent. “We’ve been living with that for the last couple years.  We’ve lived with that all year long,” Syracuse coach John Desko said. “Some of the things that we make up for it are with our efficiency on offense.  You look at the number of turnovers we were able to cause yesterday, kind of made up for that gap for the number of face-offs that we lost.”

The Blue Devil’s offense is led by Wolf, who is tops on Duke with 79 points this season with 53 goals and 26 assists.  “Wolf is very dangerous,” Desko said. “You really have to know where he is all the time.  He almost takes his man out of the slide package because if you do get involved in the slide they dump it to him and he’s quick to sprint up the backside, and you probably saw that three or four times yesterday.  So we’re going to try to eliminate that as much as we can.”

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Syracuse is 6-3 all-time against Duke, but the Blue Devils eliminated SU from the 2012 NCAA tournament in their most recent matchup. Duke won, 12-9, thanks to winning 17-of-24 at the faceoff X, and Justin Turri’s three goals and two assists led the offense.

PREDICTION: “Duke has won three tournament games by a total of four goals and the Orange are an NCAA-best 7-3 in one-goal games. It’s almost inconceivable to see either team running away with a comfortable victory, and Monday should feature one of the more compelling title games in recent history. The first team to double figures wins. Duke 10, Syracuse 9.” –Via SNY/ESPN lacrosse analyst Eamon McAnaney

GAME INFORMATION: Monday, May 27, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. in Philadelphia. TV: ESPN.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]