NCAA men’s lacrosse semfinals

Who: No. 7 Duke vs. Cornell, 2:30; No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 4 Denver, 5.

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia.


Duke vs. Cornell

The Big Red is seeking its first national title since 1977. Senior Rob Pannell (42 goals, 53 assists) is nearing the NCAA record for career points. Senior Steve Mock (59 goals) can finish righty or lefty and is creative at finding open space. On defense, senior Jason Noble is extremely quick and is likely to defend junior Jordan Wolf (49 goals, 25 assists), though Noble may be needed as wing on faceoffs too. The Blue Devils tend to get stronger later in the game; junior Brendan Fowler, a reserve on the football team, is the faceoff specialist and has helped Duke outscore opponents in the second half and overtime, 131-90. Duke likes to play a high tempo, particularly in unsettled situations. Cornell likes to let Pannell have the ball to find open teammates or create a shot for himself.

Syracuse vs. Denver

The Pioneers win with an efficient offense; they are shooting 34 percent and have five players with 20 or more goals, led by sophomore Wesley Berg (56 goals). Denver uses a fairly rare two-goalie rotation of sophomore Ryan LaPlante and junior Jamie Faus. The defense gives up a lot of shots (36.9 per game), but offenses usually have to recalibrate as Faus is a righty and LaPlante a lefty. Syracuse has two tremendous man-to-man defenders in seniors Brian Megill and David Hamlin. The offense features a lot of balance. Off-ball, keep an eye on junior Derek Maltz and senior Luke Cometti; each has 30 goals. On-ball, senior JoJo Marasco is usually the player who initiates. He is quick and has great vision but can be turnover prone. Unlike most teams in the tournament, the Orange has a strong second midfield.