Maryland-Duke women's lacrosse preview: Terps travel to Durham one last time

USA TODAY Sports

It's an all Duke Saturday in lacrosse as Duke's men come to College Park while Maryland's women travel to Durham.

No scheduling conspiracies here. Duke came to College Park last season. It's Maryland's turn to travel in 2014.

It's Duke day in lacrosse for Maryland. On the men's side, top ranked Duke travels to College Park to take on the number 2/3 Terrapins. You can read Jake's preview here. The women will be in Durham where the number 2/3 Terps will face off against the sixth ranked Blue Devils.

A history lesson

The Maryland Duke rivalry began in 1996 and the Terps have a 17-9 record against the Blue Devils. Saturday will be the sixteenth time the teams have met in the regular season where Maryland holds an 11-4 advantage. The squads have met five times in ACC Tournament play where Maryland holds a 4-1 edge and three times in the NCAA Tournament where the Terps have beaten Duke twice including last season's 14-9 win in College Park. The Blue Devils also came to College Park for the 2013 regular season match up with the Terps taking a comfortable 15-6 win.

The team match up

Maryland's style is one of controlled aggression defensively that's counterbalanced by a high pressure, high volume offensive attack. On the defensive end, the Terps commit about sixteen fouls per game while holding their opponents to 19 shot attempts. Duke has been whistled for 122 fouls in their four games while two more shots per game than the Terps. Offensively, Maryland attempts about six more shots per game than Duke. The Blue Devils are a bit more selective putting 81 percent of their shots on goal while Maryland comes in a bit over 77 percent.

In the early going this year, the Terps are much more effective than Duke at drawing free position chances and more efficient at capitalizing on those opportunities. Maryland averages two more than the Devils at six per game and the Terps have capitalized on two-thirds of their chances while the Duke has a success rate just over fifty percent.

One other advantage Maryland should look to exploit is in the draw circle. The Terrapins, led by Taylor Cummings' 18, have won 72 of 110 draws in their five games this season. Duke, on the other hand, has essentially split 105 draws winning 53 to their opponents 52.

Duke's offensive threats

When Duke has the ball, the Terrapins are likely to put their primary focus on Kerrin Maurer. The junior attack from Setauket, NY takes about one of every five shots and her 15 goals are a quarter of the Devils' 61 goals on the season. However, Maryland's slides will have to be quick as Maurer also leads the team in assists with eight. If the Terps do try to check her one on one, look for that task to fall initially on sophomore Alice Mercer then to Megan Douty if they switch things up.

After Maurer, the Blue Devils' scoring is reasonably balanced if not overly potent. Sydney Peterson is Duke's second leading scorer with six goals and the Blue Devils have three players with five and and five others with three or more.

How Duke will try to stop the Terps

When Maryland has the ball, their biggest challenges will be Duke defender Gabby Moise and goalie Kelsey Duryea. Moise is a 5'3" junior who uses her quickness to control her offensive counterpart. Duryea is a sophomore who played the second half in last year's regular season contest and, by the time the teams met again in the NCAA Tournament, had secured the spot as Duke's full time goalkeeper.

We'll get back to Duryea in a bit because, frankly, Moise will need lots of help from fellow defenders Isabelle Montagne and Taylor Virden and from her defensive midfield if they hope to contain a superbly balanced Terrapin attack. The Terps are led by two explosive scorers, Taylor Cummings and Brooke Griffin, who are capable of scoring quickly and in bunches as Griffin demonstrated in her seven goal outburst at Penn State. And even if they manage to slow Cummings and Griffin, they will still have to contend with Kelly McPartland (12), Zoe Stukenberg (10), and Beth Glaros (8).

In the crease

Duryea faced the Terrapins twice last year and has played capably in those two appearances. Playing in only the second half of the regular season contest, she yielded six goals while making eight saves though Maryland had the game well in hand having taken a 9-2 lead by the time Duryea made her entrance. In Maryland's 14-9 tournament win, Duryea had fifteen saves. Thus far this season, the sophomore has played all but 14 minutes in goal for the Blue Devils and is conceding about nine goals per game while making the equivalent number of saves for a .484 save percentage.

For the Terps, Coach Cathy Reese appears to have settled on redshirt junior Abby Clipp as the Terrapins' number one option. After splitting time early with highly regarded freshman Emily Kift, Clipp, the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Week, has two consecutive complete games guarding the cage for Maryland. Clipp recorded 21 saves in her astonishing outing at Penn State and followed that up with five saves in the Terps' 14-3 win at Hofstra Tuesday. Clipp has saved 64 percent of the shots she's faced.

The summary

Road games in the ACC are always tough but Maryland is the more talented team. There are a pair of complicating factors. One, Duke is a quality team coming off a tough one goal home loss to Northwestern. Two, the Terps could be a bit travel weary as they face their second top ten team and third road game in eight days. However, if they play to their abilities, they should leave Durham with their undefeated record in tact.

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