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Maryland women’s lacrosse NCAA tournament second round preview: No. 7 seed Duke

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Another edition of the infamous Maryland-Duke rivalry takes center stage with a spot in the quarterfinal on the line.

Michigan v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

On Friday, Maryland women’s lacrosse did its job and breezed past High Point, 17-6. Now, the expected showdown is set for Sunday afternoon as the No. 7 seed Duke Blue Devils will host the Terps for the first matchup between the two since Maryland left the ACC in 2014.

Both Duke and Maryland made quick work of its first round opponents on Saturday, with the aforementioned victory by the Terps following up Duke’s 19-3 route of Mount St. Mary’s.

There’s certainly a deep history between the two programs, but Maryland will have its eyes set on surviving and advancing rather than playing into the rivalry.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 from Koskinen Stadium at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Duke Blue Devils 10-7 (4-6 ACC)

Head coach Kerstin Kimel is the only coach in Duke’s history, taking over in 1996 and leading the program to 19 NCAA tournament appearances. Among those 19 appearances, the Blue Devils have made it to the national semifinal seven times, but have been in a bit of a rut as of late having not been to the tournament since 2016. In her 25 year tenure, Kimel has won five ACC coach of the year awards and is only the eighth active coach to eclipse 300 career wins.

The Blue Devils finished the regular season with a 9-6 overall record, but a 4-6 record in ACC play, earning them the No. 5 seed in the ACC tournament. After being bounced in the first round by Notre Dame, Duke returned to positive form in its thrashing of Mount St. Mary’s to open the NCAA Tournament, moving to 6-0 against non-ACC opponents this season.

Players to know

Junior attacker Maddie Jenner (No. 14) — Jenner is the cream of the crop when it comes to draw controls. She ranks second in the nation with an average of 10.06 a game. Her 131 gains on the draw earned her First Team All-American honors, while her 24 goals mark a career-best. Jenner’s prowess on the draw is a direct factor in the team’s offensive output, as Duke has been able to stay atop the ACC with a 13.75 per game average.

Graduate student attacker Gabby Rosenzweig (No. 25) — A First Team All-ACC honoree along with Jenner has transitioned her talents seamlessly from the Ivy League to the ACC. Rosenzweig was a two-time Tewaaraton nominee during her four-year tenure for Penn before transferring to Duke after receiving an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 cancelled season. This season, Rosenzweig has been a force in Durham, scoring 23 times and assisting on 33 for a team-leading 56 points.

Graduate student defender Callie Humphrey (No. 30) — Humphrey is Duke’s version of Lizzie Colson. The graduate student is a pest on the Blue Devil defense. She has picked up 26 ground balls and has taken away 31 balls from the opposition, good for tenth in the nation. She lived up to her Preseason Third Team All-American bill by landing on the projected team by Inside Lacrosse by season’s end, while also making Second Team All-ACC.

Strength

Draw controls. This comes as no shock after what has been previously said, as Duke’s draw control numbers are one of the most daunting in the country. They average 17.06 per game — which slots them just behind Boston College — but its draw control percentage puts them at a higher accord. Slotting just behind Massachusetts, Duke ranks second in the country with a .648 success rate at the draw circle.

Weakness

Turnovers. Duke has almost literally thrown games away this season because of its turnover woes. Three separate occasions, all wins, saw the Blue Devils commit over 20 turnovers, including a whopping 26 in a ten-goal victory versus High Point. Despite their fortunes when surpassing 20, just once this season has Duke committed less than ten turnovers. That could spell trouble against a Maryland defense anchored by the nation’s leader in causing turnovers.

Three things to watch

1. Can the offense keep it going? Maryland has been playing its best lacrosse of the season since switching to postseason play. Specifically its been the offense that has been clicking. Friday’s first round match marked the fourth time in the last five contests in which the Terps surpassed a .450 shooting percentage. Against High Point, they shot .531, the best percentage of the season. Things are looking up for the Terrapins and with the offense clicking alongside an imposing defense, the sky’s the limit.

2. How well will Maryland compete in the draw circle? The aforementioned details of Duke’s dominance on the draw circle counteracts Maryland’s struggles in that department of late. In the Big Ten Championship game, Northwestern deconstructed the Terps on the draw, outmatching them 22-9. Friday against High Point still found Maryland down in the department, 14-11. In order to come away with efficient enough offense to defeat the Blue Devils, the key will be keeping the draw control numbers margin respectable, or at least capitalizing on Duke’s issues with turnovers.

3. Will the Terps survive the opening weekend? It’s not often that the Terps find themselves in a precarious position in just the second round. Since the field expanded in 2013, Maryland has never missed the second weekend. It hasn’t even been since 2008 that the Terrapins have not made it to the Final Four. Their decade of dominance has been nothing short of such, but this year has proved challenging. Now, as an unseeded team facing the 7 seed in the bracket in their own backyard, continuing the streak of second weekend appearances could be in jeopardy.