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Yale vs. Duke: Who Walks Away a Champion on Monday

By Murf Butler, 05/27/18, 12:30PM EDT

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Gear up for Championship Monday

There is very little in-depth analysis left to be done at this point in a long season. Yale jumped all over an Albany team that looked unprepared for the Bulldogs' athleticism from the minute they stepped on the field. Everyone knew that Ben Reeves and his teammates were good, but I don't think there was anyone in the country who expected that. Credit to Coach Andy Shay and his staff for putting together a game plan and keeping their players so mentally prepared.

On the opposite sideline, Coach Danowski and Duke have solidified themselves as one of the most consistently impressive teams of the past decade. They appear to be on a mission, as evidenced by huge performances from seniors like Justin Guterding and Danny Fowler. The Blue Devils have freshmen who are making meaningful contributions and who have taken advantage of their time to grow and develop with a deep postseason run, in Nakeie Montgomery and Joe Robertson.


Duke

In the second semifinal, Duke got off to an equally hot start and played with a speed that they seemed to lack for much of the season. The experience they have on defense, coupled with an undeniable senior attackman and few freshman peaking at the right time has created the perfect storm for this run to Championship Monday. The biggest issues that Duke has had to face have been partially self-inflicted; many times they seem to dull their killer instinct, as evidenced by letting Maryland creep back into their semi-final matchup, and the Blue Devils also continue to struggle against great FOGOs, as they only went 10-25 against Maryland.

Yale

The Bulldogs put on a performance for the ages with their 20 goal performance against Albany. This wasn't an entirely run-and-gun Dane unit either; this was an Albany team that many were saying finally had the defense and goalie play to take the next step at Championship Weekend. This team played well enough in all facets of the game to overcome a face-off deficit, and even at the X the Bulldogs came close to 50%, which is impressive against T.D. Ierlan who was in the midst of the best individual season of all time.


The Prediction

I anticipate Connor Mackie will battle through the injury he sustained against Albany and have even more success at the X against the Blue Devils which will pave the way for their prolific but efficient offense to take advantage of whatever matchups they like; in a slower-paced affair, much like Yale's win over Loyola last week. This face-off advantage should give the Yale defense the opportunity to stay fresh and match feet well enough at all 6 spots to minimize the need for any slides, as even more so than most, the Duke offense is predicated on getting the entire defense to rotate. With the discipline and skill of Yale's shortstick defensive midfield, and the trust their team has in them, this may be an exercise in futility for the Blue Devils. It appears as though Bulldog freshman goalie Jack Starr has come into his own at this late point in the season as well, and his play gives Yale the netminder they need to complete their incredible defensive unit.

I think Yale wins this won, with a score of 10-8.