College Lacrosse: 2018 National Championship: Duke vs. Yale 1PM ESPNU
The Final Four is over. The stage is set. Yale will be riding their 9 goal drubbing of Albany into
Memorial Day while Duke has just taken down the defending champions. Both teams are riding
the highest of their highs into the showdown on Monday, but what will come of the matchup of
teams who have not seen each other since 2013?
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Both teams offenses operate through senior star attackmen. Justin Guterding faces off against
Ben Reeves in the battle of the Tewaaraton candidates. Although both are two of the best in the
nation, n my opinion, I think Reeves is the more complete lacrosse player. He possesses more
of an off hand as well as versatility in his dodging. But besides the point, I think the player
whose team wins Monday afternoon will take home the hardware as well as the best player in
And besides those two, who are players to watch in the National Championship Monday?
For Duke, I think their midfield will have to step up just like they did against Maryland on
Saturday. Yale’s defensemen were quite successful in shutting down Connor Fields and Tehoka
Nanticoke and allowing Yale’s offense to get out to a start that put them in the driver’s seat after
four minutes. Midfielders Brad Smith who landed on the All-America team and freshman Nakeie
Montgomery (3g in semifinals) must carry their load and take some off the shoulders of
Guterding for Duke to be successful against Yale’s defense.
Defensively, the Blue Devils defense might be seeing a ton of action per Yale’s advantage at the faceoff X. Despite the early goals that might be scored, Duke’s defense must continue to put the pressure on and fly around like they did to start the Maryland game. This will allow Duke to put the ball in the hands of their fast paced offense to push the ball just like Yale does.
For Yale, the game will be won at the face-off X. Yale has the clear advantage, and must
capitalize on the opportunities they are given at the offensive end. Sure, Yale may be able to go
on a three or four goal run very quickly, but all of this responsibility will fall in the hands of
Reeves (5g, 4a in semifinal), Jackson Morrill (3,5) and Matt Gaudet (6,0). Cade Van-Raaphorst
and JT Giles-Harris will have a long day on their hands if they allow Yale to keep the pressure
on all afternoon. What the matchup between Duke’s defense and Yale’s offense might come
down to is Danny Fowler. The senior goalie has a 54% save percentage on the year and stood
tall against Maryland. Yale must find opportunities to throw odd shots on cage, and with the
feeding ability of Morrill and Reeves combined with Gaudet’s inside finishing, they may be able
to do just that.
That being said, I think Duke’s defensive pressure and goalie play will stifle Yale’s offense, and
Duke will be led by their midfielders to a national championship in a fast, high scoring affair.
Prediction: Duke 17, Yale 15.