Forget the odd, geographically contradicting conference affiliations -- Denver in the Big East; Notre Dame in the ACC; Maryland and Johns Hopkins in the Big 10 -- and remember the matchups.
The 2015 NCAA Division I men's lacrosse semifinals this weekend showcase elite teams with enough star power and story lines to potentially provide three exciting games in Philadelphia, concluding with Monday's championship contest at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
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Here's a breakdown of the semifinals:
Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Denver
Once known strictly as a low-scoring, defensive team, the Fighting Irish now offer balance with a solid offense, led by former Chaminade star attack Matt Kavanagh (27 goals, 24 assists), a Tewaaraton finalist. Conor Doyle (30 goals, 20 assists) runs the offense and midfielder Sergio Perkovic is a big man (6-4, 220) with a big shot.
Denver is the most efficient scoring team in the country, averaging 14 goals per game with precise shooting, led by Maryland transfer Connor Cannizzaro (55 goals, 33 assists). The Pioneers also have a Tewaaraton finalist in attack Wes Berg (50 goals, 20 assists) and can hurt you with scoring from their midfield. Trevor Baptiste leads the country in faceoff-win percentage (69 percent) and that might be Denver's most important weapon.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 6 Maryland vs. unseeded Johns Hopkins
Unlike the first semifinal, that matches two teams that have never won a national title, this one features schools with championship pedigrees. But it's been a while. Maryland hasn't won in 40 years and is seeking its third title. Hopkins has won nine, the last one in 2007.
The Terrapins rely primarily on a defense anchored by goalie Kyle Bernloh, third in the country in save percentage. Offensively, a couple of former St. Anthony's stars, Joe LoCascio (second on team with 29 goals) and faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa (60 percent) play key roles.
The Blue Jays, who stunned No. 1-ranked Syracuse, 16-15, in last Sunday's quarterfinals, are sparked on offense by the Stanwick brothers, Wells (29 goals, 43 assists) (27 goals, 23 assists). and Shack, who are quick on their feet and with their sticks. Former Massapequa goalie Eric Schneider has been hot in Hopkins' late-season surge after a shaky start. Long-stick middie Mike Pellegrino (Connetquot) is a defensive standout who can run the field.