Hard to Determine Pace of Virginia-Notre Dame
It's easy to be lulled into pre-game thinking, based on the past. That's part of the intrigue behind Sunday's quarterfinal match between No. 5 Virginia and No. 4 seed Notre Dame. Virginia is the classic, get-up-and-down team, built for transition and scoring runs. Notre Dame is the plodding, clock-draining, defensive force. So, you think Virginia will try to run Notre Dame out of PPL Park, while the Irish will try to strangle the Cavaliers by deadening the tempo and playing for the 8-7 win?
Not so fast. Virginia just got done surviving a sloppy, 6-5 slugfest with Princeton and its exceptional senior goalie Tyler Fiorito. The Irish blew away Yale in a 13-7 rout that was, well, Virginia-like in its quick-strike, offensive precision.
"I don't know if we have a [preferred] speed, or if [Virginia] has a speed," Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. "The thing that has impressed me watching them on film is how they've been able to play at any speed. I think they're a more complete team than they were last year."
"We just can't run by people the way we have in the past," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "We have to play with more efficiency on offense. Our passes and our cuts have to be sharper."
Notre Dame also has upped the tempo more often than it seems. The Irish have hovered around the 40-shot mark on a number of occasions this year, and they sure didn't look deliberate while blowing away Yale last week with an 8-2 clubbing in the second half. To Corrigan, the key is for Notre Dame never to forget who it is. Defense comes first, but Notre Dame is looking to score often by taking and making smart shots.
"We're a team that can play with confidence and accept its limitations," Corrigan said. "We call it ego-less clarity -- being able to accept what is."