An intriguing pair of showdowns

The semi-finals of the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament will take place tomorrow in Foxborough, Massachusetts beginning at noon (eastern time). As expected, the semifinalists are Duke, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, and Virginia.

The Duke-Johns Hopkins match is, of course, a replay of last year’s thrilling final, which Hopkins won 12-11. Duke, though, will be favored this year. With most of their team back, after the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to players on the 2006 team that lost their season in the aftermath of the phony rape case, the Blue Devils went 18-1. Moreover, they routed Hopkins (whose record is 10-5) by a 17-6 score earlier this year. That was a revenge match for Duke. Tomorrow, both teams will be out for revenge. It”s a great match-up.

Virginia (14-3) has struggled in the tournament. They had to come from behind to edge Maryland Baltimore County, and needed overtime to defeat Maryland. Virginia probably will need to raise their level of play if they are to defeat Syracuse (14-2). But this is an athletically gifted team that certainly has the potential pick it up. This one looks like a toss-up.

An enormous crowd is expected, as the popularity of college lacrosse continues to soar.

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