The Blue Devils get plenty of opportunities to score, courtesy of ranking third in Division I in faceoffs and ground balls. But when they do settle into offense, Duke is adept at finding teammates for scoring chances, ranking second in the country in assists per game (8.0).

Coach John Danowski said the coaches have emphasized to the players the necessity of playing cooperatively.

"When you have the ball, our first rule is to beat your man and score a goal," he said. "But when teams do slide, you have to play with your head up. We kind of told our guys, 'Look, we have no All-Americans on this team.' … If we're going to be successful, we're going to be successful because everyone can make a play."

Senior midfielder Josh Offit is not a starter, but that does not diminish his importance, according to Dixon.

"We talked to John Danowski, and he will tell you that he is the most consistent, steadiest player from February through now," Dixon said. "He just does all the little things, scores big goals, gets ground balls. Offit is a guy you always have to be aware of."

Cornell (14-3)

Every offense has the opportunity to improve its numbers with extra-man chances, and the Big Red is no different. The man-up offense is converting 39.2 percent of its opportunities for Cornell, which is the highest percentage among the four semifinalists.

Coach Ben DeLuca said the players understand the importance of man-up situations.

"You have to capitalize in situations, especially the further you go in the tournament," he said. "That could be the margin of victory, and I think our extra-man has done a very good job of developing over the year. … I just think that when you have a specialty situation like that and an opportunity to have a man advantage in a big game, a one-goal game, you have to be prepared to generate a high-percentage scoring opportunity and capitalize on that, and I think we've done a pretty good job of that so far."

Fifth-year senior attackman Rob Pannell will naturally draw everyone's attention, but Dixon said he would not overlook midfielder Connor Buczek.

"Buczek is a guy who is next in line in the lineage of Cornell midfielders," Dixon said. "You can look at Joe Boulukos and Max Seibald and Roy Lang, and Connor Buczek is the guy now. He's only a sophomore, and he's only going to get better."

edward.lee@baltsun.com