Here are a few tidbits from sixth-seeded Notre Dame's news conference at M&T; Bank Stadium on Sunday morning.
-- While top-seeded and reigning national champion Duke (16-3) deals with some instability in the cage, the Fighting Irish (12-5) have no such qualms with junior Conor Kelly. The goalkeeper has made 37 saves and surrendered just 24 goals in three postseason games and has rebounded from getting benched in the second game of the season.
“You guys see this as a snapshot, and I see it as an evolution over the course of weeks and months, and we’ve seen Conor have some ups and downs this year, but there’s a reason why he’s back in the goal for us right now,” coach Kevin Corrigan said. “He was earning that on a daily basis. That wasn’t a ‘Holy smoke, let’s try Conor’ kind of thing. It was ‘Conor’s starting to play well, let’s get him the opportunity to get back in there,’ and he’s kind of run with that.
"He’s gaining his confidence and just really playing, I think, the way he always knew he could, and the way we always thought he could.”
-- Duke's Jordan Wolf, a Tewaaraton Award finalist, had four goals and three assists in the Blue Devils’ 15-7 win over Notre Dame on April 5, and the senior attackman figures to see a lot of Fighting Irish senior defenseman Stephen O’Hara. O’Hara limited Maryland senior attackman Mike Chanenchuk to just one goal and one assist in Saturday’s 11-6 victory in the semifinals, and the 6-foot-1, 195-pound O’Hara (31 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers in 2014) could use his size to thwart the 5-9, 170-pound Wolf (62 goals and 35 assists in 2014).
“I think that’s something that we like to do,” O’Hara said of being physical with opponents. “We like to get out and challenge guys and make them make plays right from the start. I’m sure we’ll discuss that more today and figure out exactly how we’re going to play.”
-- The two-games-in-three-days stretch is a physically draining exercise for both teams, and Corrigan said he will use the team’s trip to the 2010 tournament final as a model for how to preserve his players’ health and energy levels.
“At the end of the year, your guys need fresh legs and fresh minds, and they need to be ready to play and be excited to play,” he said. “So we can’t do too much right now. We’ll do enough that we’re prepared, but we’re not going to do too much where we’re going to leave something on the practice field.”