Faceoffs have long been a problem for ND, and at least arguably have cost us some games in the past. It's been a longstanding problem that has improved at times but has never been fully fixed.
With that said, as you point out, faceoffs were a bigger issue in the pre-shot clock era than they are today.
In the tournament it has the potential to be the most important element. Lynch and the wings did a great job against Maryland when we really needed wins in the fourth quarter, but you may very well see Defensive tactics change in a close game if you have little faith in your ability to win a face off. Any blame is on the entire F/O unit so it is unfair to single Lynch out, but you have to expect there will be close games where we desperately need possession, and there has been little to suggest confidence if that situation arises. It is clear they are National Championship caliber offensive, defensive, and goaltending units. But it is fair to express concern that the face off unit could wind up wasting that talent if nothing changes. Hold me, I’m Irish.
percentage, clearing and riding?
That argument may have had more validity during the pre-shot clock days especially when offenses were copying Tierney's bleed-it out for the best shot approach. As far back as the 90s and up until recently - with the advance of sticks and a better selection of high school athletes - you could win the Faceoff and kill the clock with a 3-minute possession and wait for the best shot. You could create space, take a run at it and pull back if the shot wasn't there. You could tire out the defense by holding the ball and creating motion. Your best Attacker could hang back at the X while you set up a 1-3-2 or 1-2-3 motion offense and after 2 minutes dump it to a cutter. Byrne was a master at defending this because his D forced bad passes and pressured the X and relied on goalies to make outside shot saves.
The shot clock changed a lot as did the advent of specialty players like short stick D middies. Subbing has become more complicated and nuanced. The game is faster and while scoring is up - leading to more faceoffs - it's another possession number. But there are 90 things that happen after the faceoff. Blaming faceoffs as the cause-and-effect of a win-loss scenario is a surface-level analysis of a lacrosse game.
We are up 213-183 in GBs this year (that stat factors in Faceoffs). We are .625 in Man-up and have held opponents' to .278. Liam is just barely under 60%. Those numbers are more important and are phenomenal.
If we lose it's because those numbers decline. If we lose the Ground ball battle - and lose Faceoffs - we're screwed. If we lose the Faceoff battle and we lose goaltending, we're in bad shape. Or - we may lose because UVA has better athletes. I believe they have 3-4 D 1 football recruits.
I don't disagree with the sentiment that faceoffs need to improve. The numbers are low and whether it's Lynch or the wings - or just a match-up problem - there's no doubt we need to do better.
I just take issue with threads dedicated to one guy and theories that whether we win the National Championship rest on his numbers. There are too many other factors that will play a role.
The national championship. Replay the overtimes against Maryland 10 times, and if we lose all 3 overtime face offs again, we would lose 8 or 9 out of 10. It’s a team sport, but it’s a glaring weakness that has the potential to derail the championship favorite, at least right now. I hope Lynch and the wings can turn a corner. I think the whole point is everything you have mentioned has been critical to our success, but if one of those goes in the crapper or someone gets hurt, right now we don’t have a dependable face off unit to fall back on.
We also have to be a little better about putting shots on cage. That wasn't a problem today particularly in the first half. There aren't many goalies in the country who can stand up what we can throw at them. We can be a little better about peppering them consistently.
But yes... this team is quite possibly Corrigan's best. I so badly want to see these guys holding the trophy about 4:30 pm on Memorial Day.