The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (10-3) vs. Navy Midshipmen (4-9)
The Time: 1:00 p.m.
The Location: Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, College Park, Md.
TV/Radio: CBS 1300 AM
The Backstory: Maryland certainly didn’t make the type of statement they were hoping for in the ACC Tournament at PPL Park last weekend. With the weather being a primary factor in a low-scoring affair, the Terps played very strong defense and got a supreme effort from senior goalie Niko Amato, who is fresh off being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Amato stood tall in net and stated that he had good communication with his defense in his post-game press conference. Defender Goran Murray was impressive, especially when he found himself matched up with eventual tournament MVP Matt Kavanagh.
Maryland’s struggles came at the offensive end and can be attributed in large part to midfielder Mike Chanenchuk clearly being hampered by injury. The Terps run their offense through Chanenchuk and it appeared that wasn’t able to plant as well as he usually does. Hence the reason that his 35-game point streak was snapped. Look for Chanenchuk to get back on track and return to form much like the first game against Notre Dame.
The Terps need this game in a big way. While it is only Navy, Maryland can secure a home playoff game in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament with a win. They have had to travel to the likes of Cornell and Lehigh the last two seasons and ended up with a split (defeated Lehigh on a late Joe Cummings goal). Home cooking can’t be overstated as Maryland has a perfect 6-0 mark at Byrd Stadium this season, including wins against ACC powers Duke and Virginia.
From an opposing standpoint, Navy’s record may not show it, but they’re a talented lacrosse team. The Mids have struggled and lost many close games. However, Navy only lost to Loyola (MD) and Johns Hopkins by one goal apiece. The Loyola game went to double overtime, which is a testament to the will of this team.
The Midshipmen can score, there’s no doubt about that. Senior attackman Sam Jones, senior attackman Tucker Hall, and sophomore attackman T.J. Hanzsche have all reached the 20-goal plateau and can put the ball in the back of the cage. Jones is the most well-rounded player as he has posted 41 points (23 goals & 18 assists). Jones is a very smart player that is extremely patient, especially behind the cage. He’s not afraid to pass up his own shot to set up an open teammate. Jones is also very dangerous from behind the cage and has no problem making his way into the paint for a highlight reel goal. Maryland has plenty of experience defending that type of player as they just dealt with Notre Dame’s Conor Doyle.
Keys/Storylines To Watch:
1.) Good showing for the freshmen – Much of Maryland’s success this season was due to their talented freshmen. We saw Connor Cannizzaro really grow up and become a more patient player late in the season. He struggled against the Irish last Friday despite attempting four shots. Cannizzaro did pick up six ground balls, which was tied with midfielder Charlie Raffa for most on the team. If Cannizzaro is able to work his magic behind the cage, Maryland could go very far in the NCAA Tournament.
2.) Transition offense & defense – It was a problem on both ends against Notre Dame in the ACC semifinals. From an offensive standpoint, the Terps were able to get out in transition, but rushed their shots. A perfect example was in the second half defender Michael Ehrhardt was smack dab in the middle of the field and didn’t see an Irish player right behind him. It resulted in the ball being knocked out of Ehrhardt’s stick. Maryland has to communicate better and let each other know when a teammate is in trouble.
From a defensive angle, Notre Dame was able to get out in transition and have a great deal of success against the Terps. The game’s deciding goal was a clear indication of this. Maryland committed 16 turnovers on the night and none was more costly than Chanenchuk’s. After the shot clock was turned on, he attempted to split the Irish defenders, but put the ball on the ground. Jack Near was able to use his speed to accelerate down the field and find Kavanagh for the game-winning goal. Maryland just wasn’t able to get back and seemed lost whenever Notre Dame got out in transition. That has to change heading into the tournament and an improvement against Navy would be a great start.
3.) Senior Day – Nine Terps will take the field for their final regular season game including Amato and Chanenchuk. It’s always a special day when the seniors are honored for their careers at Maryland. In addition to Amato and Chanenchuk, Ehrhardt will also be participating in his final regular season tilt. Hopefully the senior send off ends with a convincing victory over the Midshipmen.