Apr 19, 2014; South Bend, IN, USA; Maryland Terrapins midfielder Henry West (38) moves the ball as Notre Dame Fighting Irish midfielder Tyler Brenneman (13) defends in the fourth quarter at Arlotta Stadium. Maryland won 12-8. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (0-0) vs. Navy Midshipmen (0-0)
The Time: Saturday, Noon
The Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.
TV/Radio: Maryland Sports Radio Network
The Backstory: 2015 could be a very interesting season for Maryland. The Terps are losing several of their key players from 2014 such as Niko Amato (graduation), Connor Cannizzaro (transferred to Denver), Mike Chanenchuk (graduation), and Michael Ehrhardt (graduation). The team is also losing two of their top five scorers in Cannizzaro (26 goals and eight assists) and Chanenchuk (36 goals and 23 assists). To put things into perspective, Cannizzaro and Chanenchuk accounted for 33.6 percent of Maryland’s points in 2014. Simply put, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Terps entering the 2015 campaign.
The offseason wasn’t very kind to Maryland. Defenseman Goran Murray was declared academically ineligible for the 2015 season, which robs the Terps of their best defender going forward. On the other hand, attackman Matt Rambo had a sensational freshman season, but his status for Saturday’s game is up in the air. Rambo was involved in an incident in the fall in which he was charged with first and second-degree assault along with malicious destruction of property. The charges were later dropped, but coach John Tillman has yet to clear Rambo. The Pennsylvania native has practiced with the team, but hasn’t participated in any scrimmages because he hasn’t met certain obligations that he needs to in order to return to the team in full capacity.
One of the most important storylines to watch early this season is where the scoring comes from. With some of their most lethal offensive firepower gone, Maryland is going to have to look to a combination of veterans and young players to fill that scoring void. At first glance, if and when Rambo is cleared to play, that is a huge boost as he scored 30 goals during the 2014 season and finished second on the team in that category. Senior attackman Jay Carlson is one of the first players that comes to mind when it comes to filling the huge void. Carlson did lose his starting spot to Cannizzaro in 2014, but will almost surely regain it. The Cockeysville native still managed to net 26 goals and record five assists. Carlson also had a 66.7 shooting percentage, which was one of the highest on the team.
Midfielder Joe LoCascio, another talented senior, should remain one of the top options on offense. LoCascio has one of the hardest shots around, which will definitely come in handy for a team like Maryland. LoCascio is also a very patient shooter. Midfielder Henry West (16 goals and eight assists), attackman Colin Heacock (five goals and four assists), attackman Tim Rotanz (three goals and three assists), and a talented group of freshmen also figure to chip in on the scoring front.
On the other hand, Navy may have only won four games a year ago, but this is a unit that hangs their hat on defense. While they did graduate defenseman Nik Mullen (16 ground balls and 11 forced turnovers) and long-stick midfielders Pat Kiernan (48 ground balls and 23 forced turnovers) and Ben Sampson (21 ground balls and three forced turnovers), the Midshipmen did return a strong group from a defensive standpoint. Sophomores Matt Rees and Chris Fennell return and it looks like Navy has a more athletic team in 2015. Could a strong defensive effort leads to scoring chances in transition? We’ll see.
While the Midshipmen did lose their top two scorers in Sam Jones and Tucker Hull. they do return their third-leading scorer in attackman T.J. Hanzsche (22 goals and two assists). Hanzsche is a very crafty playmaker that can score from just about anywhere on the field. The Pennsylvania native also has an absolute cannon and doesn’t need much room to hit his shot. If you’re looking for someone that the Terps need to key in on, this is definitely that guy.
Keys/Storylines To Watch:
1.) Who’s in goal for Maryland? – Heading into Saturday’s game, it appears that it’s a two-horse race between senior Kyle Bernlohr and redshirt freshman Dan Morris to see who will be the starting goalie. Bernlohr has appeared in 14 games during his Maryland career and has allowed 14 goals on 20 shots. However, during his junior season, he appeared in six games and only surrendered three goals during that time. Out of the two candidates, Bernlohr is definitely the more experience. However, Morris has a strong lacrosse pedigree. The Dallas native was an Under Armour All-American and made eight saves in the All-American Game during his senior year at Dallas Jesuit. The future is definitely bright for Morris even if he isn’t appointed as the starter.
2.) Does Rambo play? – It’s really the million dollar question. If Rambo plays, Maryland’s offense gets a huge boost. If not, it’s really going to test how much the Terps have from an offensive standpoint. It appears as though Tillman is open to bringing Rambo back as soon as he fulfills his obligations. It’ll be interesting to see if he ends up taking the field on Saturday.
3.) Who steps up? – The offensive production is going to be a major storyline throughout the early part of the season. If Rambo misses little to no time, it may not fall off too much. However, if Rambo misses significant time, it could be an issue. Either way, it’s worth monitoring who steps up on Saturday. After Rambo, Maryland’s top scoring options are Carlson, LoCascio, and West. Will a young player step up in addition to the guys we expect? We’ll see.
4.) Keep the streak alive – The Terps have won 21 season openers and 30 of the last 31 season-opening games. However, this is only the second time that Maryland will face Navy to open the season. The last time was on April 22, 1933 when the Terps topped the Midshipmen 7-3. Maryland also leads the all-time series with Navy 54-33-1.