Maryland defense continues to suceed

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Year in and year out, Maryland is a team that always hangs their hat on their defense.

2015 is no different for coach John Tillman’s squad of Terrapins.

Over the course of their current four-game winning streak, Maryland is only allowing four goals-per-game. The Terps have yielded four goals or less in the past three games.

In Saturday’s win against Villanova, Maryland only allowed a pair of goals and really controlled the tempo from the opening whistle.

“Possessions were going to be key,” Tillman said after Saturday’s game. “They’re so good offensively. You watch them on film and they do a really good job. We have a senior guy that’s been through the wars in Charlie Raffa and they have a really good freshman. You just hope that if you have a senior who is a veteran guy, that wins that matchup.”

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Despite not having a ton of success early on, Raffa still managed to pick up a team-high five groundballs. Getting to those 50/50 balls is important to help maintain the pressure on the opposing team.

On top of that, Maryland’s defense turned in a phenomenal performance on Saturday. Villanova had plenty of possessions, but didn’t get many quality shots. Several of the Wildcat attackmen tried to dodge their way towards the front of the cage, but were sealed off on many occasions by the likes of defenders Matt Dunn and Casey Ikeda.

With the Terps establishing a 2-0 lead before the Wildcats could even get possession of the ball, the defense was really able to clamp down and go to work.

“We know when we have the lead, our defense is going to lock it down,” attackman Jay Carlson said. “We have a really good face-off team and a really good defense that we go against them every day. They always beat us up, so we know that they’re going to do the same thing to the opponents.”

Protecting an early lead has been essential for the Terps so far in 2015. In every game except against Drexel, Maryland took the first lead and has outscored their opponents 14-11 in the first quarter this season.

In Saturday’s win against Villanova, Maryland was really able to get into a groove on the offensive end and that really helps the defensive unit.

“Defensively, our guys were really able to settle in and know who they wanted to mark,” Tillman said. “We changed up our defenses a little bit and I think they kept them out of rhythm a little bit because they are really good down there.”

Villanova outscored teams by 12 in the first quarter this season and by six in the third quarter, so gaining the early advantage is key.

“I think everything in lacrosse kind of works together,” Tillman said. “We did not win face-offs in that game. Like today, when you get 11 extra possessions, that’s an extra quarter in a half that you get. The other team has get to 50/50 balls, loose balls, or whatever it may be. With our defensive guys, we’re seeing more and more leadership. Kyle (Bernlohr) is getting more comfortable in goal. Veteran guys like Matt Dunn, Casey Ikeda, and Isaiah Davis-Allen just get everybody on the same page.”

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