Maryland vs. Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse preview


The Teams: No. 6 Maryland Terrapins (13-3, 4-1) vs. Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (11-6, 4-1)

The Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

The Location: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, Pa.)

The Backstory: The end of the regular season for Maryland certainly wasn’t what coach John Tillman was hoping for. However, the Terps find themselves in a very familiar position as they are playing on Championship Weekend for the fourth time in the past five seasons. Maryland played two very different games to get themselves to this point. In their First Round contest against a familiar foe in Yale, it was a battle of methodical offenses and stingy defenses. Despite jumping out to a 3-1 lead early in the game, Maryland’s defense became tested after Yale tallied a pair of goals, including one with 14.7 seconds left in the first half. The Bulldogs also scored four of the first five goals of the second half, putting the Terps in a 7-4 deficit early with 14:16 left. However, Maryland fought through the adversity and scored the final four goals of the contest to hold off Yale for an 8-7 victory.

With the Terps flying high after the narrow win, they had to do battle with a juggernaut of an offensive team in North Carolina in Annapolis. You wouldn’t know that the Tar Heels were the gifted offensive team with the way last Sunday’s game turned out. The Terps outscored the Tar Heels 9-2 in the first half, courtesy of a trio of goals from freshman midfielder Connor Kelly. The Avon Old Farms (Conn.) product had his biggest game since he registered three assists and a ground ball against Villanova on March 14. The second half saw North Carolina add a few goals, but it was too little, too late. Maryland dethroned their former ACC rival 14-7.

One of the biggest positives for Maryland has been their offensive output. Midfielder Joe LoCascio has been scalding hot as he has tallied seven points (4, 3) in Maryland’s two NCAA Tournament games and has been one of the biggest producers for the Terps. Any time LoCascio has room to take a shot, he’s going to let it rip and more often than not, he’s going to bury it. The biggest surprise of the season may be the play of midfielder Bryan Cole. As was discussed in our feature story on Cole earlier in the week, Cole has been on fire during the last month. While he’s usually a distributor, the Canadian midfielder has been doing the scoring as of late. Since the Loyola (Md.) game, Cole has tallied 11 goals and 12 assists in just six contests. When Cole is a threat to score, along with attackmman Jay Carlson, LoCascio, and attackman Matt Rambo, Maryland is one of the most dangerous teams around.

On the other hand, Johns Hopkins went through quite a different path to reach Championship Weekend. Hopkins faced ACC powerhouses Virginia and Syracuse in the first two rounds. Much like Maryland’s two games, there was a stark contrast between both of the Blue Jays contests. Hopkins absolutely demolished Virginia in a 19-7 rout in Charlottesville in the First Round. Attackman Ryan Brown (60, 14) stuffed the stat sheet (when doesn’t he?) to the tune of four goals and two assists in the win. Brown is one of several players that Maryland will have to key in on. Brown can score from just about anywhere, but makes his living around the front of the cage.

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Fellow attackmen Shack (27, 23) and Wells Stanwick (26, 43) are just as lethal as should come as no surprise due to their lineage. Wells Stanwick is a gifted passer that is always looking to dish to his teammates. Stanwick reached the 100-career assist mark on April 1 and is going to go down as one of the best players in Hopkins lacrosse history. Brown was been the beneficiary of Wells Stanwick’s gifted passing ability.

Keys/Storylines To Watch:

1.) A healthy Charlie Raffa – Back when the two teams faced each other in April, Raffa wasn’t healthy and got banged up in that game. The senior midfielder’s absence allowed the Blue Jays to win seven of the eight face-offs in the fourth quarter. Raffa has won 59.6 percent of his face-offs this season. Maryland’s strategy is to win face-offs, picking apart defenses, and sit on a lead. In order for that to be successful, Raffa has to win the majority of his battles at the ‘X.’

2.) Impact of Matt Rambo – Rambo was Maryland’s top scorer this season, but has almost taken a backseat on the offensive end. The Pennsylvania native has become more of a facilitator as he has tallied four assists in Maryland’s first two NCAA Tournament games. A season ago, Rambo would fire shots wide in bunches, but was become a more well-rounded player. Much like Cole, if Rambo continues to show his ability as a dual-threat player, the Terps could find themselves on a doorstep of a potential national title.

3.) Statement weekend – Maryland hasn’t won a national title in 40 years, despite making it to Championship Weekend four out of the last five years. For the third consecutive weekend, the Terps will face a team that they have played previously this season. This is definitely a revenge game for Maryland, but they have to keep their eyes on the prize of a National Championship. This is one of the most talented teams that Maryland has had in quite some time and this weekend could be huge for the program.

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