By Alex Mann
After their meeting in March was postponed because of inclement weather, the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins will take on the No. 5 Albany Great Danes Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Tom and Mary Casey Stadium in Albany, New York.
Coming off wins against defending national champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Michigan and former No. 1 Penn State at home, the Terps face arguably their toughest matchup of the year.
Albany scores goals in bunches. With 16.4 goals per game, the Great Dane offense is the highest scoring in Division I men’s lacrosse, according to NCAA statistics.
Maryland has had extra time to prepare a game plan, as the team already spent a week preparing for the Great Danes leading up to their March 11 clash, which was postponed.
“We’ll go back and watch the games that they’ve played since that,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said Saturday after upsetting Penn State. “It’s a little bit comforting in that we’ve watched a lot of games already, and it’s not like you’re starting fresh.”
But, Tillman added, the Terps should be wary of the fact that Albany might tweak sets and personnel.
After a dominant 60 percent performance-by-committee against Penn State’s elite faceoff specialist Gerard Aceri — who is winning 65.4 percent of draws this season — Maryland’s faceoff specialists Austin Henningsen and Jon Garino Jr. face a daunting challenge.
Albany’s faceoff specialist TD Ierlan has won 72.8 percent of face-offs this season, good for second in the nation. Henningsen, the Terps’ top faceoff man, wins 53.5 percent of face-offs, the 29th best faceoff percentage in the country.
“Austin [Henningsen] has done an awesome job, Jon [Garino Jr.] did an awesome job and [Wesley Janeck] gave us a huge boost today,” senior defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen said after the win Saturday. “That part of the game is a total team effort.”
The Terps will need a comprehensive defensive effort to conquer Albany’s high-scoring offense, powered by leading scorer Connor Fields, who is tied for first in the country with 38 goals and averages 3.8 goals-per-game.
Maryland’s junior goalie Dan Morris will have to step up Wednesday after recording six saves, four less than his season average of 10.44, throughout the home win against Penn State. Maryland possessed the ball more than their opponent on Saturday, making it tough for Morris to find a rhythm. But the junior net-minder came up with big saves at crucial times during the second half.
“Our team never gets nervous, we kind of expect him to bounce back,” Davis-Allen said.
As has been the case all season, the Terps will rely on their first-line midfield and star-studded attack — led by seniors Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock — to power their offense.
The Terps offense scores the sixth most goals-per-game and hits the cage on 37.2 percent of their shots, good for second in the nation. Rambo, Heacock and co. will need to be dialed in to keep up with the Great Danes.