Maryland men's lacrosse hasn't won a national championship since 1975; that's 35 years. If they intend to break that stretch - and possibly secure coach Dave Cottle's job - they'll have to start today: the Terps take on the Hofstra Pride at noon in College Park in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Hofstra has an extremely skilled attack led by the Canadian pair of Jay Card and Jamie Lincoln. Both are major threats to score whenever they're on the field, although every attacker on Hosftra's team is talented. That helps to explain their high goals-per-game average - 13.31 a game, which is good for 5th in the country.
For as talented as they are offensively, they have holes aplenty defensively. Goalie play is below-average and they find saves hard to come by - they were 56th in the country, almost dead last, in saves per game. Their scoring defense was sketchy as a whole, coming in at 18th in goals allowed per game. Maryland's attack might not be as high-octane as Hosftra's, but it's certainly good enough to take advantage of a weak defensive squad.
If you'd rather hear about today's game from someone more intelligent than I, check out what Quint Kessenich had to say:
Many fans were surprised when Hofstra made the NCAA tournament after failing to qualify for their conference tournament. But the NCAA selection committee looks at the entire body of work. Hofstra got help from Army, Hopkins, and Delaware and now have postseason life. The Pride have struggled to make saves (47% and ranked #56 in saves per game) and in the last four games their defense is giving up goals at an alarming rate (10.5 per game). On their best days they've beaten Brown, Hopkins, Army, Delaware and Towson...on their worst they lost to 2-11 Penn State.
To win, Hofstra must make saves and compete with Maryland on 50/50 groundballs. Can midfielder Mike DeNapoli get his game going? Can Pride defenders Christian Scuderi, Cody Solaja and Mike Skudin handle their match-ups - and the steady diet of big/little picks that Maryland thrives on? Terps will funnel Hofstra midfielders to their weak hands and be hesitant to slide off of Card and Lincoln on the wings, meaning that Brian Phipps must be solid against Hofstra's midfield taking shots of off isolations.
Sounds pretty good for Maryland. Ultimately, a loss in this game would be nothing short of a shocking disappointment, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. As long as they go out and take care of business, they'll be okay.
I don't know how much I'll be able to watch of this one, but if anyone's interested, this can also serve as the game-thread for those of you watching to converse amongst yourselves. Have fun, go Terps.