The Maryland Terrapins hope to kick-start a run to a 3rd straight Championship Weekend, and National Championship Game, and hopefully this time, win the National Championship. They'll have a very difficult 1st round match-up though. Cornell. Probably just about 3 short weeks ago, this was the National Championship Game. Maryland was #1, Cornell was #2. They were that for much of the season. Now, they meet in the 1st Round at Byrd in College Park with Maryland as the 6 seed and Cornell UNSEEDED. Unimaginable 3 weeks ago. This is going to be a very tough match-up and I'll break down both teams and what the Terps need to do to win, right now. Roll it.
Cornell Breakdown -
Cornell is fast-paced. They like to get up the field, take quick shots, and score. They'll fool you with a different angles, they have loads of talent, and they're going to score goals. They're very much a rhythm team. When they're in rhythm there isn't a College Lacrosse team in the country that can stop their offense. It is that good. There is question marks for Maryland to how they guard Rob Pannell. That's the big one. Pannell is good, really good. Like best player in the country good. He's got a great shot, great stickhandler, and if you give him a yard of space, he'll find it and he'll punish you. And he's a very good passer and finds the perfect spots for him as I'll outline right now. That's not it. Steve Mock is very efficient inside. That's another thing Cornell does so well. They move the ball very quickly and they find the angles and they find a guy like Mock inside and he scores. Cornell will pounce on turnovers. As I said, their fast, they'll get up quickly, and they'll land a wrister by you. Cornell is a very hyper-active, efficient, and fast offense. That is this Cornell team. They want to outscore you. They've given up double digit goals in 4 of their last 5. That's Cornell. Their defense is not reliable. Their goaltending is not great. While Cornell is good at get up and going, their D can be prone too it as well. Syracuse showed that very effectively when they beat them in the Carrier Dome a few short weeks ago and Princeton as well. If you work the Cornell defense and get them out of position, you will get open shots and score. Plenty of opportunities to be had. Their offense will rule the day for them. Maryland has to stop it.
Maryland Breakdown -
In many ways, Maryland is the opposite on the offensive end. They love to rely on their first midfield unit to slowly work the ball around, grind down other defenses, get the good shot and take advantage. Their first midfield unit is deadly. I mean really deadly. Led by perhaps the best midfielder in the country in Jesse Bernhardt along with That's not it. You have dangerous and efficient shooter Mike Chanenchuk. Then you have another very efficient scorer in Kevin Cooper. Always pops up in the right spot. John Haus has a great wrister. Does many other things well. What they do best? They work well together. They might be the best midfield unit in the country. The issue is, the over-reliance of them. Maryland's Attackmen have failed to step up. And they've been left to carry the load. That can't happen in the tournament, especially on Championship Weekend. Also, especially against a team like Cornell. Owen Blye and Jay Carlson are the main two who need to step up. They are dangerous down low and if they can get going, Maryland is going to be hard to stop. Depth is the issue for Maryland. It's a question mark. If they get it, and their Attackmen step up, Maryland's the best team in the country. If not, anywhere from 3 goals (2012 National Championship) to 9 goals is a possibility. They've got talent though and they can do it, and that's good thing. Back on the defensive end one thing Maryland has that always has stepped for them in big games is goaltending. And that's Niko Amato. So often he has made clutch stop after clutch stop and kept Maryland in ball games where they stay in it and pounce late. If he is at his best on Sunday, Maryland is in a terrific spot. They will get many extra opportunities and keep the ball out of Cornell's hands.
What Maryland Needs To Do To Win -
For Maryland the big keys are this: Run the shot clock and be efficient on offense. It's what Maryland does so well. They work you into submission by passing and passing and waiting the perfect time for the open shot and bang, goal. Back-breaking goals right as the timer comes on. They work you and work you. If Maryland does this, keeping the ball out of Cornell's hands and getting back-breaking goals, it will frustrate the Big Red and get them out of rhythm. Next, on defense Maryland has to guard well. If they can be physical and deny Pannell space and not let Mock get open shots, Cornell is going to have a long day. And they need Amato to be big. Those are the big keys on defense. If they don't Cornell could run rampant. If they do, it's the exact game Maryland wants. Then, can't have turnovers. Turnovers are extra possessions for Cornell where they quickly can get up the field, score, and then win a face off, up the field, score again. It's what Cornell wants. Extra possessions to get in rhythm and start a run. Maryland can't have that. And then the big one. Win face-offs. If you win face-offs, you're dictating the play. This is a classic game of who dictates the game. Whoever does wins. If Maryland wins face-offs it's their day.
Prediction - I might be seeing things with Terp tinted glasses but I'm also a man of my word. I haven't seen Rob Pannell step up in a big game and I don't know if Cornell can out work Maryland and play their game and win. And also I'm a man of my word. I picked Maryland at the start to win the National Championship. I'll stick with. Maryland 12-10 Cornell.