Looking to continue momentum into the meat of the season in late March and April, Maryland Men's Lacrosse welcomed Villanova to Byrd Stadium and came away with a 12-10 victory.
To the delight of many Maryland fans, Charlie Raffa was back in the line-up after going out in the 2nd half with what appeared like an injury. He was out there for the opening FO and what did he do? Took it right down and scored to put the Terps up 1-0. After Villanova controlled the face-off and tested Amato, the Terps successfully cleared and went down and scored through Matt Rambo to go up 2-0. After Michael Ehrhardt forced a VU turnover the Terps went to work on offense again and peppered Dan Willis in the cage with 4 shots in quick succession. 2 wide, 1 high, and one by Chanenchuk on cage. Channy was dangerous again with another 2 shots that went wide on a prolonged offensive possession for Maryland. The Terps would finally take advantage through Jay Carlson and were up 3-0 4:55 into the game. After some effective GB play from the Terps Connor Cannizzaro added the 4th drawing a VU timeout. With the Wildcats struggling with their clearing game and the Terps being very effective with their GB play they remained in total control. Henry West added Maryland's 5th. VU would win the FO and Jack Curran tested Amato, but Niko came up with the save. The Terps would go right down after the save and scored through Chanenchuk to go up 6-0. After another VU face-off win, (the Wildcats were 5-8 in the quarter), they again were able to get a shot through to Amato but some tight Terps D and a very good clearing game continued to stifle Nova's offense. Matt Rambo scored on the next offensive possession for Maryland and after 1 it was all Maryland, 7-0.
Nova controlled the opening draw in the 2nd and finally got on the board through Austin Frederick. Despite the goal, Maryland still remained in control and continued to test Willis in the Nova cage. Nova would gather a bit of momentum midway through the 2nd with a lengthy possession but weren't able to get any shots through to Amato in the Maryland cage. Villanova continued some of that momentum after a timeout and got 2 shots on net but both were turned away from Amato. Casey Ikeda would promptly get called for a cross-check, earning the Wildcats a 1:00 EMO. After killing off the man-up opportunity, Maryland added their 8th in transition, Cannizzaro's 2nd. Maryland added another transition bucket, after a forced TO and successful clear attempt, which were the big themes of the first half for the Terps. VU added their 2nd through Jack Curran with 2:12 left to bring the lead back down to 7. Henry West took a few FO's late in the 2nd Quarter for the Terps to even effect with his opposite # from the Wildcats. The score would remain the same for the remaining two minutes and Maryland led 9-2 at half-time.
The two main themes of the first half for Maryland were forced TO's and clears. The face-off game was relatively even whether it was Charlie Raffa or Henry West out there for Maryland. Nova had their fair share of offensive possessions, but Maryland was fantastic in the clearing department which lended itself to a few transition tallies. Forced TO's also played a factor as well in an all-around fantastic defensive effort.
It's been noted by me how influential Charlie Raffa is to this Maryland team and how without him out there the Terps often seem sloppy and jittery. Raffa was not in total control at the X and Nova was in control for the most part early. West took some late draws as well as noted. However, there was no apparent difference. Maryland took very good care of the ball, had few TO's, and were on fire offensively with 9 goals on 23 shots. This was one of Maryland's best all-around halves and maybe their best since the Syracuse game.
Maryland garnered the first possession of the 2nd Half. The Terps weren't able to get any shots on Reed Carlson, the new man in net for the Wildcats however. Villanova would strike on their first possession of the second half however, with Eric Gartner getting his 6th of the year to cut the lead down to 6. Villanova would strike again at 2:53 to make it 9-4 and the Wildcats finally gained a semblance of momentum in the game. Raffa would return after a bit of a break but turned it over after winning the draw. Casey Ikeda would force a TO on the Villanova attack however, one of multiple on the night for him. The Terps would draw a stall warning at 9:32 and would negate with a goal 6 seconds later through Colin Heacock. Dan Willis would return in cage for Villanova and would face some heat from Chanenchuk but was able to turn the Maryland sniper's shot away. After a bit of pinball, Jay Carlson claimed the GB and the Terps called timeout with 8:20 left in the 2nd. A development in the 3rd Quarter was Colin Heacock gaining more minutes and after he turned it over he was able to grab a GB to gain possession back for the Terrapins. Rotation was a theme of the night for Maryland with many guys getting game time. Maryland was called for stalling for the 3rd time on the night at 6:10 but would earn a 1:00 man up opportunity at 6:04. Maryland took advantage with Connor Cannizzaro getting his hat trick and increasing the Terp lead to 7. Michael Ehrhardt took a stalling penalty of his won and VU did just as Maryland did and scored through Kevin O'neil to cut the lead to 6. O'neil would strike again and get his own hat trick as Croonquist won the draw and gave it right too him and the 'Cats had cut the lead to 5. The Terps would pick up the pace late in the 3rd with shots from West, Rambo, and Chanenchuk with Channy forcing a save from Willis. That would quickly dissipate as Henry West took a penalty for an illegal body check and Nova went to the man-up. The Terrapins successfully killed it off and took a 11-6 lead to the 4th Quarter.
Maryland used quite a bit of rotation in the 3rd Quarter and all night. Rustin Bryant had an assist on a goal in some action. Colin Heacock continued to get a bit more playing time. John Belz got some action as well and had an assist on a Chanenchuk goal in the 1st period. Andrew Walsh also got a few looks at face-offs along with West and Raffa as part of a rotation policy from John Tillman.
Maryland began with the 4th on the offensive end and tested Willis early with a shot from LoCascio. Rambo got the GB and fed Chanenchuk who got his hat-trick to make it 12-6 Maryland. VU quickly answered with a goal from Johnny Gallaway and the lead was right back down to 5. Maryland would respond with a few lengthy offensive possessions, getting numerous shots off with quite a few on net but weren't able to get any past Willis and the score remained 12-7. After two penalties taken by Maryland at 7:43, John LoCascio scored on the man-up for Villanova and the lead was down to 4. Similar to the Stony Brook game, 4th Quarter troubles were plaguing Maryland and Devin McNamara made it a 12-9 game. The troubles continued as Curran scored and Villanova had scored 4 goals in a row. VU took a timeout with 2:18 left and the score still 12-10. Carlson took a 30 second penalty at 1:13 of the game with the Terps still up 2. Maryland would kill it off and come away with the 12-10 victory.
For the first 47 minutes or so Maryland was playing a very good lacrosse game. One of the best all-around games they'd played all year. The clearing game and defense were very sharp. Limiting Villanova to tough shots and forcing quite a few turnovers. The offense was also cooking with 2 hat-tricks from Cannizzaro and Chanenchuk and some balanced scoring as well.
Then there was the last 13 minutes. Penalties, turnovers, and a 4-0 goal Nova run made the game far too close to comfort and there were shades of the Stony Brook game from last weekend. It's certainly something that needs to be addressed as Maryland can't afford to have poor 4th Quarters like this against tougher competition. They won't have as big a lead to be able to handle it.
Overall, it was an impressive performance for the most part from Maryland. I did not expect them to be routing Nova early like they were. And they did have a 12-6 lead with 13 minutes and change left. Certainly positives to take from the outing as they move forward and they are 6-0 on the season. But there's also still improvements that must be made. The Terps are back in action on Tuesday afternoon, away to Michigan. It's another opportunity to iron out some chinks in the armor and get prepare for a big two games vs North Carolina and Virginia.