Perhaps the two biggest takeaways from Saturday's 12-8 win by Maryland's men's lacrosse on over team at Notre Dame are the apparent resurgence and revitalization of the Terrapins' offense and the resilience of the team to bounce back from a difficult call in the second period and, more impressively, to score four straight in the fourth quarter after surrendering an 8-4 lead over a ten and a half minute span bridging the third and fourth quarters. Perhaps of equal importance, three of those goal came from a maturing Connor Cannizzaro.
However, the Terrapins also showed continued solid play on the defensive end, All-American worthy goalkeeping from Niko Amato, emerging goal scorers to better complement Chanenchuk, and utter dominance at the ‘X' by Charlie Raffa. For a detailed recap, you can read Jake Nazar's story here. For a bunch of marginally knowledgeable hot air, you can read the rest of my story keeping in mind that writing with a broken pencil is pointless.
The first recovery
With Maryland ahead 4-1, Notre Dame was awarded an EMO when all three officials somehow missed Notre Dame's star attacker, Matt Kavanaugh, shoving Michael Cooper from behind and instead called Cooper for retaliating. The Irish are the third most efficient squad in the NCAA in man-up situations and they capitalized to cut the margin to two.
However, the Terps were able to bounce back as Joe LoCascio answered with a man-up goal for the Terrapins and Mike Chanenchuk ripped home a ridiculous shot fading away from the goal from the right side with just six seconds to play in the half maintaining Maryland's three goal margin.
Dominant at the ‘X'
Thanks in large part to the play of Charlie Raffa, Maryland was able to dominate possession. Raffa won 20 of 24 faceoffs giving the Terrapins so many possessions that it will put pressure on even the best of defenses. Winning 11 of 13, Raffa completely dominated Liam O'Connor who entered the game with a slight statistical edge controlling 64.4 percent of his faceoffs to Raffa's 64 percent. The Irish tried using Nick Ossello who fared little better with Raffa taking nine of eleven. If Raffa can maintain this level of play going into next week's ACC Tournament and into the NCAA Tournament the Terps should be primed for a deep run in both.
In addition to the hat trick from Chanenchuk, the Terps got two goals each from Matt Rambo, Henry West, and Joe LoCascio. Rambo established himself early in the season but West has been gaining confidence as the campaign has progressed and is emerging as a dangerous player in space. LoCascio has always had a dangerous shot and seems to be improving his accuracy and making better choices.
Emerging scorers and the second recovery
Of course, no discussion would be complete here without taking note of the play of Connor Cannizzaro. After being shut out against Johns Hopkins and being held without a score for three and a half quarters at Notre Dame, Cannizzaro exploded for a pure hat trick in the fourth quarter to put the game away. The freshman's first goal came just over a minute after LoCascio had put the Terps back in the lead stopping a run of four straight Irish goals that had knotted the score at eight. Cannizzaro used a great roll dodge to get inside his defender, create a perfect angle and put the shot past a more or less helpless Notre Dame goalie. His second score came after a disputed timer on call when the officials ruled that Maryland coach John Tillman called a timeout after the timer was on leaving the Terrapins with only ten seconds to get a shot on goal. Cannizzaro made another outstanding one on one move ripping home a difficult shot that iced the game.
First things first. After being picked to finish last in the ACC, Maryland emerged as the regular season champs so congratulations to the Terps but now the harder work begins. And, of cours, I'm a Maryland fan so I can never get too comfortable or confident. The Terps will once again face Notre Dame in Chester, PA Friday night. If The Irish felt they needed a win on Saturday to solidify their chances for an NCAA bid, they figure to be an even more desperate team on Friday. Right now I think they are certainly not safely in the tournament and a loss just may keep them out of the big dance with a hot Cornell team among those looking to burst Notre Dame's bubble.
As a squad, the Terps will need to cut down on their turnovers. It's unlikely that they can count on Charlie Raffa to win 83 percent of his faceoffs against O'Connor again. Raffa's dominance in the circle helped offset sixteen Maryland turnovers and the Terps will likely have to protect the ball better if they are going to advance to Sunday's ACC Championship game.