Despite the disappointing 10-6 loss to Yale this past weekend the difficult games don't stop there for the Terrapins, as they another strong Ivy League foe in their first home game of this campaign: Penn. Maryland has shown some flashes of quality play in their opening two games, but if they're to get a real quality W they'll need to put together a complete effort.
Perhaps the most important factor in tomorrow's game and maybe the most important factor for this Maryland team all season is face-offs and possessions. It was the difference in their game vs Yale on Saturday, where they went 0-for-8 on FO's in the second half. In a game like that - a tight, physical, defensive struggle - every possession matters. Yale won the opening face-off of Quarter 4 and scored. Then they won the next face-off. They went up 8-6 and....you get the message. While Maryland has tried to add new wrinkles into their offensive gameplan - Matt Rambo mainly initiating the attack from behind the cage, more dodges, letting individual players do their thing - they're still not a true up tempo offensive juggernaut. And they're adding in new pieces. This is why possessions are so important for the Terps. They've been a possession accumulating giant over the last few seasons and they'll need to do that against the Quakers.
The next biggest key is Maryland's defense on goal line extended situations and in the two man game behind the cage. Johns Hopkins has used this to great effect the last few seasons against the Terps and Conrad Oberbeck of Yale torched them repeatedly there on Saturday. Yale passed the ball down low, attempted to create space, and once they drew a slide they fed the open man who quickly had an easy route to the net. Casey Ikeda is the Terps #1 defender and had a decent game on Saturday, but it's up to the Terps #2 and #3 defenders - Matt Dunn and Mac Pons - to shut down Penn attackman Nick Doktor, who had 23 goals and 42 points total last campaign and has 6 points in two narrow Quaker wins this year over UMBC and St. Joes. Penn may not utilize a similar offensive game plan like Yale did, their top 3 returning scorers - the aforementioned Doktor, Isaac Bock, and Kevin Brown - are all attackmen.
The Quakers have routinely had superb defenses under head coach Mike Murphy, they lost their two top close defensemen. Last years Short Stick Midfielder - Joe McCallion - has been forced to play more offense with the loss of many top offensive midfielders from last years Ivy League Tournament champs and therefore there's also a hole there as well. This plays well into the hands of Henry West and Joe LoCascio, who have shown flashes this year. If those two can run the offense well and provide a real strong scoring threat, this will open the rest of the game for the Terps two top attackmen - Rambo and Jay Carlson. Those two were quiet vs Yale after scoring the opening two goals and that was perhaps the biggest factor in Maryland only scoring six goals.
The game will take place at Byrd Stadium tomorrow at 5 ET. A live stream will be made available by BTN Plus, which you do have to pay for. There will also be a live stats page, available here - http://www.umterps.com/liveStats/liveStats.dbml?SPID=120711&DB_OEM_ID=29700&LIST_SPORT_KEY=M_LACROSSE