No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse took care of business in its season-opening win over No. 20 Richmond. The Terps entered the year with some uncertainty after losing six of their 10 starters from 2022 but quickly put those concerns to bed.
Senior attackman Daniel Maltz led the game with five points, tallying two goals and three assists, while junior attackman Owen Murphy scored a game-high four goals. Freshman attackman Braden Erksa also had an impressive performance in his collegiate debut, scoring two goals and dishing out one assist.
This weekend presents a new challenge for the Terps, who will face an in-state rival in Loyola (Md.). The two teams are very familiar with each other, meeting four times in the last 11 years. The Terps won three of the four matchups, but lost the most important one back in 2012, which gave Loyola its lone national championship.
Saturday’s game will be played in Baltimore and streamed on ESPN+ at 1 p.m.
Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds (0-0)
2022 record: 8-8 (6-2 Patriot League)
Head coach Charley Toomey enters his 18th season at the helm of Loyola’s lacrosse program. Since 2012, Toomey has led the Greyhounds to an average of 12.2 wins per season and enters the 2023 season with a 168-85 career record, sitting just behind his former college coach, Dave Cottle, for the most wins in program history.
Loyola struggled in the 2022 season, missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. The Greyhounds began last season as the eighth-ranked team in the nation but dropped their first four games. Loyola will have an opportunity to surge back into the national rankings, though, with No. 2 Maryland on deck.
Players to watch
Adam Poitras, senior midfielder, No. 51 – Poitras started in 34 of his 38 previous games as a Greyhound and is a model of consistency. He ranked top five in total points in each of his three seasons at Loyola, finishing third in 2022 after scoring a career-high 29 goals. Poitras scored two goals against Maryland last year and will play a key role in Loyola’s gameplan.
Payton Rezanka, graduate short-stick defensive midfielder, No. 34 – Rezanka was one of two Greyhounds on the All-Patriot League first team and the only one returning. In 15 games, he tallied three goals, one assists, 31 ground balls and a team-high 27 caused turnovers. While not much of an offensive threat, Rezanka will make life difficult for Maryland’s attackers.
Evan James, senior midfielder, No. 8 – James finished right behind Poitras in points last season with 37, totaling 26 goals and 11 assists. James took a slight step back from his sophomore season — in which he recorded 32 goals and 12 assists — but his play in 2022 still netted him an All-Patriot League second team selection. With Poitras, Rezanka and Poitras all returning, the Greyhounds should have a very good midfield.
Experience. The biggest strength Loyola holds heading into the 2023 season is its immense amount of experience. The Greyhounds return six of their 10 starters from last year, all of which are upperclassmen. While it had a disappointing 2022 campaign, Loyola’s core still remains intact.
Goalkeeping. One of the biggest question marks the Greyhounds face is who will start in goal. Sam Shafer spent the last three years as Loyola’s goalkeeper and completed his fifth and final season in 2022. Junior Luke Staudt is the front-runner for the opening, but he does not have much experience after playing in just seven games — starting in one — through his first two seasons.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland’s defense remain dominant? The Terps played one of their best defensive games in years last weekend against Richmond. Maryland held the Spiders to four goals — the fewest it’s allowed since 2018 — on a very inefficient 42 shoots. The Terps’ strong defensive play is headed by graduate defenseman Brett Makar, junior defenseman Ajax Zappitello and senior goalie Logan McNaney all returning from last year’s squad, but head coach John Tillman was not impressed in the team’s first game of the season.
“A big story for the game is just, you know, making sure that we play well versus the invert, the pick game. I didn’t feel like we played the pick game particularly well last week. I didn’t think we were great off-ball last week,” Tillman said. “Logan bailed us out a ton. Obviously, we’ve got to be better this week.”
2. Which team has the advantage? This is Maryland’s second game of the season and Loyola’s first, creating an interesting advantage for each team. Maryland had the opportunity to work out some of its preseason kinks against Richmond, while Loyola got to watch film on the Terps’ first game.
“We really don’t know exactly who’s playing for them. So, there’s a lot of us kind of working through hypotheticals,” Tillman said. “It does kind of make me wonder, ‘Are we better off moving back and starting a week later,’ but there is some value too. For a lot of those guys this is game two and not game one, and, you know, you hope that maybe that experience serves us well.”
3. Can Loyola bounce back? The Greyhounds have been a staple among college lacrosse’s elite programs under Toomey but underachieved last year. Loyola finished the season with an 8-8 record and won just two of eight nonconference games. Despite this, the Greyhounds still have a plethora of returning talent and should be back in the national championship race, and there’s no better way to prove that than beating the reigning national champions.