No. 9 Maryland men’s lacrosse lost a regular-season game for the first time in nearly three years on Saturday, falling to Loyola (Md.), 12-7.
The Terps looked off from the get-go, failing to score in the first 13 minutes. By halftime, Maryland seemed to warm up on the offensive end — scoring three goals in the second quarter — but Loyola continued to pile on. The Greyhounds entered the fourth quarter with a two-goal lead, and left up five after scoring four unanswered goals.
Junior attackman Daniel Kelly was one of Maryland’s lone bright spots, scoring four of the Terps’ seven goals.
The loss dropped Maryland from No. 2 to No. 9 in Inside Lacrosse’s Media Poll, but the Terps will have a chance to redeem themselves against an undefeated Syracuse team.
Saturday’s game in College Park will begin at 1 p.m. It can be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
No. 18 Syracuse Orange (3-0)
2022 record: 4-10 (1-5 ACC)
Head coach Gary Gait is one of the most decorated men’s lacrosse players of all time – winning three national championships as a player – but had a difficult first year at Syracuse. The Orange finished the 2022 season with a 4-10 record, the first time Syracuse finished below .500 in 14 years. All but one of the Orange’s losses were against ranked opponents, though, setting them up to have an improved record in 2023. So far, Syracuse has won all three of its games by an average of eight goals, and will have the opportunity to beat its first ranked opponent on Saturday.
Players to watch
Joey Spallina, freshman attackman, No. 22 – Spallina, the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2022, is a massive addition for Gait and the Orange. The attackman racked up countless accolades during his high school years, including the Long Island career points record (501), and is now wearing the coveted No. 22 jersey, previously worn by Gait and many more. Spallina has lived up to all the hype thus far, tallying a team-high 11 goals and two assists through the first three games.
Owen Hiltz, redshirt sophomore attackman, No. 77 – Hiltz redshirted in 2022 after suffering a season-ending injury, but had one of the best freshman campaigns in program history. In 2021, he recorded a team-high 29 goals, 19 assists and six caused turnovers. Hiltz has played well since coming back from his injury this year, totaling five goals and five assists.
Saam Olexo, junior long stick midfielder, No. 48 – Olexo is Syracuse’s top long-stick midfielder and has a knack for causing turnovers. As a sophomore, he finished third on the team in caused turnovers with 16, and now leads the team with six. Olexo also provides some value on offense, scoring five goals in the last two years.
Defense. While it’s still very early in the season, the Orange have played exceptionally well on the defensive end. They rank fifth in the nation in goals allowed per game (6.00), 22nd in saves per game (13.00) and 25th in caused turnovers per game (8.33)
Experience. Syracuse has a very talented roster but lacks the experience of most top-20 teams. Only two of its 10 starters are upperclassmen, neither of which started for the Orange last year. With so many new pieces, Syracuse will have to bring its A-game this Saturday.
Three things to watch
1. Logan McNaney’s health. Senior goalie Logan McNaney went down with an injury at the end of Maryland’s loss against Loyola, and it initially seemed as though he could be out for an extended period of time — the Baltimore Sun reported that McNaney tore his ACL and will miss the entirety of the season. However, head coach John Tillman left the door open for a return.
“It’s obviously something significant enough that we’re looking at it,” Tillman said. “Logan’s either playing or not playing on Saturday, and in 48 hours you’ll know a lot more.”
If McNaney is out this Saturday, graduate Teddy Dolan is expected to start in goal. As a senior at Binghamton, Dolan started in all 14 games, recording 13.5 saves per game and a .543 save percentage.
2. Can Maryland clean up its sloppy play? The biggest takeaway from last weekend’s game against Loyola was the amount of mistakes the Terps made. In the season-opener against Richmond, Maryland had 16 turnovers and a .441 shot percentage. However, the Terps totaled 22 turnovers and a .167 shot percentage against Loyola. Maryland will need to improve in both categories if it wants to take down the Orange.
“I always give credit to the team we play,” Tillman said. “[We’re] making the guys play as fast as possible, but also try to make sure that they’re not rushing things.”
3. How will the Terps bounce back? Saturday’s loss marked Maryland’s first 1-1 start since 2016, putting it in an unfamiliar position. Syracuse, on the other hand, is off to its best start to a season in three years. With each team on opposite ends of the spectrum, it will be interesting to see who is more motivated.
“For the [players] it’s a little bit of a unique feeling,” Tillman said. “We got to make sure that we come ready to play because this is a terrific team that we’re playing. You watch the first three games, they’re excellent, and it’s a little bit of an underdog mentality for us, which probably is good for us right now.”