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No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse at No. 1 Virginia preview

The Terps are back on the road for a top-five matchup

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia this Saturday to take on the No. 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers.

After a tough three-overtime loss to No. 2 Notre Dame, the Terps squared up against Albany in upstate New York.

The first half was a back-and-forth battle, but Maryland came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter. The Terps held Albany to two goals, scoring five of their own.

The difference-maker in that game came in the final five minutes of the third quarter, when senior attackman Daniel Maltz, freshman attackman Braden Erksa and junior midfielder Jack Koras scored three unanswered goals, giving Maryland a five-goal advantage heading into the final period.

The Terps cruised through the fourth quarter, defeating Albany, 16-9, in what was a much-needed bounce-back win.

Virginia has occupied the No. 1 spot in Inside Lacrosse’s media poll all season long, but faces a tall task with the reigning national champions coming to town. The 2021 national championship rematch will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday and be streamed on ACC Network.

Virginia Cavaliers (6-0)

2022 record: 12-4 (5-1 ACC)

Head coach Lars Tiffany is a two-time ACC Coach of the Year and one of the best leaders college lacrosse has to offer. During his six years with the program, Tiffany guided the Cavaliers to four NCAA Tournament appearances and two national championships (2019, 2021).

Straight off back-to-back national championships — there was no NCAA Tournament in 2020 due to COVID-19 — Tiffany led Virginia to its sixth consecutive winning season and finished third nationally in scoring offense (15.50 goals per game) last year. The Cavaliers’ season came to an end in the NCAA Quarterfinals, though, losing to Maryland, 18-9. Now, they seek revenge.

Players to watch

Connor Shellenberger, redshirt junior attackman, No. 1 — Shellenberger may be the best offensive player in the country, leading the team in points (35) and the nation in assists per game (4.00). This is Shellenberger’s third consecutive year leading the Cavaliers in total points after putting up 79 in 2021 and 76 in 2022. He is fresh off his best game of the season as well, recording four goals and six assists, so the Terps will have to be prepared.

Payton Cormier, senior attackman, No. 24 — Cormier missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, but was on fire to begin the season. He scored 18 goals on a .563 shooting percentage in the first four games, also dishing out six assists. Cormier led Virginia in goals the last two years and his health is crucial to the Cavaliers’ game plan.

Xander Dickson, redshirt senior attackman, No. 10 — Dickson completes one of the best attacking trios in the country and is simply too good to leave off this list. Since Cormier’s injury, Dickson has carried the scoring load, tallying 10 goals and two assists. He ranks second in the nation in shot percentage (0.610) and third in goals per game (4.17). If all three attackmen are on the field, Maryland will have a difficult time holding the Cavaliers under 15 goals.


Offense. It is hard to deny the prowess of Virginia’s offense. The Cavaliers have five different players with double-digit goals and rank first in the country in assists per game (13.33), man-up offense percentage (0.692), shot percentage (0.412) and goals per game (20.17). The Terps are solid defensively, only allowing 9.17 goals per game, but have quite the challenge ahead of them.


Defense. While Virginia does not have any major weaknesses, it can be inconsistent on the defensive end. The Cavaliers’ best defensive performance came on Feb. 25 against No. 14 Ohio State, holding the Buckeyes to six goals, but allowed Harvard to score 21 goals just one week prior. Virginia held each of its last two opponents under 14 goals, though, so it will be interesting to see which version Maryland faces.

Three things to watch

1. Can the Terps’ offense keep up? Maryland is coming off one of its better offensive performances of the year, tallying 16 goals, 11 assists and a .356 shooting percentage against Albany. Maltz, Erksa and Koras each finished the game with at least three goals as the offense flashed signs of chemistry and fluidity. That was the most goals the Terps scored in a game all year and they will need to do it again with Virginia’s high-powered offense on deck.

2. Can Luke Wierman win the faceoff battle? Senior Luke Wierman gives Maryland a massive advantage each week, totaling a .658 faceoff winning percentage throughout the first six games. However, Virginia graduate midfielder Petey LaSalla is one of the best opponents Wierman will face this season, holding a 0.604 faceoff win percentage. Wierman and the Terps did win 46 of 70 faceoffs last year and will need to do the same on Saturday if they want to pull off the upset.

3. Can Maryland break Virginia’s home win streak? The Cavaliers have won their last 13 home games dating back to 2021. Klöckner Stadium also has grass fields, which poses an issue for the Terps. Maryland typically plays and practices on turf fields, but head coach John Tillman made some adjustments during this week’s practice to better prepare the Terps.

“Getting on grass I think is important for a number of reasons, it’s just a different surface,” Tillman said. “We’ve done a lot of ground ball work. We’ve done a lot of just changing direction.”