No. 5 Maryland men’s lacrosse is headed to Columbus, Ohio this week for a Friday-night showdown against No. 17 Ohio State.
The Terps entered last week’s contest against No. 16 Michigan on a three-game winning streak — their largest of the season — but failed to extend it. The Wolverines jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but Maryland cut its deficit to one by halftime.
Whatever momentum the Terps seemed to be gaining was completely extinguished just minutes into the third quarter, though, when Michigan rallied for a 3-0 run.
The Terps played catch-up for the rest of the game, ultimately losing, 16-11, on senior day.
Losing to a then-unranked Michigan squad is one of the most surprising losses in head coach John Tillman’s 13-year stint with Maryland, but the Terps will have a chance to redeem themselves this week. Friday’s game against the Buckeyes will begin at 8 p.m. and be streamed on Big Ten Network.
Ohio State Buckeyes (5-5, 1-1 Big Ten)
2022 record: 10-6, 3-2 Big Ten
Head coach Nick Myers is in his 15th season with the Buckeyes and has consistently produced winning seasons. Myers registered a 120-89 overall and 40-35 conference record through his first 14 years, and led Ohio State to a national championship game appearance in 2017, in which it lost to Maryland, 9-6.
The Buckeyes have struggled as of late, losing five of their last seven games, but will have the opportunity to beat Maryland for the first time since 2018 and ascend past the .500 win mark on Friday night.
Players to watch
Jack Myers, senior attackman, No. 2 – Jack Myers has been the Buckeyes’ offensive facilitator since his freshman season and is known for setting up his teammates. He has led the team in assists since 2019, including 45 in 2022, while totaling 30-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. Myers currently ranks 35th in the nation in assists per game (1.80), but has taken a step back in the scoring department, tallying 13 goals thus far.
Ed Shean, sophomore attackman, No. 10 – Shean has helped replace the decrease in Myers’ scoring production, as he leads the team with 19 goals. He is also incredibly efficient with a .679 shooting percentage and .750 shot-on-goal percentage. Shean and Myers have been an incredibly successful duo this season and will likely receive the attention of defensemen Brett Makar and Ajax Zappitello.
Bobby Van Buren, sophomore defenseman, No. 44 – Van Buren is the Buckeyes’ best defensive player and will guard whoever Nick Myers deems the Terps’ biggest offensive threat. Van Buren put together a stellar debut season last year, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and a spot on the All-Big Ten second team. He does not produce a lot of statistics, recording 11 ground balls and five caused turnovers this year, but his impact is always felt.
Man-up offense. Ohio State does not have any overwhelming strengths, but it does tend to capitalize on opposing penalties. The Buckeyes have scored 13 goals in 28 man-up opportunities (46.4%), which ranks 19th in the country. The Terps have only surrendered six man-down goals this year and will need to stay sharp this week.
Faceoffs. While the Buckeyes have won more than 50% of their faceoffs this season, they were outmatched in each of their last three games. Ohio State lost 20-of-33 faceoffs to Denver, 14-of-21 to Rutgers and 16-of-29 to Penn State. The Buckeyes lost two of those games, and with senior Luke Wierman on deck, they need to be better.
Three things to watch
1. Maryland needs to dominate faceoffs. Obviously, every lacrosse team needs to win faceoffs to be dominant, but with its offense struggling to find consistency, Maryland needs Wierman now more than ever. The Terps have lost the faceoff battle in two of their last three games and have particularly struggled in the second half. With three losses now attached to its record, Maryland cannot afford for Wierman to have an off day.
2. Who will Van Buren guard? Van Buren is one of the premier close defenders in the Big Ten and will pester whichever Terp he lines up against. Unlike most teams, there is not a clear answer as to who Van Buren will defend. Will it be a proven upperclassmen like Daniel Maltz and Daniel Kelly, or will it be a younger, more explosive player, such as Braden Erksa who tallied three goals against Michigan?
3. Which team will bounce back? Maryland and Ohio State are each coming off perhaps their worst losses of the season. The Terps were outplayed by an unranked Michigan team, while the Buckeyes were blown out by Penn State. While each team desperately needs a win to maintain its status among the Big Ten’s best, only one can come out on top.