Top-seeded tournament teams are typically granted with an easier path to the championship game, but this is not the case for Maryland men's lacrosse. The Terps are set to face Syracuse Saturday at noon in Providence for a chance to punch a ticket to championship weekend for a second consecutive year.
Despite their No. 8-seed, the Orange are much better than the selection committee gave them credit for. They finished 11-4 in the regular season, while downing North Carolina and Duke en route to an ACC Tournament Championship and entered the tournament as the No. 5 team in the country in Inside Lacrosse's final poll.
In the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Cuse' overcame a four-goal deficit to top No. 9 Albany. Many have noted that this matchup holds the marquee of a semifinal and even championship-caliber game. The last time these two teams met was back when Maryland and Syracuse were ACC foes, with the Terps holding the 10-6 series lead.
A No. 1 seed breeds big expectations, and the Terrapins will have to prove that label a little sooner than expected.
When: Saturday May 21. at noon. Providence R.I.
Viewing: ESPNU, ESPN 3
Head Coach- John Desko
In his 17-year tenure, Desko has set the standard for excellence in collegiate lacrosse. With five national titles and six conference championships, Syracuse has established itself as a yearly title contender and one of the winningest programs in the country on his watch. Desko is also the winningest active coach in the sport, holding an overall record of 233-70 while going 33-11 in the postseason. If there's one coach that knows how to topple a top seed, it's Desko.
Players to Know
Sergio Salcido- Attack
The Florida native is as well-balanced offensively as any in the tournament. Salcido's scored 28 goals to match 23 assists, and is coming off a great game against Albany on a two-goal-two-assist outing.
Molloy is a real-life case of simply outworking his competition. The redshirt-junior started the season seeing limited time in the cage, but was gradually given the starting position over senior Warren Hill. Expect Molloy to be the starter against Maryland, coming off a 12-save performance against the Great Danes.
For all the credit Maryland's offense gets, Syracuse's is even more punishing. The Orange are unselfish with the ball, with more than half of their total goals coming off assists. Nick Mariano leads the team with 35 goals on the season, while four other threats have notched over 26 goals as well. At an overwhelming 13 goals per game, Maryland's defense will have little room for error.
Controlling the Faceoff
Junior specialist Ben Williams headlines one of the best faceoff units in the country. He's played a mammoth 349 draws, winning 217 while no other player for Cuse' has even attempted 30. Maryland's Austin Henningsen dominated against Quinnipiac, winning his first 12 opportunities at the X. Expect a brutally entertaining battle at midfield on Saturday.
Defending extra-man opportunities
The Orange are very vulnerable at this facet, almost surprisingly so. They average more than a goal allowed per game on EMO's, and rank as the seventh worst in all Division I. Meanwhile, Maryland is better than any team remaining in the tournament in this category, having let up just 11 all season.