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Maryland men’s lacrosse is 4-0, but still has plenty to work on

A win’s a win, but there’s some corrections to be made going forward.

NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

When Maryland men’s lacrosse took the field at noon last Saturday against Yale, nobody anticipated the game lasting four and a half hours, nearly two of which were filled by weather delays.

“One of the stranger games I’ve ever been a part of,” head coach John Tillman said after the Terps’ narrow 12-11 victory. “We knew the weather could be a factor, it was one of the few times the weather guys were right.”

Maryland made it out alive to start the season 4-0, but it could have easily been the team’s first loss.

Down 11-5 well into the third quarter, the Bulldogs mounted a resilient 6-1 scoring run to make it a one-goal game. Yale had stolen the Terps’ confidence and backed them into a corner, when suddenly lightning struck just close enough to the stadium to warrant a half-hour delay with four minutes remaining.

“It just wasn’t easy,” Tillman said. “We had a tough time in the fourth quarter just handling the ball. I thought the weather came at a good time for us.”

A second lightning delay was issued with just 37 seconds left on the clock. As lightning kept striking closer and closer to the stadium, the duration of the delay kept getting extended until play finally resumed an hour and 24 minutes later.

“We were just trying to stay loose, just keep moving around, trying to keep that energy positive,” said senior Colin Heacock, who finished the day with three goals and a pair of assists.

It’s impossible to know what would’ve happened had mother nature decided to wait just five more minutes, but the Terps eventually prevailed. That being said, the storm shouldn’t detract from some of the problems Maryland had throughout the game.

The faceoff unit’s poor start almost proved deadly.

The “Hawg Pen” had a disastrous start to the game. Henningsen lost the first four draws against Yale’s Conor Mackie, and Will Bonaparte went just 1-for-3 in his replacement.

“Even at 2-2, we had made some mistakes, and they had won a lot of faceoffs,” Tillman said. “We were like, ‘Listen, it’s still 2-2, we can figure the faceoff thing out, we can get that righted.’”

The unit bounced back and finished 15-for-27 at the X, including winning nine straight throughout the second and third quarter.

The Terps have been either excellent or underwhelming for stretches at the X, and will need more consistency moving forward.

Maryland’s offense disappeared, and the defense suffered because of it.

Henningsen scored the Terps’ 12th and final goal with five minutes to play in the third quarter, starting the longest scoring drought of the season for the offense.

This is an offense that put up 50 combined goals coming into the game, and the lack of production down the stretch let Yale claw its way back. In the scoring drought, the Terps also turned it over six times and committed both of the team’s two penalties. Had they been able to score just one or two more goals, it probably would have been an out-of-reach deficit for the Bulldogs to make up.

Since nobody was scoring, the defense was tasked with trying to stop a Yale offense that had nothing to lose at that point. That’s a tough task even for a defense as elite as Maryland’s, and the Bulldogs managed to put up six in the span of ten minutes. Yale had possession coming out of the first lightning delay, but the Terps forced a stall warning and eventually regained possession.

“Coming out, that defensive stand was huge for us,” Tillman said.

The Terps are still tied for the No. 1 ranking in country, and should ultimately be fine going forward. Still, there’s a lot Maryland learned about itself Saturday, and there’s a lot to improve upon.

“It’s always about looking at what we did, trying to find ways to improve,” Tillman said. “We’ve really got to get better by Monday.