In its first road block of the playoffs, Maryland men’s lacrosse will play Bryant on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
As the No. 1 seed, the Terps not only get to play their first round game at home, but get to play a team recovering from a play-in game just days prior.
The Bulldogs, who beat Hobart in the NEC Championship game, will need to play a perfect game and hope Maryland is having an off day. Bryant picked up an upset win over Yale earlier in the season, but has not been tested by the most elite of competition so far. All seven of the team’s losses have come to teams that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, including three against teams that didn’t finish over .500.
While Maryland is expected to win by a favorable margin, the Bulldogs possess some attributes that could make for an entertaining showdown.
When and where: Sunday, May 14 at 2:30 p.m. ET, Maryland Stadium
How to Watch: ESPNU
Bryant Bulldogs (11-7, 4-2)
Head coach Mike Pressler: One of the best mid-major coaches in the country, Pressler is looking for his team to catch lightning in a bottle once again. In 2014, the Bulldogs upset second-seeded Syracuse inside the Carrier Dome in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Pressler’s team wouldn’t have made the NCAA Tournament on an at-large bid, but the Bulldogs squeaked by No. 1 NEC Tournament seed Hobart to earn the conference auto-bid, a testament to the coaching job of Pressler down the home stretch of the season.
Players to know
Tucker James, senior, attack, No. 1: The senior leader of the offense, James leads the team with 39 goals and 27 assists. He’s recorded six games with three or more goals, and the Bulldogs are 4-2 in games when he does so. If he lights up the cage on Saturday, it could pose some problems for the Terps.
James Werner, junior, goalie, No. 38: Werner boasts a .566 save percentage, good for seventh in the entire country. He’s a quality keeper in the cage, allowing less than eight goals per contest, but it’ll be interesting to see how he fares against Maryland’s three-headed monster at attack.
Veteran leadership. The Bulldogs’ top six points scorers are all upperclassmen, a sign of the experience present on this team. Of Bryant’s 282 points, those six have combined for 225 of them.
Sound defense. While the level of competition Bryant has faced isn’t exactly the pinnacle of offensive talent, there’s something to be said about its defensive stats. With fewer than eight goals allowed per game, the Bulldogs boast the sixth-best scoring defense in the country. They’re also proactive, causing 7.5 turnovers per contest.
Close losses. Bryant’s seven losses are the most out of any team in the tournament. Of the seven losses, five have been by two goals or fewer. While they’re at least able to keep it competitive down the stretch of games, they haven’t been on the side of good fortune.
Level of competition. The Terps are No. 1 in RPI, playing just three games this season in which their opponent wasn’t ranked going into the matchup. Bryant is 35th in RPI, playing Yale in its only game against an NCAA Tournament team this season. With little experience against quality teams tournament teams, the Bulldogs must now upset the best team in the country.
Correction: This game will take place on Sunday, May 14, not Saturday, May 13, as this story previously stated.