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NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament 2017 preview: Maryland makes debut vs. High Point

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The Terps begin their journey to a fifth straight national championship game.

NCAA Lacrosse: Women's Championship - Maryland Terrapins vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

For the fifth straight season, Maryland women’s lacrosse enters the NCAA Tournament as the top-seeded team. In their first game, the Terps take on an explosive High Point squad that defeated Towson on Friday, 21-15. Both of these teams have high-octane offenses, so fans could be in for a high-scoring affair.

The game will take place Sunday at noon in College Park and will be broadcasted on BTN Plus.

High Point University Panthers

Head coach: Lyndsey Boswell. The Panthers’ head coach since 2009, Boswell has had a tremendously successful tenure. She led High Point to its first three NCAA Tournament appearances and has a career record of 91-42 at the university.

Players to Watch

Samantha Brown, 5’7, Attack, No. 35. Brown was High Point’s top offensive threat this year, leading the team with both 86 points and 61 goals. She’s scored at least four goals in each of her last six games, and at least a hat trick in her last eight. Brown is averaging 3.17 goals-per-game, which ranks tied for 19th in the nation.

Darla Poulin, 5’9, Attack, No. 2. Poulin isn’t too far behind Brown offensively, ranking second on the team with 78 points and 54 goals. The junior has been in a groove over the last three games, totaling 20 points and 13 goals over that span. Poulin’s breakout season comes after scoring a combined 11 goals over her first two seasons at High Point.

Erica Perrota , 5’2, Midfield, No. 4. The junior has done it all for the Panthers, reaching double digits in multiple categories this year. She leads the team with 44 ground balls this year, and has also totaled 37 goals, 37 draw controls and 30 caused turnovers. Perrota is a threat on both ends of the field for High Point.

Strengths

Scoring offense. Statistically, High Point has the fifth-best offense in the country, averaging 15.94 goals-per-game entering Fridays game. The Panthers have five players who have scored at least 37 goals, and have scored at least 17 goals in each of their last ten games. Over that span, High Point is outscoring its opponents 202-71, averaging over 20 goals a game.

Caused Turnovers. Entering their game vs. Towson, the Panthers were third in the country in caused turnovers with 12.8 a game. Maryland will have to stay disciplined to avoid an opportunistic High Point defense.

Weakness

Goalkeeper. Coming into the NCAA Tournament, High Point ranked tied at 71 with .414 save percentage. Friday against Towson, goalkeeper Jill Rall allowed 15 goals on 20 shots, and she’s only had a save percentage above .500 once in her last nine games. While Rall is only allowing over eight goals a game, the freshman can struggle if the Terps put on the pressure.

Three Things to Watch

  1. Megan Taylor will need to be at her best. High Point’s explosive offense is going to be a challenge for the Terps goalkeeper. However, with a fully healthy defense in front and coming off a strong performance against Northwestern, Taylor should be ready to take whatever the Panthers give her.
  2. If Maryland’s offense stays composed, it should have a huge day. While High Point’s defense has been solid, its goalkeepers haven’t, so the Terps attack need to look to test them early. If they put the pressure on Rall instead of the Panthers defense, 20 goals isn’t out of the question.
  3. How does Maryland contain Samantha Brown? The Terps have been great against their opponent’s best player this season, and they will have to be great again to stop Brown. While the Panthers have multiple offensive threats, Brown is certainly their most important player, and Maryland will need to make someone else beat its defense.