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Maryland men’s lacrosse vs. Villanova preview

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The Wildcats upset the Terps last year, but this year’s matchup is a battle between two top-10 teams.

NCAA Lacrosse: Men's Championship Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

A week after blowing a four-goal lead against No. 1 Albany, Maryland men’s lacrosse heads on the road to take on No. 6 Villanova.

The Terps had Albany right where they wanted last weekend, leading by five in the third quarter and four at the start of the final frame. But the Great Danes had other ideas, scoring one early in the period and then four more down the stretch to complete the comeback and leave College Park with an 11-10 victory.

The Wildcats are Maryland’s third straight top-10 opponent, and will also be a tough matchup. Villanova beat Penn State and Yale in overtime to start the season, and like Maryland lost its first game of the season last week, falling 12-9 to Brown last Tuesday.

The Wildcats shouldn’t be intimidated, as they beat the Terps 13-12 in overtime in Maryland Stadium last season. After trailing for most of the game, the Terps rallied to score the last four goals in regulation, but Danny Seibel got one past Dan Morris to seal the upset for Villanova.

Saturday’s first faceoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, and you can stream the game on Fox Sports Go.

No. 6 Villanova Wildcats (6-1)

Head coach Michael Corrado is 95-78 in 12 seasons at Villanova, and led the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berths in 2009 and 2011. Corrado played at Villanova from 1984-87, and was an assistant coach from 1992-95.

Players to know

Senior attack Christian Cuccinello, No. 30. Cuccinello drives Villanova’s offense, and has 21 goals and four assists so far this season. He was first team All-Big East last year.

Senior attack Danny Seibel, No. 6. Seibel has scored 14 goals and four assists, and along with Cuccinello is one of Villanova’s two main threats on offense. He scored four goals last year against Maryland, including the overtime winner.

Junior midfielder TJ Comizio, No. 91. Comizio has been a force as mainly a defensive midfielder, and has a team high 27 ground balls and nine caused turnovers. He’s also chipped in two assists, and had a career-high three assists against Maryland last year.

Strength

Clears. The Wildcats have cleared 93.4 percent of their attempts; only Ohio State has a higher percentage in Division I. Against a team with offensive weapons like Maryland, limiting opportunities will be key.

Weakness

Shot efficiency. Villanova is aggressive on offense, but has only converted on 25.8 percent of its shots so far this season, Maryland prides itself on its defense, and may not let the Wildcats get multiple looks on a possession.

Three things to watch

  1. Can Maryland get payback for last year? The team will probably say this one is just another game, but losing at home always leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The Wildcats are much better than last season, although the Terps have a lot of alumni in the area who could make the Main Line a less hostile environment.
  2. Does Villanova pick on Maryland’s short-stick midfielders? Albany head coach Scott Marr said attacking the Terps’ SSDMs was a priority last week. It’s Maryland’s most inexperienced unit, with freshman Roman Puglise and sophomore Drew Harrison getting their first college action this year.
  3. Will Maryland improve on its first road performance? Against High Point on Feb. 17, the Terps looked to be on their way to a rout before almost collapsing. Villanova is a much tougher foe, and will be another test for a team that’s faced three consecutive top-10 opponents.