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Maryland men’s lacrosse vs. Notre Dame preview: Terps return from a 9-day break

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The Fighting Irish have had the Terps’ number in recent history.

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

Coming off its most convincing performance of the season, the No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse team will host No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday after nine full days of rest. Because they played two early-season midweek games, the Terps were able to take last weekend off after their 13-6 win against then-No. 17 Penn.

That win looks even more impressive now than it did at the time, as the Quakers knocked off No. 1 Duke over the weekend. The Blue Devils’ loss allowed the Terps to move back up to the No. 2 spot in the Inside Lacrosse rankings, just one spot behind Albany, which will visit College Park next weekend.

While the midweek games are behind the Terps, facing tough competition is now a regularity. Eight of Maryland’s next nine opponents are ranked in at least the top 21, and the only team left on the regular-season schedule that isn’t even receiving votes in the polls is Michigan.

Maryland defender Bryce Young returned to action for the first time all season against Penn, helping solidify the Terps’ starting defense. Alongside Curtis Corley and Jack Welding, Young and his fellow defensemen held the Quakers to just six goals. The Terps will need that defense again against a Notre Dame program that has won the last two meetings between these two teams.

The opening faceoff from Maryland Stadium is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET, and the game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0)

2017 record: 9-6, 2-2 ACC

Head coach Kevin Corrigan is the longest tenured Division I men’s lacrosse coach, currently in his 30th season at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish had never been to the NCAA Tournament when he took over, and now they’ve earned a berth 22 times since 1990. Notre Dame and Maryland are the only two programs to make the tournament in each of the last 12 seasons. (A fun note: Corrigan is listed on the team’s website as the “Baumer Family Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach.”)

Players to know

Senior long-stick midfielder John Sexton, No. 46. One season after earning USILA First Team All-American honors and being recognized as a Tewaaraton Award nominee, Sexton is back as big piece of the Fighting Irish midfield. Sexton, who sat out of the first game of the season, scooped up 90 ground balls over the last two years.

Sophomore midfielder Bryan Costabile, No. 26. A Sykesville, Maryland, native, Costabile earned the 2015-16 Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Year while he was in high school. He started in all 15 games for the Fighting Irish last season, scoring 17 goals as a freshman. He already has seven goals and two assists in Notre Dame’s two wins this season.

Junior midfielder Brendan Gleason, No. 9. Gleason was on the 2017 ACC all-tournament team, a tournament the Fighting Irish lost to North Carolina in the championship. Gleason’s 25 goals ranked second on the team, and his eight points in two games this season also currently rank second among the Fighting Irish.

Strength

Returning contributors. Unlike Maryland, which graduated a significant amount of offensive contributions from last season, the Fighting Irish returned seven of their top eight point-getters from 2017. Notre Dame’s leading goal scorer from last season, Mikey Wynne, and leasing assister, Ryder Garnsey, are both back in the starting lineup. The Fighting Irish averaged over 10.5 goals per game last season, and their 21 goals in two games this season are right on that pace again.

Weakness

It’s their first big test since the NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Irish have played in just two games this season, a three-goal win against Detroit Mercy and a four-goal victory against Richmond. Those aren’t the most convincing results heading into a road game against the No. 2 team in the country. It’ll also be the first time Notre Dame has played a high-caliber team since facing Denver in the 2017 NCAA Quarterfinals. In the 16-4 loss, the Fighting Irish registered just 16 shots and were down 13-2 at the end of the third quarter. If they had won that game, they would’ve played Maryland in the semifinals.

Three things to watch

  1. Notre Dame has won the last two meetings. In Maryland’s lowest-scoring game of the season last year, it was the Fighting Irish who came away with a 5-4 win at Arlotta Stadium. Maryland took just 19 shots, and if Dan Morris hadn’t stepped up with 13 saves, Notre Dame would’ve probably won by more. Two seasons ago in the Pacific Coast Shootout, Maryland fell to Notre Dame, 9-4, scoring just one goal in all four quarters.
  2. The Terps are well-rested. Head coach John Tillman went with an early-season schedule that featured two midweek games, so now the Terps will only play once a week for the rest of the regular season. Maryland didn’t play over the weekend, so this will be their first game in nine days. The Terps will now settle into a schedule that features a ranked opponent nearly every weekend now, starting with the Fighting Irish.
  3. Will Justin Shockey start at the X? The freshman might be here to stay as the Terps’ faceoff specialist. Austin Henningsen, who set a freshman faceoff record two season ago, won just two of five faceoffs in the first quarter against Penn. Shockey then took over, winning 11-of-17 the rest of the game. Will Henningsen get another shot, or is Shockey another exemplification of Maryland lacrosse’s “next man up” mentality?