While most Maryland natives are stuck shoveling snow, the men’s lacrosse team is heading to California to take on No. 20 North Carolina.
The game is part of the fifth annual Pacific Coast Shootout, and this is the third time the Terps have participated in the event. Maryland beat the Tar Heels, 10-8, in 2015, before losing to Notre Dame, 9-4, the following year.
This is Maryland and North Carolina’s final game before conference play, with both teams headed in opposite directions. The No. 2 Terps are 6-1 and in good position to make another run to championship weekend, while the Tar Heels have lost three straight and dropped to No. 20 in the most recent Inside Lacrosse rankings after starting the season at No. 9.
Both teams have met every year since 1964, with Maryland leading 43-25 in the all-time series. The Terps trounced North Carolina, 15-7, in Chapel Hill last year, avenging a heartbreaking loss in the 2016 national championship.
Saturday’s opening faceoff is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET, and I will post streaming information here if available.
North Carolina Tar Heels (6-3)
Head coach Joe Breschi is 108-51 in 10 years at North Carolina, and in 2016 led his alma mater to its first national championship since 1991. He spent 11 years as the head coach at Ohio State before returning to Chapel Hill, and picked up his 200th career win in a 9-8 overtime thriller over St. John’s on March 3.
Players to know
Senior attack Chris Cloutier, No. 45. Cloutier leads North Carolina with 23 goals and 29 points, and he also led the team in scoring and was a Third Team All-American as a junior. As a sophomore, he scored five goals—including the game winner—against Maryland in the national championship game.
Junior attack Andy Matthews, No. 12. Matthews’ 17 assists are a team high, and he’s also scored four goals this season. He also led the Tar Heels in assists last year, finishing with 27.
Sophomore midfielder William Perry, No. 3. Perry has already surpassed his point total from 2017, as he already has 19 points after finishing with 18 last year. He has excelled in man-up situations this season, with a Division I-best eight goals on extra-man opportunities.
Man-up offense. The Tar Heels have scored on 57 percent of their extra-man opportunities, which is fifth in Division I. Maryland has the best man-up offense in the country, so both teams will be tested when they have to play short-handed on defense.
Goalkeeping. The Tar Heels have a save percentage of .466, and starting goalie Jack Pezzulla has been pulled in two of the last three games. Maryland will have a significant advantage in the net, as Dan Morris leads the Big Ten in save percentage (.546) and saves per game (10.14).
Three things to watch
- Can Maryland put together a complete performance away from College Park? The Terps almost played a full 60 minutes last week against Villanova, but let in three goals in the last minute. North Carolina probably won’t present as much of a challenge, but it will make life easier on John Tillman and the coaching staff if they don’t let opponents back into games late.
- Will Justin Shockey keep it going at the X? Since taking over for Austin Henningsen against Penn, the freshman has won 58 percent of faceoffs. Take out the game against Albany’s TD Ierlan and that number jumps to 64 percent, which would Shockey put just outside the top 10 in Division I.
- Who has a big day on offense for Maryland? The Terps have five threats on offense, and any of them can take over a game. If teams focus in on Connor Kelly and Jared Bernhardt, Maryland has plenty of options and ways to spread the defense.