The No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse team (7-1) finished its nonconference slate with just one blemish, a one-goal loss at home to still-undefeated No. 1 Albany. The eight-game stretch included four wins against ranked opponents.
The Terps are coming off an 11-7 neutral-site win against North Carolina in the Pacific Coast Shootout. Entering the fourth quarter with a five-goal lead, Maryland conceded three straight goals to start the final period, but scored the last two goals of the game to pull away late.
Maryland continued its trend off playing conservatively in the final 15 minutes. The Terps are being outscored 22-15 in the fourth quarter this season, while outnumbering their opponents, 83-48, in the first three.
Senior midfielder Connor Kelly and sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt—the team’s leading goal-scorers—each recorded a hat trick to lead the offense. But the biggest contribution came at the X, as freshman faceoff specialist Justin Shockey won 16 of his 20 draws.
Maryland will begin its 2018 Big Ten schedule Saturday against the Michigan Wolverines, who moved up to No. 15 in the Inside Lacrosse rankings this week after beating then-No. 4 Notre Dame and UMBC in a four-day span. Michigan’s road win against the Fighting Irish was the program’s first-ever top-five win.
The opening faceoff between the Terps and Wolverines is scheduled for noon ET from U-M Lacrosse Stadium in Ann Arbor. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
No. 15 Michigan Wolverines (7-2, 0-0 B1G)
Head coach Kevin Conry is in his first season with the Wolverines. If he sounds familiar, it’s because Conry spent the last five years as Maryland’s defensive coordinator and the last two as the associate head coach. Prior to his career in College Park, he spent time on Penn State’s and Fairfield’s coaching staffs.
Players to know
Junior midfielder Brent Noseworthy, No 15. The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week scored nine goals with an assist in two games last week to help the Wolverines back into the national rankings. Coming off a sophomore season in which he ranked fourth in the Big Ten in goals per game, Noseworthy’s 31 goals this year are the second-most in the entire country.
Senior goalkeeper Tommy Heidt, No. 30. After missing the first six games of the season with an injury, Hedit has played in all 180 since his return. He’s 3-0 with a 57 percent save percentage in his first action of the year. The senior led the Big Ten in saves per game (11.2) last season.
Junior defenseman Nick Decaprio, No. 9. One of Michigan’s top defenders, Decaprio has continued to grab ground balls and cause turnovers. His 21 ground balls in nine games is second on the team only to the Wolverines’ faceoff specialist. He leads the team with 17 caused turnovers, while none of his teammates have more than eight this season. That number also ranks 14th in the country.
They’re riding momentum. Since losing back-to-back games against ranked opponents—Penn and Yale—The Wolverines have rattled off five straight wins, including a top-five victory on the road over Notre Dame. While 1-2 against ranked opponents this season, both of those losses came without Heidt in the lineup. Since he returned after missing the first six games of the season, the Wolverines haven’t lost, and they benefited from his 10 saves against the Fighting Irish.
Penalties. The Wolverines have 31 penalties in their nine games this season, averaging 3.4 per contest. That hasn’t hurt them too significantly so far, though, since Michigan’s man-down defense is holding opponents to a 28 percent conversion rate (8-for-29). But Maryland boasts the nation’s best man-up offense, scoring on 63 percent of its chances. Connor Kelly, Jared Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas each have extra-man goals this season, which gives the trio a tie atop the Big Ten.
Three things to watch
- The Terps are unbeaten in Big Ten openers. Maryland is 4-0 in league openers in its first four seasons in the Big Ten, and dating back to the ACC days, the Terps have won eight of their last nine conference openers. Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland is 13-2 against conference opponents during the regular season. Maryland won the Big Ten tournament last season before beating conference foe Ohio State in the National Championship.
- How will the fourth quarter play out? If you’ve been following Maryland men’s lacrosse this season, you’ve probably had to hold your breath a little bit during the final 15 minutes. Both the Terps’ goal and shot totals decrease from quarter to quarter, and they’ve been outscored in the fourth quarter in each of the last four games.
- Can Justin Shockey continue to dominate at the X? After winning 16 of his 20 faceoffs Saturday against North Carolina, Shockey earned Big Ten Specialist of the Week honors, his second conference award of the season. He also collected a career-high 12 ground balls in the win. Shockey’s .609 faceoff percentage is the highest among all freshman in the country.