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Maryland men’s lacrosse vs. Rutgers preview

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The No. 1 Terps are finally back in College Park.

Maryland lacrosse vs. Albany Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

This story has been updated to reflect the start time moving up.

Since Maryland men’s lacrosse’s first and only loss of the season last month against Albany, the Terps have rattled off five consecutive wins against ranked opponents. Now, they will return home for the first time since that dramatic loss to the Great Danes and take on No. 8 Rutgers Sunday afternoon.

For most of its game against Penn State last weekend, Maryland played from behind. The Terps entered the contest having only trailed for four minutes in their first nine games, but trailed for over 36 minutes against the Nittany Lions. Connor Kelly wouldn’t let that disrupt Maryland’s winning streak against ranked opponents, though, scoring a career-high six goals to power the Terps to another win. Redshirt freshman Logan Wisnauaskas recorded his own hat trick, which earned him a second straight Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

The comeback win was even more significant, as No. 1 Albany fell a few days prior to UMBC. On Monday, Maryland was voted the new No. 1 in the Inside Lacrosse polls. The Terps are still ranked second in the coaches poll, though.

Maryland will welcome the Scarlet Knights to College Park Sunday afternoon, one year after an epic triple-overtime meeting in Piscataway. Rutgers scored the last two goals in regulation to tie the game, and after two scoreless overtime periods, Kelly scored the game-winner for the Terps.

The opening faceoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and will be available on BTN2Go. The game was originally slated for 7 p.m. on BTN, but inclement weather in the forecast led to the contest being moved up.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-3, 1-1 Big Ten)

Head coach Brian Brecht is in his seventh season as head coach of the Scarlet Knights. Under his leadership, Rutgers completed its first back-to-back 10-win seasons in program history. From 2015 to 2016, he helped turned a 5-10 team to an 11-5 team.

Players to know

Senior attacker Jules Heningburg, No. 7. A Tewaaraton Award Watch List nominee, Heningburg is ninth in the country with 5.2 points per game. He leads the Scarlet Knights with 30 goals and 27 assists. He is ranked seventh all-time for points in Rutgers history.

Redshirt senior midfielder Christian Mazzonne, No. 21. Mazzonne is one of three Scarlet Knights with at least 20 goals this season. He puts 79 percent of his shots on goal and is tied for the team lead with 30 ground balls in the team’s first 11 games.

Redshirt freshman defenseman Garrett Bullett, No. 19. Bullett is still technically a freshman, but he’s been in college for some time now. He redshirted two years ago and, after injuring himself two games into last season, received a medical redshirt in 2017. He has 30 ground balls and a team-high 13 caused turnovers.

Strength

Shot percentage. The Scarlet Knights rank seventh nationally in shot percentage, scoring on 35 percent of their shot attempts. Rutgers’ two leading scorers—Heningburg and Kieran Mullins—score on over 45 percent of their shots. The Terps have been prone at times to leaving open space in front of net, including last week against the Nittany Lions.

Weakness

Faceoffs. The Scarlet Knights win less than 50 percent of their faceoffs, a factor that needs to be controlled to give the Terps any trouble. Teams like Albany and Penn State have competed well with Maryland when they maximize possessions by winning three or more faceoffs in a row. Even so, The Terps won 9 of 28 faceoffs last week and still found a way to win.

Three things to watch

  1. Maryland has been struggling at the faceoff X. The Terps have won just 18 of 50 faceoffs in their last two games against Penn State and Michigan. Maryland still cruised to win against the Wolverines and came back to beat the Nittany Lions, but it’s an area of improvement for the Terps as Big Ten play progresses. Justin Shockey has cooled down as of late, perhaps exhibiting a bit of a freshman slump in the middle of the season.
  2. How will the Terps respond to last week’s “close” call? When Albany beat Maryland, it came late in the game and practically out of nowhere. Last weekend, though, Penn State hung with the Terps from start to finish. It’ll be interesting to see if Maryland can return to dominating in its first home game in over a month.
  3. The Terps are going for a 16th straight 10-win season. Currently at 9-1, Maryland will be looking for a 16th consecutive double-digit win campaign, extending the longest active streak in the NCAA. They’ve already reached nine wins for the 24th straight season, and haven’t failed to earn 10 since 2002.