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Maryland men’s lacrosse vs. Ohio State preview

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It’s a senior day rematch of last year’s national title game.

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

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the TV channel changing from ESPNU to ESPN2.

The last time Maryland and Ohio State met on a lacrosse field, it ended with the Terps winning their first national title in 42 years.

11 months later, the teams are set to meet again, but their current seasons have taken different turns. Maryland is once again the No. 1 team in the country and looks poised for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State had similar expectations after starting the season ranked in the top 10, but before last week’s win against Michigan had lost six of seven following a 4-0 start. Now, the Buckeyes need a win against the Terps to keep their slim Big Ten Tournament hopes alive.

Maryland will look to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season title and play much better than it did against then-No. 8 Rutgers. After getting out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter, the Terps struggled in all facets of the game. They lost faceoffs, couldn’t clear the ball, committed careless turnovers on offense, and allowed transition opportunities and close range shots. The team that showed up for most of last week’s game won’t last very long in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s senior day in College Park, so there will be pregame festivities at Maryland Stadium to honor the team’s senior class. After the ceremonies, the game will begin at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Ohio State Buckeyes (6-6, 1-2)

Head coach Nick Myers led the Buckeyes to their first-ever Final Four last year, and is 91-69 in 10 seasons in Columbus. Before becoming Ohio State’s head coach, he was an assistant at the school for three years under current North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi.

Players to know

Sophomore attack/midfield Tre LeClaire, No. 14. LeClaire is the Buckeyes’ main weapon on an otherwise struggling offense, and has a team-leading 23 points and 10 assists. Last year he had 49 goals and 16 assists and was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a USILA Third Team All-American.

Senior defender Ben Randall, No. 40. The leader of a stout Ohio State defense, Randall has picked up 17 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers this season. He was the first defenseman off the board at 14th overall in Wednesday’s MLL Draft, and a was a USILA First Team All-American last year.

Sophomore midfielder Ryan Terefenko, No. 34. As a short-stick defensive midfielder, Terefenko has done a little bit of everything for Ohio State. He has four goals and three assists, has picked up 33 ground balls and is key on Buckeyes clears.

Strength

Clears. Ohio State is the best clearing team in the country with a 94.3 percent success rate. This is key for a team with a struggling offense, as having good clearing limits the amount of transition opportunities and easy goals for the opposition.

Weakness

Man-down defense. The Buckeyes only kill penalties 53.1 percent of the time, which is the worst in the Big Ten and 64th out of 71 Division I teams. Maryland has one of the best man-up offenses in the country, so Ohio State needs to be careful not to get chippy.

Three things to watch

  1. Will Ohio State be looking for revenge? Although the Buckeyes have lost some key pieces from last year’s title game run, there are still plenty of players who remember losing on Memorial Day last year. A win would also be huge for their postseason hopes.
  2. Can Connor Kelly continue his blazing hot streak? The senior has 10 goals and five assists in his last two games, and his 60 points through 11 games are the most for a Maryland player since Bob Boniello in 1978. Ohio State’s defense will look to limit Kelly’s playmaking, which is easier said than done.
  3. Can Maryland get any consistency at faceoffs? Since the start of Big Ten play, the Terps have won just 37.3 percent of the time at the faceoff dot. They made up for it against Michigan and Penn State with efficient offense and strong defense, but got sloppy and struggled to execute against Rutgers. Ohio State’s Justin Inacio has won 55.6 percent of faceoffs this year, so winning even 50 percent would be considered a success.