Since the beginning of March, Maryland men’s lacrosse’s schedule has followed the same routine: play a ranked opponent, take a week off, repeat. The Terps have played ranked opponents five weekends in a row and will play another on Sunday when they travel to No. 15 Penn State.
Maryland started Big Ten play with a 13-5 win at No. 15 Michigan, scoring the last seven goals to turn the game into a rout. With offensive leaders Connor Kelly and Jared Bernhardt held to just one goal and two assists, freshmen Logan Wisnauskas and Bubba Fairman each had hat tricks and Wisnauskas chipped in two assists. The redshirt freshman was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second time this season for his performance against the Wolverines.
The Nittany Lions are also coming off a rout to open Big Ten play, crushing Ohio State, 12-4. Penn State has won three straight, and its only losses have come against ranked opponents: Villanova, Robert Morris and Cornell.
The Terps have dominated this matchup, though there’s a dispute over how dominant. Maryland’s record book has head-to-head matchup starting in 1924, and it’s gone 35-0 against Penn State since. However, the Nittany Lions’ record book goes back even further, and they claim wins over the Terps from 1916 and 1920.
Sunday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on BTN.
Penn State Nittany Lions (7-3, 1-0 Big Ten)
2017 record: 12-4, 3-2
Head coach Jeff Tambroni is 67-47 in eight seasons at Penn State. Last season, he led the Nittany Lions to their first-ever 10-0 start and first NCAA Tournament since 2013. Before coming to Happy Valley, Tambroni was the head coach at Cornell for 10 seasons, where he built the Big Red into an Ivy League powerhouse and went to three Final Fours.
Players to watch
Sophomore attack Mac O’Keefe, No. 3. A year after breaking Penn State’s single-season goal record, O’Keefe has 24 goals and 10 assists this season. He scored five goals in two games against the Terps last season.
Junior midfielder Nick Spillane, No. 13. Spillane has 14 goals and a team-high 20 assists, and is the team’s most efficient shooter, putting 77.5 percent of his shots on goal. He already has more points this year than he did all of last season.
Sophomore midfielder Gerard Arceri, No. 40. Arceri is the best faceoff man in the country not named Trevor Baptiste or TD Ierlan. He’s won 69.9 percent of battles at the X this season, and is capable of taking over a game.
Sophomore goalie Colby Kneese, No. 34. Kneese leads the Big Ten in save percentage (.578) and goals-against average (7.85). He made a career-high 16 saves against the Buckeyes and won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award last week.
Scoring goals. The Nittany Lions score 13.3 goals a game, which is good for fourth in Division I. Maryland’s defense has improved recently, but could be in for a tough test if Arceri gets on a roll.
Man-up offense. Penn State has converted on just 31.8 percent of its man-up opportunities this year, which is 42nd in Division I. Maryland doesn’t foul often, so the Nittany Lions will have to take advantage of the few EMO opportunities they may have.
Three things to watch
- Who leads the offense for Maryland? With Kelly and Bernhardt held in check last week, the Terps got contributions from multiple players. Teams can try to take away Maryland’s two leading scorers, but the defending national champs have plenty of other weapons.
- Can Maryland’s faceoff crew bounce back? Justin Shockey was coming into his own up until last week, when head coach John Tillman said he had his “freshman moment.” Whether it’s Shockey, Austin Henningsen or Will Bonaparte, they will have to bring their A game against Arceri.
- Does Maryland run into another hot goalie? North Carolina’s Alex Bassil and Michigan’s Tommy Heidt stymied the Terps for long stretches of their previous two games, and Kneese was great last week. Once Maryland gets going, though, it’s hard to stop.