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Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. Stony Brook NCAA Tournament preview

The Terrapins look to return to their winning ways on Sunday.

Maryland women’s lacrosse Erica Evans vs. Michigan Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

No. 1-seed Maryland women’s lacrosse will open its NCAA Tournament against Stony Brook on Sunday at Maryland Stadium.

After suffering their fist loss of the season against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game, the Terrapins have used a full week of rest and practice to focus on themselves and how to better their own game.

Stony Brook took down defending national champion James Madison, 10-9, in overtime in the first-round matchup in College Park on Friday. The Dukes held a 5-3 halftime lead and the only stat that wasn’t nearly even was their dominance in the draw control. The Seawolves came back and won the second half 6-4 despite continuing to struggle at the draw to force overtime.

Ultimately, Ally Kennedy was able to come up with the opening draw in overtime, and after a timeout, Stony Brook closed the game thanks to senior Nicole Barretta getting the ball and cutting across the middle on her own to hit the game-winner in the top left-hand corner.

For Maryland, this will be another game against a top individual talent, as Kennedy ranked third in the nation with 84 goals scored this season. The Terrapins have already faced the top two, with Lindsey Ronbeck of Florida scoring eight of her 88 goals against Maryland in mid-February and Alyssa Parrella scoring the first two goals for Hofstra, but then being held scoreless for the final 54:07 of their early-March matchup.

Stony Brook provides a slightly different test, however, as it ranks 15th in the nation with a scoring offense that accounts for 15.10 goals per game, but also has the third-ranked scoring defense. The Seawolves average just 7.5 goals allowed per game, which is even less than the Terrapins. But Maryland has faced a tougher schedule to get to where it is, and the depth of individual talent should also help in this second-round matchup.

Opening draw between Maryland and Stony Brook is set for noon ET on Sunday and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

No. 15 Stony Brook (16-4, 7-0 America East)

2018 result: 20-1, 7-0, NCAA Quarterfinals

Head coach Joe Spallina is in his eighth season in control of the Stony Brook program, and has made it a national power. In his time as head coach, the Seawolves have tallied a 139-25 overall record, a 47-2 America East record and seven consecutive America East titles.

Players to know

Junior midfielder Ally Kennedy (No. 30) is hard to miss, as she simply does everything for this Stony Brook team. On the season, Kennedy has tallied 84 goals, 15 assists, 118 draw controls, 45 ground balls, 14 caused turnovers and even a 60.9 percent conversion rate on free-position chances. She finished with four goals, controlled three draws and caused three turnovers in Stony Brook’s first round matchup against James Madison.

“I’m not sure everybody knew how good Ally Kennedy is,” Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina said after Friday’s win when discussing how his program may be overlooked after their turnover from last season. “I think she showed the ability to take a game over, strap a team to her back ... almost every game. She’s a special player. I was kind of surprised she wasn’t listed in the final five for the Tewaaraton, but that’s something that maybe our record needs to be better, but those are things you just can’t control.”

Senior goalkeeper Anna Tesoriero (No. 31) has been commanding the third-ranked Stony Brook defense. Tesoriero has logged over 1,100 minutes this season and saved 47.6 percent of shots against her in that time. She had 12 stops against James Madison in the first-round matchup, and made some big saves to keep momentum in the second half.

Three things to watch

1. Does Maryland have any new strategies? Being 19 games into the season, it’s quite hard to surprise opponents, but it also makes opposing teams less likely to surprise you. The Terrapins have faced plenty of dominant teams this season, and Stony Brook will be no different. If Reese and the team have any new ideas, they will be helpful in this final stretch of the season.

“The nice thing as well is if there’s a team we’ve watched, I’ve watched the most, it’s Maryland. They’re always on TV,” said Spallina as he discussed Stony Brook’s preparation for this weekend. “They’re the best team in the country and they’re on TV all the time. My DVR at home is set to any lacrosse and we record.”

2. Senior leadership will carry this team. Compared to last season, Maryland has a much more experienced team in all phases, and that will be a key factor in its success this postseason. The 2019 senior class has a national championship and three straight Final Four appearances. Caroline Steele and Jen Giles talked on Tuesday about how this class is now built for the big stage, and simply will help try to get everyone accustomed to this new level of play.

“They’ve done it all if you can make it to the Final Four,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said of her seniors. “I think the leadership, the experience, these guys have been here before. We’re following them, we’re leaning on them heavy right now and in order for us to be successful, we need to all be on the same page.”

3. Just how hungry are the Terps? Despite being the top overall seed, Maryland is faced with a tough matchup against Stony Brook to open its NCAA Tournament. Even though there have been close games the team could learn from, the Terrapins have not needed to bounce back from a loss until now.

“[Sunday’s game] is going to come down to us having to play really well,” Spallina said looking ahead to the matchup with Maryland. “They’re rested, they’re probably really angry with the way that the Big Ten worked out.”