Expectations are high for No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse entering Saturday’s home opener against No. 20 High Point.
If the Terps want to live up to the lofty ranking, a win over High Point seems necessary. But the Panthers are a capable team that can pull off an upset in College Park.
“I think that we will be really prepared. Our coaches do a good job of preparing us. We have a lot of respect for High Point — they are a really good team. They’ve shown a lot of great things,” junior midfielder Anthony DeMaio said. “We’ve got to be ready to go.”
The game is scheduled for noon on Saturday at Capital One Field.
High Point Panthers (0-0)
2019 Record: 13-3, 6-1 SoCon
Head coach Jon Torpey took the job back in 2010 when High Point first developed its lacrosse program. In that time, Torpey has sprouted the Panthers to a more than respectable program. Last season was the Panthers’ best season to date, going 13-3 and picking up wins over No. 2 Duke and No. 10 Virginia — the eventual 2019 NCAA National Champions.
Players to know
Asher Nolting, junior attack, 6’2, 210 lbs, No. 32. Nolting is not just one of the best players in the Southern Conference, but nationally there are few players who posses his offensive skillset. The reigning two-time SoCon Player of the Year netted 44 goals last season but had an even more impressive 48 assists. The entire Panthers attack runs through Nolting.
“Great player. One of the best attackmen we’ll see all year. Touches the ball probably more than any attackmen we’ll see all year. The offense kinda goes through him,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “Excellent vision. Can get to good spots because he’s so big. Physical, fearless, very competitive. Just a great skillset.”
Griffin Basile, redshirt junior goalie, 5’8, 150 lbs, No. 25. After the departure of Tim Troutner Jr. in goal, Basile is the returner with the most experience in net for the Panthers. Basile saw action in five games, saving 10 shots and allowing seven goals. If the Panthers do turn to him Saturday, it’ll be the first start of the Milton, Georgia, native’s career.
Chris Price, redshirt junior defender, 6’1 190 lbs, No. 9. In his two years at High Point, Price has been a fixture on defense for the Panthers. He’s started all but two games in his short career. His biggest moment came last season when he scored the game-winning goal against Virginia. As High Point’s most experienced defender, he’ll probably draw the assignment of Jared Bernhardt.
Passing. Running their offense through Nolting, the Panthers are going to be a dangerous offensive group this season. Nolting is a terrific passer, which led to the Panthers racking up 122 assists last season. They scored 14.5 goals per game, and with Nolting returning along with Ben Baker, who recorded 27 goals last year, they should have no problems on the offensive end.
Goalie experience. High Point doesn’t have a single player who has made a start in goal on the roster. So needless to say, it’s a weakness. Basile is the player with the most experience but he only appeared in five games last season. Other goalies on the team are sophomore Antonio Arcona and freshman Parker Green. Arcona appeared in two games last year while Green is a true freshman, but a two-time All-American.
Three things to watch
1. Who sees the most minutes in goal?
Similarly to High Point, Maryland does not return a single goalie who has a career start. Junior Drew Morris is the most experienced, while Georgetown transfer Chris Brandau could be in the mix.
Brandau saw action in nine games last year at Georgetown. The wildcard is true freshman Logan McNaney, though it’s unlikely that he’ll play.
“Nothing surprises me with that guy. He’s a pretty talented goalie. He lives for the challenge. He's very unique with his approach,” said Tillman. “He just never seems to get flustered. He loves the big moment.”
If the Terps can get out to an early lead, it’ll be interesting to see who Tillman deploys in net and when.
2. Who draws the top defensive assignment? Had this game taken place last season, Curtis Corley would certainly have taken on the assignment of stopping Nolting. But he has moved on and the Terps are in search of a new defensive stopper.
Sophomore Brett Makar will likely see time on Nolting. Makar had good rookie campaign and given his 6’1, 205 pound frame, he can be physical with Nolting.
Senior Jack Welding enters the game as the team’s most experienced defender. He too, could see defending Welding. The duo will have to anchor Maryland’s defense to keep High Point from attacking.
3. How much do the freshmen contribute? It’s not typical for true freshmen to play, but given Maryland’s strong recruiting class, it wouldn’t be shocking if some of the talented youngsters got an opportunity Saturday. McNaney might have an opportunity, but the other freshman to keep an eye on is Conor Calderone. The prize of the recruiting class, Calderone won 93 percent of his faceoffs in his senior season, so he could help the Terps in that regard.