For the third consecutive week, No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse will face an opponent that has yet to play a game this season. But for the second straight week, the Terps will face an opponent they beat last season when the No. 6 Penn Quakers come to College Park Saturday.
“The advantage for us is we have some game experience and that’s helpful,” head coach John Tillman said. “But not knowing exactly what the team did the week before and having a better sense of personal and patterns and stuff for this year [is a disadvantage].”
Maryland will look to start the season 3-0 while picking up its second ranked win on Saturday. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and can be streamed through BTN Plus.
2019 record: 12-4 (6-0 in Ivy League)
Head coach Mike Murphy’s team started 0-3 in 2019, but was quite dominant after that. They won 12 consecutive games before losing in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament to Yale, 19-18, in overtime.
Murphy is entering his 11th season with the Quakers and he is already the winningest coach in program history. Under Murphy, Penn is looking for its fourth consecutive tournament appearance.
Players to know
Adam Goldner, senior attackman, 5’9, 180 lbs, No. 20. After setting the Penn single season record for goals as a junior with 56, Goldner is back for his senior year. While undersized, Goldner is quick and a terrific shooter, and his play earned him Second Team All-Ivy League. In last season’s 13-12 loss to the Terps, Goldner got loose for three goals.
Kyle Gallagher, senior faceoff specialist, 5’11, 195 lbs, No. 49. While he only totaled nine points last season, Gallagher was one of the Quakers’ biggest cogs in their success. He won a spectacular 62.5 percent of his face-offs last season, which led to him being named Second Team All-Ivy League. In last season’s game against the Terps, he dominated the faceoffs, winning 21 of 27.
Sam Handley, sophomore midfielder, 6’5, 215 lbs, No. 26. Handley was one of, if not the best, freshman in college lacrosse last season. He racked up numerous awards, including Inside Lacrosse Freshman of the year. At 6’5, he possesses great size and strength at the midfield. He also is a more than capable offensive talent, as he led the team in assists while also scoring 35 goals (a Penn freshman record). Handley did not start in the game against Maryland, but was quite impactful scoring a goal and tallying an assist.
“We saw last year that they were a really good team. They lost to us at the beginning of the year and then didn’t lose until the quarterfinal game,” attackman Logan Wisnauskas said. “We kinda know what we are getting from them offensively with Number 26 [Handley]. He’s really good.”
Scoring. The Quakers were a dynamic offensive team last season, scoring in double-figures in every game but one. Now with Goldner, Handley and their fourth leading scorer Sean Lulley returning, Penn’s offense should once again be hard to contain. Throw in the fact that they possess the ball a ton due to the faceoff abilities of Gallagher, and it’s easy to see why they are so highly regarded.
“Offensively Mike (Murphy) does a really good job with their offense,” Tillman said. “You look at the numbers that Penn put up last year, it was really impressive.”
Goalkeeping. Gone is former goalie Reed Junkin, who started all 16 games for the Quakers last season. The returning goalie with the most experience is Alex deMarco. But, deMarco appeared in only four games for a total of 21 minutes in 2019. Given the electricity of both offenses, expect this to be a high-scoring affair.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Terps fare better in the faceoff department? In the first half of their game against High Point, the Terps struggled to win faceoffs — thus making it harder to score. Against Richmond, it was a similar story. The Spiders won the faceoff battle, 14-17, enabling them to almost pull off the upset.
Now Maryland faces one of the best faceoff specialists in the country in Gallagher. The Terps will need a strong performance out of face-off specialist Justin Shockey. Maryland’s offense is hard to stop, but in order to score, they need the ball.
- 2. Can Brett Makar slow down Goldner? Through two games, it is clear sophomore Brett Makar is the Terps’ best defensive player and he has drawn the top assignments. This week, he faces a different challenge in Goldner, who is not quite as physical as prior matchups but is quicker and has solid ball control.
3. Can the Terps come out to a fast start? In its first two games, Maryland has gotten out to slow starts. Against High Point, it trailed 6-5 in the second quarter before finishing the game on a 17-7 run. Against Richmond, it needed to overcome a five-goal fourth quarter deficit.
While both of those opponents are solid, Penn is undoubtedly the most talented team the Terps have seen so far. The Terps’ dynamic offense can bring them back in games, but if they fall behind to the Quakers, they might be in trouble.
“We played them last year. They are a great team. They have a ton of good competitors and great players,” defenseman John Geppert said. “But I like the guys we have as well.”