Even after a massive victory against Rutgers, No. 3 Maryland men’s lacrosse is hungry for more — and rightfully so.
“You gotta enjoy the wins when you get them because it’s hard to win at this level,” defenseman Nick Grill said. “And while we have to be happy for some of the things that happened, there are things that we can improve on and being satisfied is not something we’re going to do.”
With every win, the target placed on Maryland’s back from the start of the season becomes increasingly prominent. With each match this regular season, the Terps will be getting the best shot from every Big Ten program. As Ohio State aims at that target, the Terps will be looking to improve as a unit on the field and as a strong road team.
Maryland closes out the first half of its season in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday at noon. The action will air on BTN Plus.
No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes (2-2)
2020 record: 5-2
Head coach Nick Myers has been with the program since 2009 and has posted a 108-78 record with the Buckeyes. Myers is the winningest coach in program history and is credited with much of the team's ascension in the 2010s. His work as a talent evaluator and game-planner culminated in the Buckeyes’ first trip to Championship Weekend in 2017. The Buckeyes won a program-record 16 games during their historic run and dropped off several lacrosse bluebloods along the way, including wins against Duke, Maryland and Johns Hopkins. Myers has also coached 21 USILA All-Americans during his 12 year tenure and was named co-Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2018.
Players to watch
Jeff Henrick, senior defender, 5-foot-11, 189 lbs (No. 11) — Henrick, a centerpiece on Ohio State’s 2017 group, now serves as the team’s defensive anchor and veteran leader. Henrick is Ohio State’s active career leader with 39 caused turnovers and has served as the team captain in 2019 and 2020. He currently leads the team in caused turnovers (9) and has the second most ground balls (15).
Tre Leclaire, senior attacker, 6-foot-2, 211 lbs (No. 44) — Leclaire was a freshman alongside Henrick on Ohio State’s 2017 club and played a more celebrated role in the team’s momentous run. Leclaire led the team in goals (49) in 2017 and earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. He continued to lead the team in goals the following three seasons but he would fail to match the magnificence of his rookie campaign. Leclaire still remains as the Buckeyes’ top scoring threat and perhaps one of the most prolific of the nation.
Jack Myers, junior attacker, 6-foot-4, 204 lbs (No. 2) — Jack Myers — no relation to head coach Nick Myers — leads the Buckeyes in points and somewhat resembles Maryland’s attacker Logan Wisnauskas. Both attackmen boast sizable builds and are extremely talented decision-makers, well known for their ability to dish out assists at a high rate. Myers led the team in assists his freshman and sophomore year and is currently tied for the most assists on the team with four in 2021.
Keeping things close. Though Maryland and Ohio State don’t share an extended rivalry, their meetings of the past decade haven’t had any shortages of entertaining lacrosse. Since 2015, all meetings between the two teams have been decided by three goals or less. Maryland won the last one, 10-9, in 2019 with an overtime score by Jared Bernhardt.
Ohio State will likely look to continue the trend and catch Maryland with poor footing on the road. With their lone performance on the road this season being their sloppiest, it’s clear the Terps are still unproven in that facet of their game. Maryland’s prior struggles on the road coupled with its numerous competitive bouts against the Buckeyes point toward a continuation of Maryland and Ohio State’s competitive saga.
“[The Buckeyes are] very organized, they’ve always been organized defensively,” Tillman said. “They give you multiple looks … so that’s something we need to be prepared for.”
Turnovers. Ohio State sits at the bottom half of the conference with 18.25 turnovers per contest. This is nearly double Maryland’s average (11.25) and it puts them among the bottom 25 in the nation. Maryland’s defense, somewhat adept at forcing turnovers, will look to exploit the Buckeyes in this area to the best of its ability.
Three things to watch
1. How will Maryland fare on the road again? At Penn State, Maryland struggled early before supplanting the Nittany Lions. But it was clear on paper and on the field, week two’s performance was the worst of the Terps 2021 campaign. It featured Maryland’s lowest-scoring mark, worst shot percentage and the most turnovers committed all season. It was also the groggiest performance for the Terps so far this season. Maryland could use a big time road victory to properly make a case as a complete team.
“Going on the road is tough, we got a six and a half hour bus ride,” Tillman said. “And now that people have film on [us], people are getting set to who [we] are. So we gotta be ready for all that stuff.”
2. Can they maintain a clean offense? The Terps had their best game last week when it came to their ability to maintain aggressiveness without falling susceptible to playing frantically on offense. The turnovers were at a minimum all afternoon and, in an ultimate display of excellence, the Terps never lost possession for over 15 minutes, pushing the offense well past Rutgers.
Continued progress in this area will help the Terps acclimate themselves comfortably on the road and pick apart the Buckeyes defense. The Terps have the players, offensive scheme and leadership to pull it off. Another sound performance from Justin Shockey could help the offensive cleanliness as well, ensuring the Terps ease themselves into solid possessions.
“It starts with Justin Shockey at the X,” Daniel Maltz said. “He’s just winning all these faceoffs, giving us extra possessions.”
3. McNaney could use a bounce-back performance After enjoying a great set of performances to start the season, goalie Logan McNaney had his worst afternoon against Rutgers. He faced a variety of shots that he hadn’t seen before and, consequently, conceded a number of goals and posted his second worst save percentage of the season (42%). McNaney could use a bounce-back performance to shift back into form — especially on the road. But of course, he’ll need his defense to produce alongside him.