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Facing it off: Terps and Retrievers to meet on Saturday

The Terps and Retrievers will try again. After canceling last year's game to inclement weather, the Terps look to avenge a 2012 loss as UMBC visits Byrd Stadium for a noon face off on Saturday. Weather permitting, of course.

Winslow Townson

I live in a P.U.D. in Montgomery County. This means that when it snows the county has no responsibility to plow the street. The contractor my HOA hired who pushes the snow from one part of our street to another has seen fit to double the 13 inches of snow near the curb so I now have a wall more than two feet high blocking my driveway (and he maintains that the configuration of the street makes this buildup is unavoidable). Therefore, unless I find some way to plow through this wall manually because my Civic isn't getting through it, I may not attend the men's lacrosse game against the UMBC Retrievers on Saturday. However, I can, with some research and the help of Coach Tillman, provide you with some pre-game fodder to whet your appetite.

In his Tuesday press conference, Tillman noted that it's always good to get the opening win and to dissipate some of the anxiety that some of the younger players might have felt taking the field for the first time as Terps. Now the team had to put that game behind them and prepare for another in state rival. "Monday we put the Mount St. Mary's game to bed. We looked at some things we did well and the things we didn't do well. There were a lot of teachable moments," he said.

Beginning Tuesday, the Terps turned their focus to the Retrievers. "UMBC always plays very well against Maryland and a team coached by Don Zimmerman is always really well coached," said Tillman. He added, "Mount St. Mary's was a very inexperienced team. I think in UMBC, you have a culture that's already been established. They have a lot of talented guys that return and a lot of guys on that sideline that have beaten Maryland before. We've got to play much better than we did last week if we're going to get a ‘W' on Saturday.

As for what the Terps will see when they take the field on Saturday, they'll be facing an opponent replacing five starters from last year's squad. And the first change will come in goal where redshirt freshman Connor Gordon will get the start. Since we're already on the Retriever' defensive side the Terrapins will likely face two juniors - led by former long stick midfielder Ian Gray - and a sophomore on close defense. Another junior, Seth Mackin should get the call as the starting long stick defensive midfielder. Mackin's strengths are knocking down passes and getting ground balls on the first attempt. The Terps will also need to be aware of the top short stick defensive middie for the Retrievers, tri-captain Kevin McDonough.

The player to watch in the offensive midfield is sophomore Pat Young. Young led UMBC with 32 goals last season and his coach believes he can become one of the best ever to play the position for the Retrievers. Expect the top attackmen to be senior tri-captain Mat Gregoire who registered 28 goals last season and sophomore Nate Lewnes who is coming off a season in which he was named to the America East All-Freshman team.

However, the biggest challenge may be at the ‘X'. When the Terps and Retrievers last met in March 2012, Phil Poe, then a sophomore, dominated the face offs winning fifteen of nineteen in UMBC's 8-7 win - a fact that was at the forefront of Tillman's mind early in the week. "Candidly, the last time we played UMBC Phillip Poe did a great job for them so they got a lot of extra possessions so that will have to be something we focus on this week."

Look for the Terrapins' attack to continue to feature a rotation of at least five players. In addition to Matt Rambo and Jay Carlson, Tillman talked about Kevin Forster, Rustin Bryant, and Ian Robertson. Of course, Connor Cannizzaro will slot in on attack or as an attacking middie with Mike Chanenchuk. Heralded freshmen Colin Heacock and Tim Rotanz are progressing from their injuries were both at practice Monday and Heacock's cast is off. At the time of his press conference, Tillman didn't know their availability for Saturday's contest.