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Maryland men's lacrosse vs. High Point preview: Terps host Panthers to start season

The Terps open their season against High Point, looking to take the first step in ending a 41-year championship drought.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ranked preseason No. 4, Maryland has enough talent to return to the National Championship and avenge last year's title-game loss. Coach John Tillman has made it to the final game three of the last five years, but has nothing to show for it. While the Terps have achieved more success in those five years than many teams achieve in a decade, second place is no longer good enough for the championship-starved program. The journey to end Maryland's 41-year championship drought starts at noon Saturday at home against High Point.

High Point's early season non-conference schedule should help the team grow, but may not help its win-loss record. The Panthers (0-2) have already lost to No. 3 Duke and Boston University, and will play No. 14 Virginia on Tuesday. High Point, which only started its program three years ago, made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history in 2015. The Panthers rely on the offensive trio of Michael LeClair, Matt Thistle and Dan Lomas, who have scored 72 percent of the team's goals.

How to Witness:

Online: BTN Plus
Radio: 104.9 FM (Baltimore), 570 AM (DC), TuneIn Radio APP

Players to Watch:

Michael LeClair: LeClair led the team in points last year with 53, and will play a big part in the Panthers' offense. The junior scored four goals and delivered two assists Tuesday, one point shy of the program record LeClair shares with senior Matt Thistle.

Matt Thistle: Thistle's 52 points last years put him second on the team, and his 151 career points are fifth nationally. Thistle can assist or score, and will help carry the scoring load.

Dan Lomas: The star of the High Point attack, Lomas scored 43 goals last year. He is third in career goals nationally, with 127. Lomas only had four assists last year, and shot almost 50 more times than anyone on the team. When he gets the ball, he is going to shoot.

Strengths:

Offensive Attack: The Panthers' offense is predicated on Leclair, Thistle and Lomas. The three formed the eighth-highest scoring trio in the nation last year, combining for 152 points.

Experience: High Point returns four captains and nine starters from last year's 10-6 team. If High Point can build on the chemistry they had last year, they will start the season at a high level.

Weaknesses:

Depth: After the trio of Leclair, Thistle and Lomas, no one on the Terriers accounted for more than 20 points last season. If the Terrapins can limit those three, it will be a long day for the Panthers.

Goalie: High Point has a new man in the cage in this season, with sophomore Zach Tuell replacing graduated senior Austin Geisler. Tuell, who allowed less than seven goals per game last year in his four appearances, has allowed 30 goals in his two games this year. He'll need to be great for High Point to stay in the game.