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Maryland men's lacrosse vs. North Carolina preview: Terps take on Tar Heels on ESPNU

The last time these two teams met, the Terps throttled the Tar Heels in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Former ACC foe North Carolina comes to College Park on Saturday looking to break the Maryland men's lacrosse team's three-game winning streak, but won't find that task a particularly easy one.

The No. 12 Tar Heels (5-3) have drawn the No. 6 Terps (4-2) at the wrong time, as John Tillman's squad has rattled off three near-perfect wins over Drexel, Princeton and Albany. Following a two-game losing skid, Maryland has scored 39 goals while running an offense that can score at will and doesn't seem to have any problems.

North Carolina Head Coach Joe Beschi is in his eighth year at the helm, and looks to upset the team that bounced his program from the NCAA Tournament just a season ago.

How to Watch

TV/Streaming: 2:00 on ESPNU/WatchESPN

Players to Know

Steve Pontrello and Chris Cloutier. UNC's offense is spearheaded by the lethal scoring duo of Pontrello and Cloutier, who've combined for 57 points. Pontrello, a native of Marlton, NJ., is having a breakout senior campaign. A midfielder since his freshman year, UNC head coach Joe Breschi wanted to get Pontrello more involved in the offense. By moving to more of an attacking position this year, Pontrello has seen a significant spike in production, leading the Tar Heels with 23 goals and six assists. Meanwhile, Cloutier has taken on a significant amount of the scoring after a relatively quiet freshman year. The sophomore has netted 28 goals so far and is one of seven players to have started all eight games.

Stephen Kelly. Freshman Austin Henningsen is a crucial part of the Terps' faceoff game this year, but North Carolina's Stephen Kelly will give him a run for his money. The junior out of Lutherville, MD. won 214 faceoffs in 2014, the fourth most in UNC history. He hasn't missed a beat, winning 64-percent of his faceoffs, and proves a worthy adversary for for Henningsen that should make for a great game-long matchup.

Strengths

Scooping Ground Balls The Tar Heels recover roughly 35 ground balls per game, good for eighth-best in Division I. The Terps grab six less on any given day, meaning that North Carolina might be controlling the time of possession for much of the game. If Maryland wants to keep up its offensive efficiency as of late, it'll need to make the most of the possessions they do get.

Scoring. North Carolina boasts one of the highest scoring offenses in the country. Behind five double digit-goal scorers, the Tar Heels are seventh in the country with 13.5 goals scored per game. Putting that in perspective, that's slightly less than the scoring proficiency of top-ranked and still-undefeated Denver.

Weaknesses

Playing to their competition. There are points when North Carolina looks like one of the country's top five teams, and points that make you question how good this team really is. The Tar Heels pushed No. 1 Denver to overtime before falling 13-12, which is certainly nothing to count against them. They also hold losses against UMass and Hofstra, with just one win against a ranked opponent (Johns Hopkins). Following this trend, North Carolina should show up against Maryland.