Maryland at Virginia: Three things to watch
Saturday’s game between these Atlantic Coast Conference rivals will be aired on ESPN2, and the last time that happened, the Terps stunned the Cavaliers in College Park. Here are a few things to consider if Maryland wants to repeat that result.
1) With faceoff specialist Bryn Holmes unlikely to play because of a groin/hip injury, the four remaining Terps players who have taken faceoffs have won just 39 of 92 attempts (.424). That doesn’t bode well against Virginia’s Chad Gaudet, who is tied for 12th in the country with a .581 (108 of 186) percentage. Maryland’s players have been practicing against undergraduate assistant Will Dalton, and coach Dave Cottle will likely alert the officials to what he thinks is Gaudet’s recipe for success. "Chad Gaudet is a fingers guy," Cottle said. "He grabs the stick. He does a good job of doing it and no one seems to have called it. It’s a different move. You’ll see the ball’s at his feet, and he’s very good at his feet. He waits for the guy to react and then he reacts. It’s a different style and we have to get used to it."
2) A lot of attention is paid to Virginia’s attack and rightly so. But don’t overlook a first midfield unit that is one of the most dangerous in the country. Junior Brian Carroll, sophomore Shamel Bratton and senior Steve Giannone have combined for 46 goals and 19 assists – a level of production that is matched only by UMBC’s trio of Kyle Wimer, Peet Poillon and Alex Hopmann (44 goals and 23 assists). Throw in the starting attack of Garrett Billings, Danny Glading and Steele Stanwick, and the question is, which player draws a short-stick defensive midfielder? Good question, said Cottle. "I think we’re going to have to have multiple plans on that," he said. "You used to be able to short [No.] 19 [Billings], but he is an outstanding player and passer. So that option is out. Then you look at Stanwick, and it looks like that option is out. You’re going to have to play good team defense when you play Virginia."
3) The Cavaliers are beating their opponents by an average of 7.3 goals a contest, and only four of those teams have reached double figures in goals. But both Syracuse and Johns Hopkins pressed Virginia into one-goal losses. Still, Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia isn’t concerned about giving up goals. "If you want to play quickly on offense and you want to be a team that attacks the goal, you’re going to give up more goals than might be popular," he said. "Whether it’s related to the quality of our opponents in the early part of the season or whatever else, I would say that we are playing better defensively. We’re getting better play in the goal, but I’ve also got experienced, athletic long sticks. And they’re stepping up and taking responsibility for what’s going on. We’re a team that might still give up 10 goals to Hopkins or Syracuse, but if we’re scoring 12 or 13, then we’re winning the game, and that’s most important."