North Carolina at Maryland: Three things to watch
The No. 9 Terps have won 13 of the last 14 meetings, and the No. 14 Tar Heels haven’t secured an ACC victory since April 10, 2004 – a span of 19 contests. But here are a few things to keep an eye on when the teams meet Saturday at Ludwig Field at 2 p.m.
1) If Maryland wants to limit a North Carolina offense ranked fourth in the country with 13.1 goals per game, the Terps must hold their own on faceoffs. Tar Heels fifth-year senior Shane Walterhoefer (Boys’ Latin) ranks second in the nation with a .646 faceoff percentage. Maryland could counter with junior Bryn Holmes, but the McDonogh graduate – who ranks sixth with a .605 percentage – is a game-time decision with a groin injury. "We’ll know more on Friday," Terps coach Dave Cottle said. "Walterhoefer is winning close to 65 percent. So we’ve got to find a way to either clear it or win face-offs or both in order to make things happen. That’s going to be critical. I think they’re going in feeling pretty good about the face-off game."
2) Maryland could use more productivity from a midfield that has not scored a goal in the team’s last two contests against Towson and UMBC. Seniors Dan Groot, Jeremy Sieverts and Jeff Reynolds can initiate at the top of the zone or go behind the net. Reynolds, in particular, has caught the attention of North Carolina coach Joe Breschi. "Reynolds is the emotional leader of that team," Breschi said. "I think he had two goals against Duke off the faceoff [actually one goal and one assist] that ignited them in transition. He’s extremely athletic, and I think we’ve got our hands full with them offensively."
3) The Tar Heels have stumbled recently, losing two of their last three after opening the season with six consecutive victories. In losses to Notre Dame and Duke, North Carolina clung to a 4-3 lead at halftime, but were outscored by a combined 6-0 in the third quarter and 15-7 in the second half. "I think from the offensive end, we’ve got to be more poised and have more composure than we had last weekend [against Duke]," Breschi said. "In a tight game, I don’t think we did a good enough job of being patient in the second half. We’ve got to learn to play better in the second half and third quarter specifically."