Area teams involved in some significant games as well
While games involving No. 1 Virginia-No. 5 Maryland, No. 3 North Carolina-No. 12 Johns Hopkins, and No. 2 Salisbury-No. 1 Stevenson have garnered a significant amount of attention, there are several other significant contests involving area teams this weekend. Here’s a brief breakdown of those games according to the times of the games.
*No. 19 Stony Brook (5-3) at UMBC (1-5) at 1 p.m. at UMBC Stadium. If the Retrievers have any hope of earning an invite to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive year, the team must finish in the top four of the America East Conference and win the conference tournament. A victory over the visiting Sea Wolves would be a good start. Stony Brook has dropped the last five meetings in this series, but this year’s version is unlike any other. The offense ranks fifth in Division I in scoring (13.6 goals per game) and man-up situations (52.2 percent conversion rate) and first in the nation in shooting percentage (.373). Junior attackman Jordan McBride and junior midfielder Kevin Crowley are tied for fifth in points (37), and McBride ranks third in goals (31). But the Sea Wolves have dropped two of their last three games because of a suspect defense that has surrendered 10 or more goals in six games this season. That should bode well for UMBC, but the offense has endured its own struggles, scoring at least 10 goals just twice thus far. Since last playing in a 13-7 loss to No. 5 Maryland on March 20, the team has spent practices working on improving its shooting percentage, which is at 55 percent. The Retrievers put just 19 of 42 shots on the net against the Terps. "I think against Maryland, we missed the goal 55 percent of the time," coach Don Zimmerman said. "When you miss the goal, you’ve got no chance of scoring. You’ve got to give yourself a chance to win a game, and in order to win a game, you’ve got to put the ball in the goal, and in order to put the ball in the goal, it’s got to be on target. So we’ve been focusing on shooting."
*Mount St. Mary’s (3-2) at No. 18 Lafayette (6-1) at 1 p.m. at Rappolt Field. The Mountaineers take a four-game winning streak to Easton, Pa., for this non-league contest against the Leopards, who may be one of the most encouraging stories of the year. Once an afterthought in the Patriot League, Lafayette has already defeated preseason favorites Navy and Bucknell and figures to be the top seed in the Patriot League Tournament. The offense ranks third in the country in scoring (14.0 goals per game) and first in assists (9.7). Junior attackman Tom Perini is tied for fifth in goals per game (3.1) and junior attackman Stefan Bauer is tied for ninth in assists (2.3). "That’s a game that we need to be in from the start with no lapses," Mount St. Mary’s coach Tom Gravante said. "We have to limit to their scoring. Your best defense is a very poised offense. If we can maintain possession of the ball and win at least 50 percent or better from the face-off X, then we can limit their shots on offense. Drexel did a pretty good job of that." The Mountaineers, who rank second in the nation in shot percentage (.365), will need solid performances from junior goalkeeper T.C. DiBartolo and senior defensemen Matt Nealis and Russell Moncure.
*Ohio State (5-4) at No. 7 Loyola (4-2) at 2 p.m. at Ridley Athletic Complex. As part of the newly reshaped Eastern College Athletic Conference, the Buckeyes visit the Greyhounds for the first time since 1998. Ohio State defeated No. 16 Villanova in the season opener for both teams, but the Buckeyes have fallen to No. 11 Notre Dame in overtime, Bucknell and Robert Morris. The attack is powered by a pair of freshmen in Logan Schuss (15 goals and 15 assists) and Jeff Tundo (14, 4), and senior James Green (15, 2) is an All American-caliber midfielder. The defense – anchored by senior goalkeeper Brandon Freeman and senior defenseman Scott Foreman – is 14th in the nation in goals allowed per game (8.8), but Ohio State will be playing the fourth game of a five-game road stretch. "It can take a lot out of you to be on the road," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "But what takes more out of you is when you’re on the road and you play on a Tuesday and then you continue on the road and you play on a Saturday. They’ve had a week at home, and everyone’s going on Easter break. They’ll probably put their legs up a little bit on Thursday and Friday in preparation for the game." The Greyhounds have outscored their opponents, 16-8, in the first quarter and will look to get off to a fast start again against the Buckeyes.
*Delaware (5-4) at Towson (1-5) at 3 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium. Much like UMBC, the Tigers’ bid for their first invite to the NCAA Tournament since 2007 hinges on the team finishing in the top four of the Colonial Athletic Association and winning the conference tournament. The problem is, Delaware is tied for 13th in Division I in scoring (11.7 goals per game) and senior attackman Curtis Dickson ranks first in the nation in goals per contest (4.0) and second in average points (5.2). Offense has been an issue for the Tigers, who rank last in the CAA in scoring with 9.0 goals per game. Towson has been especially vulnerable on man-up opportunities, converting just 8 of 31 situations. "When we were 5-for-8 at the beginning of the season, it was the same shots that we’re getting now that we’re 3-for-23," coach Tony Seaman said. "I don’t know what to do. Do you change personnel? We’ve done that twice. Do you try to find other places to shoot the ball? Are you getting the ball to the people you want to shoot the ball? Yes. They made five of them in the beginning and now they’ve made three of them in three times as many opportunities. You work at it every single day." The Tigers could get extra work on their extra-man chances as the Blue Hens rank last in the CAA in penalties (5.1) and penalty minutes (4.0) per game.