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May 30, 2011

Maryland vs. Virginia: Three things to watch

There should be few surprises when Maryland and Virginia meet in the NCAA tournament final, marking only the second time in postseason history that two teams from the same conference will vie for the national championship. The Terps (13-4) last won an NCAA crown in 1975 and are 0-5 in title games since then. The Cavaliers (12-5) have captured four national championships, the most recent occurring in 2006. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Monday.

1) Virginia’s shot selection. Everyone knows about junior attackman and Tewaaraton Award finalist Steele Stanwick, who warrants almost constant attention. But the Cavaliers have scored 40 goals on 92 shots in the tournament, which is a robust 43.5 conversion rate. Their offensive efficiency is an area that has caught the attention of Maryland coach John Tillman. “Forty percent is just unheard of,” he said. “It’s probably a culmination of a number of things. They’re being very patient, and they’re waiting for the best shot. They’re moving the ball and getting excellent looks. So that makes you concerned. After we watched four games since last night’s game, you can figure out why they’re doing such a great job. It’s either unsettled or it’s Stanwick throwing to a guy that’s a terrific shooter in a good spot. I give [offensive coordinator] Marc Van Arsdale and Coach [Dom] Starsia a lot of credit. They’ve redefined the way they play offense in the last five games, and they’ve changed who they are given their personnel. They’ve put all the pieces in the best spot possible, and that’s a credit to them. It’s tough to do that mid-season, but it’s made all the sense in the world.”

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May 29, 2011

Salisbury vs. Tufts: Three things to watch

The heavily anticipated rematch of last year’s NCAA Division III tournament final pits Salisbury (20-1) against reigning 2010 national champion Tufts (18-2). The Sea Gulls, ranked No. 1 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, advanced to its 10th title game in 13 years and are seeking the program’s ninth crown. Since falling to Bowdoin in the regular-season finale, the No.  5 Jumbos have won six consecutive games and are 13-1 in one-goal contests over the last two seasons. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sunday.

1) Salisbury’s ball security. Salisbury can play fast and go on the attack with many of its peers, but the players tend to protect the ball very well during those risky situations. But the Sea Gulls committed five more turnovers than Tufts in last year’s final. Fourteen of those 25 turnovers occurred in the second half, and although the Jumbos didn’t really convert those takeaways into goals, the inability to protect the ball hampered Salisbury’s chances of making a comeback. “We turned the ball over a lot on offense last year, and that was our downfall there,” Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman recalled. “When they made their little run, they got some goals where we made mistakes defensively, but by the same token, we had several empty possessions where we didn’t even get a shot, which is uncharacteristic. We may shoot early sometimes, but we’re usually getting some shots. We got some possessions where we forced things, kids were flat-footed, we started to press a little bit where we didn’t even get shots on goal to force the goalie to make some saves. Hopefully, we’re going to take care of the ball a little bit better, which we’ve been doing. I think our first six or seven offensive players have been playing extremely well. So hopefully, we’ll take care of the ball and get some good possessions, especially early in the game.”

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May 28, 2011

Maryland vs. Duke: Three things to watch

There’s certainly no love lost when No. 5 seed Duke and unseeded Maryland meet for the third time this season. The teams split the two previous meetings, but Maryland’s victory occurred in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final. The reigning national champion Blue Devils (14-5) are making their fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament semifinals. This is the first trip to the Final Four for the Terps (12-4) since 2006. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Duke’s Wolf vs. Maryland’s B.Schmidt. Senior attackman Zach Howell leads the Blue Devils in points (58) and goals (42), but freshman attackman Jordan Wolf is the playmaker, leading the team in assists (20). Wolf can dodge, but has good enough field vision to spot teammates cutting to open spots and feed them for high-percentage shots. Wolf will likely get the attention of Terps senior defenseman Brett Schmidt, who leads the team in caused turnovers (22) and ranks third in ground balls (50). In Maryland’s 11-9 victory in the ACC tournament final on April 24, Schmidt limited Wolf to zero goals and a single assist.

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Virginia vs. Denver: Three things to watch

No. 6 seed Denver and No. 7 seed Virginia will meet for the sixth time in both schools’ histories, but this will be the first time they have met in the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers (15-2) are riding a 12-game winning streak, but this is their first appearance in the national semifinals. On the flipside, this is the Cavaliers’ fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four and 22nd all time. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Denver’s midfield vs. Virginia’s zone defense. As Denver proved in its 14-9 thumping of No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinal round a week ago, the Pioneers are more than just a potent attack. Sophomore midfielders Cameron Flint and Chase Carraro and freshman Jeremy Noble raced past their defenders and made the Blue Jays pay when they were reluctant to slide off of the starting attack of juniors Mark Matthews and Alex Demopoulos and senior Todd Baxter. Can they do it again against a Cavaliers zone defense that was patient and opportunistic in a 13-9 victory over No. 2 seed Cornell a week ago? Virginia’s defensive midfield of junior short sticks Chris LaPierre and Blake Riley and redshirt junior long pole Chris Clements are quick and strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Denver’s trio.

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May 22, 2011

Roanoke at Salisbury: Three things to watch

The NCAA Division III tournament semifinal between Roanoke and Salisbury is the second meeting this season between these teams. The Sea Gulls (19-1), ranked No. 1 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, is seeking their 10th trip in 13 years to the championship game. The No. 7 Maroons (17-3) have won 12 straight contests and are looking for their first berth in the NCAA final since 1992. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury on Sunday.

1) Clamp down on Roanoke’s Big 3 (again). As mentioned in the blog on Wednesday, the Maroons finished the regular season with the third-most prolific offense in the country, and the unit has increased its 16.2 goals-per-game average to 17.7 in the postseason. But their top three scorers – junior attackman Jeff Keating, sophomore attackman Richard Lachlan and sophomore midfielder Mike Hayden – were shut out in the 10-7 loss to Salisbury on March 23. Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman didn’t want to tip his hand on whether the defense would copy that strategy for Sunday’s meeting. “I don’t know if we’re tweaking anything, but we’ve had different packages in depending on what the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are,” he said. “Obviously, they have a great midfield line. So the match-ups are going to be a little bit different than if we were playing a team that had a great attack. We’ve got to negate that first midfield line from having a day like they’ve had against other teams.”

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Maryland vs. Syracuse: Three things to watch

Maryland owns an 8-6 advantage in its series with Syracuse, but the Orange have had the upper hand in NCAA tournaments, winning four of six meetings in the postseason. The unseeded Terps (11-4) bounced No. 8 seed North Carolina, 13-6, in the first round on Sunday and are 19-11 in the quarterfinal round. Syracuse (15-1), which blasted Siena, 10-4, on Sunday, is a torrid 26-2 at this stage of the tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Sunday.

1) Decipher Syracuse’s defense. The Orange’s success this season has been founded on the strength of its defense. The unit is surrendering just 7.0 goals per game, and the last six opponents have yet to reach 10 goals in a game. From boasting a shutdown defenseman in senior John Lade, an athletic long-stick midfielder in senior Joel White and the Division I career wins leader in senior goalkeeper John Galloway, Syracuse dares its opponents to make their moves. “They’re not very complicated,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “They’re just really good at what they do, and you know what they’re going to do. It’s just hard to beat their guys. John Lade covers your best guy, and he can mark anybody. With your 1-on-1 matchups, you’ve got to do a really good job of playing at a really fast speed, being patient, making them work. And when you get other opportunities like extra man or ground balls or transition, you’ve got to make the most of them.”

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May 21, 2011

Denver vs. Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

This is only the second meeting between Denver and Johns Hopkins and the first since 1998. Fresh off of a 13-10 victory over Villanova in the first round on Sunday, the sixth-seeded Pioneers (14-2) are riding an 11-game winning streak and seeking its first appearance in the NCAA tournament semifinals. The No. 3 seed Blue Jays (13-2) walloped Hofstra, 13-5, on Saturday and are 28-9 in the quarterfinals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday.

1) Solve Denver’s two-man game on offense. As profiled in Friday’s editions of The Sun, Johns Hopkins’ defense is playing superbly, surrendering an average of 6.8 goals this season, which is the lowest since Dave Pietramala became the program’s head coach for the 2001 season. But one of the Blue Jays’ two losses came at the hands of Princeon, which utilized a two-man game on offense to win 8-3 on March 5. Enter the Pioneers, who employ a similar strategy. ESPN analyst and former Virginia All-American attackman Matt Ward said Denver’s system is a bit more structured than Princeton’s. “They have the better personnel to execute those types of plays,” Ward said of the Pioneers. “… I would say it’s more designed than Princeton’s. Princeton kind of does a big circle with a lot of two-man individual games. Everyone in Denver’s offense is moving for a purpose – even if they’re not in the two-man game, which creates goals coming off of two or three passes.”

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May 18, 2011

Dickinson at Salisbury: Three things to watch

The NCAA Division III tournament quarterfinal between Dickinson and Salisbury is the first meeting between these teams. The Sea Gulls (18-1), ranked No. 1 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, is the reigning Capital Athletic Conference tournament champion. The No. 6 Red Devils (17-1) have won 12 straight contests, including capturing the school’s first Centennial Conference tournament crown. A Salisbury victory would ensure a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament semifinals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury on Wednesday night.

1) Handcuff Dickinson’s offense. The Sea Gulls wrapped up the regular season with the fourth-stingiest defense in the country, surrendering just 5.5 goals per contest. That unit will get challenged by the Red Devils, who boast six players with at least 30 points or more and two more with at least 13 points. Salisbury coach Jim Berkman acknowledged that the defense must study and win its matchups. “They definitely have a real, real solid first midfield and a pretty good second midfield, but everybody that plays on that first midfield line is a threat,” Berkman said. “And then they’ve got a righty attackman, a lefty attackman and a crease guy, and all three of those players are pretty good players. But I think we’ve got some pretty good defensemen , too. So I think I like our match-ups. We know who they’ve got, and it’s up to us to stop them.”

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Roanoke at Stevenson: Three things to watch

Stevenson owns a 3-1 lead in this series, including winning the last three meetings. The Mustangs, ranked No. 3 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, tagged No. 7 Roanoke with its worst loss of the season, 16-6, on March 16. A Stevenson victory would guarantee a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament semifinals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Wednesday.

1) Lock down on defense (again). The Maroons (16-3) finished the regular season with the third-most prolific offense in the country. But a unit that averaged 16.2 goals per game was silenced by the Mustangs (18-2). Specifically, Stevenson limited four of Roanoke’s top five scorers – junior attackman Jeff Keating (80 points), sophomore attackman Richard Lachlan (64), senior midfielder Justin Tuma (52) and sophomore midfielder Mike Hayden (49) – to a combined two goals and zero assists. “I thought it was one of our better outings of the year,” Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said. “I thought they did a great job of taking away the knowns, and I think we’re going to have to do that again this time. I think they’ve got some pretty talented players on the attack, especially inside. They’re a pretty dangerous team. They can go to the goal. We just have to do a nice job staying with them and understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are.”

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May 15, 2011

Maryland at North Carolina: Three things to watch

These Atlantic Coast Conference rivals meet in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998 when Duke edged North Carolina, 16-14. Maryland (10-4) has won 15 of the last 19 meetings in this series, but eight of those contests have been decided by one goal, including the Terps’ 7-6 decision against the Tar Heels (10-5) in an ACC tournament semifinal on April 22. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Sunday.

1) Drum up the O. Maryland’s final game of the regular season was a 10-8 setback to Colgate that probably cost the team a top-eight seed and a home contest in the first round. Part of the offense’s futility stemmed from the absences of senior attackman Grant Catalino (broken bone in hand) and junior midfielder Joe Cummings (right arm), both of whom are tied for the team lead in goals (24). Even if both players return, they might not be fully healthy, which will mean that other players will have to fill the void. Senior attackman Ryan Young is confident that they can fulfill the task. “Obviously, you’re going to miss running your offense without your two top goal scorers, but our team is, I feel, the deepest team in Division I with great backups at all the positions,” Young said. “Once we get them back, it’s just going to help us out even more.”

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May 14, 2011

Hofstra at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Although Johns Hopkins dropped Hofstra from the regular-season schedule after the 2010 campaign, the NCAA selection committee ensured that the teams would continue their series with this first-round contest in the NCAA tournament. The visiting Pride (13-2) has split the last six meetings against the Blue Jays, but Johns Hopkins (12-2) has won all four games in the NCAA tournament, including a 10-4 thumping in 2008. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Look out for No. 14. Hofstra is averaging more than 10 goals per game this season thanks to the play of senior attackmen Jay Card (28 goals and 15 assists) and Jamie Lincoln (29, 10). But senior attackman Stephen Bentz (23, 14) is just as potent, and Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala said he is trying to make sure the defensemen are aware of No. 14’s presence. “While Card and Lincoln are a little more similar – one’s a lefty and one’s a righty – I think Stephen Bentz is probably the perfect complement to those guys,” Pietramala said. “I think he’s a guy that does a little bit of everything. He feeds the ball, he can finish, he can dodge. So I actually think he’s the perfect complement to those two goal scorers. I think they make him better and he certainly allows them play and succeed in the areas that they do well.”

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May 7, 2011

Colgate at Maryland: Three things to watch

Saturday’s contest is the second meeting between these teams with Maryland cruising to an 18-10 throttling last year. No. 14 Colgate (9-4) lost to No. 12 Bucknell in the championship game of the Patriot League tournament last Sunday and needs to beat the Terps to remain in the conversation for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. At 10-3 and as the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champion, Maryland is assured of a spot in the NCAA tournament, but the team could use a victory to cement a top-eight seed and the right to host a first-round contest. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Saturday.

1) Peter Baum vs. Brett Schmidt. The Terps have the luxury of starting senior defenseman Brett Schmidt, who leads the team in caused turnovers (20) and ranks second in ground balls (45). Schmidt’s athleticism and understanding of the defense allows the coaches to put him on close defense or at long-stick midfielder. That flexibility could mean that Schmidt will shadow Raiders sophomore midfielder Peter Baum, who is averaging 2.1 goal and 3.1 points per game this season. “If you talk to anybody in that league or anybody that’s played them, you know that everybody raves about him and that everybody has a ton of respect for him,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “He’s a really good player. And if people haven’t seen him, they’ll be really impressed.”

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Salisbury at Washington: Three things to watch

The “War on the Shore” series hasn’t been much of a contest lately with Salisbury claiming 12 of the last 13 meetings, including the past 10 games. The No. 1 Sea Gulls (16-1) are virtually assured of a top two seeding in the South region of the NCAA tournament, but a loss would likely seal the No. 1 seed to Capital Athletic Conference rival Stevenson. Washington (5-8) had dropped four straight prior to defeating Cabrini two weeks ago, but a victory would send the Shoremen into the offseason on a positive note. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium in Chestertown on Saturday.

1) Test Rodriguez. Salisbury has relied on the goalkeeping prowess of senior Johnny Rodriguez, who is 15-1 as a starter this season. But the senior’s last outing was a disastrous one as Rodriguez made just four saves while allowing 11 goals in 22 minutes, 52 seconds of play against Stevenson in the CAC tournament final on April 23. But Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman said Rodriguez will start against Washington, and Shoremen coach Jim Shirk said he is anticipating a different goalkeeper. “It could go both ways, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of goalies have an off day and then they bounce back and stand on their heads in the very next game. So I think our game plan is going to approach it to where we’re going to give everything we have and hopefully, it’s enough, but we’re definitely not going to bank on being in his head because I’m going to assume that he’s going to bring his best game and we’re going to get the best Rodriguez there is.”

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May 4, 2011

Susquehanna at Goucher: Three things to watch

Goucher has never lost to Susquehanna since joining the Landmark Conference for the 2008 season. The Crusaders (11-5 overall and 3-2 in the conference) are riding a six-game winning streak en route to their first appearance in the Landmark tournament. The Gophers (10-5, 4-1) are the top seed in the tournament for the third consecutive year. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Gophers Stadium in Towson on Wednesday.

1) Faceoffs. Goucher has been on the winning end of many categories thus far, but if there is one problematic area, it’s faceoffs. The Gophers have been dreadful, winning just 35.6 percent (116-of-326) of draws, and that rate dips to 28.1 percent (32-of-114) in conference play. Four players have taken at least 40 faceoffs, and the best is junior defenseman D.J. Shelton (42-of-97 for 43.3 percent). After winning just 7-of-19 draws in the 10-6 win against Susquehanna on April 2, Goucher would doing itself a huge favor by reaching that 50 percent mark on Wednesday.

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April 30, 2011

Loyola at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

The rivalry between these Charles Street programs resumes, but the scales have been severely in favor of Johns Hopkins, which is 45-3 in this series. No. 18 Loyola (8-3) is riding a five-game winning streak after enduring a three-game skid in an eight-day span in March. Meanwhile, the No. 4 Blue Jays (10-2) has also won five consecutive games after dropping a 5-4 double-overtime decision to then-No. 1 Syracuse on March 19. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Slowing down Dolente. Johns Hopkins has demonstrated a knack for turning a defensive stop or turnover or a faceoff win into a transition opportunity. That latter scenario has caught the attention of the Greyhounds, who hope that senior faceoff specialist John Schiavone (107-of-191 for ..560) can neutralize Blue Jays senior Matt Dolente (138-of-206 for .670). “I think you’ve got to have the ball, to start,” Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. “I’m not going to say that we’re going to slow the tempo of the game down because right now, we need to score goals when we have those opportunities, and if it dictates that we’ve got to play fast, then that’s what we need to do. I really believe that the difference for Johns Hopkins over the last two months has been that Dolente has really come on. He’s a real force at the X, and he’s giving them possessions. … We know we’ve got our hands full.”

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April 23, 2011

Navy at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Navy (4-8) limps into this annual contest on a four-game losing skid and in danger of absorbing the most losses in a single season under coach Richie Meade. On the flipside, Johns Hopkins (9-2) is enjoying a four-game winning streak and will likely be eager to avenge last year’s 9-8 overtime loss to the Midshipmen that snapped a 36-game losing streak to the Blue Jays. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Track the ball. Senior attackman Chris Boland is generally regarded as the quarterback of the Blue Jays offense, but several players on that side can initiate the action. Sophomore attackman Zach Palmer leads the team in assists (16), sophomore midfielder John Ranagan and Boland each have more than 10 helpers, and sophomore midfielder John Greeley (9) and senior attackman Kyle Ranagan (6) aren’t too far behind. “One of the other things that impresses me is they all play from different places,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “You can’t say this guy is always on the crease or this guy is always behind. They do a good job of interchanging. … They’re pretty scripted, and they have certain things they like to do. But after that, they’re pretty good at finding each other and using their skills. So I don’t think you can say that you have to focus on Boland. He might be considered the quarterback, but you’ve got to be able to defend the rest of them.”

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Salisbury at Stevenson: Three things to watch

The back-and-forth between these Capital Athletic Conference rivals resumes once again as No. 3 Salisbury (15-1) visits top-ranked Stevenson (16-1) for the right to be the conference tournament champion. In the previous two seasons, the winner of the regular-season meeting could not repeat that outcome in the CAC tournament final, and the visiting team captured the title. Will history repeat itself and usher in the Sea Gulls as this year’s tournament champion? Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Saturday.

1) Tokosch vs. Dailey. In last Saturday’s 16-12 victory, the Mustangs got three goals from leading scorer Jimmy Dailey, including two in a span of 106 seconds during a 5-0 run to begin the contest. According to Salisbury coach Jim Berkman, the defense countered by assigning senior Collin Tokosch, who limited the senior attackman to just one goal for the remainder of the game. “He obviously knows he’s going to be a big part of Saturday, and hopefully, we can keep Dailey in check or he can neutralize him a little bit to make him earn his goals,” Berkman said of Tokosch, who has caused 15 turnovers and collected 28 ground balls. “The two goals that he had at the beginning of the game, he flat-out burned [senior] Nick Mooney, and it was so quick that we couldn’t even help out on him. So we’re hoping that by switching Collin on him, that won’t happen, especially in the beginning of the game.”

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April 20, 2011

St. Mary's at Stevenson: Three things to watch

St. Mary’s is making its third straight appearance in the semifinals of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, but the Seahawks (6-8 overall and 4-4 in the CAC) have not beaten Stevenson since April 20, 2007. The newly-anointed No. 1 Mustangs (15-1, 8-0) have lost just one game at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills since the beginning of the 2010 season. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome on Wednesday.

1) Settle the unsettled. Stevenson is most dangerous when given the opportunity to control the tempo of games and then run amok. Having a faceoff specialist like senior Ray Witte (176-of-270 for .652 percentage) helps either igniting the fastbreak or simply giving possession to the offense. St. Mary’s coach Chris Hasbrouck said slowing down the Mustangs in unsettled situations is the biggest challenge. “They’re tough between the lines,” he said. “They do a great job in their unsettled offense. They just move the ball extremely well, they’ve got a couple kids who have been playing together for a long time at attack, and they finish very, very well. Their midfielders can push the pace. So we’ve got to defend. The ground balls in the middle of the field are going to be huge, and we’ve got to execute.”

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April 16, 2011

Johns Hopkins at Maryland: Three things to watch

Bragging rights aren’t the only thing at stake when No. 3 Johns Hopkins visits No. 7 Maryland in a series that spans 116 years. The Blue Jays (8-2) have avenged last year’s losses to Virginia and North Carolina and would love to do the same against the Terps. Maryland (8-2) has won six of its last seven contests and is aiming for its first winning streak against Johns Hopkins since the 1995-96 campaigns. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Saturday.

1) Durkin and Reilly vs. Catalino and Young. Talk of the Terps offense usually begins with senior attackmen Grant Catalino and Ryan Young, each of whom recorded three points in Maryland’s 10-9 win in this rivalry last season. Young is pacing the Terps in both assists (15) and points (28) and Catalino is second in both goals (19) and points (27). That duo, which could get marked by freshman defenseman Jack Reilly and sophomore defenseman Tucker Durkin, respectively, certainly got the attention of Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala. “There’s not a better guy in transition than Grant Catalino,” Pietramala said. “He can score from 16-plus. He’s a threat. People don’t recognize that he’s a big, strong, physical kid, and I’m watching him dodge people for some goals. So he’s extremely dangerous and difficult to match up with at times because of his size. Then you go to Ryan, and Ryan’s a different player. He’s a quarterback who is a tremendous feeder. He’s great in their big-little pick game. He can create slides, which makes things easier for Grant Catalino because now you have a defense that’s rotating and that frees his hands.”

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Army at Navy: Three things to watch

Much has already been said about how vitally important this contest is for Navy (4-7 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League), which would be eliminated from the conference tournament – and consideration for the NCAA tournament – with a loss to Army. But the No. 16 Black Knights (7-4, 2-2) need a victory nearly as much to stay in the hunt for the spot in the four-team conference tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Saturday.

1) Targeting Army’s defense. The Black Knights have surrendered double-digit goals just twice this season, but the defense has been playing at less than full strength. Top defenseman Bill Henderson, a senior, has played in the last two games after missing the previous five with a case of mononucleosis. Senior defenseman Matt Marasco underwent shoulder surgery and is not expected to return until later this month at the earliest. But Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the changes in personnel haven’t dramatically changed the way Army’s defense has played. “I think they’re about the same,” Meade said. “I think they’re sliding a lot more than they have in the past. When you look at their season last year, they did a phenomenal job of winning one-goal games. … Defensively, they’ve got a great goalie [senior Tom Palesky] and when he plays great, they’ve got a great defense. That’s the same with us. Almost everybody is in the same type of situation. So the only thing I can say after watching film is, they slide to the ball a little bit more than they have in the past.” One thing to keep an eye on: the Black Knights surrendered a combined seven goals in 12 man-down situations to No. 12 Bucknell and No. 14 Colgate in the past two weekends.

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Stevenson at Salisbury: Three things to watch

There are plenty of storylines as No. 3 Stevenson visits No. 2 Salisbury. At stake is first place in the Capital Athletic Conference and the top seed in the conference tournament, which also entails home-field advantage throughout the tournament. There’s also firing the first salvo that in what could be a three-meeting series this season between these rivals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury on Saturday.

1) Minding the midfield. While the Mustangs boast the fourth-most prolific offense in Division III, the Sea Gulls (14-0) aren’t exactly wallflowers as they were ninth with a 15.0 goals-per-game average as of Tuesday. Salisbury has relied on a starting midfield powered by reigning National Midfielder of the Year Sam Bradman, but coach Jim Berkman said the team has benefited from the development of a second line composed of junior Jeff McGuire (10 goals and four assists), sophomore Ryan Clarke (6, 8) and senior Spencer Smith (8, 4). “We’re seeing an emergence of some of the second line middies that are getting better,” Berkman said. “… They have given us a little bit more firepower. That’s always a plus because if they can get in the field and not turn the ball over and get you a couple goals a game, that’s a big advantage.”

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April 9, 2011

Fairfield at Loyola: Three things to watch

There’s a lot at stake when Fairfield and Loyola meet in a showdown between Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals. The visiting Stags are 5-4 overall, but more importantly, they are 2-1 in the conference, which is good enough for second place behind No. 12 Denver. The No. 20 Greyhounds have a better overall record at 5-3, but they are 2-2 in the ECAC – a half-game behind Fairfield. A win would give either side more footing in the race for the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Midfield production. Loyola’s attack has fueled the offense, but the midfield has been underwhelming. Graduate student Chris Palmer is listed as a midfielder, but he scored five goals in last Saturday’s 12-9 victory over Ohio State as an attackman. In fact, according to Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey, no offensive midfielder scored against the Buckeyes. “So we’re looking at our middies this week and challenging them to step up their games,” Toomey said. “That’s going to be the motive all week, to get these guys prepared. But we don’t care where the goals come from. We’re going to look at the scoreboard at the end of the day, and for the last two weeks, we’ve been able to get that 10-plus mark, and that’s always a goal whenever we step on the field.”

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April 8, 2011

Albany at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Albany (4-5) snapped a four-game skid with a 12-11 win against then-No. 20 Harvard last Saturday. On the flipside, No. 4 Johns Hopkins (7-2) is chugging right along after back-to-back decisions against a pair of top-five opponents in Virginia and North Carolina. The Blue Jays have won eight of the nine meetings between these teams, but the Great Danes did shock Johns Hopkins in the 2007 season opener. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Friday night.

1) Don’t fall into the trap. On paper, the Blue Jays would seem to be heavy favorites. But Albany, which has been plagued by a spate of injuries, appears to be fully healthy with the return of its first midfield of seniors Brian Caufield and Derek Kreuzer and junior Rocky Bonitatibus. That midfield missed the Great Danes’ contest against top-ranked Syracuse last month, but still found a way to score 13 goals en route to a five-goal loss. “What we hope is exactly what we heard in the huddle on Monday, that this is the next game, that the most important game of the season is the next game,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “We need to continue to improve, we need to continue to grow and develop, we need to prepare for every game as if it was our last. I know that’s all coach-speak and a cliché, but we can’t afford to be any different. This young team can’t afford to look beyond this week’s game.”

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Maryland at Navy: Three things to watch

While Navy and No. 6 Maryland appear to be heading in opposing directions, this contest is critical for both teams. The Midshipmen (4-6) may have just one road to the NCAA tournament in capturing the Patriot League tournament, but a victory over the Terps would propel Navy through the remainder of the regular season. Maryland (7-2) is coming off of a decisive 12-7 win against No. 7 Virginia, but a loss to the Midshipmen would likely take the wind out of the Terps’ sails. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Friday night.

1) Stop the run. Echoing the sentiment of many opposing coaches, Navy coach Richie Meade stressed the need to handcuff – or at least slow down – Maryland’s transition game. The Terps scored four in transition in the team’s decision against the Cavaliers. For the Midshipmen, it’s a strategy that they are familiar with. “It was the same theme against Georgetown, it’ll be the same theme against Army, the same theme against Hopkins,” Meade said. “To be honest with you, the best way to stop that is when you shoot the ball, it needs to go in. I think he [redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato] does a very good job of stopping the ball and then getting it out. I think you’ve got to be aware of [senior long-stick midfielder] Brian Farrell and you’ve got to be aware of [sophomore long-stick midfielder] Jesse Bernhardt. They get out very, very well, and you’ve just got to protect your backcourt and make sure that the off-side guy away from the ball is going to get back deep. The other thing you’ve got to do is get in the goalie’s face and hope that he throws it to the side and not a straight outlet pass.”

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April 6, 2011

Towson at UMBC: Three things to watch

Towson and UMBC enter this cross-town rivalry with identical 2-5 records. The Tigers have upset then-No. 4 Stony Brook, but will likely need to capture the Colonial Athletic Association tournament for a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Retrievers must follow a similar path by claiming the America East tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville on Wednesday night.

1) Waiting for good shots. Perhaps more than any other season, Towson has been plagued by shooting woes. For the season, the offense has scored just 55 times on 245 shots. The team’s shooting percentage of .224 can’t even crack the top 50 in that category in Division I. That would seem to play into UMBC’s favor, but coach Don Zimmerman said the numbers can be deceiving. “I think a lot of teams’ shooting percentage is down,” he said. “I don’t think it’s just Towson. We hold them in the highest regards as far as their ability to shoot the ball.”

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April 3, 2011

Johns Hopkins vs. North Carolina: Three things to watch

Both Johns Hopkins and North Carolina have been buoyed by fairly important victories last Saturday. The No. 6 Blue Jays (6-2) snapped a six-game losing skid to then-No. 2 Virginia with a 12-11 decision, while the No. 5 Tar Heels (7-2) scored a decisive 11-6 win against No. 9 Maryland. Johns Hopkins has dropped the last four meetings in this series. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.

1) Balance on defense. The first priority of many opponents is to try to take North Carolina senior attackman Billy Bitter out of the equation. But there’s a risk as the Terps learned last Saturday when Bitter were shut out, but the Tar Heels’ freshmen class accounted for seven goals and seven assists. That’s why Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala is cautious about focusing too much attention on Bitter. “If you want to take away Billy Bitter, then you’re going to have to deal with [freshman attackman and leading scorer] Nicky Galasso,” Pietramala said. “If you want to take away Nicky Galasso, then you’re going to have to deal with Billy Bitter. [Junior attackman] Thomas Wood did not play, and when he gets back into the fold, that’s a pretty talented group that seems to be playing very well. So do you want the freshmen to be the ones to beat you? You’ve got to pick your poison, and you’ve got to decide how you’re going to defend them and what you want to try to take away. In doing so, you’re going to give up something elsewhere, and the question is, what’s the right thing to take away and what’s the right thing to give up. Up until this point, they haven’t lost many times, and they’ve seen two poles, they’ve seen a bunch of zones. They’re playing very, very well offensively, and we’re going to have to do a very good job of being careful.”

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April 2, 2011

Hofstra at Towson: Three things to watch

This is a crucial contest in the Colonial Athletic Association for both No. 10 Hofstra and Towson. The visiting Pride (7-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference) needs a victory to keep pace with No. 12 Delaware and Penn State, which share identical 2-0 league records. The Tigers (2-5) need a win to even their conference mark at .500 and stay in the hunt for the four-team CAA tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday.

1) Don’t overlook the midfielders. Much has been made about the season-ending injuries to Hofstra midfielders Steve Serling (lacerated spleen) and Drew Coholan (shoulder), but their absence has been somewhat mitigated by the play of junior Kevin Ford (three goals and two assists in his last four starts) and sophomore Ian Braddish (three goals and two assists in his last three starts). And one of their objectives is feeding the talented attack trio of seniors Jay Card (15 goals and 11 assists), Jamie Lincoln (14, 6) and Stephen Bentz (14, 6). “They have middies that can initiate the play and then initiate the dodge and then they’re looking for these guys to finish the ball, and there’s nobody better doing that,” Towson coach Tony Seaman said.

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Maryland at Virginia: Three things to watch

Both Maryland and Virginia enter this Atlantic Coast Conference showdown looking to bounce back from disappointing setbacks. The No. 9 Terps (6-2) dropped an 11-6 decision to No. 5 North Carolina despite owning a 4-1 lead after the first quarter. The No. 7 Cavaliers (7-2) overcame a four-goal deficit in the third quarter before losing, 12-11, to No. 6 Johns Hopkins. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.

1) Patrol the “paint.” The area in front of the cage is called the “paint” by Maryland coaches and players, and that patch of territory was exposed by the Tar Heels, who frequently converted easy goals from there. It was quite a surprise considering that the Terps’ starting three defensemen and long-stick midfielder are seniors. Maryland coach John Tillman said the team went back to stressing fundamentals this week. “We always want to protect the paint,” he said. “Sometimes when you try to focus on the better players, there are some other opportunities that presented themselves. It was a good, teachable moment for us, just to remember that we want to make sure that we take away some of the better players, but we can’t compromise the integrity of our defense. We’ve got to play our team defense regardless of the people out there. With a lot of the talented players that Virginia has, we’ve got to use that lesson and use it wisely.”

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April 1, 2011

Navy at Georgetown: Three things to watch

Navy and Georgetown would seem to be heading in different directions with the visiting Midshipmen (4-5) having won three of their last four games, while the Hoyas (3-4) have dropped three of their last four. But both teams need a non-conference victory like this to enhance their resumes for the NCAA tournament selection committee. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Multi-Spot Field in Washington, D.C., on Friday night.

1) Kick-start the offense. Through their first eight contests, the Midshipmen had averaged a healthy 11 goals per game. Then they ran into Colgate, which allowed just four goals on Saturday. According to a report by Inside Lacrosse, the Red Raiders gave up outside shots, but blanketed Navy’s dodges from behind the net and down the alleys. Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the offense missed some opportunities that it can’t afford to repeat against Georgetown. “We had a lot of people open that we did not find,” Meade said. “So it was disappointing because everything that they did, we had prepared for, but our execution fell short.”

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March 26, 2011

Virginia at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

No. 2 Virginia (7-1) has survived some hiccups, but the Cavaliers have thrived against Johns Hopkins, winning the last six meetings and 10 of the last 14. The No. 9 Blue Jays took top-ranked Syracuse to double overtime, but was saddled with a 5-4 setback. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

1) Virginia is no Syracuse. One factor in Johns Hopkins’ ability to stymie the Orange a week ago was slowing the tempo and holding onto the ball for extended possessions. That kept the Orange’s high-octane offense in neutral, but it also hampered the Blue Jays offense. So coach Dave Pietramala didn’t sound too optimistic about repeating that game plan against the Cavaliers. “I’m not sure we can hold the ball as we did against Syracuse,” he said. “For one, I don’t think Virginia necessarily will allow that. And number two, we’re going to have to score some more goals, so we’re going to have to take some more chances. We didn’t get a chance to really push a lot of transition against Syracuse, and we need to do that. We need to get some more chances, and we need to be better on the extra man.”

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North Carolina at Maryland: Three things to watch

No. 6 Maryland and No. 7 North Carolina enter Saturday’s contests with 12 combined wins and just three losses. But both teams are 0-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and jockeying with each other to avoid meeting league-leading Duke in the conference tournament semifinals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

1) Reviewing Rastivo. The Tar Heels (6-2) started two different defensemen in senior Emmit Kellar and freshman Jordan Smith in Tuesday night’s 12-7 victory over Dartmouth, but Terps coach John Tillman pointed out that the players they replaced, junior Charlie McComas and senior Kevin Piegare, were inserted five minutes into the game and played extensively. The biggest change involved sophomore Steven Rastivo starting in place of redshirt senior Chris Madalon. “We’re still going to generate the same types of shots, quality shots – at least in our opinion – and we’ve just got to stick those shots,” Tillman said. “Madalon was a veteran guy, a big guy [at 6 feet, 3 inches and 210 pounds] which posed some problems. Rastivo seems to be very, very quick. He was really good in high school. He looked great the other night. So we’ve still got to finish shots, get good shots, make the most of them, and make them earn saves.”

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March 23, 2011

Tufts at Stevenson: Three things to watch

In what should be a thrilling Division III contest, top-ranked and reigning national champion Tufts pays a visit to No. 2 Stevenson. The Jumbos have won their first three consecutive games. The Mustangs have won their first eight games, including victories over No. 4 Cortland, No. 9 Roanoke and No. 10 Lynchburg over an eight-day span. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Caves Athletic Center in Owings Mills.

1) Press down on the accelerator. With an offense that ranks fifth in the country with an average of 16.5 goals per game, Stevenson wants to run and push the tempo. The Mustangs might get a willing dance partner in Tufts, which also has the athletes get into a run-and-gun setting. Cantabene said he is looking forward to a freestyle pace. “They will give us a much different challenge than Cortland did because they want to get out and run whereas Cortland wanted to hold the ball and throw it around,” Cantabene said. “And we think we play pretty fast as well. I think it’s going to be about who gives up more transition goals in this game. Both teams are deep and play a lot of people, so we’ll see.”

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March 19, 2011

Stony Brook at Towson: Three things to watch

No. 4 Stony Brook is riding a three-game winning streak after dropping the season opener in overtime to No. 2 Virginia on Feb. 26 and is gaining momentum as a favorite to make the Final Four. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Towson has sandwiched a victory over Mount St. Mary’s with a pair of losses. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.

1) Thrive offensively and defensively. In the Tigers’ first three losses, the defense surrendered 21 goals, while the offense scored just 12 times. The team flipped the script in Tuesday night’s 14-11 loss to Navy. So although coach Tony Seaman was pleased that the offense scored on six of its first seven possessions and 11 of 18, he said the both units need to play well at the same time. “We just need a game where we put them both together – on the offensive end and defensive end,” Seaman said. “We need to get back to playing pretty good defense, and we need our goalie to make some saves. If we can handle that part of the field, I think offensively, we starting to find ourselves a little bit.”

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Cortland at Stevenson: Three things to watch

Both Cortland and Stevenson enter Saturday’s contest with high expectations and unblemished records. The Red Dragons, who are ranked No. 4 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, are off to a 4-0 start. The Mustangs, who are ranked two spots ahead of Cortland, have won their first seven games. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Caves Athletic Center in Owings Mills.

1) Solve the Red Dragons’ defense. Cortland ranks second in Division III in defense, surrendering just 2.5 goals per game this season. The unit is anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Mike Kaminski (2.51 goals-against average and .690 save percentage) and a pair of senior defensemen in Justin Schneldman and Shane Crossett – a group that has caught Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene’s attention. “They’re big and long, and they’ve got some pretty good middies, but at the same time, I’m not sure they’ve faced the offenses that we have,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great challenge. They don’t slide a whole bunch because they play great individual defense. They don’t take a whole lot of chances. But at the same time, we make it hard on other teams with our multiple-formation, motion offense that we run. But they give us a great challenge, and our guys are motivated by great challenges.”

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March 18, 2011

UMBC at Maryland: Three things to watch

UMBC has won three of the last four meetings between these rivals, but the Retrievers limp into Friday night’s contest with three consecutive losses after opening the season with a win against Presbyterian. Maryland (4-1) has won two straight, but might be forced to play without senior attackman Travis Reed (shoulder). Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

1) Fury Factor. UMBC coach Don Zimmerman delivered a strong message after the team’s 16-5 loss to Johns Hopkins last Saturday, and the players have reportedly responded in practice. An injured adversary is usually a dangerous one, and Terps coach John Tillman is making sure that his players don’t overlook the Retrievers. “I think they’ll be excited to show that last week was really not them,” Tillman said. “They’re going to try to prove to everybody, especially Maryland, that they’re better than that and that they can beat anybody in the country. … So we have to be very prepared and very disciplined and very smart on Friday. We’re going through exams right now, so there’s another thing going against us. I expect UMBC to play very, very well on Friday night, and I’m hopeful that we play very well, too.”

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March 16, 2011

Denver at Loyola: Three things to watch

Both teams enter Wednesday night’s contest involving Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals saddled with recent losses. No. 17 Denver, the reigning conference regular-season champion, dropped a 10-9 decision to No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday night and flew in to Baltimore on Sunday night because the school is on spring break. No. 15 Loyola absorbed a 14-9 setback by Duke, which scored the game’s first nine goals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.

1) Turnovers. Part of the Greyhounds’ troubles against the Blue Devils on Friday night was an inability to protect the ball. Loyola committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, and Duke turned those miscues in three goals. Just as important was that the Greyhounds had limited possessions and opportunities on offense.”I think the bigger stat was the turnovers and where those turnovers were occurring,” coach Charley Toomey said. “You allow a team to run on you and score eight easy goals. … And we certainly know that we played a Denver team that has three very talented attackmen. So we’re going to have to lock it up down low.”

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March 15, 2011

Towson at Navy: Three things to watch

Both teams enter Tuesday night’s contest with unrealized expectations. After falling to then-No. 12 Maryland, 8-4, last Saturday, the visiting Tigers are 1-3 for the fourth consecutive year. The Midshipmen snapped a four-game losing skid by routing Lafayette, 15-6, last Saturday, but they lost to Towson, 10-9, last season. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

1) Tigers’ accuracy. Towson’s glaring vulnerability has been the inaccuracy of its offensive players. In the last two setbacks, the offense has placed less than 40 percent of its shots on net. The team has averaged just 5.8 goals thus far, and that task could get tougher against Navy junior goalie R.J. Wickham, who will not surrender any easy goals according to Tigers coach Tony Seaman. “We’ve got to put the ball in the goal when we get chances, and we’ve got to put it past their goalie,” Seaman said. “We’ve got to … and find a way to score goals.”

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March 12, 2011

Johns Hopkins vs. UMBC: Three things to watch

Both teams enter the contest from opposing directions. No. 14 Johns Hopkins (4-1) defeated Manhattan, 10-3, to further the distance from last Saturday’s 8-3 loss to No. 6 Princeton at Homewood Field. Meanwhile, UMBC (1-2) lost to No. 17 North Carolina, 13-9, last Saturday. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

1) Testing the Blue Jays’ conditioning. It's no secret that players prefer games over practices, but Wednesday night’s victory over the Jaspers was still physically draining on Johns Hopkins. The Retrievers, however, are well-rested and have spent the week concentrating on the Blue Jays. “I think it’s a team that you know is going to be well-prepared and play extremely hard,” coach Dave Pietramala said of UMBC. “… And yet you only have a day-and-a-half to prepare for them. That’s a concern. I would expect that we’ll see similar things to what Princeton and Manhattan did. A team that wants to be patient and value their possessions, a team that’s very good on the extra man, a team that’s athletic and tough and physical between the boxes.”

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Virginia vs. Cornell: Three things to watch

Both teams buried memories of losses last weekend with mid-week victories against second-tier opponents. Still, both No. 2 Virginia (5-1) and No. 13 Cornell (3-1) could use a victory over a team that many consider to be a lock for the postseason. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

1) Attacking the Cavaliers’ youthful defense. With Virginia starting a freshman defenseman in Scott McWilliams and three more first-year starters in redshirt junior defenseman Chris Clements, sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Blake Riley and freshman short-stick defensive midfielder Bobby Hill, that unit’s inexperience was exposed in the 12-10 loss to top-ranked Virginia on March 4. Figure on the Big Red to test the defense, but coach Ben DeLuca pointed out that those players are starting for a reason. “We’re going to focus more on the things that we do and try to stay within our system to play together and play in that selfless team manner and to utilize our strengths against Virginia,” he said. “I don’t know that I would say that because their defense is young, that is a weakness of theirs. We’re pretty young as well, but I don’t look at that as a weakness. It’s certainly inexperience, but you also have a certain amount of fearlessness that comes with youth.”

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Syracuse vs. Georgetown: Three things to watch

Momentum is on Syracuse’s side as the top-ranked Orange are off to a 3-0 start after a confidence-inspiring win against No. 2 Virginia on March 4. The same can’t be said for No. 15 Georgetown, which has defeated Jacksonville and St. John’s but lost to No. 12 Maryland by 12 goals and dropped a one-goal decision to Harvard on Tuesday. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

1) Disrupting Syracuse’s transition. With speedsters like seniors Jovan Miller, Josh Amidon and Jeremy Thompson on the field, the Orange love to fly from defense to offense and create scoring opportunities before opponents can get settled on defense. The Hoyas must force Syracuse into slowing the tempo and sticking to their 6-on-6 schemes. “We’ve obviously got to try to control the pace of the game as best we can,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “They’re very capable of turning up the pace and scoring in bunches.”

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March 9, 2011

Detroit at Mount St. Mary's: Three things to watch

The surprising aspect of this matchup is that the Titans are the only team with a victory. Detroit is 1-5, but has lost three games by four goals or less, including a one-goal setback to No. 16 Ohio State. The Mountaineers limp into the contest after a 0-2 start, but they defeated the Titans, 12-9, last April. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Wednesday’s contest at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmitsburg.

1) Avoiding a slow start. Mount St. Mary’s spent about 15 minutes following their 11-3 loss to Towson on Saturday in a closed-door team meeting, and one of the themes emphasized was playing faster and with more focus from the first whistle. Coach Tom Gravante said he’s been pleased with the tenor and pace in practice over the last three days. “I expect to field a different team that’s going to get off to a better start,” he said. “Our starts against UVA and Towson were the same. We basically made it easy for both of those teams to hit the cage and get to our star goalie. So we’ve made some adjustments, and we’re pretty confident as a staff that we’re going to get off to a much better start tomorrow on both sides of the field.”

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March 5, 2011

Towson at Mount St. Mary's: Three things to watch

Both teams are chasing a win in the hope that a victory will turn their seasons around. The visiting Tigers are trying to avoid their second consecutive 0-3 start, while the Mountaineers have had 10 days to rebound from a season-opening loss to No. 2 Virginia. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Saturday’s game at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmittsburg.

1) Mount St. Mary’s midfield. The Mountaineers’ starting midfield was kept off the scoreboard by the Cavaliers. The return of junior Jake Willertz (hamstring) to the first line with juniors Bryant Schmidt and Eric Ososki is expected to help, but coach Tom Gravante said the first line must avoid committing a unit-high six turnovers as it did against Virginia. “We’ve really preached ball possession and making smart decisions, which will cut down on turnovers,” Gravante said. “We got a pretty good look at Towson, and we know they’re going to do some things defensively that we’re going to try to counter. So we’re asking our offense to make smarter decisions and cut down on turnovers.”

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Princeton at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

The Tigers have won the last two meetings between these teams, but No. 8 Princeton is also 0-1 after dropping its season opener to No. 7 Hofstra a week ago. The No. 9 Blue Jays are 3-0 and outscoring their opponents by an average of nine goals, but they haven’t played against an opponent as talented as the Tigers. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Saturday’s contest at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

1) Eyeing Princeton’s two-man game. Johns Hopkins has limited opponents to 5.7 goals per game thus far, but that defense has yet to encounter the “pairs” offense that Princeton utilizes. That strategy preaches using on-ball pick and off-ball screens to create mismatches and scoring opportunities, and it will be up to a Blue Jays defense that starts two sophomores and one freshman at close defense and a sophomore goalie to decipher that Tigers offense. “We’re still young,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “[Freshman] Jack Reilly is still getting his feet wet. So it’s a group that has worked extremely hard in practice, so we’ve been pleased with their desire to improve. We feel like we’re improving, but we still have a long way to go there. … We’re also going to play an offense that’s very different. It’s a little more exotic than what we’ve seen. So now a young defense has to respond and play against an offense that we really don’t see much.”

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March 2, 2011

Gettysburg at Goucher: Three things to watch

Both teams enter the contest reeling from stunning season-opening losses. The visiting Bullets dropped six spots to No. 12 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll after falling to unranked Hampden-Sydney, 7-6. The Gophers also absorbed a 7-6 overtime setback to Washington College, a team that had won four games last season. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting.

1) The value of possessions. Goucher entered the fourth quarter against the Shoremen with a two-goal lead, but Washington collected six more ground balls in that final frame. Coach Kyle Hannan said the Gophers must protect the ball and be more opportunistic during 50-50 ground balls against Gettysburg. “I think we’re really going to have to value our possessions,” he said. “We’re going to have to be able to at least try to match possessions with Gettysburg. We can’t let them get a time-of-possession advantage on us. And I think we’re going to have to shoot the ball well to be able to score enough to stay with them, and I think our defense is going to have to play the way it did this past weekend. Very controlled, organized and well. If our goalie can save at 60 percent and we can shoot at 30 percent, we’ll be in this game.”

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February 26, 2011

Georgetown at Maryland: Three things to watch

The respective basketball teams may not play against each other, but the lacrosse teams have made this local rivalry an annual tradition. The Terps own an 8-2 advantage in this series, but they haven’t beaten the Hoyas in College Park since 2005. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) Holmes vs. Tabb. Sophomore Curtis Holmes won 17-of-21 faceoffs in his debut as Maryland’s primary specialist, but he gets a stiffer test in senior Brian Tabb, who went 18-of-28 in Georgetown’s season-opening 15-12 win against Jacksonville on Sunday. Although coach Dave Urick said nine of those wins occurred because the Dolphins player moved early, Terps coach John Tillman said Holmes will have his hands full. “It’ll be interesting,” Tillman said. “This is probably his biggest challenge to date, and I know he’s excited about it. He’s a competitive guy, but Tabb has logged a lot of miles, and he did a terrific job against us last year [when he went 15-of-28 in a 13-12 win against Tillman’s former Harvard squad]. So we’re going to have to see how we do here and make sure that the 10-man group does a great job.”

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Loyola at Towson: Three things to watch

These local rivals meet on Saturday, extending the most-played series on both sides. The Tigers own a slight lead with a 27-25 record, but the Greyhounds have won the last three contests. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

 

1) Figuring out Loyola’s Hagelin. One of Towson coach Tony Seaman’s more pressing concerns is finding consistent production from a talented yet unproven offense. That task could be even more difficult against Jake Hagelin. In three starts against the Tigers, the senior goalie has surrendered just 22 goals and registered 38 saves over that same span. “We’ve got to put the ball past Hagelin,” Seaman said. “He’s terrific. He’s always presented problems for us. We’ve always had low-scoring games with him since he’s been the starting goalie. He’s somebody we’ve had trouble putting the ball by.”

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February 22, 2011

Johns Hopkins at Delaware: Three things to watch

Both teams enter Tuesday night’s meeting without a mark in the loss column. The No. 11 Blue Jays are 1-0 after beating Towson, 10-6, while the No. 19 Blue Hens are undefeated in three games thus far. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) Youth gone wild. One of Johns Hopkins’ pressing questions was seemingly answered Saturday as the team’s freshmen and sophomores combined for five goals and seven assists. The rest of the points came from senior attackmen Kyle Wharton (three goals) and Chris Boland (two goals and one assist), but coach Dave Pietramala said the younger players have a standard for future contests. “That’s what we’re going to have to get to win because that’s who’s playing,” he said, noting that eight of the 10 starters were freshmen and sophomores and 13 of the 23 players who got into the game were freshmen and sophomores. “We started two seniors and six sophomores and two freshmen when you look at our attack, midfield and defense. That’s where the production’s going to have to come from. We got five goals from our two seniors in Boland and Wharton. So you hope you can expect that, but at this point, when you look at things statistically, where else are you going to look?”

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February 19, 2011

Navy at Loyola: Three things to watch

Loyola is 2-5 in the all-time series against Navy, but the Greyhounds own bragging rights after escaping Annapolis with an 8-7 win in overtime last season. Saturday’s contest is the season opener for No. 13 Loyola, but the Midshipmen are 1-0 after a 14-8 victory over the Virginia Military Institute. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) Freezing out the freshmen. Navy’s season-opening win was highlighted by a group of freshmen that combined for eight goals and four assists. Their play caught the attention of Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey, who is emphasizing to his players that the plebes are only freshmen in label. “Everybody says they’re freshmen. I’ve been the head coach up at NAPS [the Naval Academy Preparatory School], and they’re not freshmen,” Toomey said, alluding to the first year the lacrosse players spend away from Annapolis. “They’re sophomores playing together. That’s the first thing that our guys need to understand, that they’re playing against sophomores, not freshmen. And they play a college schedule up there. So they’re not new kids to the program. They’ve played together in games. … When you’ve got a junior reading the scouting report and you see that ‘FR’ for ‘freshman,’ you sometimes to tend to lick your chops a little bit. Not only are you playing against a young man who has played with the other two guys before, but you’re also playing a young man who is a service academy kid. So he’s going to get knocked down, he’s going to get up, and he’s going to come back harder than ever. That’s what you saw last weekend.”

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Johns Hopkins at Towson: Three things to watch

There’s a lot at stake when No. 11 Johns Hopkins visits No. 20 Towson Saturday in the season opener for both teams. The Blue Jays are eager to distance themselves from the memory of last year’s 7-8 record, while the Tigers would like to snap a 15-game losing streak to their Baltimore rivals. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome in the contest.

1) “Pierce"-ing Bassett. The Tigers’ worst loss of 2010 came at the hands of Johns Hopkins, which won last season’s meeting by seven goals. Some of that credit goes to then-freshman goalkeeper Pierce Bassett, who made nine of his game-high 12 saves in the first half, which allowed the Blue Jays to sprint to an 8-0 lead. “We need to manufacture goals,” Towson coach Tony Seaman said. “We’re going against one of the best defenses in the country with some wonderful athletes and a goalie who really gave us some problems last year. He put up a stone wall against us, and it was difficult for us to score goals. And we lost those guys that dominated our goal-scoring last year. So we need to find people who are going to be able to put the ball in the goal for us.”

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May 30, 2010

Tufts vs. Salisbury: Three things to watch

Salisbury and Tufts – the final two teams in the NCAA Division III Tournament – will represent different ends of the spectrum when they meet on Sunday at 12 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Sea Gulls, the No. 1 seed in the South region, will be making their 12th appearance in the championship final. The Jumbos, the No. 2 seed in the North region, are playing for the national title for the first time in the program’s history. So will Salisbury take home its ninth NCAA crown or will Tufts become only the eighth team to capture the championship since 1980?

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May 23, 2010

Stony Brook vs. Virginia: Three things to watch

Virginia and Stony Brook meet for the first time in the NCAA Tournament, but the Cavaliers have owned the all-time series, winning all seven games. The Cavaliers, the top seed, are 20-8 in the quarterfinal round and haven’t lost at this point in the tournament since 1998. The Seawolves, the No. 8 seed, are making their first appearance in the quarterfinals. The winner of Sunday’s contest at 2:30 p.m. at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook, N.Y., will move on and face No. 4 seed North Carolina (14-2) or No. 5 seed Duke (14-4) on Saturday, May 29 at either 4 or 6:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

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Army vs. Cornell: Three things to watch

Cornell and Army meet for the second time this season with the Big Red having won the last five meetings. Cornell, the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, has won its last two quarterfinal games after losing the previous three times. The Black Knights haven’t been to the Final Four since 1984. The winner of Sunday’s contest at 12 p.m. at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook, N.Y., will move on and face either No. 6 seed Maryland (13-3) or Notre Dame (9-6) on Saturday, May 29 at either 4 or 6:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

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Stevenson at Salisbury: Three things to watch

Salisbury and Stevenson clash for the fifth time in two seasons. The Sea Gulls, the top seed in the South region of the NCAA Division III Tournament, are 11-7 in the national semifinals. Meanwhile, the Mustangs, the No. 2 seed in the South region, are eager to make their first appearance in a title game. The winner of Sunday’s contest at 1 p.m. at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury will move on and face either North region No. 1 seed and reigning national champion Cortland (17-2) or No. 2 seed Tufts (18-1) on Sunday, May 30 at 12 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

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May 22, 2010

Duke vs. North Carolina: Three things to watch

North Carolina and Duke meet for the second time this season with the Tar Heels winning rather easily, 13-7, back on March 10 in Durham, N.C. North Carolina, the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, hasn’t been to the Final Four since 1993, losing in the quarterfinals in 1994, 1996, 2004, 2007 and 2009. The Blue Devils, the No. 5 seed, are 4-0 in the quarterfinals in the last five years. The winner of Saturday’s contest at 2:30 p.m. at Princeton Stadium in Princeton, N.J., will move on and face either No. 1 seed Virginia (15-1) or No. 8 seed Stony Brook (13-3) on Saturday, May 29 at either 4 or 6:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

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Notre Dame vs. Maryland: Three things to watch

Maryland and Notre Dame meet for the second year in the NCAA Tournament with the Terps winning last year’s first-round showdown, 7-3. Maryland, the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, has been bounced from the quarterfinals in two consecutive springs, but a victory would guarantee the Terps their fourth Final Four appearance under coach Dave Cottle. The Fighting Irish are 1-2 in the quarterfinals, advancing to the national semifinals in 2001. The winner of Saturday’s contest at 12 p.m. at Princeton Stadium in Princeton, N.J., will move on and face either No. 7 seed Cornell (11-5) or Army (11-5) on Saturday, May 29 at either 4 or 6:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

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May 15, 2010

Mount St. Mary's at Virginia: Three things to watch

Mount St. Mary’s and Virginia have squared off every regular season for the past six years, and the Cavaliers have won each meeting. The Mountaineers’ first tournament victory depends on if they can up upset top-seeded Virginia. The winner of Saturday’s contest at 7:30 p.m. at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., will move onto a quarterfinal game against either No. 8 seed Stony Brook (12-3) or Denver (12-4) on Sunday, May 23 at either 12 or 2:30 p.m. at Stony Brook.

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Loyola at Cornell: Three things to watch

The last time Loyola played against Cornell, the year was 1962 – nine years before the creation of the NCAA Tournament. The Greyhounds have earned a berth in the tournament for the third time in the last four years, but haven’t advanced to the quarterfinals since 1999. The winner of Saturday’s contest at 2:30 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y., will move onto a quarterfinal game against either No. 2 seed Syracuse (13-1) or Army (10-5) on Sunday, May 23 at either 12 or 2:30 p.m. at Stony Brook.

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Johns Hopkins at Duke: Three things to watch

Johns Hopkins is 3-1 against Duke in the NCAA Tournament, winning in the championship final in 2005 and 2007 and ending the Blue Devils’ hopes in 2008. Duke, which earned the No. 5 seed, is 9-3 in the first round, while the Blue Jays have lost just once in the first round, falling to Princeton in 1990. The winner of Saturday’s contest at 12 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C., will move onto a quarterfinal game against either No. 4 seed North Carolina (12-2) or Delaware (10-6) on Saturday, May 22 at either 12 or 2:30 p.m. at Princeton.

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Hofstra at Maryland: Three things to watch

Maryland and Hofstra haven’t met since 2000 with the Terps winning eight of nine meetings. Maryland, the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, has been bounced from the first round only once since 1995, but that took place in 2007. The winner of Saturday’s contest at 12 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park will move onto a quarterfinal game against either No. 6 seed Princeton (11-4) or Notre Dame (7-6) on Saturday, May 22 at either 12 or 2:30 p.m. at Princeton.

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May 8, 2010

Delaware at Towson: Three things to watch

The Colonial Athletic Association Tournament final on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. pits two teams in top-seeded Towson (7-7) and No. 2 seed Delaware (9-6) that haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2007. The winner at Johnny Unitas Stadium will go on, while the loser will go home.

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Johns Hopkins at Loyola: Three things to watch

Much ado has already been made about Saturday’s showdown between No. 20 Johns Hopkins (6-7) and No. 12 Loyola (9-3) at Ridley Athletic Complex at 12 p.m. The winner is probably in the NCAA Tournament, while the loser could be watching the tournament at home.

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May 5, 2010

Albany at UMBC: Three things to watch

As noted on Monday, UMBC has enjoyed tremendous success playing host in the America East Tournament, winning seven consecutive games at UMBC Stadium. The Retrievers (4-8 overall and 3-2 in the conference) will try to make it eight straight against Albany (4-10, 3-2), which nipped UMBC, 9-8, in overtime in a conference tournament semifinal in 2004. Here are a few things I will be looking for when the Great Danes and Retrievers meet on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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Massachusetts at Towson: Three things to watch

As the No. 1 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, Towson (6-7 overall and 4-1 in the conference) gets to remain in the friendly confines of Johnny Unitas Stadium for the semifinal and final rounds. The first step takes place Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. when No. 17 Massachusetts (8-5, 2-3) pays a visit.

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April 28, 2010

Towson at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Wednesday night’s contest features two teams moving in opposing directions. No. 19 Towson (6-5) has won five straight games and is the top seed in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. Johns Hopkins (5-7) has dropped six of its last seven contests and must win its final two games of the regular season to even warrant consideration for the NCAA Tournament. Homewood Field should be the site of some fireworks.

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April 25, 2010

Virginia vs. Maryland: Three things to watch

It’s been a while since a team other than Duke has won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, but it just so happens that Virginia captured the crown in 2006 and Maryland picked up the hardware the year before. So there’s quite a lot at stake when the No. 2 Cavaliers and the No. 5 Terps meet Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park in the tournament final.

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April 24, 2010

Johns Hopkins at Navy: Three things to watch

Saturday’s annual showdown between No. 15 Johns Hopkins and Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis at 12 p.m. will have even greater implications on the postseason picture as both teams are struggling to bolster their resume for the NCAA selection committee. Oh, and there’s the little matter of a 36-game winning streak that the Blue Jays own over the Midshipmen.

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April 23, 2010

North Carolina vs. Maryland: Three things to watch

There likely won’t be too many surprises when No. 3 North Carolina and No. 5 Maryland meet Friday night in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at Byrd Stadium in College Park. A date in the championship final on Sunday with either No. 2 Virginia or No. 6 Duke awaits the victor.

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April 17, 2010

Drexel at Towson: Three things to watch

Towson (4-5) has dominated this series, but Drexel enters Saturday night’s contest with the ranking (No. 8) and the record (9-2). First place in the Colonial Athletic Association and the driver’s seat for the top seed in the conference tournament are at stake when these teams meet at Johnny Unitas Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

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Georgetown at Loyola: Three things to watch

For the first time since 2004, No. 7 Loyola and No. 9 Georgetown will meet not as Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals, but as two typical opponents. But that doesn’t diminish what should be an entertaining game at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore Saturday at noon.

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April 10, 2010

Navy at Maryland: Three things to watch

There’s much at stake when No. 20 Navy visits No. 5 Maryland at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Saturday at noon. The Midshipmen (5-5) could use a quality win to further enhance their resume for the NCAA Tournament, while the Terps (6-2) would like to beat their intra-state rivals for only the second time since 2003. Here are a few game developments that could factor into the outcome.

 

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April 7, 2010

UMBC at Towson: Three things to watch

Just four days after opening play in their respective leagues, UMBC and Towson take a slight breather to add another installment to one of the longer series in their histories. I’ll be interested in seeing whether the Retrievers (1-6) or the Tigers (2-5) will exert its will at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson at 7:30 p.m. Here are a few developments that could factor into the outcome.

 

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April 3, 2010

Salisbury at Stevenson: Three things to watch

It doesn’t get any more thrilling than this: No. 2 Salisbury at No. 1 Stevenson at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Saturday at 2 p.m. Here are a few developments that factor into the outcome.

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April 2, 2010

Virginia at Maryland: Three things to watch

Is another seven-overtime contest in store when No. 1 Virginia (9-0) visits No. 5 Maryland (6-1) at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Saturday at 8 p.m.? Here are a few factors that might play a role in the final score.

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North Carolina at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

No. 12 Johns Hopkins (4-4) is 64-10 at Homewood Field under coach Dave Pietramala, but will that translate into a victory against No. 3 North Carolina (9-0) on Saturday at noon? Here are a few factors that could account for the final score.

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Georgetown at Navy: Three things to watch

A victory could go a long way towards determining the postseason fate for Friday’s participants, No. 13 Georgetown (4-3) and No. 20 Navy (5-4), at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis at 7 p.m. Here are a few developments that could factor into the outcome.

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March 26, 2010

Towson at Loyola: Three things to watch

While No. 5 Maryland and No. 8 Johns Hopkins take to the road for contests at No. 3 North Carolina and No. 1 Virginia, respectively, a game of interest closer to home pits Towson (1-4) against No. 11 Loyola (4-2) at the Ridley Athletic Complex on Saturday at 1 p.m. Here are a few factors that could play a role in Saturday’s final score.

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Maryland at North Carolina: Three things to watch

Friday’s edition of The Sun highlighted No. 8 Johns Hopkins’ road contest at No. 1 Virginia and what the Blue Jays can do to return with a victory. There’s another tantalizing showdown between No. 5 Maryland (6-0) and No. 3 North Carolina (8-0). Here are a few developments that could factor into Saturday’s outcome.

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March 21, 2010

Virginia at Towson: Three things to watch

The day after the top seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was bounced, top-ranked Virginia (7-0) pays a visit to Towson (1-3) on Sunday at noon at Johnny Unitas Stadium. Here are a few factors that could determine the outcome.

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March 20, 2010

Syracuse at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Two teams that have combined to capture 20 of 39 all-time NCAA championships and made 34 appearances in the tournament final clash Saturday night at 8 p.m. when No. 2 Syracuse (3-1) visits No. 8 Johns Hopkins (4-2). Here are a few developments I will be interested in following from the press box at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

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March 16, 2010

Navy at Towson: Three things to watch

Two teams hungry for wins meet Tuesday night at 7 p.m. when No. 17 Navy (3-3) meets Towson (0-3) at Johnny Unitas Stadium. Here are a few developments that could determine the outcome.

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March 13, 2010

Towson at Maryland: Three things to watch

When Towson visits Byrd Stadium in College Park for an unusual 11 a.m. tilt with No. 6 Maryland on Saturday, you can expect a lot of adrenaline and intensity between the lines. Here are a few things I will be interested in seeing.

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March 9, 2010

UMBC at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

We’re going to alter the content of this series a little bit – just in time for No. 19 UMBC’s visit to Homewood Field to take on No. 7 Johns Hopkins on Tuesday night. Here are a few things I will be watching.

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March 7, 2010

Western New England at Stevenson: Three things to watch

No. 2 Stevenson welcomes the first of five ranked opponents when No. 16 Western New England visits the Caves Athletic Complex on Sunday at 1 p.m. Here are three keys to a Mustangs victory.

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February 27, 2010

Bucknell at Towson: Three things to watch

The Tigers finally get to play a meaningful game, but the first opponent on the schedule is a No. 17 Bucknell team that nearly upset then-No. 1 Duke two weeks ago and routed Ohio State last Saturday. These three developments could have an impact on the outcome of Saturday’s game at Johnny Unitas Stadium at 1 p.m.

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Maryland at Georgetown: Three things to watch

The No. 7 Terps opened the season with a 12-7 victory over Bellarmine. Meanwhile, the No. 9 Hoyas will play in their first game. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome of Saturday’s contest at Georgetown’s Multi-Sport Field in Washington, D.C. at 2 p.m.

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February 25, 2010

North Carolina at Navy: Three things to watch

The No. 11 Midshipmen added injury to insult when they learned after Saturday’s 8-7 overtime loss to No. 10 Loyola that senior attackman Tim Paul (torn anterior cruciate ligament) would be lost for the season. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome of Thursday night’s home contest against No. 3 North Carolina.

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February 20, 2010

Delaware at UMBC: Three things to watch

The Retrievers opened 2009 with a 14-9 victory over the Blue Hens, but Delaware had won 10 of the previous 13 meetings. Here are a few developments that could determine the outcome of Saturday's game at UMBC Stadium at 1 p.m.

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February 19, 2010

Loyola at Navy: Three things to watch

These two teams meet in a regular-season contest for the first time since April 3, 1943. The Midshipmen own a 3-1 advantage in the series. Here are a few game developments that could determine the outcome of Saturday's game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at noon.

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May 25, 2009

Cornell vs. Syracuse: Three things to watch

The No. 5 seed Big Red (13-3) won three national crowns in their first three attempts (1971, 1976 and 1977), but have gone 0-3 since (1978, 1987 and 1988). Meanwhile, the Orange (15-2) is 10-5 in title games, including 4-2 since John Desko succeeded Roy Simmons Jr. as head coach after the 1998 season. Here are three developments that could determine the outcome of Monday’s NCAA tournament final at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

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May 22, 2009

Cornell vs. Virginia: Three things to watch

The No. 1 seed Cavaliers (15-2) are just 9-11 in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, but they are 2-2 in their last four trips to the Final Four. The No. 5 seed Big Red (12-3) is 6-4 in the semifinals, but their last victory over Virginia occurred in 1988. Here are three developments that could determine the outcome of Saturday’s semifinal at 2:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

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May 21, 2009

Duke vs. Syracuse: Three things to watch

The No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Orange (14-2) are seeking their 16th trip to the national title game in 26 attempts -- including their third NCAA tournament final since 2004. Meanwhile, the No. 3 seed Blue Devils (15-3) are trying to reach their second championship final in three years. Here are three developments that could determine the outcome of Saturday’s semifinal at noon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

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May 16, 2009

Gettysburg at Stevenson: Three things to watch

The Mustangs are in unfamiliar territory, having reached the NCAA tournament semifinals for the first time in program history. For a shot at either Cortland State or Middlebury in the championship final next Sunday, here are three factors Stevenson (17-1) must take advantage of in its semifinal game against Gettysburg (15-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills.

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May 15, 2009

Johns Hopkins vs. Virginia: Three things to watch

Since Dave Pietramala took the head coaching reins from John Haus prior to the 2001 season, the Blue Jays are 19-6 in the NCAA tournament and have made six final four appearances. Here are three game developments that could be critical for Johns Hopkins (10-4), which tangles with Virginia (14-2) on Sunday at noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

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Maryland vs. Syracuse: Three things to watch

Since Dave Cottle succeeded Dick Edell as head coach prior to the 2002 season, the Terps have been to three NCAA tournament semifinals. The No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Orange stand in the way of a fourth final four appearance. Here are three keys for Maryland (10-6), which faces Syracuse (13-2) on Saturday at noon at Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y.

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May 13, 2009

Salisbury at Stevenson: Three things to watch

Much will be at stake when the eight-time reigning national champion Sea Gulls (16-3) visit the top-ranked Mustangs (16-1) Wednesday at 4 p.m. in a NCAA Division III tournament quarterfinal. These three developments could have an impact on the outcome.

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May 8, 2009

Maryland at Notre Dame: Three things to watch

The Terps are 19-6 in the first round and have won eight of their last nine tournament openers. Here are three keys if Maryland wants to advance to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year by getting past Notre Dame at noon Sunday.

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Navy at Duke: Three things to watch

The Midshipmen return to Tobacco Road after upending North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. Here are three things that could help Navy make a triumphant trip against the Blue Devils on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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UMBC at North Carolina: Three things to watch

The Retrievers are just 1-4 in the first round of the NCAA tournament, while the Tar Heels have lost five of their last seven tournament openers. Here are three things that could help UMBC get past North Carolina on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and collect its second first-round win in three years.

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Brown at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Normally, I would use this space to highlight three game developments that could determine the outcome for either team. I’m going to tweak it slightly and just go with what I think are three keys to victory for Johns Hopkins when Brown visits Saturday at noon.

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May 1, 2009

Villanova at Towson: Three things to watch

The Tigers have a golden opportunity to not only capture their fourth Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship, but also assure themselves of a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Here are a few things that must turn in Towson’s favor Saturday night so that the team can avoid the anxiety of Selection Sunday:

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Loyola at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

The Charles Street rivalry is renewed with significant ramifications at stake depending on the outcome.

Here are a few game developments that could help determine the result:

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April 29, 2009

Binghamton at UMBC: Three things to watch

The No. 11 Retrievers have won or shared the America East regular-season title in each of the past five years. If UMBC (10-3) hopes to reach its fourth consecutive tournament final, here are a few objectives the team should aim for.

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April 25, 2009

Salisbury at Washington: Three things to watch

It’s another installment in the annual "War on the Shore" series. The Sea Gulls have won 10 of the past 11 meetings, including the last eight. But Salisbury doesn’t look nearly as invulnerable as in previous seasons, and the Shoremen are eager to get their first victory in the series since May 4, 2002. Here are a few developments that could intrigue me as I watch from Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium in Chestertown.

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April 22, 2009

Johns Hopkins at Towson: Three things to watch

The Blue Jays have enjoyed a lopsided relationship with the Tigers, winning 33 of 36 meetings, and Towson hasn’t earned a victory in the series since 1996. Here are a few things I will be looking for from the press box at Johnny Unitas Stadium Wednesday night.

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April 18, 2009

Fairfield at Loyola: Three things to watch

The No. 19 Greyhounds are just a half-game behind No. 13 Massachusetts in the race for the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship and automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. Here are a few things Loyola must do against the Stags to stay in contention.

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April 17, 2009

Navy at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

A victory Saturday for either the No. 11 Midshipmen or the No. 10 Blue Jays could go a long way in polishing their resumes for a NCAA tournament bid. Here are a few developments that could determine the outcome.

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April 10, 2009

Johns Hopkins vs. Maryland: Three things to watch

No need for a lengthy introduction for these two teams, who are meeting for the 105th time in this series.

Here are a few developments that could determine the outcome of the contest.

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Army vs. Navy: Three things to watch

All the talking is almost over, and these two rivals can let their play speak for them Saturday in the first game of the doubleheader at the Smartlink Day of Rivals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Here are a few things I’ll be interested in observing.

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April 4, 2009

Albany at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The Blue Jays are mired in another three-game losing streak, but as they have done in the past, they have usually rebounded with a strong finish. Here are a few areas Johns Hopkins needs to win to get, well, the win.

1) The Blue Jays’ biggest problem has been a tendency to surrender extended runs that put them in big holes. In a 14-11 loss to No. 2 Syracuse, Johns Hopkins allowed bursts of 6-0 and 5-1. In a 16-15 setback to No. 1 Virginia, the Blue Jays allowed a 5-5 tie to turn into a 12-6 deficit. And in a 10-9 loss in overtime to No. 11 North Carolina, a 5-0 run put Johns Hopkins in a 6-2 hole. Whether it’s the offense failing to find its rhythm or the defense being out of sync, the Blue Jays would do themselves a huge service by preventing Albany from getting on a run.

2) Possessions translate into shots, which means pressure on a defense, which can lead to goals. In each of the three losses, Johns Hopkins has been on the wrong end of shots and groundballs. The difference is markedly noticeable in the first half. In that period, the Blue Jays were out-shot by Syracuse, 29-9; Virginia, 22-14; and North Carolina, 25-9. In the category of groundballs, Johns Hopkins trailed the Orange, 17-7; the Cavaliers, 17-6; and the Tar Heels, 20-14. In those three setbacks, the Blue Jays are averaging just 10.7 shots and 9.0 groundballs in the first half compared to 25.3 and 18, respectively, for their opponents. Winning the possession battle could go a long way in determining Saturday’s outcome.

3) The Great Danes have beaten No. 13 Massachusetts and only lost to No. 5 Princeton and Denver, but they have missed the presence of senior attackman Corey Small. Small, who led Albany in goals last season with 34 and was second in points with 45, has missed the last three contests after undergoing surgery last month, and the Great Danes struggled to beat a winless Hartford squad, 9-8, on Wednesday. Albany’s troubles on attack would seem to be a perfect recipe for Johns Hopkins to stop the bleeding.

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April 3, 2009

Maryland at Navy: Three things to watch

Both teams are playing on a short week on Friday, but the adrenaline will be flowing with an expected crowd approaching five figures. Here are some details I will be interested in observing from the press box at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

1) The Midshipmen's defense isn’t strikingly huge or fast, but the unit is one of the stingiest in the nation, surrendering an average of seven goals per game – which is tied for fourth-best in Division I. Senior Andy Tormey shut out Georgetown’s Ryan Shuler, freshman Matt Vernam limited Ricky Mirabito to just one goal, and short-stick defensive midfielders Geoff Leone and Bobby Lennon are considered two of the best at their position. "They have a tremendous system that they coach and the players understand," Terps coach Dave Cottle said. "We’ve got to do the things that make us successful. It just so happens that our opponent is Navy." But Navy coach Richie Meade said the objective is to keep the scoring to a minimum. "For us to win, it’s going to be 8-7, 9-7, 6-5," he said. "If it gets up to the 10s, 12s and 13s, they’ve got an awful lot of firepower, two very good goalies and a very good defense. I’m not sure that’s a game we’re going to win. But we’re going to look to run on them and they’re going to look to run on us, and a lot of it comes down to them handling the ball and us being able to slide at the right time and cover up the inside and get some turnovers, which we’ve been able to do."

2) Many people knew Tim Paul and Patrick Moran would power the Midshipmen's offense, but Brendan Connors has been a pleasant surprise. The junior attackman has already achieved career highs in goals (14), assists (six) and points (20) and turned in his first career hat trick against Georgetown last Saturday. But the Navy offense will meet a Maryland defense that likes to switch from zone defense to man-to-man and could start either Jason Carter or Brian Phipps in the net. "We need our attack to play well in order to compete against a team like Maryland," Meade said. "Our key is good shot selection and good shot placement."

3) Inside Lacrosse’s Christian Swezey pointed out teams that have been extended to multiple overtimes and lost don’t fare well the next week. In 2002, Navy lost to North Carolina in six overtimes and dropped the next game to Massachusetts. In 1988, Cornell lost to Massachusetts in five overtimes and was nipped by Yale in overtime the next week. But Cottle said he isn’t worried about a possible letdown. "Practice started at 2:30 on Monday, and the team was out 15 minutes early ready to start," he said. "They understand we’ve got a challenge in front of us. We’re playing a good team, a well-coached team. It’s going to be a battle, and they have done everything we’ve asked to focus in on Navy. They haven’t spent one minute on looking back at our last game."

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March 27, 2009

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."

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March 26, 2009

Navy at Georgetown: Three things to watch

Two teams that have not fully met preseason expectations, the No. 17 Midshipmen and unranked Hoyas, tangle Saturday. A few things to keep an eye on:

1) No one in Annapolis is using the P-word (aka "panic"), but there is a sense of urgency about winning Saturday’s contest. Navy is 6-3 with all three losses coming by just one goal. But the Midshipmen have two losses in the Patriot League and own a victory over just one top-20 opponent (No. 18 Ohio State). Still, coach Richie Meade and his players aren’t stressing. "One of the things I’ve told our guys is block out the noise," he said. "The only thing that’s important is what we’re saying to each other and what we do internally because that’s reality. Everything else is just a guess."

2) The strength of Georgetown’s team is an aggressive, stout defense that likes to hound opponents into causing turnovers. The Hoyas forced No. 11 Harvard into 18 turnovers and permitted just 28 shots in Georgetown’s 9-8 overtime upset on Wednesday. "That’s the game we have to expect," Meade said. "We may not be able to run our offense. They may pressure us to the point where we throw a pass away or we get a 20-second count on a clear. We’ve got to be able to deal with those situations and play well. The other side of it is anytime you pressure somebody, you’re going to take the risk that they can handle the pressure and create offensive opportunities. So groundballs become extremely important in a game like this."

3) Even after knocking off the Crimson, Georgetown is just 3-4. Of even more concern is that the Hoyas are 0-2 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, which awards the league champion an automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. But Meade isn’t buying into a woe-is-me scenario. "It’s still Georgetown, OK?" he said. "They’ve had some struggles, they’ve lost some games they certainly expected to win, but they held Syracuse to eight goals and they beat Maryland. So they’re still the team that people projected earlier in the year to go to the Final Four. We can’t rely on them playing poorly. We have to rely on us being able to play a very good game against a team that has the ability to physically overwhelm you."

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Syracuse at Loyola: Three things to watch

While the No. 19 Greyhounds’ goalie dilemma involving Jake Hagelin and Alex Peaty will be a significant story line Saturday, here are a few more factors that could help determine the final outcome.

1) Although Loyola has allowed a modest 8.4 goals per game, the unit has not faced an offensive juggernaut like the one the No. 2 Orange brings to town. Syracuse is averaging 14.1 goals per contest, which ranks second in the nation behind No. 1 Virginia’s unit (14.2). While mindful of the Orange’s offense, Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey pointed out that a good portion of Syracuse’s success is rooted in the team’s ability to score goals and maintain momentum by going on runs. The Orange has recorded a 3-0 run in each of its seven games this season and bursts of 6-0 in five contests. "One thing that Syracuse thrives on is three- and four-goal runs," Toomey said. "You don’t want to get into an up-and-down when you’re playing from behind."

 

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March 20, 2009

Virginia at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

The Cavaliers’ three-game winning streak against the Blue Jays is the current longest against Johns Hopkins. But here’s a nugget from Blue Jays sports information director Ernie Larossa: Under coach Dave Pietramala, Johns Hopkins is 3-0 at home against top-ranked opponents.

1) After tangling with the country’s best offense in Syracuse (14.6 goals average) last Saturday, the Blue Jays face the nation’s second-most prolific offense in Virginia (14.0). All six of the Cavaliers’ starting attackmen and midfielders have scored at least 10 goals each. Senior attackman Garrett Billings leads Virginia in goals (22) and points (32) and classmate Danny Glading is the team’s top playmaker with 15 assists. ESPN analyst Jack Emmer said how Johns Hopkins shadows Billings and Glading could determine the rest of the team’s defensive presence. "It would really help him [coach Dave Pietramala] if he didn’t have to slide the team defensively to Glading and Billings," said Emmer, the former Army coach who ranks second in NCAA history with 326 career wins. "If he can defend those guys even-up, that’s going to be a big factor. If he has to slide and cover them, then those middies are going to be able to take advantage."

2) One way the Blue Jays could alleviate some of the pressure on their defense is winning the battle of possession and, more specifically, faceoffs. Cavaliers senior Chad Gaudet ranks 15th in the country with a .565 faceoff percentage, and he could jump-start the team’s attack. Johns Hopkins sophomore Matt Dolente won a career-high 15 faceoffs Saturday, but he is still dealing with a hand injury and key backup Michael Powers has been hampered by a right arm injury. "There’s no guarantees that either of them will or won’t play," Pietramala said. "It’s a day-by-day type of thing, and we’ll evaluate it on Friday and Saturday again."

3) Another tactic the Blue Jays might employ is being patient on offense and working the clock and the field for quality shots. It’s a method they used successfully in last year’s NCAA tournament semifinal when Johns Hopkins upset then-No. 1 Duke, 10-9. That puts the onus on Virginia to be focused on defense and efficient on offense, according to Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia. "Will Hopkins want to go up and down the field with us or will they want to slow the tempo down a little bit, maybe play out of an invert offense?" he asked rhetorically. "We expect that’s a decision they might make. So being able – for us – to be patient both offensively and defensively is certainly going to be a factor in the game."

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March 19, 2009

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."

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March 13, 2009

UMBC at Maryland: Three things to watch

The Terps have won 24 of 30 meetings in this series, but bragging rights belong to the Retrievers, who have won the past two games. Here are three factors that could play a role in tomorrow’s outcome.

1) UMBC coach Don Zimmerman won’t reveal his hand, but figure on a rotation of juniors J.D. Harkey, Lance Diamond and Jordan Pierce and freshman Justin Radebaugh taking reps on faceoffs. Junior Kyle Wimer is another option, but he’s so valuable on offense and defense, Zimmerman might not want to exhaust him by taking faceoffs. With much of the attention centered on the Retrievers winning just 32.8 percent of their faceoffs, Wimer argued that the faceoff guys don’t deserve all of the blame. "A lot of these are 50-50 balls, and we’re just not coming up with them right now," he said. "If we’re getting in there and it’s a 50-50 ball, we feel like we should be coming up with it. It just hasn’t been going our way." Maryland has its own issues with junior Bryn Holmes (42 of 64, 65.6 percent) not expected to play due to a groin injury. Senior Jeff Reynolds (17 of 28, 60.7 percent) and freshman Jake Bernhardt (five of eight, 62.5 percent) could see some time at the "X."

2) Which offense has its way? The Terps are tied with Colgate for seventh in the country, scoring 12.6 goals a game, and UMBC isn’t far behind at 12.0 goals per contest. The Retrievers’ first midfield line of Peet Poillon (eight goals and 13 assists), Wimer (12, five) and Alex Hopmann (13, one) is widely considered one of the best in the nation. But Maryland’s unit of Dan Groot (five, six), Jeremy Sieverts (seven, two) or Reynolds (five, three) is just as dangerous and can alleviate some of the defensive pressure on attackmen Grant Catalino (11, 10) and Will Yeatman (six, eight). One footnote: The Terps would be wise to avoid penalties as UMBC leads the country with a 66.7 conversion rate in extra-man situations.

3) The Retrievers have declined to cite tomorrow’s game as a make-or-break contest for the season. But they were clearly perturbed after the loss to Princeton, and Zimmerman said he could sense a different vibe among the players during practice earlier in the week. "The team was affected by those two losses, and I think they are in agreement that there are no moral victories," Zimmerman said. "And I’m glad they were affected by the losses. We had a chance to go out and win and we didn’t. We didn’t get it done. But you can’t dwell on the past, you can’t lick your wounds. You’ve just got to get in there and keep trying to improve. That’s the attitude of this team."

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:59 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch, UMBC
        

March 3, 2009

Johns Hopkins at UMBC: Three things to watch

The Blue Jays have owned this series, winning all six meetings, but the Retrievers are eager to break the trend. To do so, here are some things that I will keep an eye on tonight:

1) If the No. 4 Retrievers look awfully familiar to the Blue Jays, take a closer look at the midfield. UMBC (3-0) is powered by a first midfield line of seniors Peet Poillon and Alex Hopmann (Annapolis) and junior Kyle Wimer -- all three of whom rank 1-2-3 on the team in points. It's a formula that Johns Hopkins employed in the past: Adam Doneger, Kyle Harrison and Kevin Boland in 2003, Harrison, Boland and Matt Rewkowski in 2004, Harrison and Paul Rabil in 2005, and Paul Rabil and Stephen Peyser in 2007 and 2008. If the Blue Jays plan to shadow those three midfielders with long-pole defensemen, that leaves either senior attackman Ryan Smith (Fallston) or junior attackman Matt Latham (Liberty) facing off against a short-stick defensive midfielder.

2) Johns Hopkins has been a program that has long been celebrated for its tough defenses. The question for the No. 8 Blue Jays (1-1) is: Which defense shows up tonight? The one that shut out Siena over the final 45 minutes, 50 seconds in a season-opening win? Or the unit that surrendered nine of the game's first 10 goals in Saturday's loss to Princeton? Senior Michael Evans struggled with Tigers sophomore attackman Jack McBride, and juniors Matt Drenan and Sam DeVore and senior long-stick midfielder Charlie Wiggins drew unnecessary penalties. That unit has to play better to give junior goalkeeper Michael Gvozden a chance against a Retrievers offense that averages 14.7 goals per game.

3) UMBC's defense seems to have filled the void left when top close defenseman Bobby Atwell (Southern) was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in January. Senior Steve Settembrino and juniors Matt Kresse and Brian Schneider have bent, but not broken against opponents like Delaware's Curtis Dickson and Colgate's Brandon Corp. They'll have to do much of the same against a Johns Hopkins offense that has gotten goals from seven different players.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch, UMBC
        

February 26, 2009

Duke vs. Maryland: Three things to watch

The No. 14 Blue Devils and No. 8 Terps open the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule with Saturday’s contest at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium. Here are some game developments that interest me:

1) Both teams want to hang onto the ball and keep it away from the opposing offense, and one way of accomplishing that is winning face-offs. Blue Devils senior Sam Payton has not picked up where he left off last season when he ranked seventh in the country with a .593 percentage. He is 20 of 39, but he won 14 of 19 in Duke’s 15-7 win March 1. On the flip side, Maryland junior Bryn Holmes has been great, claiming 35 of 43 face-offs. But he went just 9 of 19 last year. "He’s dynamite," Blue Devils coach John Danowski said of Holmes. "Those numbers are startling. Sam is gaining experience. He missed a couple weeks of preseason, so he’s getting himself in shape. He’s the guy now who’s taking a lot of draws for us."

2) I’ll have more in tomorrow’s paper on the match-up problems the Terps’ Will Yeatman and Grant Catalino pose on opposing defenses. But as imposing as the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Yeatman and 6-5, 220-pound Catalino are, Duke is no slouch defensively. Senior Ryan McFadyen is 6-6 and 245 pounds, sophomore Tommy Montelli is 6-4 and 215 pounds, junior Parker McKee is 6-2 and 215 pounds, and sophomore Mike Manley is 6-1 and 200 pounds. So Manley barely paused when asked about tackling Yeatman and Catalino. "It doesn’t change anything," he said. "We know our personnel, we know what we’re doing on the defensive end, and we know what we need to do. It doesn’t change anything for us just because they have a 6-foot-5 guy or a 6-foot-6 guy. That doesn’t intimidate us one bit."

3) Both teams are coming off disappointing setbacks: Maryland to Georgetown and Duke to Harvard. And both teams could use a victory before embarking through the meat of their schedules. But if you’re looking for depressed attitudes, you’re looking in the wrong place. "Sometimes it’s good for a team to have some adversity thrown at them early in the season, get a taste of what real life is like," Yeatman said. "So I think although it’s unfortunate that we didn’t come out with the ‘W’, it could help us out in the long run." Said Manley: "Is this a sign of the end of Duke? Not at all. It’s an upset, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and figure things out."

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch
        

Princeton vs. Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

When the No. 4 Blue Jays and No. 19 Tigers meet Saturday at noon in the first game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium, Johns Hopkins will try to win for the seventh time in the last eight meetings between these programs. Here are a few factors to look for:

1) Princeton walloped Canisius, 14-6, in the season opener for both teams Saturday, but the Tigers launched 60 shots. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but senior midfielder Mark Kovler shot just 1 of 13, and junior midfielder Scott MacKenzie went 1 of 8. Coach Bill Tierney pointed out that Princeton must be much more efficient against the Blue Jays’ stingy defense. "I learned that we can’t hit the broad side of a barn without a snow shovel with our shots," Tierney joked before turning serious. "I think the kids executed pretty well, but we didn’t shoot very well. The Canisius goalie played very well, but in a game, to miss 46 times, that’s usually our average number of shots. So we learned that we’ve got guys willing to let it fly. Now the idea is to try to get a few more on goal."

2) Blessed with two talented goalkeepers in junior Nikhil Ashra and freshman Tyler Fiorito, the Tigers are going with a two-man rotation for the first time in Tierney’s career. Fiorito, a Phoenix native and McDonogh graduate, started against Canisius, and Ashra replaced Fiorito to begin the second half. Tierney won’t tip his hand as to who will get the start Saturday or if one goalie will play the entire game, but Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the challenge is preparing for two players who don’t show up in a lot of game film. "Obviously, it worked well for Princeton this past Saturday. I thought both of their goalies played well," Pietramala said. "I think they’re both very different, and that’s probably the greatest challenge presented, that maybe just when you start to get a bead on a goalie, the next thing you know there’s a new guy in there."

3) Go ahead and count Tierney among the coaches who are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to game-plan for Paul Rabil, Kevin Huntley and Stephen Peyser. But Tierney was cognizant that the Blue Jays got goals from six different players in the team’s 11-3 season-opening victory over Siena. "You’re absolutely right in thinking that they’ve got guys who are very talented and have done a lot of good things already," Tierney said. "So it is going to be spread out, which means you can’t just say, ‘If we stop Rabil or if we stop Peyser, we’re going to get a shot at winning.’ Now you’ve got eight or nine guys that can all score. It becomes a little more difficult in that you really don’t know who’s going to have the big day or who they’re going to go to in crunch time."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch
        

February 20, 2009

Georgetown at Maryland: Three things to watch

Georgetown at Maryland: Three things to watch

When No. 17 Georgetown visits No. 3 Maryland tomorrow at 1 p.m., the biggest storyline will entail how the Hoyas intend to defend the behemoth duo of 6-foot-6, 260-pound junior Will Yeatman and 6-5, 240-pound sophomore Grant Catalino. Some other game factors to keep an eye on:

1) Georgetown graduated its first- and third-leading scorers from last season’s squad, but the team does return junior attackman Craig Dowd (14 goals and 23 assists to rank No. 2 last year), junior midfielder Andrew Brancaccio (18, 2, No. 4) and junior attackman Ricky Mirabito (15, 5, No. 5). Will the Terps blunt the Hoyas’ offense by assigning close defensemen Max Schmidt and Brian Farrell to Dowd and Brancaccio? "That’s a good question," Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. "Our attack is an entirely different look with Brendan Cannon and Andy Baird no longer there. It’ll be interesting to see how teams match up. I’m not sure who they feel is going to be more of a threat to them. Certainly, Brancaccio is someone that everyone is well aware of. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that they bump two poles up and try to defend one of our attackman with a short stick. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that throughout the season."

2) The Hoyas also lost goalkeeper Miles Kass, paving the way for redshirt sophomore Jack Davis to begin his first year as a starter. Urick has praised Davis for his ability to limit rebounds and get the ball upfield to start fastbreaks. The dilemma for Maryland is that there’s very little film of Davis for its offensive players to study. "We don’t know enough about him," Terps coach Dave Cottle said. "The good news is we won’t yell at them for not shooting at the right spot because we have no idea where the right spot is. So the kids are just going to play, shoot hard, and try to score. Maybe in the long run, that’s a good thing for us."

3) Maryland has played two games thus far, while Georgetown wrapped up its preseason scrimmage schedule just last week. While Urick said he’s not concerned about rust, he acknowledged that tomorrow’s contest will be much different than the scrimmages his younger players have experienced. "The atmosphere is going to be an adjustment," Urick said. "We’ve had two preseason scrimmages, and there isn’t a lot of hype around those. There are no TV cameras there. There isn’t a lot of the intangibles that are going to be around this game. So how we react to that is going to be awfully important."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch
        

February 13, 2009

Ohio State at Navy: Three things to watch

Arguably the most significant local game of the weekend, a pair of 1-0 teams in No. 15 Ohio State and No. 10 Navy clash at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis tomorrow. I talked with both Midshipmen coach Richie Meade and Buckeyes coach Nick Myers and discerned three factors from my conversation with both men.

1) Faceoffs will be key. Navy won just nine of 21 faceoffs in last Saturday's 13-5 win against VMI. Ohio State was just slightly better with a 12-of-25 success rate in Saturday's 21-1 victory over Detroit Mercy. Meade wasn't quite ready to panic about the play of faceoff specialists Frankie Coppola and Logan West, who combined to go 2-of-11 because Mikelis Visgauss struggled in last season's opener against the Keydets before finishing 13th in the country with a .575 win percentage. But Meade is well aware that success at the "X" could go a long way to getting the Midshipmen the "W." "If you have the ball more than the other team, you’re probably going to win," Meade said. "That comes down to getting groundballs, winning faceoffs, and clearing the ball. That’s kind of the key for us."

2) Navy is eager to test Buckeyes junior goalie Brandon Freeman, who is beginning his first year as a full-time starter in the net. Freeman beat out Syracuse transfer Peter Coluccini, who started for the Orange in 2007. Myers said he has been impressed with Freeman's quick hands and outlet passes. Meade said Freeman might have an advantage. "He’s a little bit of an unknown, but he’s the starting goalie at Ohio State," Meade said. "I’d like nothing better than to score nine goals on him in the first two minutes, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It doesn’t really matter who the goalie is. We’re not going to change what we do. ... Playing against a good goalie, you’ve got to take good shots. That’s our focus."

3) Ohio State wants to prove its mettle. Many preseason prognosticators jumped ship when the Buckeyes graduated a talented senior class that included midfielder Kevin Buchanan and goalie Stefan Schroder, bid farewell to head coach Joe Breschi, who left for North Carolina, and watched midfielder Peet Poillon transfer to UMBC. But if Ohio State is taking heed of those slights, Myers isn't letting on. "I think we’re just concerned with playing Buckeyes lacrosse," he said. " ... We try to preach the things that we feel are important to this team and us getting better every day. I think the rankings and stuff on the Internet, you’ve got to be careful when you listen to that too much. I think you’ve really got to focus on each other and working hard every day to improve."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:28 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Navy, Three things to watch
        
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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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