Maryland men’s lacrosse hosts Army to begin NCAA Tournament

Maryland 10-5 (4-3) vs Army 12-3 (8-1)

Where: SECU Stadium

When: Saturday, May 13th, 7:30 PM


Spread: Maryland -3, O/U 22.5 (as of midnight on May 12)

Maryland-Army under the SECU lights is how head coach John Tillman and the Terps kick off their tournament run after drawing the fourth-overall seed following a 10-5 season.

Maryland will host Army, the newly-minted Patriot League winners, who enters Saturday with a 12-3 record. Army has a very efficient defense only allowing 8.67 goals per game which is second in the entire country. The Black Knights also have one of the best face-off men in the entire country as well in Will Coletti who also happens to be a Maryland native. This season, Coletti is tied for seventh in the country in face-off win percentage at 62.3%, which is 1.9% higher than Maryland’s own Luke Wierman who is at 61.4%. Coletti loves to get in transition after face-off wins to try and help the offense get easier looks or even get a chance to score himself. This season, he has six goals and four assists off of fastbreak face-off wins. Wing play will be huge for both teams in trying to earn the extra possessions from the face-off.

On offense, look for Army’s Reese Burek to be the one running the show for the Black Knights. Burek has 33 goals on the season as well as 23 assists, leading the team in both categories. One of Burek’s favorite targets to dish the ball to is Jacob Morin. Morin is second on the team in goals scored with 32. Morin is known as a pure scorer and can do it in many ways. However, unlike Burek, Morin is not as much of a passer with him only having six assists on the season. Look for those two to be the main focal point of Army’s offensive attack with both being offensive midfielders and likely being matched up on John Geppert who has been dealing with an injury lately and one of the Terps short stick defensive midfielders. If the Terps can slow those two down, I like their chances to advance to the quarterfinals.

On defense for the Black Knights, look out for AJ Pilate and Christian Fournier. Fournier is their top long stick midfielder and leads the team in caused turnovers with 20. Fournier is also a ground ball machine picking up 38 ground balls this season which also leads the team outside of Coletti. Pilate is Army’s top close defender and is second on the team in both ground balls with 32 and caused turnovers with 17. Pilate is a guy that Army likes to stick on the opposing teams’ top attackman and Pilate does a great job at slowing them down or even eliminating them from the game. Look for Pilate to get matched up with Braden Erksa and try to take Erksa out of the game and make the Terps’ offense go through someone else. The Terps offense recently has simply gone where Erksa takes them. If Erksa has a great game I expect the offense as a whole to have a great game and pull out the victory.

This is going to be a grind-it-out type of game. I expect it to be very physical and emotional from both sides given it is win or go home from here on out. It’s two teams that strive out being the more physical and smart team every week going at it against each other. I do not expect either team to ever truly pull away and take a commanding lead. With this being Army’s first NCAA tournament since 2019 so not much of their current roster has been in this kind of game before. The Terps have the experience on their side and I think that will give them a bit of an edge come Saturday. I think the Terps will be able to pull it out and come away with a victory but it will not be a pretty one. Army is hungry to prove the doubters wrong and will come with a chip on their shoulder, but I think the Terps will be able to just do enough to get the win in a very close 10-9 game.

Saturday’s contest between Army-Maryland will mark the first since 2004 when the Terps pulled out a 16-12 win.

The Terps have not lost a first-round game of the NCAA tournament since 2013 when they fell to Cornell in College Park. Luke Wierman is at 619 face-off wins in his career and just needs 30 more to break Maryland’s all-time record and 65 more to break the single-season record–that he set last season. Braden Erksa needs just 11 more total points this season to break the freshman scoring record at Maryland.

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