Preview: Maryland men’s lacrosse hosts Penn State to begin Big Ten play

#2 Maryland 5-2 vs #10 Penn State 5-2

When: Saturday, March 25th, 5 PM

Where: SECU Stadium

TV: Big Ten Network

Spread: Maryland -4.5

The Terps are coming off their biggest win of the season where they upset their former ACC rivals of Virginia 14-13 in overtime on the road. This week, they will welcome a Penn State team that is coming off a disappointing loss that dropped them from five to ten in the rankings. To open conference play, the Terps will have to stay focused on the task at hand and make sure they do not overlook the stingy Nittany Lions.

On offense for Penn State, they run through TJ Malone. Malone leads the team in total points with 30 and is second on the team in goals scored with 17. However, Malone also leads the team in turnovers as well with 17. If Brett Makar and Co are able to be physical and impose their will on Malone, it could be a rough day for the Penn State offense. Penn State also leans on two brothers on offense. Jack and Matt Traynor are both second on the team in points scored with 23. Matt leads the team in goals with 18 while Jack is much more balanced in his point spread with 12 goals and 11 assists. The Terps will need to apply pressure to all three all game long and make sure none of them have space to create any kind of offense on Saturday or else Penn State can score quickly and easily.

On defense, Penn State relies on two people. Close defender Alex Ross and Long Stick Midfielder Ryan O’Connor. Ross leads the team in caused turnovers with 10 and second in ground balls with 17 only behind their face-off man. Look for Ross to be on Daniel Maltz or Daniel Kelly most of the game given that is the Terps’ top two targets on offense. O’Connor also has six ground balls himself and 11 ground balls to his name. This season, O’Connor has also been used in the clear game a bit as well which has led to some fast break opportunities giving him one goal as well. If O’Connor gets out on the fast break, look for him to take a chance or two at goal to create an opportunity on the fast break later on for the defense to slide to him and make an attackman open.

Penn State is a team that tends to turn it up against tough opponents which have helped them get to five wins with three being against ranked teams. Makar and Ajax Zappitello will once again be relied on the defensive side of the field looking to shut down Malone and Jack Traynor while John Geppert will mainly be on Matt Traynor. On offense look for Kelly and Maltz to keep up their dominance on the offensive side of the field and lead the Terps’ offense. If the Terps are to win, they will the midfielders to win their matchups and cause slides so the attackmen can get open.

Prediction: The Terps are hot right now coming off an amazing performance on the road holding Virginia to their lowest score total all season. I expect them to keep up their dominance of the Big Ten and start off conference play with a big 14-8 win over Penn State. I think it will be close for a half and some of the third quarter, but by then the Terps’ depth will help them pull away at the end.

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