#3 Maryland (4-2) at #1 Virginia (6-0)
When: Saturday, March 18th, 2 PM
Where: University of Virginia
TV: ACC Network
After a much-needed team win in Albany last week, the Terps are on the road once again to Charlottesville to face their former ACC rival, top-ranked Virginia. Over the last four NCAA tournaments, the Terps and the Cavaliers have enjoyed knocking each other out of postseason play. Last season, the Terps played Virginia twice and won by a total margin of 20 goals. Virginia so far this season has been the heavy favorite to win it all this season.
For Virginia, on offense, it all starts with their first-team All-American Connor Shellenberger. Shellenberger has been an All-American every season of his career so far. He leads Virginia in total points with 35 off of 11 goals and 24 assists. Most of his game is him beating his man and making the extra pass and setting up his teammates for open looks. Xander Dickson is one of Shellenberger’s favorite targets. Dixon leads the team with 25 goals, seven more than any other player on the team. Virginia’s offense is one of the best in the country if not the best. They pick you apart with their quick passing and are great at shooting and making goalies make tough saves. Another aspect to watch out for on their offense is their face-off man Petey LaSalla. He is very good at having the ball in his stick and can score t ease as well if given the space to do so. He is not your typical face-off man and Virginia uses that to their advantage by matching up very well.
On defense for Virginia, they are one of the tallest and longest defenses in the country. All of their starting defenders are above 6-foot-5 and they use that to their advantage very well when it comes to disrupting the passing lanes and getting in front of shots and deflecting them. The two defenders to look out for on Virginia are Cade Saustad and Cole Kastner. Saustad leads the team in caused turnovers with 12 and Kastner has six of his own. Both of them are great at using their sticks to cover more area and disrupt offenses. If the Terps want to pull off the upset, they will need to be quick and on point with their passing to get around the tall and lengthy defenders. While the defense for Virginia has been their Achilles heel, they’re talented enough to give opposing offenses fits and for a Maryland offense that’s struggled to find consistency, the Terps will have their hands full.
For the Terps, they will need to play their cleanest game of the season. It is no mistake that Virginia has been ranked number one for the entire season considering what they can do on both ends of the field. On offense, they don’t flash any glaring weaknesses. In order to pull off the upset, the Terps will need to do what they did last season and win their matchups all game long. Look for the Terps to match up Brett Makar and Ajax Zappitello on Virginia’s top two threats on offense. Virginia also loves to do a ten-man ride so the Terps’ clear game will be massively important this weekend as well. The more possession the offense gets the better. On offense, the Terps will need to keep relying on Daniel Maltz who is leading the team in points right now with 21 total points. If the Terps are lackadaisical on offense, it will be a very long day for them. One thing to note, last week, long stick midfielder John Geppert was out with an injury he suffered in the Notre Dame game. It is yet to be determined if he will be good to go for Saturday’s game or not.
The Terps will look to continue their two-game win streak over Virginia and keep their hopes of hosting the first weekend of the NCAA tournament alive.
Prediction: If Maryland is able to limit mistakes, I would not be surprised if they’re able to pull off the upset. 12-11 Maryland
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