Maryland looks to build on strong offensive start Saturday against Richmond

After an offensive explosion on Saturday against High Point, Maryland men’s lacrosse takes on another tough South Conference opponent Saturday at Richmond. The Spiders are coming off a strong 10-7 season and their second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. 

In the season opener last year, Maryland defeated Richmond 10-9 at home in a back and forth affair. All five goal scorers from last year’s game return for the Terps.

“We understand the opponent we have, the talent they have and the way they play,” midfielder Roman Puglise said. “If we’re not buttoned up defensively, offensively, they are going to take advantage of that.”

Last year, Maryland took a commanding 9-3 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Spiders answered back with four fourth quarter goals from junior attackman Ryan Lanchbury. Lanchbury is expected to be the focal point of Richmond’s offense. Last season, he had 52 goals and 20 assists, totaling a staggering 140 shots. The Spiders lost midfielder Teddy Hatfield to graduation, who was the second leading scorer and one of the main orchestrators of the offense.

“[Richmond] kind of has a unique style that they play, which really suits their personnel,” head coach John Tillman said. “They have very athletic middies, while you’re moving, they do a good job of putting Lanchbury in spots where he’s either cutting to his right hand to the ball or he’s fading away.”

Last week against High Point, sophomore defender Brett Makar offered few opportunities to dangerous attackman Asher Nolting. Makar’s physicality gave Nolting trouble all game-long and the Terps’ other defenders provided help when necessary. Given his success last week, expect Makar to line up against Lanchbury, and play with similar physicality.

While Lanchbury presents the main threat down low, junior midfielder Mitch Savoca is the Spiders biggest threat from the midfield position. Possessing a notorious outside shot, the Terps two-way midfielders like senior Russell Masci and Puglise must press out to limit perimeter shot opportunities. 

Behind the Maryland defense, sophomore transfer Chris Brandau is expected to make his second consecutive start. Brandau, made 15 saves in his Terps debut, and seemed to settle down in the second half after a rocky first half.

Offensively, Maryland will look to maintain the same unselfish mentality that brought them success Saturday. In addition to their unselfishness, the Terps did an excellent job of both moving and communicating, particularly in the second half against High Point.

Junior midfielder Bubba Fairman served as the quarterback of Maryland’s offense up top, while Bernhardt created for the Terps at X. Facing off against the Spiders, who like to play a mix of both zone and man-to-man defense, communication will be vital once again. One of the best ways to attack a zone is quick ball movement and off-ball cuts that forces the defense to move out of position and rotate quickly.

“That zone and man mix is going to be tough, so we have to be ready for that,” midfielder Anthony DeMaio said. “I just think being organized and communicating as an offensive group, that’s what’s going to be key this week.”

Strong communication on both ends of the field will be needed for Maryland to extend its record to 2-0, before traveling home to face-off against Penn on Feb. 15.

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