Coming off an unconventional week with their game cancelled against Navy, Maryland lacrosse (3-1) welcomes undefeated Notre Dame (2-0) to Maryland Stadium. Last season, the Fighting Irish defeated the Terps 14-13 in overtime in a back and forth thriller.
In this year’s matchup, Maryland is focused on starting fast against the dangerous Fighting Irish. In each of the past three games, the Terps have surrendered the first goal, playing from behind early. Against the stout Fighting Irish defense, getting into an early deficit will be tough to comeback from.
Similar to Maryland, the Fighting Irish are a physical and athletic team on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Notre Dame is one of the top teams in the country, surrendering an average of six goals per game. The Fighting Irish play fundamentally sound defense and rarely make mistakes. Despite Notre Dame’s strong defense, the Terps will look to use their experience offensively to their advantage. In last season’s meeting, the attack tandem of Logan Wisnauskas and Jared Bernhardt combined for nine points.
“Notre Dame is a really athletic team, they’re really buttoned up, they play well as a group,” attackman Anthony DeMaio said. “You can tell that that they have very core principles, they stick to those principles.”
Notre Dame’s strong defensive start has been spearheaded by freshman goalie Liam Entenmann. The top goalie and No. 20 overall recruit in the 2019 Class has the lowest goals against average in the country (4.31) and the second highest save percentage (.696). Facing off against a talented goalie like Entenmann, the Terps will need to vary their shot placement and shot angles, preventing him from getting into a rhythm.
While the Fighting Irish have a strong defense, they also have an abundance of talent offensively — at both the midfield and attack positions. In the midfield, the Fighting Irish are led by the physical senior duo of Bryan Costabile and Brian Willetts who both possess potent outside shots. In last season’s matchup, the Terps did an excellent job of limiting Costabile who finished with just one goal.
However, Maryland can’t focus too much attention on one player, as the Fighting Irish also have talented attackman. Pat Kavanagh, the team’s leading scorer, has impressed in his freshman season, displaying ability as both as a scorer and a facilitator. Complementing Kavanagh, Griffin Westlin also poses a threat down low as a shooter and a passer.
With all of the Fighting Irish’s talented weapons, effective communication defensively from the start is an area of focus. In each of their first four games, the Terps have surrendered double digit goals. Both close defenders senior Nick Grill and sophomore Brett Makar have game experience against the Fighting Irish, which will be beneficial with new starters defenseman John Geppert and goalie Chris Brandau.
“Notre Dame will be really physical, they don’t give up,” Grill said. “If they turn the ball over, they’re going to make sure they’ll work hard for it especially on the offensive end.”
Playing for the first time in nearly two weeks, a faster start and strong defense will be key for Maryland to pick up another victory over a ranked opponent.