No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse looks to build momentum as it travels to No. 13 Penn State

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

After throttling Michigan 20-9 at home in the season-opener, the Terps (1-0 B1G) will travel to Happy Valley looking to avenge a 13-10 loss at Maryland Stadium in 2019. 

That’s the only time the Nittany Lions (0-1 B1G) have defeated the Terps since Maryland joined the Big Ten Conference in 2015. 

Maryland’s offense was firing on all cylinders against Michigan with 11 different goal scorers, headlined by sophomore attackman Daniel Maltz who led the team with five goals tying a career-high. 

Senior midfielder/attackman Anthony DeMaio led the Terps with three assists against Michigan and 11 of the 20 goals were assisted. The Terps also did a phenomenal job on the ride, causing several failed clears for the Wolverines pestering their defenders with unrelenting effort.

Defensively the Terps put forth a strong effort, allowing just three goals through three quarters. The fourth quarter Maryland’s defense faltered some, but the unit was excellent for a majority of the contest. Senior Nick Grill received the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award after forcing a career-high four turnovers against Michigan.

“[Matt Rahill], [Nick Grill] and [Brett Makar] are doing a great job down there, they’re holding it down,” junior defender John Geppert said. You’ve got to start somewhere and I think we started off stronger than we have in recent years.”

However, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Terps defense facing off against Mac O’Keefe, one of the best attackmen in the nation. O’Keefe didn’t put up his typical production in the season opening 11-9 loss to Rutgers with just one goal on seven shots.

Head coach John Tillman expects O’Keefe will be more heavily involved in Penn State’s offense given his explosiveness and importance to their offense. Maryland’s defense will need to do a strong job of communicating effectively and sliding onto O’Keefe limiting his number of shot opportunities with time and space.

“He’s a guy that can really stretch you, they do such a good job of finding him,” Tillman said. “My gut would be that they run a few more set plays for him this week to try to get his hands free. He can not only shoot the ball, but he’s good finding teammates.”

In addition to O’Keefe, attackmen Dylan Foulds and midfielder Dan Reaume pace the potent Nittany Lions offensive attack. 

Maryland’s offense faces the challenge of solving veteran goaltender Colby Kneese who’s started 56 games in his career. Kneese is one of the best goalies in the conference and has been a mainstay for the Nittany Lions starting all but one game since his freshman season.

Against Kneese, Maryland’s versatile and explosive offense will need to vary both their shot locations and angles. Utilizing a variety of low-to-high shots, high-to-high shots, and high-to-low shots can change the eye level of a goaltender and make it tougher for him to anticipate the shooting angle.

“He’s got a unique style, he’s kind of created his own style,” Tillman said of Kneese. “He’ll move a little bit more, he’ll bait you at times. We don’t want to overthink it and hitch and hold the ball too long. But also we want to make [the players] aware this may be a different style than we’re used to.”

First faceoff between the Terps and Nittany Lions begins at 5:30 p.m. in Panzer Stadium and the game will air on the Big Ten Network.