Game of the Week: Maryland-Virginia

Saturday's game between Maryland and No. 1 Virginia is on ESPN2. It's also Inside Lacrosse's Game of the Week.


Maryland at Virginia

Saturday at noon on ESPN2

Terrapins: 6-2 (2-0 ACC)
Cavaliers: 10-0 (0-0 ACC)
Weather: 59 degrees, rain
Tickets: $7 general admission, $5 youth
Scoring Leaders: Maryland -- Sophomore attack Grant Catalino (18 goals, 14 assists); senior midfielder Dan Groot (11 goals, 9 assists); Junior attack Will Yeatman (9 goals, 10 assists).

Virginia -- Senior attack Garrett Billings (26 goals, 14 assists); freshman attack Steele Stanwick (21 goals, 11 assists); senior attack Danny Glading (14 goals, 18 assists).

History lesson
The teams first met in 1926. The game is being broadcast on ESPN2 -- two regular-season UVA games, at Princeton and at Maryland, were broadcast on the network last year. ESPN2 also is broadcasting Virginia at Duke on April 11. These games are the first regular-season games on ESPN2 since the 1995 Johns Hopkins-Maryland game was included in the network's "Great College Rivalries" franchise.

Maryland and Virginia met three times last year. The Terrapins won the first meeting 13-8. Sophomore Travis Reed had three goals and two assists, all while being defended by a shortstick.

The second meeting came in the ACC tournament. Junior D Ryan Nizolek guarded Reed and held him to two assists.

It was Maryland's turn to tinker in the third meeting. In the NCAA quarterfinals, coach Dave Cottle went "big-small" with his midfielders. He combined then-juniors Jeremy Sieverts, Jeff Reynolds and Dan Groot on the first midfield and put then-seniors Max Ritz and Drew Evans with since-departed Tony Mendes on the second midfield. The Terrapins kept it close but lost in overtime 8-7.

What to watch
Virginia coach Dom Starsia says he is impressed with Maryland's attack, particularly sophomore Grant Catalino (18 goals, 14 assists) and junior Will Yeatman (9 goals, 10 assists). "They are two gargantuan players," Starsia said. Keep an eye on which defenders draw these matchups. Senior defenseman Matt Kelly and junior Ryan Nizolek are the main candidates; they are a little more physical than junior defenseman Ken Clausen.

Clausen is likely to draw sophomore attack Ryan Young (12 goals, 5 assists). Young is Maryland's quickest attackman.

Meanwhile, Maryland is without junior Brian Farrell, a starting defenseman. Sophomore defenseman Brett Schmidt, the team's best one-on-one defender, is likely to play after missing the UNC game with an injury.

Starsia expects Maryland will play some zone defense, especially if it gets an early lead. The Terrapins played zone extensively last year and have done so in parts of this season, including in the fourth quarter against North Carolina.

On an ESPNU broadcast last year, analyst Matt Ward, a 2006 Tewaaraton winner at UVa, said Virginia uses its extra-man offense sets against a zone defense. Step forward, junior midfielder Brian Carroll (17 goals, 7 assists); he scored 14 extra-man goals last year. Senior attack Gavin Gill (7, 6) played on the second midfield against Johns Hopkins last week and is the leader of extra-man offense. He has three extra-man goals this year, tied for the team lead with Carroll.

"I hope the weather is OK because this game is on ESPN2, and I think the people watching have a chance to see a pretty good game," Starsia said. "I think it will be a typical ACC slugfest."

Bottom line

A very interesting game. But, given recent history, it's probably not a be-all, end-all matchup. The teams have met in the ACC tournament in every year from 2004 to 2008. In 2003, they missed each other in the ACC tournament -- but met in the NCAA semifinals a month or so later.

It appears Maryland still is trying to figure out its identity on offense and on defense. On offense, the Terps need to figure out how to accommodate Yeatman, a transfer from Notre Dame, with the three attackmen who are returning starters. The defense still is adjusting to life without Farrell, who sustained a rib injury on the opening weekend in Jacksonville, Fla. Farrell spent more than a week in the hospital and still is, at best, a couple of weeks from coming back.

Virginia's identity is pretty well known. The Cavaliers are greatly improved from last year on face-offs and with midfield scoring. Last year's face-off duo, sophomore Garret Ince and junior Brian McDermott, have combined for 21 face-offs this year (they've won 14).

Meanwhile, Carroll has shown an extra dimension to his game with goals coming from dodges. Last year, he was more of a standstill shooter who scored either on the extra-man offense or as the result of a pass from a dodge by one of the Brattons or an attackman.

If this were a network TV show, it would be …
"Lost." Somehow, even when it's over, there's a very good chance the teams will be at it again in the not-too-distant future -- either in the ACC tournament or the NCAA tournament.

For more on college lacrosse, check out Inside Lacrosse.