Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Rewind to May 30, 2016. Maryland was up 13-11 with 7:50 left in the national championship game against North Carolina. They were in the driver’s seat and had controlled the game all day. That was until North Carolina’s Stephen Kelly tied it up with a little over three minutes left in the game.
The game would go to overtime where Chris Cloutier scored his 19th goal of the tournament to win the championship for the Tar Heels.
Fast forward to today. No. 10 Maryland is on a two-game losing streak and they are preparing for a rematch of last year’s national championship Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in Chapel Hill. They have been struggling on offense since their win against Yale on Feb. 25 when the former No. 1 team in the country was averaging 15.5 goals per game and had just beaten the No. 8 team in the nation.
Maryland’s attack was averaging just over 10 points per game between Colin Heacock, Matt Rambo and Dylan Maltz. Then their game against Albany was postponed due to weather and the Terps that came out of the gate so hot have disappeared.
After only scoring four goals against No. 4 Notre Dame and losing to unranked Villanova in overtime in a game where they were down by five goals three separate times, Maryland needs to get back to their winning ways.
This means getting a flow back in their offense, starting with getting the attack back in the game. Before Matt Rambo scored three goals in the fourth quarter to tie the game against Villanova, Maryland’s attack had a combined two points in that game. Add that to the four points they scored against Notre Dame and that sums up a cold Terrapins attack that is the catalyst for Maryland’s offense.
No. 14 North Carolina (5-3) has had their fair share of struggles this season too. The Tar Heels have lost to No. 17 Johns Hopkins, No. 5 Hofstra and No. 12 Richmond. They have, however, beaten No. 7 Denver in Denver so this Tar Heels team can hang with the best in the country so Maryland must be ready to play come Saturday.
More bad news for Terps is the return of attackman Chris Cloutier. The scorer of the National Championship game-winning goal is back this season and he picked up where he left off last year, on fire. Cloutier is averaging 2.88 points per game this season with 17 goals.
North Carolina’s attack is rounded out by sophomore Andy Matthews who is second on the team in scoring, averaging 2.63 points per game, and senior Luke Goldstock, who is averaging 2.50 goals per game.
North Carolina’s defense has been a little shaky so far this season. They had pockets of instability against Johns Hopkins and Hofstra, giving up double digit goals against both teams. Other than that, the Tar Heels have yet to give up 10 goals in any of their wins.
They are returning All-Americans Austin Pifani and Jack Rowlett, so excellent defensive performances from the Tar Heels wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary.
North Carolina is also returning senior midfielder and Maryland native Stephen Kelly who is both a top scorer and top faceoff specialist for the Tar Heels. North Carolina uses multiples faceoff men due to matchups so it is difficult to tell who will be taking the faceoff against Maryland’s Austin Henningsen.
Henningsen is looking to bounce back after a bad performance last Saturday versus Villanova. Jon Garino had to step in for Henningsen and lucky for Maryland, Garino was amazing. He won most of his faceoffs and brought the Terps back in the game after being down five goals in the second half.
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