Top specialists are the storyline. The two best faceoff men and goalies go head-to-head. Possessions will be hard-fought, with the Terps' Charlie Raffa squaring off against Kevin Massa at the center line. Massa leads the country in faceoff percentage (.708) and ground balls per game (10.9). Raffa has won draws at a .676 rate, good for second-best. Both goaltenders will attempt to shut the door -- Gunnar Waldt (.610) and Niko Amato (.574) stand proud in the crease. Waldt (St. Paul's, pictured) feasts on low-angle shots and plays aggressively on a high arc. Amato sits deeper on the goal line and works hard to see every shot. He rarely guesses, relying on quick hands. Both exude confidence. Bryant (16-4) is for real. The Bulldogs have defeated Drexel and Albany, two quarterfinalists. They upset Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, winning an NCAA tournament game for the first time. The Terps and Bulldogs are mirror images built by a possession advantage, stout defense and methodical offense. Bryant usually starts in man-to-man defense and switches to zone. For Maryland (12-3), the offense hasn't exactly been on a tear. It has been held to 19 goals combined in its three defeats. Freshmen accounted for five of the eight goals last week in the last-minute victory over Cornell. "With exams this week, less is more," said coach John Tillman. "They have earned our trust; they are sophomores now." On the other side of the ball, the Terps have surrendered double-digit goals just three times this spring but own the nation's top scoring defense (6.93 goals per game). Goals will be in short supply. Will the Maryland freshmen step up again? How will Bryant handle the spotlight?
Gretchen McMahon Photography