ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich participated in a Q&A on Monday. The former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper, who can be followed on Twitter via @QKessenich, also addressed a few questions about No. 6 Maryland, No. 8 Loyola, No. 13 Johns Hopkins, Towson and UMBC:
How concerned should Maryland be with an offense that has averaged just 8.0 goals in its last four contests?
They’ve been coasting. Only eight against Carolina, nine against Virginia, 11 against Navy and then only four against Johns Hopkins. They haven’t improved since I saw them in person on March 2 at Duke [when the Terps won, 16-7]. I thought they lacked attention to detail, I thought they lacked a killer instinct, I thought their stickwork wasn’t as good on Saturday, and I thought their patterns are becoming predictable. And Hopkins had a gem of a defensive game plan for them. So Maryland’s got to go back to the drawing board. I like their midfield, but their attack is the question mark right now. Who can force the corners and generate shots and be an impact player from the attack position?
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What worries you about Loyola after the 13-12 overtime loss to top-ranked Denver?
I’m concerned about Loyola’s head. I think the game against Denver on Saturday showed that they’re back to being a top five program. I think it’s a positive. But their only win of significance was against Ohio State. They’ve got a loss to Maryland, a loss to Duke and a loss to Denver. They’re not bad losses, but their resume is a little light right now. They’re at Hobart and then they’re at Hopkins, and that Hopkins game on the 27th is looming extremely large. As good as their chemistry was last year, I’m not sure they’ve found that winning chemistry yet. Due to injuries, due to the [senior short-stick defensive midfielder Josh] Hawkins suspension earlier in the season, due to the spoils of success, I don’t think they had any idea about how hard it was going to be to manage this year’s success, and they’re finding out right now.
After Johns Hopkins’ win, coach Dave Pietramala said the key would be how the team handled its most recent success. How do you think the Blue Jays will respond?
I see them holding Navy to less than four goals. My question about Hopkins would be on the 27th against Loyola and if they win that game, they have to come back and win at Army. Army’s not going to roll over for them. Army’s got some decent players and a strong enough defense that if they got hot, Army could be the letdown game. Navy will not be the letdown game. Navy beat Johns Hopkins last year. This one has the potential to get ugly. I was most impressed with the way Hopkins played. They played loose, and they didn’t play to lose. With all that was at stake, I expected them to play tight and fearful of making mistakes. But I thought their legs looked good, they looked fast and they looked fresh and they played loose. Of all the Hopkins games that we’ve seen over the past couple years when their season was on the line, I thought Saturday was unbelievable – the job that the coaching staff to get them mentally ready to win that ball game, playing to win and not being fearful of the implications of what a loss would have meant.
If Towson has to play an extended period of time without sophomore attackman Cory Dobyns due to an unspecified injury, how much will his absence impact that offense?
They haven’t really been lighting up the scoreboard. Since March 2, they’ve played eight games, and they’ve only gotten to double digits once. In their last four games, they’ve scored seven, seven, nine and eight. But they’ve been playing terrific defense, the faceoff game has improved, and [senior goalkeeper] Andrew Wascavage has been the star. So I worry about them offensively because they don’t have many weapons. They play at Drexel this weekend, and they’re 9-3. Drexel is a really good team. They’re going to be a challenge. But I give [coach] Shawn Nadelen a lot of credit. You open the season 0-3 including a loss to High Point and then you rattle off some wins to get into the conference tournament and put yourself back into the top 20 there momentarily. So I give them credit. I don’t think they have overwhelming talent, but they’re doing the best they can and I think Shawn Nadelen deserves a lot of credit.
UMBC is in second place in the America East, but must tangle with No. 11 Albany on Friday night. Can the Retrievers pull off the upset?
If they can win faceoffs and make an awful lot of saves. I have a ton of respect for [coach] Don Zimmerman to come up with a game plan that can win at Albany. UMBC has won three of its last four and is starting to score some goals. Their offense is coming around, but the defense is the thing that has to go against Albany. They play at such a fast pace and they play such a freelance style. It’ll be interesting to see if UMBC can keep that a half-field type of game with low possession and try to grind it out.