Maryland’s burst to the top of the rankings has been aided by a 12-10 redemption against reigning national champion Loyola and a 16-7 thumping of Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke en route to a 4-0 record.
The Terps have also benefitted from quick starts. This season, the team has outscored opponents, 22-4, in the first quarter and after halftime, the squad has sprinted to a 16-9 advantage in the third quarter.
Maryland’s ability to put their opponents in an early hole in each half mirrors the wishes of coach John Tillman.
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“In 15 minutes, you’ve got to make the most of every second out there, and hopefully, they’re focused and ready,” he said Thursday evening. “And it says something about [offensive coordinator] Ryan Moran having the guys on offense prepped up and [defensive coordinator] Kevin Conry and [volunteer assistant] Brian Farrell doing a really good job with the defensive guys and having them prepared to come into the game but also being ready to make some adjustments at halftime. And you hope those adjustments work. I think the preparation that the players have made and the coaches have made has certainly paid off.”
With the team winning 62 percent of its faceoffs and the defense limiting opponents to less than 30 shots per game and 6.8 goals per contest, the offense has taken full advantage of its increased possessions. (ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich wrote in his Friday column that the Terps are averaging almost 11 more possessions per game this season.)
But Tillman pointed out that the team hasn’t taking its foot off the accelerator due to the quick-reversal nature of the sport.
“What we’ve realized is that in a lot of games, things can turn,” he said. “We’ve seen that there have been some comebacks already this season in college lacrosse where a team has gotten up and then all of a sudden, the other team starts winning faceoffs or maybe the goalie has gotten hot. So we really just focus on making the next play, making the right play, and making sure we do the little things. … If you get caught playing the scoreboard, that can sometimes get you away from what helps you get out to a lead. You start thinking, ‘OK, well, now that we’re up, the kids might relax or we might change things. You’ve got to stay true to what you’re doing because you know that the other team is typically going to make a run. Lacrosse is a little unique like that.”