This is the 87th meeting between these in-state rivals with Maryland owning a 52-33-1 advantage. But Navy has won five of the last eight contests in this series. The No. 11 Terps (5-3) have dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season, but it’s the 10th time in the last 11 years. The No. 17 Midshipmen (5-4) had a four-game winning streak snapped in Friday night’s 9-4 loss to No. 9 Lehigh. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Friday night.
1) Faceoffs. Senior Logan West leads the team in groundballs (49), but he has won just 44.5 percent (81-of-182) of his faceoffs this season, and Navy as a team is winning just 44.7 percent (92-of-206). That’s why coach Rick Sowell declined to put much stock in the news that injuries to Maryland junior Curtis Holmes could lead to more time for freshmen Charlie Raffa and Bobby Gribbin. “We’ve had our ups and downs in that area of the game as well,” Sowell said. “You never know from game to game, who matches up well with who. We’ll see at gametime, but we would love for that to be an area that we could control because then that would allow us to control the tempo of the game. … I suspect it’s going to be a grind for both teams and certainly wing play will factor in as well. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have an advantage in that area of the game.”
2) Midfield. The Midshipmen’s offense runs on the starting attack of sophomores Tucker Hull and Sam Jones and senior Taylor Reynolds, who have combined to score 52.8 percent of the team’s goals, assisted on 69.8 percent of the squad’s goals, and recorded 59.2 percent of the team’s points. That would seem to suggest that defenses force the midfield to initiate the action, but Terps coach John Tillman said that’s a risky proposition. “They have enough parts where if you keep too much of an eye on their attack, their attack is unselfish enough to find their middies,” he said. “So you have to defend the knowns – whether it’s the personnel, some of the tendencies, some of the off-ball movement. They’ve always been an unselfish group. So if you key just on Hull or Jones and you’re not watching the other guys, the other guys know – and you can see this on the film – if you just move, the other guys will find you.”
3) Superstar. Seven different Maryland players have registered at least 10 points, but there’s no Grant Catalino or Ryan Young around which opponents build their defensive strategies. But Sowell said getting lulled into taking the Terps’ offensive players lightly is too dangerous of a thought to entertain. “They’ve got some awfully good players on the offensive end,” he said. “[Senior attackman] Joe Cummings is a handful. [Senior midfielder] Drew Snider, [junior midfielder] John Haus, [junior attackman] Owen Blye and they get [junior midfielder] Kevin Cooper back [from a one-game suspension]. They have enough firepower on the offensive end. It’s a different makeup compared to those guys from a year ago, but again, these guys are awfully good players, and we’re going to have to be at the top of our game to defend them.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun