HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Maryland faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa’s 14-for-20 performance against Bryant junior Kevin Massa in the seventh-seeded Terps’ 16-8 rout at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra can’t be overstated. Just ask Bulldogs coach Mike Pressler.
“It’s really the first time since Kevin Massa’s arrival at Bryant that we’ve ever had that done to us,” Pressler said after the NCAA tournament quarterfinal. “That was really different territory. … Now we’ve got a feel on the other end for what that’s like when we’ve done that to folks.”
Massa, who entered the game as the Division I leader in faceoff percentage (.708), had won less than 50 percent of his draws in a game just twice this season, but his 36 percent finish Saturday (9-for-25) tied a career low set in an 11-10 double-overtime loss to Yale on April 20, 2012.
Raffa, who ranked second behind Massa at 67.6 percent, said he did not use his duel with Massa as motivation.
“I just kind of played my own game,” said Raffa, who is good friends with Massa. “I practiced with my other faceoff guys, and they really helped me get prepared for the game. And having wing guys like [senior midfielder] Brian Cooper and [senior long-stick midfielder] Mike Ehrhardt makes it easy on me because those guys are so fast, and they’re warriors, also.”
Said Maryland coach John Tillman: “Charlie did an excellent job at the X and with our wing guys, [freshman midfielder] Isaiah Davis-Allen, Brian Cooper, Michael Ehrhardt and [freshman long-stick midfielder] Mac Pons. They were really excellent today and got us some possessions.”
Circling back to “Three Things to Watch” …
1) Strong start lifted Maryland. After trailing Cornell 5-1 in the first half of a first-round game the Terps eventually won last Saturday, 8-7, they raced to a 7-2 advantage after one quarter and a 9-4 lead at halftime. The offense scored seven goals on its first nine shots against sophomore Gunnar Waldt, who had been widely praised as the country’s top goalkeeper after he made 13 saves (including eight in the fourth quarter) in Bryant’s 10-9 upset of second-seeded Syracuse last Sunday.
“They have a pretty good goalie, but [senior goalie] Niko [Amato] is the best goalie in the country, and we shoot on him every day at practice,” Maryland senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk said. “So Coach was saying that he might make a few saves, but we’re just going to keep shooting our shots, and we’re not going to be scared of him. We attacked really well. [Junior midfielder] Joe [LoCascio, who scored three goals,] shot really well. We just let the ball do the work. [Junior attackman] Jay [Carlson, who scored three goals,] is obviously a great presence on the crease. So it just kind of worked out well in the first quarter, and that got us momentum and that definitely helped us out.”
2) Bryant’s transition did not factor into outcome. The Bulldogs had no reservations about turning to their defense to create some instant offense, and they did score when Waldt stoned Carlson, senior short-stick defensive midfielder J.K. Poirier grabbed the rebound and sophomore attackman Shane Morrell took a feed from Poirier to bounce a shot past Amato. But that occurred with 8:21 left in the second quarter, at which point Maryland already led 9-3.
Tillman said the Terps had spent considerable time working on their transition defense.
“All of the opposing coaches were like, ‘You’ve got to get back,’ ” he said of playing Bryant. “So we spent more time on transition defense, subbing and a lot of those things and playing six-on-five than anything else this week, and that was based on film and conversations that we heard.”
3) Big lead helped Maryland play confidently. Leads of 4-0 and 7-2 in the first quarter can loosen up any team, and the Terps couldn’t help but feel comfortable about their position. Tillman said the team learned a lot from last week’s lethargic play in the first half against Cornell.
“There were teachable moments last week,” he said. “The first half, we just played rushed. Today, we were so much more poised. It was the same group of guys, but we just slowed it down and didn’t try to muscle it, and these kids have really bought in. They enjoy being coached. We try to coach them in a very positive way because they respond very well to us, and we trust them because of the type of guys that they are.”