Both teams are enjoying substantial winning streaks. After opening the season with one win and two losses, Stony Brook has triumphed in its last three contests – a trend that began with an 11-7 upset of then-No. 15 St. John’s on Feb. 26. The Seawolves, who captured last year’s America East tournament to qualify for the NCAA postseason, are the only America East team with a record above .500, but they are 0-20 against the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland has not dropped a game in four attempts, overtaking the top spot in almost every national poll and ranking. The Terps, who are seeking their first 5-0 start since 2010, lead Division I in scoring with a 16.8 average. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Sunday.
1) Containing Jeff Tundo. Stony Brook’s offense has been powered by senior midfielder Jeff Tundo, who leads the team in goals (15), assists (11) and points (26). Tundo, who was selected in the Major League Lacrosse draft by the New York Lizards with the 61st overall pick in January, recorded five goals and four assists in the team’s victory over St. John’s. If Tundo, who can also play attack, stays at the midfield, he should expect a lot of Maryland senior long-stick midfielder and Tewaaraton Award candidate Jesse Bernhardt. “We think Jeff is terrific,” Terps coach John Tillman said. “He’s already had nine points in a game this year. Jesse means a ton to us. We couldn’t think of a guy we would rather have at the long pole position at the University of Maryland with the way we play. Jesse just means so much to us on and off the field. We have a lot of confidence in him and I know he’ll prepare really well and do his homework. I think Jeff is one of those guys who knows that every week, he has to go out and prove it. So I think that will be a really good matchup.”
2) Beware the freshmen. The Seawolves have also relied on a youth movement to provide a boost. The program’s freshmen class has accumulated 30 goals and 13 and the 43 points make up 45 percent of the team’s total of 96. The remaining points have been provided by Tundo and sophomores Mike Andreassi and Mike Rooney (seven goals and four assists each). Tillman said he is not stunned by the freshmen’s contributions. “There are some really good players coming in every year,” he said. “A guy like Jeff Tundo is a really good player, but he also makes the guys around him better. So he may get the long-stick and that will allow a freshman who plays with him to get a short stick and then Jeff’s leadership and his experience helps some of those younger guys. … They have some big, athletic, skilled guys that are dangerous because of the schemes they run. I really have been impressed with what they’ve done in a short amount of time there.”
3) Breaking off the rust. When Maryland takes the field Sunday, eight days will have passed since its 16-7 rout of Duke on March 2. Tillman has never worried about his players’ energy levels, but he is curious to see if the team will have to shake off the rust in the early stages of the game. “We’ve got to try to be as sharp as we can be even though it will be an eight-day layoff,” he said. “We’ve got to be really focused on playing our best game of the year. We’ve got to have a good sense of some of the unique things that Stony Brook does defensively and offensively. … We’ve got to play like Maryland.”