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Mike Preston

Mike Preston: No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse will have its hands full with Rutgers star Ross Scott | COMMENTARY

COLLEGE PARK — Rutgers attackman Ross Scott has to be contained.

That’s the priority if No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse wants to beat No. 4 Rutgers on Sunday night at Maryland Stadium.

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It’s nearly impossible to stop Scott, a junior out of West Linn, Oregon, but he can be controlled. Loyola Maryland did it for nearly three quarters earlier this season, but Scott finished with four goals, including two in the final two minutes of a 13-12 Rutgers win.

“Ross Scott is a quick, shifty attackman with an excellent skill set,” Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. “He uses a quick change of direction to get to goal line where if you slide he looks through the defense for the assist, or you choose not to slide he can turn the corner for a goal.”

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Unbeaten Maryland (9-0) has to find a way to contain Scott because he is the quarterback of one of the fastest and most prolific offenses in the game.

The Scarlet Knights (10-1) average 16.27 goals per game, third best in the nation, and have outscored their opponents 179-110. They’ve secured Big Ten Conference wins against Ohio State and Johns Hopkins. Ross has 30 goals and 20 assists to rank top 15 nationally in points. Before the season, he was put on the watch list for the Tewaaraton Award, which recognizes college lacrosse’s most outstanding player.

Scott hasn’t disappointed.

“He is so dynamic with his feet and really has a burst and great change of direction,” Rutgers coach Brian Brecht said. “He is a hockey player with the big, strong legs and low center of gravity. He is good with the ball in his stick either as shooter or a distributor.”

That’s why Maryland has to contain him. Some attackmen are great finishers. Some are great passers. Scott can do both, much like an all-around point guard in basketball. Opposing teams have had some success against Scott in one-on-one matchups (see Loyola), but then Brecht starts running him off picks or screens.

That’s good coaching. The goals and assists are all Scott.

“He has become a leader this year,” Brecht said. “He has always been the hardest worker, always done the extra shooting and been great in the weight room, but now more of a voice for us both on and off the field.”

It’s been a breakout year for Scott because he spent the past couple of years working in the shadows of Rutgers attackmen Adam Charalambides, Connor Kirst and Kieran Mullins.

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Scott had moved to the midfield so the Scarlet Knights could get their best offensive players on the field at the same time. He played in 13 games last season, starting two, and finished with nine goals and five assists.

He could have complained about the lack of playing time or hit the transfer portal. But he hung around and learned from the trio of players who went on to become some of the best attackmen in the school history.

“I came here as an attackman and always felt comfortable behind the net, but they had a really good group of guys ahead of me,” Scott said. “So, I learned to accept my role and sometimes they would invert and let me go from behind goal.

“I learned so much from hanging out with those guys and it was an awesome experience. I was very grateful for my time at mid field, but now I am back to my natural position.”

It’s fun watching the Rutgers offense. Even in settled situations, there is constant motion. It’s an offense that relies on space and players being able to read defensive tendencies.

Few teams can go from end-to-end in transition faster than the Scarlet Knights, and Scott can be a master in distributing the ball.

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“From the first day I stepped on campus, this offense was less about plays and where you are supposed to be at one point at one time, and more about giving space to the ball and letting the ball find the matchup,” Scott said. “We move the ball and let the game come to us. Basically, it’s about allowing your playmakers to make plays.”

Maryland is aware of the 5-foot-9, 176-pound Scott, and he respects the Terps’ defense. There are few college teams that play defense better and more physical than Maryland.

It will be a test for both sides.

“Maryland has a great team and they really button up down there,” Scott said. “I’m sure they are going to give us their best and we are going to give our best and we’ll see what happens. It’s great to play in the Big Ten and play this type of competition every week. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Unless you have to cover Scott.

NO. 4 RUTGERS@NO. 1 MARYLAND

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Sunday, 7 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network


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