These teams will meet for the first time in their respective histories. Albany has won three consecutive games since opening the season with a 16-7 loss at No. 3 Syracuse, while Maryland is enjoying a two-game winning streak.
The No. 10 Great Danes (3-1) are just 1-1 on the road this season and are adjusting to life without Lyle Thompson, the NCAA record-setting attackman who won the Tewaaraton Award in 2014 and 2015. Although the defense has surrendered 10.5 goals per game so far, goalkeeper Blaze Riordan has been solid. The senior ranks second in Division I in saves per game (15.3) and sixth in save percentage (.604).
The No. 6 Terps (3-2) will play at home for the first time since opening the season with a 15-10 rout of High Point on Feb. 20. Redshirt senior goalie Kyle Bernlohr may not have Riordan's numbers, but he is still one of the best at his position. The reigning first-team All American ranks 12th in goals-against average (7.59) and 14th in save percentage (.538).
Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Maryland Stadium in College Park on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
1) Continue to diversify the offense. Junior attackman Matt Rambo is tied for the team lead in points (13), but Maryland may be at its most productive when others are contributing. In a 12-8 win at Drexel on March 8, Rambo scored three goals, but was outpaced by junior Colin Heacock's four goals. In a 17-5 pasting of Princeton on Saturday, he recorded one goal and one assist, but four other players finished with more points. Coach John Tillman said the Terps must continue to spread the wealth.
"Certainly, Matt is a guy that a lot of people have known for a while, and if they key too much on Matt, hopefully, other things open up and we've got to be good enough to move and attack those spaces and make sure we take care of those opportunities," he said. "I actually mentioned it to our group that I thought Matt Rambo played a very good game on Saturday. It was quiet in terms of points, but he didn't try to do too much. He kind of let the game come to him. He was a big part of it, but he didn't have a lot of turnovers, he was selfless, he shared the ball, and he did a great job of getting everybody organized. I think if we become a good team, part of it is going to be because a lot of people are contributing."
2) Take advantage of sizable advantage on faceoffs. Maryland can feed the offense by taking care of business on faceoffs. The team has claimed 55.5 percent (61-of-110) of its draws, which is good enough to rank 22nd in Division I. On the flipside, Albany has won just 41.1 percent (46-of-112) of its faceoffs, ranking 51st. But Tillman said the Great Danes' numbers were skewed by ineffective showings against Syracuse junior Ben Williams (17-of-24 and nine ground balls) and Cornell senior Domenic Massimilian (19-of-24, 12 GB).
"They do a good job with their wings," Tillman said of Albany. "They're athletes, and they kind of create that 50-50 ground ball. There are times when they will statistically lose the ground ball, but they'll ride you back, they'll scrap, they'll fight. You'll pick it up, they'll check it out of your stick and get the ball back. So that stat is a little misleading because at times, they'll face off with guys that aren't trying to win the faceoff, but they're going to let your faceoff guy pick it up and they're going to challenge you to hang onto the ball."
3) Frustrate Albany's offense. The Great Danes rank sixth in the country in offense, scoring 13.8 goals per game. They average 40.0 shots, which will test any defense. But Maryland plays the kind of ball-possession game that emphasizes methodical play and ball protection, and CBS Sports Network analyst Steve Panarelli said that strategy could unnerve an Albany group that starts three sophomores.
"What happens is when you're a kid who's used to scoring goals and you're in an offense that's used to scoring goals and when you start to play these teams that want to slow it down on you, sometimes when they finally get the ball back, they rush and they get forced into bad shots," Panarelli said. "That's exactly what a Maryland-type team wants you to do. They want to play that two minute-long possession on offense, and the Albany attack is going to be watching a lot of the game, and they're going to get antsy and they're going to get frustrated. If you're Albany, you've got to be patient. You can't play a long possession and then come down and waste it and give it right back to them."