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Faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa's status remains clouded for Maryland men's lacrosse

Charlie Raffa's availability for Maryland's showdown with Big Ten Conference opponent Ohio State on Saturday remains uncertain as the senior faceoff specialist is still dealing with a right shoulder/arm injury suffered in a 12-5 victory over Penn State on April 4.

Raffa, who had won 62.5 percent (70-of-112) of his draws and scooped up 31 ground balls in eight games, sat out one-goal wins over No. 17 Loyola Maryland and Rutgers. In his place, junior Jon Garino Jr. has won 42.9 percent (12-of-28) of his faceoffs and collected six loose balls, and freshman Andrew Walsh has won 43.8 percent (7-of-16) and picked up four ground balls.

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With the No. 3 Terps (11-1, 3-0 Big Ten) set to face the No. 11 Buckeyes (10-3, 3-0) and fifth-year senior Christopher May  -- 64.7 percent on faceoffs (152-of-235) with 106 ground balls -- they could use Raffa. But coach John Tillman said the team won't rush Raffa back into action.

"We're going to be smart with him," Tillman said Tuesday morning during his weekly conference call. "We certainly would love to have him back, but if he's not 100 percent or in a way where we could compromise his long-term health, we're going to err on caution.

"I thought Jon did a really good job in the second half and Coach [Chris] Pieczonka did a good job with him of getting going. We'd love to have Charlie, but again, we've got to be smart. We're looking at a guy on the other side, Chris May, who has done a terrific job. As a team, they're 62 percent. So we have to be really prudent there."

Junior defenseman Matt Dunn and sophomore attackman Dylan Maltz returned for Maryland in Sunday's 9-8 win at Rutgers. Dunn, a Towson resident and Loyola Blakefield graduate who missed four consecutive starts, picked up two ground balls and caused one turnover.

"With Matt, we've been cautious with him," Tillman said. "Him getting in there and just getting his feet was really big just to kind of get him back up to game speed. He's such a good communicator for us and a leader. He's great in the clearing game. Hopefully, that's going to be really beneficial for us because as we go down the stretch, we're going to need him."

Maltz scored the first goal on Sunday after sitting out Wednesday's 11-10 victory against Loyola. The Syracuse transfer was kicked by Penn State junior long-stick midfielder James Burke, who was suspended one game by the Big Ten for his actions.

"Dylan's goal really gave us a lift early," Tillman said. "We were struggling on offense and getting him in there really was huge for us. It gives us another guy who's played a lot this year. It gives us some quickness and speed. He actually had another really good look. He got an inside roll and just missed and might have had two goals in the first quarter for us. That's a big shot in the arm for us."

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