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Johns Hopkins vs. Maryland men's lacrosse: Three things to watch

Johns Hopkins has enjoyed a 9-4 advantage over Maryland in the NCAA Division I tournament, including a 4-1 record in the national semifinals. The Blue Jays are 18-10 in the Final Four, while the Terps are 11-11 at this stage of the postseason.

Johns Hopkins (11-6) is making its first championship weekend appearance since 2008, which was also the last time the program had reached the title game. The Blue Jays, who are the 12th unseeded team to advance to the tournament semifinals, have gotten seven goals and four assists in two playoff contests from freshman attackman Shack Stanwick. With 27 goals and 23 assists, the Baltimore resident and Boys' Latin graduate is the first rookie in school history to record 50 points in a season since 1992 when Brian Piccola and Terry Riordan posted 61 and 54, respectively.

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Maryland (14-3), the No. 6 seed in the NCAA postseason, is making its fourth Final Four appearance in coach John Tillman's five-year tenure. The Terps, who have tied a program record for victories in a single campaign set in 1998, have averaged 11.0 goals in two tournament games thanks to possessions begun by senior faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa. With 267 career ground balls, Raffa ranks third on the school's all-time list in that department and fourth in faceoff wins with 475.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome of this NCAA tournament semifinal at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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1) Tempo. Maryland jumped to a 13-2 advantage en route to an eventual 14-7 throttling of No. 3 seed North Carolina in the quarterfinal round by converting lengthy and abbreviated possessions into goals. Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala pointed out that the Terps were able to set the pace by winning faceoffs (11 of 17) and getting stops (four saves and nine Tar Heels turnovers). If Maryland can continue to be strong up the middle, that will put the onus on the Blue Jays to be sound on defense and execute on offense -- as they did in their 15-12 victory over the Terps on April 25.

"When you are playing a team that holds the ball that way and then wins faceoffs and gets saves, it can be very frustrating and it can be very taxing," Pietramala said. "In our first game, I won't say we did great at the faceoff X [16 of 30], but I would say we were able to hold our own, and that was very important. We were able to stay competitive because it's very easy not to stay competitive with [Raffa]. He's that good. And we got good goaltending."

2) No. 4. Johns Hopkins earned the regular-season win courtesy of an eight-goal performance from junior attackman Ryan Brown. Since that outburst, the Sykesville resident and Calvert Hall graduate has registered nine goals and five assists in four starts, and Maryland coach John Tillman is fully aware of Brown's value to the Blue Jays offense. But he also understands that the Terps must also pay attention to Brown's teammates, like senior attackman Wells Stanwick (nine goals and 10 assists in last four games), Shack Stanwick (11G, 7A) and junior midfielder Holden Cattoni (8G, 1A).

"We've got to play Maryland defense," Tillman said. "They have so many dynamic players that if we have a bad matchup, we need to slide and we need to go because if you don't slide, that guy may burn you. If you're focusing too much on Ryan, other guys get opportunities. If you don't help on some of the mismatches they might get, all of a sudden, you're hurting there."

3) Adjustments. Four weeks will have elapsed since that April 25 meeting at Byrd Stadium in College Park, which propelled Johns Hopkins to a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship and the top seed in the conference tournament. At this point of the campaign, teams aren't going to stray wildly from their DNA, but ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra said he wouldn't be shocked if Maryland tweaked some things and perhaps unveiled a surprise or two.

"If you look at what Hopkins did to Maryland, I think Maryland has the advantage because they can make more adjustments," said Carcaterra, the former Syracuse midfielder. "They're going to really break down that film and see where Hopkins lit them up because Hopkins scored more goals on Maryland than anyone the entire season. [Redshirt junior goalkeeper] Kyle Bernlohr didn't play his best game, and he's capable of playing a lot better. So I think Maryland has an opportunity to really hone their game and dial in their preparation."

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