Here is the second part of Monday's Q&A with ESPN/Big Ten Network analyst Mark Dixon, who will provide analysis for the Big Ten Network's coverage of Sunday night's conference game between No. 5 Maryland and No. 14 Penn State. The former Johns Hopkins midfielder, who can be followed on Twitter at @DixonLacrosse, discussed No. 5 Maryland's offense, No. 6 Towson's position in its conference and No. 10 Navy's rise to the Top 10.
After averaging 12.6 goals in their previous five wins, the Terps managed just eight in a one-goal win at Michigan on Saturday. Did the snow and wind limit what Maryland could do on offense?
I don't think they got the amount of possessions that they're used to. [Senior] Brad Lott at the faceoff dot for Michigan was exceptional. So Maryland didn't get the extended possessions or touches that they're used to getting. I think that took them out of a rhythm. Obviously playing in the weather didn't help, but Michigan had to play in the same weather, too. It was in the Big House and in their own stadium. But I really do think that Maryland is a team that thrives on those extra possessions and extra touches. [Redshirt senior goalkeeper] Kyle Bernlohr bailed them out with some amazing saves in the fourth quarter – none greater than the save that led to the ball going down to the other end and [senior midfielder] Bryan Cole scoring the [game-winning] goal. They looked out of sync on Saturday, but I think it had more to do with the limited amount of possessions and the amount of defense they had to play versus than anything they really did. When they had the ball, they made some plays. And I thought the Michigan goalie, [redshirt junior] Gerald Logan, played really, really well. He made some saves that kept Maryland at bay.
Can anyone in the Colonial Athletic Association beat Towson?
I don't think so, and that's a risky thing to say. The CAA, that's the black-and-blue conference of college lacrosse. It's the NFC Central. But UMass is up and down with wins over Ohio State and North Carolina, but then they lost this past weekend to Delaware. Hofstra seems to have lost its mojo. And Towson's been the most consistent. They lost to Johns Hopkins when they played a bad six-, seven-minute stretch that ended up costing them in that game. But other than that, Towson's been pretty solid all season. They had a sluggish first half against Binghamton, but they came out in the second half and blew them away. So right now, I think it's Towson's to lose.
Were you surprised to see Navy at No. 10 in Monday's Cascade/Maverik media poll?
No. Navy's been pretty consistent, and the Patriot League is as wacky as any league. Teams have been taking turns at the top of the standings. Army will lose or Lehigh will lose or Loyola will lose, and Navy's kind of kept their head above water – no pun intended – through this whole thing, and they've been really consistent with some nice wins. So not surprised that Navy's at 10, but this year is interesting. Are these teams rising in the polls as a result of their great play or as a result of the teams around them losing? Navy has taken care of who has been in front of them, and that's all that really matters. Do I think Navy is the 10th-best team in the country? Probably not, but with the way they've been playing lately and the wins that they have and the way other teams have been losing, then yeah, I'm not surprised they're at [No.] 10.
How worried should No. 16 Johns Hopkins be after losing, 16-9, in its Big Ten opener at Rutgers on Saturday?
I think you're really worried. It's a team that defensively has been exposed. [Freshman midfielder] Drew Supinski went down with an injury, and I've heard through the grapevine that it's a serious injury. So he could be out for an extended period, if not the rest of the season. They're so banged up with their midfield corps, and then the defense has just been inconsistent. I think you're worried if you're Hopkins. They get to come home against Ohio State, which I think is a great opportunity and a winnable game. But they've just been inconsistent over the last couple of weeks, and to get blown out by Rutgers for their first loss to the Scarlet Knights since 1990, that's disheartening.