One of the more interesting storylines embedded in Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game between Johns Hopkins and No. 3 Maryland in College Park will center on the first meeting between some of the Blue Jays players and their former offensive coordinator Bobby Benson, who has taken on the same role for the Terps.
That subject has been a topic of conversation among the Johns Hopkins players who know Benson well.
“We were just talking about that during practice,” senior attackman Connor DeSimone said Tuesday. “It’s definitely going to be an interesting experience seeing him in red and black. But we’re just going to do what we do best and be patient and run our offense. But it’s going to be funny seeing Coach Benson for the first time in a while.”
Another wrinkle will be a Blue Jays offense that erupted for 14 goals in Saturday’s seven-goal thrashing at Michigan after being held to only eight in a six-goal loss to No. 12 Ohio State on Feb. 20. Against the Wolverines, junior attackman Joey Epstein scored a season-high six goals, and DeSimone notched a career-best six points on two goals and four assists.
DeSimone said two promising signs were 10 goals occurring in six-on-six situations and 10 assists.
“We were a lot more patient, and we shared the ball a lot more,” he said. “Those numbers just showed our patience and our maturity from Week 1 to Week 2.”
Fifteen turnovers committed by Johns Hopkins (1-1) remains an area of concern for new coach Peter Milliman, who said he had to use one of his two first-half timeouts on the offense’s third possession of the game after the unit gave away the first two possessions. But he was encouraged by only five turnovers over the second and third quarters, which coincided with the team outscoring Michigan 11-2.
“We’re trying to get the guys to understand to be a little bit more patient and take some time to get to know the situation and what they’re dealing with,” he said. “Sometimes they get all revved up, and it doesn’t benefit us that early in the possession.”
The Blue Jays offense will now be tasked with outpacing a Maryland unit (2-0) that is tied for seventh among its NCAA Division I peers in scoring at 16.5 goals per game.
“The challenge is meeting that standard,” Milliman said. “We’ve got to play our game, and we’ve got to play to the best of our ability. But they don’t make a lot of mistakes. They are athletic and physical and really sound all the way around the field. They play a pretty tough version of the game. So if we’re going to be sloppy and we’re going to be out of sync, we’re not going to fare very well against a team like that. They’re just very good.”
Maryland’s Griffin going strong
Grace Griffin is building a case as the most indispensable player for the No. 7 Maryland women.
The senior midfielder leads the 14-time NCAA champion Terps (2-1) in ground balls (seven), is tied for second in goals (seven) and caused turnovers (four), and ranks third in both points (nine) and draw controls (eight). In Sunday’s 12-9 victory over then-No. 18 Michigan, the Sykesville resident and Liberty graduate scored a game-high four goals on seven shots, scooped up a career-high five ground balls, and forced two turnovers.
“Grace is everywhere,” redshirt senior defender Lizzie Colson said. “I feel like every time I look around, Grace is right there picking up a ground ball or turning the ball over [from an opponent], and I think that was awesome. She had a lot of big shifts in momentum, which involved a lot of plays on both sides of the field, and she’s always like that. In practices and games, she is a part of a lot of big plays, and she’s willing to work hard. I know that when the ball was not falling the way we wanted it to and we weren’t shooting it great and we were turning the ball over a lot, she was like, ‘Let’s just go. Let’s take this into our own hands, and let’s do it.’ And that’s exactly what she did.”
Filling in on faceoffs
For the first time in his career with the Loyola Maryland men (2-1), senior faceoff specialist Bailey Savio sat out a game, missing the No. 10 Greyhounds’ 20-8 trouncing of Utah on Saturday.
Coach Charley Toomey described Savio, who has won nearly 53% of his career draws since 2018, as “day-to-day” with an unspecified injury suffered during practice before the team’s 15-12 loss to No. 9 Virginia on Feb. 20. Toomey said Savio will likely play Saturday at No. 13 Lehigh (1-0) although his reps might be limited.
Without Savio, Loyola won 15 of 31 faceoffs with sophomore Eric Pacheco going 8-for-17 with two ground balls, sophomore Chris Cottone (Calvert Hall) going 5-for-10 with three ground balls and freshman Max McGillicudy going 2-for-4 in Savio’s place. Toomey said that experience for those three players could be critical as Savio might graduate this spring.
“I think it’s important,” he said. “Whether or not it’s an injury or a graduation, we need to develop those guys, and that is a unique group of players that really compete every day in practice. It’s a tough job, but they support each other the right way, and it ultimately makes Loyola better.”
>> Senior attackman Jared Bernhardt racked up three goals and four assists in the Terps men’s 13-7 victory at then-No. 13 Penn State on Friday, becoming the sixth player in school history to break the 200-point ceiling with 202 career points on 136 goals and 66 assists.
>> Senior midfielder Lucy Schneidereith, a Lutherville resident and Towson graduate, scored a career-high eight goals in the Drexel women’s 21-9 thumping of Georgetown on Saturday, tying the season high by a Colonial Athletic Association player this spring.
>> The two goals surrendered by the Navy women, who are tied for 16th with Richmond in the latest Inside Lacrosse poll, were the fewest since March 2, 2016, when that squad defeated George Washington, 9-1.