Maryland has won five of six meetings in this series, but Ohio State got the last laugh by registering a 9-6 upset in the Big Ten tournament semifinals on April 30, 2015. The Buckeyes have been dismal on the road, going just 1-4 away from Columbus. The Terps, who are 5-0 at home and have won their last nine contests, can clinch a share of the league’s regular-season championship with a victory.
Ohio State (6-7 overall and 1-2 in the conference) snapped a six-game losing skid by beating Michigan, 10-7, eight days ago. The offense has scored at least 10 goals in just four games, but senior attackman/midfielder Carter Brown reached a milestone. The Bel Air resident and Calvert Hall graduate became the 11th player in program history to score 100 goals (103, to be exact) and currently ranks eighth in career points (158).
No. 5 Maryland (10-2, 3-0) has compiled 10 wins for the 14th consecutive season, which is the longest active streak in Division I. After surrendering only five goals in a 10-5 victory over No. 7 Navy Tuesday night, the defense moved to No. 10 in the country (7.8 goals per game). Redshirt senior goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr ranks eighth in Division I in goals-against average (7.55) and 20th in save percentage (.544).
Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Maryland Stadium in College Park on Sunday at 7 p.m.
1) Maryland’s offense. The Terps have averaged 10.6 goals, but they struggled against Ohio State in two meetings last season. The unit mustered 8.0 goals and shot just 28.6 percent (16-of-56) in those two contests. Redshirt junior goalie Tom Carey made a combined 19 saves and has recorded at least 10 stops in seven games this spring. Maryland coach John Tillman said the offense will have to solve Carey.
“Their goalie is a really good goalie,” Tillman said. “You have to finish your opportunities. He’s done a really good job all year. Tom Carey’s a really talented goalie. So you’ve got to shoot well and put the ball on-cage. You can’t waste possessions by taking bad shots. He’ll gobble them up.”
2) Maryland’s tempo. No one would confuse the Terps with Syracuse or Duke in terms of being a run-and-gun team. But Tillman is eager to see them dictate the pace, which can be aided by faceoff wins. Maryland won only 17-of-41 draws (41.4 percent) last year against Ohio State, and Tillman said the priority is to fare better in that area this time around.
“Both teams played at a pretty slow pace,” he said. “Faceoff-wise, we didn’t do a great job in that game. So I felt like they really controlled the tempo and the pace, and they’ve done a really job with that that year. They’ve really done a good job of dictating tempo. We’ve got to be able to dig in for long possessions.”
3) Maryland’s transition defense. The Terps have emphasized weekly the importance of moving swiftly from offense to defense to dissuade fastbreak opportunities. Ohio State ranks second in the nation in clearing percentage at 91.3 percent (178-of-195), and Tillman pointed out that senior defenseman Chris Mahoney has scored four goals this spring.
“Not only do those guys do a good job in the clearing game, but their guys pushing from defense to offense do a very good job,” Tillman said. “You want to make sure you get back. Your riding game is always going to be something that’s important, but we would like to be smart enough to take away easy outlets and take away the early transition stuff, and if we have the opportunity to fly around and maybe hustle and make them uncomfortable, we would try to do that. But not give them anything over the top. I think they’ve done that in the last couple of games. If you watched the Michigan game and the Hopkins game, they’ve gotten some in transition. So we’ve got to do a good job with that.”