COLLEGE PARK – Senior day for Maryland’s men’s lacrosse team was last week, but the Terps are hoping to play at least one more game in Byrd Stadium this season.
If they land a top-8 seed, they would earn a final home game in College Park during the tournament.
“Fortunately, we still made the tournament last year but we did lose the home game over it,” said junior long-stick midfielder and the ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Jesse Bernhardt. “We haven’t really forgotten about it.”
Maryland’s top scorers will all be available for Saturday’s game.
Colgate has the second highest scoring offense in Division I men’s lacrosse, averaging 13.6 goals a game. That’s almost a goal a game better than the third ranked offense of undefeated and top-ranked Massachusetts.
Leading the way for the Raiders is junior attack Peter Baum from Portland, Ore. Baum is a two-time Tewaaraton award nominee and is leading the country in points per game (5.73) and goals per game (3.93).
With 59 goals and 86 points — program records for both goals and points in a single season — through 15 games, stopping Baum will be crucial.
But Maryland head coach John Tillman said paying too much attention to one player opens opportunities up for the rest of the team.
“If you slide to him too quickly, he’ll make other guys better. If you don’t slide to him, he can shoot the ball really really hard, [and] he can create his own shot.” Tillman said.
During the Patriot League tournament last weekend, Baum set the tournament record for points with 18 in just two games. Both nine-point performances (a single game Patriot League tournament record) were against ranked teams that faced Colgate twice in a three week span, Bucknell and Lehigh.
“They know him as well as anybody and they struggled to [stop him]. How do you defend him? It doesn’t really matter,” Tillman said.
“I refuse to go into a game thinking that our defense won’t be successful against them,” said Blye, who scored twice against Colgate last year. “Do we have to understand that they’ve put up big numbers offensively and that’s one of their strengths? Yes. But that doesn’t change our approach to the game.”
Tillman agreed. He said the Terps, who love to push the tempo, won’t change their style of play.
“If we get chance to run, we will always run. [However] We’ve got to be really sensitive to counter attacks and leaving ourselves vulnerable,” he said.
Vulnerable to a better team. Although Maryland is ranked higher in the media and coaches polls, Colgate has a better RPI (9th) because they’ve beaten four top-20 teams. Maryland, with an RPI of 10, has beaten just three top-20 teams.
“We’re an underdog going into the game…we can greatly help ourselves in the seeding if we come out with a win, so that’s going to be in the back of everybody’s mind,” Blye said.
Same for Colgate.
“They are in a situation where if they can beat us, they have a pretty good chance to make the [16-team] tournament…as you get closer to the NCAA Tournament, that’s something that’s subconsciously in the back of everybody’s head,” Blye said.
Depending on how the rest of the conference tournaments pan out, Tillman said there could be some upsets that keep teams on the bubble out of the tournament. If Maryland loses, they’re not guaranteed to get in, even though they are the only team with two top-5 wins this season.
The game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Hamilton, N.Y.