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5-17-14 Preview Bryant vs Maryland

Bryant is 16-4 with wins over Drexel, Albany, and Syracuse.  The Bulldogs have lost to Colgate, Yale, St. Joseph’s, and Brown.

Before we get started…Anyone that says Bryant beating Syracuse was stunning or was a shocker or a fluke, hasn’t seen much Syracuse lacrosse.
If there was ever a team built to upset Cuse, it was Bryant.
The best FO man in the nation versus one that consistently struggles.
A zone defense against an offense that gets confused by zone defenses (EVERY YEAR)
An All American goalie vs an offense that will be forced to shoot outside due to zone D
You had all the ingredients for an “upset” and coach Pressler was the chef to plate it.

Now back to the preview at hand.
Bryant has had their ups and downs this season (losing to St. Joes), but they’ve stayed tough.  Even against the Heart attack nation of Syracuse, They held of a firestorm in the last few minutes for the well deserved win.
Bryant can score when they get the shots off as they bring in 4 players with 26+ goals (Morrell, Dunster, James, and Sipperly) and any of them can take the lead.  When Syracuse held Morrell and Sipperly to 1 goal combined, Tucker James did it all, and looked in great form.
The best player on the team right now is Gunnar Waldt.  He is making lots of saves…standing on his head, and doing it all with a tweaked ankle.  Saving 61% on the year, and 59% against Syracuse…he has arrived.  If you didn’t know who he was before, you do now.
Who you do know is Kevin Massa taking Face Offs.  He is one of the top in the nation winning 70.8% of his takes.

Maryland is 12-3 with wins over Syracuse, Duke, UVA, Notre Dame, and Cornell.  They have lost to UNC, Hopkins, and Notre Dame.

Maryland’s 1st round win over Cornell wasn’t the dominant win expected against a shaky Cornell team…in fact the Terps had to fight back to win the game in the 4th quarter…specifically in the final 2 seconds.  In the first half, MD had 18 shots (8 on goal), 1 goal, and Raffa was getting beat on Face Offs (3 of 7).  In the second half, their shots increased to 24 (13 on goal), 7 goals, and Raffa won 8 of the remaining 10 face offs.  Cornell’s 7 turnovers in the second half (2 in 1st) also helped.

Maryland has been dominant for the most part throughout the year led by Chanechuk (30G, 18A), Rambo (29G, 6A), and Cannizzaro (22G, 6A).  Their offense takes a lot of shots (40.3/game), and scores sometimes (28%).
On Defense, Maryland is holding its opponents to only 29 goals per game which makes Niko Amato’s job easier to post a save percentage of 57.4%.
At Face-Off Maryland’s Charlie Raffa is one of the best in the nation winning 67.6% of his face-offs.

So what are the keys to the game…does Bryant have a chance?

Bryant needs to employ the Zone, and deliberate slow down style of play.  Beat Maryland at the style they created.  With a composed defense, and Gunnar Waldt in net, their defense will give them a chance.
For Maryland, their shooters should be more used to seeing a Zone defense implemented than Syracuse, and should be able to grasp the concept that you need to take outside shots as opposed to trying to force it in all the time.  Otherwise the zone gets tighter like a noose crushing the chances of a goal.

With the potential for this to be a slow tactician style game, the value of face-offs is raised to the elite echelon.  Welcome to EPIC battle Face Off deathmatch {insert Japanese anime and 8-bit video game soundtrack here}.  Massa has the edge mono e mono, but adding in wing play and Raffa has an edge.
I think Maryland has the juice to win, but would not be surprised if Bryant can hold off a late rally by Maryland like they did against Syracuse.
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