Editor’s Note: This week’s college lacrosse Game Of The Week is a special game every single year solely based on the two teams playing. But this year it’s an even more highly anticipated match up because these in-state rivals are both ranked in the Top 10. You know what game Ryan Connors is talking about, right?
Johns Hopkins Vs. Maryland!
Check out our Lacrosse On TV 2012 Post to see how you can watch the game if you’re not going in person!
Here are FIVE things to watch for in this highly anticipated battle:
The Hopkins-Maryland rivalry goes back to 1895! Johns Hopkins comes into this game ranked #3 in the nation and Maryland is ranked #9. This game is for ALL the bragging rights in Maryland. Only 35 miles separate these two campuses. The victor of this game can rightfully call themselves the best team in Maryland. Both teams are coming off solid wins, and picking up another win in this game will carry a lot of momentum into the playoff push.
Both Hopkins and Maryland are sharing the wealth offensively. The scoring difference between Hopkins’ 1st line and 2nd line is only 12 goals. At the DI level, the scoring margin is usually larger, and this means that Hopkins offense is playing very consistent from top to bottom. Consistency is key entering the playoffs. On the other side of the fence, Maryland has 7 players that have scored double digit goals this season. “Getting it done by committee” is the common expression for both of these two teams.
Yes, both teams have balanced scoring, but also each team has their go to scoring threat. Zach Palmer has 34 points for Hopkins. Everyone should already know that I am a huge fan of Palmer. When it comes down to crunch time, look for Hopkins to place the game in Palmer’s hands, or have Palmer take the game into his own hands.
Hopkins has Palmer, Maryland has Joe Cummings. Joe Cummings leads the Treps in points, goals and assists. He has amassed 27 points so far this year. He is the one that Maryland will go to when they need a clutch goal. Should make for an exciting match up.
I love my long stick midfielders. Jesse Bernhardt is an absolute stud LSM for Maryland. I saw the potential he had last year as a sophomore, and saw how well he competed in the playoffs. Bernhardt has 35 ground balls this year and 17 caused turnovers, not spectacular numbers but above average. He also has 4 points this year, so he can push it in transition. It isn’t his numbers that are jaw dropping thought, it is the pure intensity he plays with all over the field.
If you want to see a player make big time plays day in and day out – it’s going to be Bernhardt. Young players – he is the player you should be watching this weekend, keep an eye out for him.
Face off Battle:
If you look at these two teams, you will not see a more evenly matched game all season. It is not going to be one player taking over the game, it is going to be the nitty gritty dirty stats that decide this one. Nothing is more dirty than the battle at the face off X. Maryland’s Curtis Holmes is winning 53% of his draws. Hopkins’ Mike Poppleton is winning a flat 60% of his draws. A pretty balanced match up at the X, but this means that wing play will play a huge role.
I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of tie ups on the face, and wing play will be crucial. In such an evenly matched game, extra possessions off the face will play a vital role. I like Poppleton in this match up. He’s an upstate guy that I’ve played against in the summer. He is a scrapper and will get down and dirty for those extra possessions. I’ll say he wins 55% this weekend.
Like I said earlier, this is such an even match up – goalie battle is no different. Once again, the goalie battle will be crucial to the victor of the game. The showdown is between Hopkins’ Pierce Bassett and Maryland’s Niki Amato.
Bassett is stopping 58% of the shots he sees and Amato is saving 59% – it doesn’t get any closer than that. I think Bassett is the more consistent of the stopper and Amato is up and down. I’ve seen Amato struggle but he has also stood on his head at times. I have always been a fan of a consistent stopper that you know he’ll make the routine saves, but in a close match like this do you take Amato who could play out of his mind all day?
Bassett has a solid defense in from of him that is surrendering less than 30 shots per game. Any goalie at any level would love to only see 30 shots a game. Coach Petrimala has been known for tough defense, and this is one of the roughest defenses he has had in the last few years.
Amato is seeing just around 30 shots a game as well. I cannot stress enough have evenly matched this game is. I think Hopkins’ has a better defense, but Maryland is not far behind. If Amato gets hot Hopkins could be in trouble.
I am super excited for this match up, this is going to be a great lacrosse game. I think we might see some new schemes and looks thrown out there because these teams are so even. One coach might try something new to get a leg up on another, and be practicing something new for the playoffs. I like Maryland in this one, but only by a goal or two.
Let me know what you think @connors36 – should be a good one and a fun one to watch.