Matt Dolente ranks second in Division I with a .681 faceoff percentage, but the senior faceoff specialist for the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team greets the news with a yawn.
"I'm not really worried about what my percentage is going to be," he said. "I try not to think about where I'm going to rank on a national scale. I'm just more worried about improving because over the last three years, I think I've underachieved a little bit on what I'm capable of and on what I can get our group to be. So I think we've done a good job of improving – both at the faceoff X and on the wings."
Dolente's prowess on faceoffs — which has vaulted him to sixth in school history in faceoff wins (329) and attempts (633) — is one reason why the No. 6 Blue Jays (6-2) are averaging 11.1 goals per game, which ranks 11th in the country.
The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Dolente has won 81-of-119 faceoffs and collected a team-best 45 ground balls thus far by using his quickness against bigger and stronger opponents.
"I try not to get in the tie-ups and physical battles where guys are grinding it out on each other because my size doesn't really allow me to do that well," he said. "So I try to focus on being quick and getting the ball out quickly."
Statistically speaking, Dolente could meet his toughest opponent of the season in North Carolina freshman R.G.Keenan, who has won 123-of-195 faceoffs (631) thus far. But Keenan's status for Sunday's game is unclear after he absorbed two huge hits in the No. 5 Tar Heel's 11-6 victory over No. 9 Maryland last Saturday.
"I'm going to leave that up to the medical staff," North Carolina coach Joe Breschi said. "They're continuing to evaluate him, so we hope to have him dressed and ready to go."
Dolente said he anticipates seeing Keenan for the opening faceoff.
"I can't speak to the nature of his injury, but I will be preparing and our team will be preparing for him to play," Dolente said. "And we'll also be preparing for who we would expect to see if he's unable to play."
Reed expected to play
Travis Reed, the senior attackman who has sat out the last three games due to a left shoulder injury, is expected to play Saturday when No. 9 Maryland (6-2) visits No. 7 Virginia (7-2) in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.
"He's doing pretty well," Terps coach John Tillman said Thursday. "I'm optimistic that he's going to play in some capacity on Saturday. He was in practice yesterday, he was in his full equipment at practice. He was doing some stick work and some shooting drills. He's been out there. We're allowed to take 32 people, and he will be one of those 32 people. Because we can only take 32, I wouldn't take anybody that had no chance of playing."
A decision has yet to be made on whether Princeton senior attackman Jack McBride, who has missed three games with a groin injury, could be joining sophomore defenseman Rob Castelo (torn knee ligaments) and freshman short-stick defensive midfielder Nick Fernandez (broken arm) as players who are out for the rest of the season.
Tigers coach Chris Bates, who hinted to NJ.com last week that McBride could be shelved, said a decision on his status and his eligibility will be made at the end of the week.
"To be determined on both fronts," he said. "I'd prefer to leave it at that. I'd rather not speculate. Let's let the kid work through the issues here. I think we'll have a decision in the next two days."
Who do you stop?
Defending against the Maryland women's lacrosse team can be a tricky task since seven different Terrapins have led the team in scoring this season.
Sarah Mollison's career-high 10 points — five goals and five assists — drove the No. 1 Terps past Towson 17-8 Tuesday for their 21st straight victory. In addition to Mollison, Karri Ellen Johnson, Katie Schwarzmann, Laura Merrifield, Brandi Jones, Kristy Black and Amalie Trentzsch have led the team in at least one game.
Heading into Friday's 7 p.m. home game against No. 7 Penn, six Terps have contributed 20 or more points. Johnson leads the way with 51, including 39 goals. Mollison's has 32 assists and became only the sixth Terp to dish out 100 career assists.
Notes: After sitting out two games due to a broken thumb, junior goalkeeper Brian McCullough made 13 saves and sparked UMBC's come-from-behind 9-7 win against Quinnipiac last Saturday. McCullough, who suffered the injury in the team's 13-9 loss to No. 5 North Carolina on March 5, is 2-2 as a starter this season. … Senior faceoff specialist John Schiavone returned from a one-game absence after suffering a concussion to win 11-of-24 faceoffs in Loyola's 14-10 victory over Mount St. Mary's last Saturday.
Baltimore Sun reporter Katherine Dunn contributed to this article.