No. 5 Maryland (3-0) has dominated this in-state rivalry, winning 26 of 33 meetings. But UMBC has captured three of the last five contests, a development not lost on coach John Tillman and the Terps. The Retrievers (1-2) are eager to snap a two-game losing skid at home. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville on Tuesday night.
1) Maryland’s faceoffs. This hardly qualifies as a concern, but junior Curtis Holmes went just 9-of-20 in Saturday’s 10-7 win against No. 8 Duke. Holmes has particularly struggled against a pair of long-stick midfielders in Georgetown redshirt sophomore Tyler Knarr (11-of-13) and Blue Devils senior C.J. Costabile (10-of-18). Holmes is still winning at a 64.2 percent clip (43-of-67), but Tillman said Holmes needs some help from his wings. “I think with us, it’s always three-on-three and 10-on-10 with the faceoffs,” Tillman said. “So all of us have to do a better job. It’s something we’ll look at, but we have a lot of confidence in Curtis.”
2) UMBC’s defensive midfield. The Terps midfield may not have the star power of their peers, but the unit is deep with five of its top six members registering at least four points this season. That puts the onus on the Retrievers’ defensive midfield, which allowed seven goals and three assists to No. 19 Fairfield’s top line in Saturday’s 10-9 overtime loss. “There are a lot of guys you have to be ready for,” coach Don Zimmerman said. “There are some new faces and some old faces, but they’re playing very well as a team. They share the ball on offense, and you can’t really key on any one or two guys because they can just send a wave of guys at you.”
3) UMBC’s discipline. The Retrievers are not a penalty-prone bunch. They have endured just four man-down chances, while enjoying 18 extra-man opportunities. That wide discrepancy was addressd by Tillman and the rest of the Maryland coaching staff. “So they’re getting six a game and yet their opponents are getting 1.3 a game,” he said. “That’s something you look at and go, ‘Hey, guys, we can’t give them roughly five extra extra-man opportunities.’ To me, it shows that they’re a very disciplined defense. They’re not going to give you anything. And if you give them extra-man opportunities, I think they feel very confident that good things can happen.”