The Time & Place
Time: 4:00 ET
Place: Michigan Stadium
The Maryland Terrapins are 6-0, ranked number one, and are visiting the Big House to face the 4-4 Michigan Wolverines. To say that this is going to be a test would be an understatement.
It's not just that Michigan is facing the top team in the country; they're facing a team that has allowed only one opponent to score in double digits this season. Prior to Villanova's 10 goals last week, the Terps had been allowing only 5.6 goals per game; that stretch includes games against perennial powers such as Duke and Syracuse.
While allowing very little scoring on defense, their offense is racking up an average of 13.1 goals per game. The offensive output is led by senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk's 19 goals. Who else is making Maryland so good?
Attack: Matt Rambo is a freshman attackman who has come in and made a ginormous impact with his 13 goals on the season so far. He's so good, in fact, that College Crosse is tracking Rambo Kill Counts; it's a good series, so check it out. In addition to Rambo, junior Jay Carlson is third on the team is scoring, with 11; he has a shooting percentage of .524 and 71.4% of his shots are on goal. Oh, yeah, he's also picked up 22 GBs, too. Connor Cannizzaro is yet another freshman on this team who is making an impact early, with nine goals.
Midfield: the aforementioned Mike Chanenchuk is the guiding force for Maryland; again, he is the team's leading scorer with 19. He also has six assists to bring his overall point total to 25 in the first six games. Chanenchuk has also accounted for four CTs and has scooped up ten GBs. Michigan goalie Robbie Zonino will need to be very wary of Chanenchuk's .565 SOG%, too. The Maryland midfield is just talented all the way around, with four other players (led by Joe LoCascio) with a combined 17 goals.
FOGO: Charlie Raffa is winning almost 60% of face-off opportunities (67-112) and has picked up 47 GBs so far. When the Terps faced Syracuse earlier in the season, Raffa decimated the dot by winning 19 of 27 chances against Chris Daddio. Raffa's performance at the dot got so deep in Syracuse's heads that the Orange committed six face-off violations while trying to compensate. Given the fact that Michigan's Brad Lott disappeared for a couple games, the face-off could be a major area of concern. However, Lott did have a phenomenal 21 of 24 game against Bellarmine on Saturday, so perhaps his head is right and ready to take the momentum into Tuesday.
Defense/Goal: seniors Brian Cooper and Michael Ehrhardt have combined to vacuum up 42 GBs and have 23 CTs. Casey Ikeda has started all six games and has picked up 9 ground balls and caused 7 turnovers. Starting between the pipes for Maryland will be Niko Amato, who has a save % of .608 and a goal against average of 6.71. Amato also has 59 saves on 102 shots on goal. Yeah, he's pretty good.
Back on March 8th (in the comment section of a game thread), I asked Testudo Times' Jake Nazar what he thought the point spread would be on Tuesday, and he thought it would be somewhere between 5-8 goals. He also said,
"I'd expect a test for a bit there. I have a feeling Michigan will play better vs higher ranked opponents. I know they got comfortably beaten by Hopkins, but at home vs Maryland I think Michigan will give Maryland a bit of a test in the first half. Maryland pulls away in the 2nd."
I like that he feels Michigan will hang for a while, but I'm not so sure I agree. That may be because I'm generally a pessimist, or it may be because Maryland is just that scary. The Terps are powerful...I mean, they have to be, right? You can't have a guy named Rambo on your team and allow Michigan to keep it close.