Game Preview: #5 Maryland vs Michigan

The Maryland Terrapins are set to open up their 96th season Saturday at home vs Michigan. The Wolverines are the only non-ranked Big Ten team to start the season, giving the Terps an easier first game back. The Terrapins have won their last 27 season openers dating all the way back to 1994 and are 91-3-1 all-time in their first games since the team’s first season in 1924. So can they make it 28 straight and 92-3-1 all time?

Maryland

Maryland brings back virtually their entire scoring offense from last year’s shortened season, 96% to be exact. Jared Bernhardt, the three-time All-American, announced in late December that he would be rejoining the Terps for his fifth and final year to lead the attack. In addition to Bernhardt, Logan Wisnauskas, who broke the record for most points ever by a Maryland sophomore back in 2019 returns at attack. The third spot brings much more flexibility for Maryland with many guys who can compete for playing time but Daniel Maltz is expected to return as the starter.

In the midfield, the Terps are just as loaded. Offensively, pre-season All-Americans Bubba Fairman and Anthony DeMaio are set to dominate once again and this year will be complemented by two graduate transfers, Griffin Brown from Colgate and Eric Holden from Hobart, who are both less than four goals away from 100 in their college careers. Kyle Long who had a four-point game against Notre Dame last year also returns at offensive middie. On the other side of the midfield, two-time All-American Roman Puglise is set to anchor the defensive midfield. Two seniors Alex Smith and Jake Higgins should get a large amount of time along with now junior Joshua Coffman. At LSM, John Geppert and Justin Sherrer should split most of the time on the field.

At defense, the Terps return all three starters, Nick Grill, Brett Makar, and Matt Rahill who should be able to improve on some of their early-season struggles last season. In the net, is a huge competition that has been going on all offseason long but Logan McNaney should get the start after last season taking over after the fourth game, becoming the first freshman to start in goal for the Terps in over ten years.

At the faceoff X, preseason All-American Justin Shockley returns for his senior year and should make a huge impact for the Terps this season, giving them possession at much needed times.

Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines are expected to once again be the prey of the Big Ten, picked last in the preseason conference coaches poll. Before COVID shut down the season last year, the Wolverines were 4-3 winning their last game against Marquette 13-12 which happened to be the last game of the season in all of Division one men’s lacrosse. Though like most teams, Michigan is set to improve this season as they bring back a very large percent of last year’s total points.

Michigan’s offense is led by sophomore Josh Zawada who led all freshmen in scoring back in 2020. They also bring back Bryce Clay who scored 20 goals last year and, seniors Alex Buckanvage and Kevin Mack.

Defensively, Michigan brings back all of their key players. The Wolverines backend will be led by Andrew Darby with Drake Schaffner and Ryan Schriber rounding out the starters. In net should be John Kiracofe who split time in goal last season but was good enough to start this year.

Game Prediction

For one of probably only two times this season, I can say that this game should be an easy win for the Terps (the other time being these teams’ second meeting). Maryland is historically outstanding in season openers and has never lost to Michigan in program history. My final score prediction is Maryland wins 18-7. I just don’t see any way that Michigan can stop Maryland’s offense or score on their defense.

The game is scheduled to start at 1pm and will be broadcasted on BTN+ ($$$). I’ll be at the game, live-tweeting on the main MSB account @MDSportsblog for those who don’t want to pay or can’t tune in.

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