Colgate at Maryland: Three things to watch

Maryland has piled up a 6-2 record in this series, but Colgate has won the last two meetings – both of which have occurred in the regular-season finales for both sides.

The Raiders (8-6) are limping into their last game of the year, having lost four of their past five contests. Senior attackman and 2012 Tewaaraton Award winner Peter Baum leads the offense in assists (15) and points (48), but sophomore attackman Ryan Walsh paces the team in goals (35).

The No. 11 Terps (9-3) have dropped two of their last three games, and although a lock to qualify for the NCAA tournament, they are in danger of losing out on one of the eight seeds and opening the first round on the road. The offense’s struggles have been embodied by starting attackmen Kevin Cooper and Jay Carlson, who have not scored a goal in each of their last three contests.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Saturday.

1) Do not forget about Peter Baum. Baum’s dip in production this season (33 goals and 15 assists) from 2012 (67, 30) is well-documented, but that doesn’t mean that he should be overlooked. He is still the primary cog in Colgate’s offense, and when he is playing well, he can get his teammates involved. Baum finished with seven points on five goals and two assists in the Raiders’ 13-11 victory over Maryland on May 5, and Terps coach John Tillman said Baum is still the same player he was last year. “[Y]ou can really see that people are trying to do more things this year to scheme against him,” Tillman said. “He’s the type of guy who’s willing to give the ball up so that other guys have opportunities. I think what you see is everyone’s gearing things up to stop him. In fairness to Peter, he’s still a terrific player. I just think that the second time around, people are trying to do more things to hurt him, but it’s opening up other opportunities for other players.”

2) Get a leg up on man up (situations). Colgate’s defense is not terribly different from last season’s unit with one distinct exception. The man-down defense entered the week tied for 56th in Division I after allowing opponents to convert 42.9 of their extra-man opportunities. That facet of the game could be what the Terps’ tepid offense needs. Maryland, which has scored just 18 goals in its last three contests, boasts a man-up offense that ranks 11th at 42.1 percent. But Tillman said he does not anticipate the same Raiders man-down defense that has struggled. “Maybe because they haven’t played as well as they would have liked, maybe they’ll tweak things,” he said. “So you have to make sure that you’re prepared for things they haven’t shown. Maybe they play a different defense, maybe they shut someone off, maybe they pressure. Whatever it may be, we’ve got to be prepared for all of that, and we hope that our guys will make good decisions and when they get opportunities to get their hands free, they can put the ball in the back of the net.”

3) Pounce on turnovers. The Terps are one of the better teams in the nation in protecting the ball, committing just 15.2 turnovers per game this spring. But Colgate has been even better, coughing up the ball an average of 14.0 times. xtremely motivated on Saturday. While acknowledging that Maryland needs to return to playing aggressively and physically, Tillman said the most important quality is discipline. “We certainly don’t want to go out and create opportunities for a talented team like Colgate,” he said. “That wouldn’t make any sense. But we also want to make sure that we just don’t sit back and allow teams to really dictate the pace of the game. We do have some pretty good athletes to hold those guys back and not let them make plays and not let them feel like they can pick their spots and be aggressive. I think we’ve got to be smart about how we do things. We’ve got to let our players make plays, but we can’t create opportunities for Peter Baum and Walsh and [junior attackman Brendon] McCann.”

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