A PREVIEW OF THE MARYLAND GAME
THINGS TO WATCH ON FRIDAY NIGHT
Who gets Nechanicky's
spot on attack?
Sadly, I think it will take several people to fill his shoes. Nechanicky had proved to be similar to Jon Birsner in that he attacked well from behind the goal and was fast enough to get a step on his defender and get the defense moving. Once the defense had to react to his speed, he had the chance to find open players who had their hands free for a shot.
The nominal replacement—i.e. the fourth attackman—is junior Matt Guido. He is a decent shooter, not a lot of power but pretty decent placement. He seemed a little awkward against Georgetown; this probably isn't surprising, given how suddenly he was thrust into a major role. I would expect him not only to play on Friday—and possibly start—but to play well.
Freshman Tim Paul is probably the closest to Nechanicky in terms of being fast and being able to get to the corner on a defenseman. He played very briefly at attack in the fourth quarter against the Hoyas and showed a pretty good handle. I imagine he will play some on Friday, though it remains to be seen whether the Navy coaches will risk starting a freshman in such an important game.
The other alternative is Billy Looney. Navy has done this before: remember Adam Borcz and Graham Gill would play their first-line midfield shifts and then would move to attack when the second midfield came in. He won't get as tired as people think because he will rest when the ball is at the other end. Looney played A LOT against the Hoyas, in very warm weather, and didn't seem tired until the final minute or so. Given the forecast for cold temperatures on Friday, I imagine he will play a lot again.
Navy's clearing problems against the Hoyas
This was bad, but it actually got better as the game went on. Ten of the 14 failed clears occurred in the first half (Navy was 7 for 17). In the second half, the Mids were 11 for 15.
What killed Navy was that the failed clears made it impossible to expand on that 5-2 lead in the first half. One or two more goals and Navy would have salted the game away.
Navy made some very
fundamental mistakes in the clearing game in the first half against the Hoyas.
The number one mistake was throwing to players who were standing still. This is
a huge mistake against an aggressive defense such as Georgetown; the Hoyas
swarmed the clearing player and caused a lot of loose balls. I would imagine
that many of the failed clears came on procedure calls, i.e. the Mids failed to
advance within 20 seconds or 10 seconds, because their non-moving players were
fighting for groundballs...
In the second half, Navy began clearing to moving players, began clearing through the middle of the field, etc. I would be very surprised if Navy has the same problems clearing the ball against the Terrapins.
What does Maryland's
losing streak to Navy mean?
I don't think it means all that much. This is a big game no matter who won the past year or two years. I remember Lou Holtz being asked about Notre Dame's 13-game unbeaten streak against USC in the 1980s and 1990. His answer was something to do about flipping a coin, and if it comes up heads 12 times, there's still every chance it will be heads on the 13th toss. If anything, the three-game winning streak should give Navy confidence.
The Mids have won the past two games with goals with eight seconds left and 14 seconds left. In a close game, Richie Meade will draw on that experience.
Which goalie will
I would be very surprised if Phipps does not start and play much of the game. I think he is a better fit to the style of defense the Terps want to play. Their defenders are very aggressive and very physical; they take chances and sometimes can be beaten. Harry Alford was a streaky goalie, and the combination of a streaky goalie and a defense that sometimes is going to give up open shots isn't the greatest.
Phipps seems like he plays his angles more than Alford. He isn't as likely to have a 25-save performance, but he also isn't likely to have a five-save performance. Given the defense in front of him, I think Maryland has more confidence in a consistent goalie.
Where Umd may use Alford is as a man-down goalie.
What's the bottom
Both teams need a win—Navy to restore confidence and likely clinch a playoff berth, Maryland to get some confidence heading into the Hopkins game next Saturday. Keep an eye on Wallin and whichever attackman plays for Nechanicky; I would imagine they will get the shortstick defenders and they will have to initiate a lot of the offense while also being patient and not forcing the issue.
(If Daratsos gets a short, Navy is in business.)
Don't expect a high-scoring game. I think Navy will be okay if it can get three six-on-six goals, two EMO goals, one transition goal and a couple goals off rides, i.e. scrappy goals (Dinger had three against the Hoyas).
Navy needs Finnegan to play well, too. Playing at home, I think he will.