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Lax: Cats look to shellshock Terps

Things didn't go so well for the Wildcats when hosting #16 Princeton on Tuesday, but there is no time to stop and reflect on the experience with a trip to #7 Maryland coming tomorrow at 1:00pm. The 4-2 Wildcats are in the middle of a 5-game stretch against ranked opponents and will look to avoid consecutive losses and bolster their resume with a big win over a ranked opponent.

Maryland comes into the game with a 4-1 record, with victories over Hartford, Georgetown, Duke and Marist and their only loss coming against UMBC. Most recently, they defeated Marist, 17-4 last weekend.

Maryland has averaged 12.40 goals per game on offense with Joe Cummings leading the team with 14 points (10g, 4a) while John Haus (7g, 6a) and Drew Snider (7g, 3a) have contributed 13 and 10 points, respectively, through five games.

The stingy Maryland defense surrenders just 7.20 goals per game. Goalkeeper Niko Amato currently ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 6.04 goals against average and third in the country with a .633 save percentage. Close defensemen, Brian Cooper, Goran Murray and Michael Ehrhardt have combined for 35 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers.

The Wildcats have not been so stingy on defense, surrendering an average of 10.33 goals-against through six games. Senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez has a .492 save percentage so far.

Offensively, things are a bit better, with an average of 11.50 goals per game, the 'Cats can certainly score with some of the best in the nation (they're ranked 9th offensively). They have posted a .653 shot on goal percentage while competitors have been held to .619. Against a strong Princeton defense, the Wildcats were only able to manage 8 goals, which is a mark they will have to improve on if they hope to steal a win at Maryland's Byrd Stadium.

One key to to improving that mark might be attackman Jack Rice, who leads the Wildcats with 14 goals, including an outburst of 6 scores against Bucknell earlier in the season and an average of 2.8 per game. Maryland is bracing themselves for Rice, who played in high school with Terps reserve goalie Thomas Guarino.

"Every player has their thing and what works for them," Guarino told "And I just told [the coaches] that Jack’s an awesome off-ball player, and he’s amazing in the crease. He can shoot with a quick release and everything."

Villanova will live or die with their offense tomorrow afternoon.