COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- After a 10-7 home win over #19 Monmouth Wednesday night in the NCAA Opening Round, the Bryant University men's lacrosse team will take on the nation's top-ranked team in the University of Maryland Sunday afternoon in the NCAA First Round. The top-seeded Terps host NEC Champion Bryant at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Sunday's NCAA First Round marks the third time Bryant and Maryland have met in men's lacrosse, with Maryland owning a 2-0 advantage. The Terps topped the Bulldogs, 13-6, in a regular-season meeting in College Park back on March 15, 2009 during Bryant's inaugural Division I season. Maryland took a 16-8 victory last time these teams met in the 2014 NCAA Quarterfinals in Hempstead, N.Y.
SCOUTING THE TERRAPINS
Maryland sits atop both national polls entering the NCAA tournament and is ranked inside the top-20 in nearly every team statistic. The 11th ranked offense in Division I (12.53 gpg), the Terps are led by Tewaaraton Award finalist Matt Rambo, who ranks 13th in points per game this season and leads the side in points (67) and assists (33) with 34 goals. Connor Kelly is the team's top scorer with 37 tallies, while Colin Heacock (23), Tim Roranz (22) and Dylan Maltz (22) round out the team's 20-goal scorers. Dan Morris has been strong between the pipes, boasting a .549 save percentage (13th nationally) and 8.85 goals against average (17th) while posting 10.7 saves per outing. Austin Henningsen has taken most of the team's faceoffs and is 111-of-232 (.478), with Joe Garino Jr (57-98) and Will Bonaparte (18-47) also seeing time at the X. Matt Neufeldt leads the Terps with 49 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers.
BRYANT vs. THE BIG TEN
Maryland is the only current member of the Big Ten that the Bulldogs have ever faced in men's lacrosse.
BRYANT/BIG TEN CONNECTIONS
The Bulldogs may not have played many Big Ten opponents, but they are certainly familiar with some of their faces. Two former Bulldog associate head coaches are currently manning the sidelines at Big Ten programs. Current Penn State associate head coach Peter Toner served the same role with the Bulldogs from 2008-10, while Ohio State associate head coach Brad Ross served the role in Smithfield from 2011-14. Outside of lacrosse, current Maryland assistant baseball coach Ryan Fecteau joined the Terps in 2016 after a six-year stint in the Bulldog dugout.
PRESSLER IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Now in his 11th year in Smithfield, head coach Mike Pressler makes his 19th NCAA tournament appearance in 2017 and fourth since taking over the helm at Bryant University. Before arriving in Rhode Island, Pressler brought his Duke program to the dance 10 times, including an appearance in the 2005 national championship, and prior to that led Ohio Wesleyan to three-straight NCAA Division III title games (5 tournament appearances). All-time in NCAA tournament action, Pressler is 20-18 (.526) with a 12-13 mark (.480) at the Division I level (Duke, Bryant).
» A matter of record: The Bulldogs are 14-5 in the postseason in the program's Division I era. Bryant is an impressive 11-2 in NEC Tournament action, has never missed qualifying for an NEC Tournament and is a perfect 5-0 in NEC Championship games. Bryant is 3-3 in NCAA tournament play.
» What's your number? The Bulldogs are 2-1 this season against nationally ranked opponents, beating then-No. 7/6 Yale on the road, 9-6, on March 4 just days after falling to then-No. 19 Boston University, 12-9, in the Bay State on Feb. 28. Bryant earned its second such win Wednesday, topping No. 19 Monmouth in the NCAA Opening Round.
» Pulling rank: Bryant has won NEC Tournament Championships out of the first (2013), second (2012, 2014, 2017) and third (2015) seeds.
» Where you lead, I will follow: Head coach Mike Pressler earned the 350th victory of his career in Bryant's May 6 NEC Championship win. Of those victories, 122 have come with the Bulldogs.
» First to 10: Getting to 10 goals will be key for the Bulldogs, who are 7-1 this season when hitting double-digit goals. Bryant falls to just 4-6 when limited to single-digit scoring in 2017 and has eight wins when limiting opponents to fewer than 10 tallies.
» Too Close for Comfort: In Bryant's seven games decided by two goals or fewer, the Bulldogs have recorded just two wins, an 8-7 win over Saint Joseph's back on March 25 and a 5-4 NEC Championship victory over Hobart on May 6. On the flip side, Bryant is 7-1 in games decided by at least four scores.
» Marginalized: Speaking of margins of victory, the Bulldogs saw their largest and smallest of the season in the NEC Tournament, topping third-seeded Robert Morris, 12-3, in a May 4 NEC Semifinal (+9) before winning the title by just one, 5-4, over Hobart two days later. Robert Morris's three goals scored marked the second-fewest tallies allowed by the Black and Gold this year after limiting Wagner to just one on April 1.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Bryant returns to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years after clinching the program's fifth Northeast Conference Tournament title on May 6 in Geneva, N.Y. The Bulldogs trumped top-seeded Hobart, 5-4, in the NEC Championship and were awarded hosting rights in the NCAA Opening Round Wednesday night, where the Black and Gold never trailed in a 10-7 win over MAAC Champion Monmouth. Seven different Bulldogs scored a goal in Wednesday's contest, while junior faceoff specialist Kenny Massa went 14-of-19 from the X (9 GBs) and junior goalie James Werner turned away nine. After opening the game with a three-goal run, Bryant scored seven of the next eight tallies and rattled off five scores in six minutes spanning the final two quarters for a 10-3 lead early in the fourth.
This is Bryant's third appearance in the NCAA First Round and second time advancing out of the NCAA Opening Round, formerly known as the NCAA Play-In. The Bulldogs took on Syracuse in both the 2013 and 2014 NCAA First Rounds, where they went 1-1. After falling, 12-7, in 2013, Bryant shocked the lacrosse world in 2014, stunning the second-seeded Orange with a 10-9 win just days after topping Siena in the first-ever NCAA Play-In Game. With the First Round victory over Syracuse, the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals, where they fell to Maryland, 16-8. There are 13 players from this year's roster who were members of that 2014 team.
LUCKY NUMBER 13
Eleven players from Bryant's current senior class were members of the team's 2014 run to the NCAA Quarterfinals — Tucker James, Graham Seuffert, Jared Kaden, Mike Tufano, Spencer Herman, Kyle Mummau, Ryan Sharpe, Brett Baker, Will Montero, Pearse McEneaney and Cody O'Donnell — as well as a pair of juniors who redshirted the 2014 season in starting defenseman Chas South and top faceoff specialist Kenny Massa.
With their 11 victories so far this season, the Bulldogs have now reached double-digit wins for the 14th time in the program's 18-year history. Bryant has recorded 10 or more wins in eight of head coach Mike Pressler's 11 seasons, including six of nine at the Division I level.