The men's lacrosse game between No. 6 Maryland and No. 8 Navy tonight at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. features a pair of returning all-Americans: Maryland junior attackman Joe Walters (19 goals, nine assists) and Navy junior goalkeeper Matt Russell (.578 save percentage).
Their only previous meeting was last year. In that game, Walters scored three goals, but Russell had 12 saves in Navy's 9-6 win.
Russell wasn't the biggest key to the win for Navy (7-2). Senior faceoff specialist Chris Pieczonka won 12 of 19 faceoffs against three players. The Midshipmen had won 40 of 108 (37 percent) in the previous six meetings. They lost all six games.
"It's a major concern for us if they get going on faceoffs," Maryland Coach Dave Cottle said, "though we've been much better than last year."
Junior David Tamberrino has won 56 of 91 (61 percent), sophomore Thomas Alford is 29 for 55 (53 percent) and freshman Will Dalton is 10 for 20. Cottle said all three likely will play tonight.
"Tamberrino is a sound faceoff guy, but he's not as good once he has the ball," Pieczonka said. "Alford is a much better all-around player. Once he gets the ball, he has the opportunity to do something with it. Dalton just tries to turn it into a fight."
The problem is what happens once the offenses get the ball. Maryland (5-3) has 77 goals, its lowest after eight games since 1993. That team had 71 goals in eight games en route to a 6-6 finish.
Two of Navy's starting midfielders are looking to end shooting slumps. Senior Graham Gill has made 7 of 47 shots (15 percent); sophomore Billy Looney has made 10 of 58 (17 percent).
Both teams also are coming off disappointing games. Navy lost to Georgetown, 11-6, last weekend. Maryland lost to Virginia, 10-2.
"The jury's still out on us," Pieczonka said. "To me, it seems some people are giving us credit for what we did last year . . . I'm looking forward to showing people who we really are and show them the type of game we're capable of playing."
-- Christian Swezey