No. 9 Maryland men’s lacrosse bounced back from its first loss since 2020 with a close and imperfect 15-12 victory over No. 18 Syracuse Saturday afternoon.
In the loss to No. 11 Loyola, the Terps outshot Loyola by 16. But they lost due to a shooting percentage and offensive efficiency rating under 17 percent.
The Maryland offense took a step forward in those categories against Syracuse. The Terps improved their offensive efficiency rating, shooting percentage, shots on goal percentage and turnover percentage against the Orange compared to the weekend prior.
Despite that improvement, Maryland doesn’t think it has reached its full potential.
“30 percent [shooting] is not really what you want,” coach John Tillman said. “We’d like to be into the 40s … we’ve got to do a better job of converting those [extra possessions] into goals.
Maryland’s offense has struggled collectively at times, but nobody has had a cold stretch like Eric Spanos, who is currently shooting eight percent.
Spanos converted on his lone shot attempt in the season opener against Richmond. But since then, the sophomore attacker has gone 0-11, including seven missed shots against the Orange. Some of his shots missed the net by wide margins while others have simply not converged due to great defense against him.
He attempted his first shot of the day in the first quarter against Syracuse. Spanos took a few steps, set his feet, and fired a rocket from about 12 yards out that sailed high over the cage. His next three shots were all saved by Syracuse’s senior goalkeeper, Will Mark.
The misses seemed to affect Spanos. On his next attempt, he passed up an open look, instead chucking the ball out of his stick on a shot that sailed so high Mark didn’t have to make an attempt on it.
“I thought Eric had a couple good looks and I think he’s gonna have a really good year, but I think at times he might’ve over-thought it a little bit,” Tillman said.
Spanos’ 12 shot attempts are tied for third-most on the team; he’s one of five Terps with double-digit attempts thus far.
Maryland finished with 50 shot attempts against Syracuse but converted on only 15 of them. It has a shooting percentage of just 24 percent across its last two games, with 22 makes on 92 shots.
The difference between last year’s Terps isn’t their shot volume. The 2022 squad averaged 45.2 shots per game, slightly over this year’s mark of 42 so far.
The distinction lies in the conversion rate on those shots.
Last year’s team finished with a shooting percentage of 39 percent.
Through three games this year, Maryland is shooting 29.4 percent with an offensive efficiency rating of 25.9 percent and a shot-per-possession value of 0.83. Those would all be program-worsts since 2016, the first year Lacrosse Reference tracked those stats.
Among all Division I programs, Maryland ranks 39 in shooting percentage and 51 in turnover rate. Tillman’s program will search for better offense efficiency as the season progresses to better unlock its attack’s capabilities.