The story of the season for No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse thus far has been its offensive inefficiency.
Since their season opener, the Terps hadn’t finished with an offensive efficiency percentage greater than 27 percent and a shooting percentage greater than 30 percent entering Saturday’s matchup with Albany. Offensive efficiency is a statistic that measures a team’s goals per possessions.
It’s been a struggle to find the offensive form they had against Richmond back on Feb. 4, when they had an efficiency of 34.9 percent and a shooting percentage of 44.1 percent.
But against Albany over a month later, Maryland’s offense took a step in the right direction.
“We really wanted to make sure we had good spacing today and shared the ball,” coach John Tillman said.
Attackers Daniel Maltz and Braden Erksa both found the back of the net four times. For Maltz, the four goals tied his season high, gave him his 13th career hat trick and sent him above the 75-goal mark for his career. Erksa’s performance was a debut party of sorts, as the freshman notched his first-ever hat trick and scored for the first time since the season opener.
[Three Terps bag hat tricks as No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse defeats Albany, 16-9]
Junior midfielder Jack Koras joined the hat trick parade for the third time in his career — each of which has come this season — with his impressive off-balance score from right in front of the crease at the 1:59 mark of the third quarter.
Three Terps finished with a hat trick in a game for the first time this season, thanks in large part to their improved offensive efficiency.
Maltz has stepped up as a go-to scorer for Tillman’s squad as of late, scoring four goals for the second time in three weeks — sending the senior up to the top of the team list in goals. He finished with a shooting percentage more than 50 percent for just the second time this season, which was especially a good sign considering his poor performance last week when he converted on just two of his 11 looks.
Erksa entered Saturday with just two goals on the year and had missed his last eight shots. But he finally ended his cold stretch 13 minutes in with a goal as he wrapped around the back of the cage — the score that started a 5-0 Maryland scoring run. Erksa finished with a shooting percentage of at least 50 percent for just the second time in his young career and played a key role in keeping the Terps ahead as the game went on.
Koras bounced back from a 0-4 showing against No. 2 Notre Dame with a 3-7 performance Saturday. His second goal got the scoring started in the second half with a connection just in front of the cage, putting the Terps in the driver’s seat after Albany had the last strike of the first half with a man-up score in the final minute to enter the break only down two.
[Most people struggle to star in one sport. Dante Trader Jr. shines in two for Maryland.]
Even guys who have rarely scored this season — sophomores Dante Trader and Zach Whittier — converted on their few opportunities.
“We shot a little better today, which is encouraging for our group,” Tillman said.
It still wasn’t perfect on offense for Maryland. Junior attacker Daniel Kelly went just 1-8 on his shots following a 1-7 showing against Notre Dame, and senior midfielder Kyle Long shot just 1-6, making him 1-16 in the Terps’ last three games.
But the offensive showing was an overall step in the right direction, and the Terps will look to keep improving as they hit the second half of their regular season, starting with a matchup against No. 1 Virginia March 18.