For Terps, it comes down to the midfield

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Sometimes, it really is easy to put a finger on a problem.

When you see Maryland go scoreless for the last 10 minutes of regulation and 25 minutes of overtime against Virginia, then manage just four goals in a full game against Navy, well, something’s wrong with the offense.

And while I’ll dissect it a little more in tomorrow’s e-edition story, the reality is it isn’t a hard problem to diagnose.

When senior midfielders Dan Groot, Jeff Reynolds and Jeremy Sieverts are playing well, the Terps can be scary good.

If not … then Maryland is going to struggle. Take a look at the goals-assists-points for the three in Maryland’s wins and losses to date:

PlayerWins (6-0)
Losses (0-4)
2-Groot9-7-163-2-5
20-Sieverts4-3-73-1-4
28-Reynolds 
5-3-82-1-3

Groot and Reynolds are noticeably better in the victories. In Maryland’s last three losses, Sieverts has managed only one assist.

Some of this can be chalked up to a lack of continuity. When Bryn Holmes missed some time last month, it forced a shakeup in the midfield lines since Maryland needed to plug someone in to take faceoffs and to play defensive midfield.

As a result, it led to a curious deployment of Travis Reed in the midfield.

“I think we had to, because of Bryn Holmes’ injury, we had to move Jeff Reynolds off the first midfield,” coach Dave Cottle said. “Because of that, Jeff Reynolds got a pole, which reduced his effectiveness. Now that Bryn’s coming back and winning some faceoffs, it gives us a little more flexibility playing those three guys.”

Translation: Don’t be surprised if the Terps put their original first midfield line back together sometime soon – maybe even for tomorrow’s Day of Rivals showdown with Johns Hopkins at M&T Bank Stadium.

Here’s a reality now that every game of the postseason is televised: Midfield depth just isn’t a critical as it once was. There are chances to rest and recover, and you can maximize the runs of a first line.

As such, the Terps probably won’t be forced to rely on Joe Cummings or Jake Bernhardt – a pair of freshmen on the second line – too much. And for all their promise, they’ve combined for a goal on eight shots in Maryland’s four losses.

“Reynolds protects so many other guys,” Cottle said. “He’s protected by Groot. The two freshmen on the second midfield have probably done what we hoped they would do. They’re at four goals. We’d like to see our older guys play a little bit better.”

If the number suggest anything, it’s more a “need” rather than a “want” – and the sooner the better for a bunch that could use an offensive jolt after the last couple weeks.

Patrick Stevens

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