Konica Minolta Face-off Classic: UMBC Lacrosse Takes on No. 2 Johns Hopkins

D HoldingCorrespondent IIIMarch 10, 2012

No. 2 Johns Hopkins will take on UMBC this Saturday
No. 2 Johns Hopkins will take on UMBC this SaturdayJim Rogash/Getty Images

Saturday, six college lacrosse teams will make the trip to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., for the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic.

During the 4 p.m. time slot, UMBC will face No. 2 Johns Hopkins in a battle of Baltimore rivals.

UMBC comes into the Face-off classic off a huge win over No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday. They were able to grind out a four-quarter victory and escaped with an 8-7 win at home.

The Retrievers had previously dropped a one-goal game to undefeated Fairfield and a two-goal game to Robert Morris. They have a win against Rutgers on their resume as well.

In their last two games, UMBC has played very well against quality opponents. This weekend will once again test the team's ability to grind out victories.

The Retrievers will need to control their emotions and their play to ensure that they do not beat themselves on Saturday. Sometimes, when teams are feeling overly confident, they speed up their play. If they do this against Johns Hopkins, they will lose.

UMBC attackman Scott Jones must control the tempo of play and keep them close and within reach of the victory. Jones has eight goals and two assists so far, complimented by midfielder Zach Linkous' nine goals and one assist.

UMBC has played a lot of low-scoring games this year, holding a prolific Maryland offense to only seven goals in their last outing.

Similar to Maryland, Hopkins can score from anywhere on the field.

Attackman Zach Palmer has shown some nifty moves from behind the goal, totaling seven goals and 10 assists so far this year.

Midfielder John Ranagan is also a player to watch on Saturday. Although seventh on the team in scoring, Ranagan is a big body on the offensive midfield.

His ability to draw the slide and run hard has him playing very well right now. He is on the verge of a breakout game, and UMBC might just be that game.

Hopkins also has one of the best defenders in the nation in Tucker Durkin. His aggressive and go-get-it style of play have both overwhelmed and intimidated his opponents, allowing him to shut down some of the nation's best players. 

With Pierce Basset playing superbly in goal for the Blue Jays, the team is playing exceptional lacrosse. The 6'4" junior goaltender has stymied opposing offenses and has stopped 60 percent of the shots he has faced.

They have all the pieces to make a serious run at a national title, but must keep their season in perspective. Hopkins always has one of the toughest schedules in the country, and every game has significance in their tournament seeding.

Saturday's game could stay low scoring and close if UMBC has effective long possessions, but could get ugly if Johns Hopkins wins face-offs and gets rolling early.