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Raffa’s control at the X leads UMD past Princeton

By: Charlie Wright

Charlie Raffa has struggled from the X this year but against Princeton, he dominated and carried the Terps to a victory.

Charlie Raffa has struggled from the X this year but against Princeton, he dominated and carried the Terps to a victory.

Senior midfielder Charlie Raffa, a second-team All-American last season, had yet to dominate the faceoff X as he had done much of 2014. That changed on Saturday against Princeton, as Raffa went 13-for-20 on faceoffs, leading the No. 9 Terps to an 11-4 victory over the No. 10 Tigers.

Both teams were slow out of the gate, with nearly ten minutes passing before the first goal. Matt Rambo broke the ice with a missile from his shoe tops, but the Tigers’ Jake Froccaro answered with his first score of the year. The teams traded goals again in the second quarter, then Rambo scored again to give the Terps the lead at the half, 3-2.

The third quarter was a different story. Both teams alternated goals once again, but then the Terps went on a 6-0 run, highlighted by a spinning Jay Carlson scoring from his knees. The Terps controlled the ball for most of the quarter, primarily due to Raffa’s work at the X.

“It started with Charlie at the faceoff X doing a great job,” coach John Tillman said. “He and the wings getting us multiple possessions.”

Maryland had won the faceoff battle in just one of its first four games, and Raffa missed that game with an injury. He went just 6-for-14 in his return against Drexel, but won seven of nine faceoffs in the third quarter alone on Saturday. In the third quarter, Raffa’s victories at the X left Princeton without the ball for six minutes and Maryland broke away with five-straight goals to take a 9-3 lead.

“I think it takes a lot of pressure off just the whole team when he’s winning draws like that,” midfielder Henry West said. “We know offensively we’ll get a lot of possessions…and it’s pretty much make it take it when he’s in the zone like that.”

The defense was strong behind Raffa, holding a Princeton team that was averaging nearly 15 goals a game to exactly one goal in each quarter. Goalie Kyle Bernlohr finished with 12 saves, before ceding the net to backup Dan Morris once the game was out of hand. The back line held the Tigers’ Mike MacDonald and Kip Orban, who combined for 19 goals in three games, to four shots and zero scores.

“Kyle was great in goal, but just the glue down there of Matt Dunn and Casey Ikeda do such a great job of keeping everything together,” Tillman said.

Princeton played conservative in the first half, with slow possessions of mostly passes around the outside of the box. A few times the Tigers even subbed out midfielders near the end of a possession to guard against a counter attack.

“In the first half, when we needed to play lengthy possessions, the guys were disciplined,” said Tillman. “Give Princeton credit, they were really disciplined and really patient. We just didn’t have a lot of possessions there in the first half.”

The defense held strong, though, and eventually the offense heated up. The six goals in the third were the most the Terps have had in a single quarter this season.

“They really shared the ball, were willing to make the extra pass and played with a lot of poise,” Tillman said.

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Charlie Wright

Staff Writer
Charlie is a lifelong sports fan who grew up cheering for hometown teams. He developed a passion for writing in high school and chose to pursue the profession in college. Charlie followed most of his family to the University of Maryland, where he is pursuing a degree in journalism. He plans to enter the sports journalism field after graduation, hopefully covering a local team.

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