This was billed as the game of the weekend (and given the prime viewing slot by ESPN). In one sense, it really didn’t live up to the billing. Maryland dominated Albany on their way to a slot in Boston.
On the other hand, we got to see one of the most complete performances of any team this year. Think back to the earlier game between these two, when Albany nearly pulled off a last second comeback and Maryland escaped with a mid-week victory 12-11. This was not that kind of game.
For whatever reason, the Terps shut down what Albany wanted to do. They prevented Connor Fields from beating them and at the same time, limited the contributions from his supporting cast. Just a really impressive game from John Tillman’s team. (Fields still had a pretty solid performance, showing up at #6 in this week’s ranking.)
What we thought going in
Albany was the favorite heading in. And if the first half team against UNC showed up, that estimate might not have looked so silly. Our Lax-ELO model thought that Maryland had a 38% chance of winning this game going in. That may seem like an underestimate until you remember that Albany had a lot of big wins and two losses, both by one goal, to the #1 and #2 teams in the field.
What actually happened
In fact Maryland dominated this game in a few really important ways. None more obvious than their 62% possession rate. The Terps had possession for 37 minutes of this game, thanks in large part to Jon Garino’s performance against TD Ierlan at the face-off X.
The Terps offense was the real story in this one. Coming in they were scoring on 33.9% of all offensive possessions. Against the Great Danes, they scored on almost half (47%). The offense was good on settled sets, after face off wins, and in unsettled ground ball situations.
Matt Rambo paced the team (and came in atop our weekly rankings) with 7.20 expected goals added. He was able to get to the danger zones in the Albany defense at will. The fact that they couldn’t cover him forced an Albany change of course pretty early on and set the stage for the Terps win.
In-game win odds
This animated chart shows the in-game win odds. The line shows the chance of Maryland winning the game, measured after each individual recorded play.
Non-obvious Keys to the Victory
Possession was the key to this one. In our preview article, we wrote about the late season drop-off in production from TD Ierlan. You may or may not believe in the “freshman wall” as a concept. But it would be hard to make the case that Ierlan’s stretch run was anywhere near his early season successes.
And one of the biggest compliments that we heard about Albany this year was that the finally married the offensive wizardry with someone at FOGO who could consistently win their attack possession. That just didn’t happen in this one. But if you are an Albany fan, you have to be comforted by the fact that Connor Fields is back and TD Ierlan will be back as a sophomore next year.
Aside from that nugget, Connor Kelly came up huge for the Terps. Rambo was #1 on this week’s list of top individual performances; Kelly came 3rd. There was some discussion from the broadcast team about Kelly’s performance and why it has not garnered the same attention as some of midfielders. Very valid point. Here is the updated play-shares chart for the Terps with yesterday’s game included:
I would argue that his lack of attention stems from the fact that he was not an early season star for the Terps. But the fact that his play shares have risen and risen consistently over the course of the season is a testament to him. And to the coaching staff for letting the players that are playing the best get more chances.