Not many teams have challenged Maryland men's lacrosse since coach John Tillman took over in 2011. The Terps are 100-29 under his watch. They won last year's NCAA title.
But Notre Dame has beaten Maryland twice in two years, holding the Terps to their two worst scoring outputs since 2013. No other program has experienced similar defensive success against Tillman.
Still, No. 2 Maryland remains hopeful its new-look attack can manufacture offense against No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday by being patient against the Fighting Irish's pressure.
"The last couple of years, it's been a real tight game for us," defenseman Curtis Corley said. "We've struggled to get production on both ends. We've got new pieces. … We've got to put them together the right way."
Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said the team hasn't entered contests against the Terps hoping to "stall the ball" or slow the game down. He prefers to keep his defensive scheme simple so players can focus on the nuances of their roles.
Tillman said Notre Dame's defensive organization has enabled it to keep opponents off-balance. If an attackman tries to drive toward the goal, the Fighting Irish slide and have another defenseman prepared to shift. They aggressively scoop up ground balls, eliminating second chances.
In last season's meeting, the Fighting Irish held the ground ball advantage, 31-26. They also had 13 caused turnovers and contained Maryland's offense to take a 2-1 halftime lead, en route to a 5-4 victory.
This season's Terps haven't played from behind often. Through four games, they have trailed for just about three minutes.
"They're probably as athletic as any team across the board we've seen this year," Tillman said. "For us, we have to be aggressive and have to play clean. We can't have silly turnovers."
While the Fighting Irish have managed Maryland's attack in past meetings, they recently allowed Detroit Mercy and Richmond to each score seven goals.
Behind a bevy of fresh offensive threats, the Terps hope to find more success this time around against the Fighting Irish defense. Corrigan praised attackman Jared Bernhardt and midfielders Connor Kelly and Tim Rotanz, but freshmen Logan Wisnauskas and Bubba Fairman have also contributed.
Still, the Terps know goals could be hard to come by as they try to extend their NCAA-leading 11-game winning streak.
"They're just a really organized group and always in the right spot," attackman Anthony DeMaio said. "We're going to have to keep moving the ball and cycling it and making them slide and recover."