Feb. 25, 2001
The Maryland men's lacrosse team goes for the championship of the Denver Pioneer Face-Off Classic on Sunday afternoon as they take on host Denver at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Below is a season preview from the Prince George's Jounral, including coach Dick Edell's thoughts on the team's trip to Denver.
By Chris McManes
Special to the Prince George's (Md.) Journal
Dick Edell has never been to Colorado and his Maryland men's lacrosse team has never played there. But seeing the majestic Rocky Mountains for the first time is not Mile High on his list of priorities.
"If we come home 2-0, they'll be a beautiful sight," said Edell, whose preseason No. 8 Terrapins open the season this weekend in Denver.
Maryland, which went 11-5 last year and reached the NCAA quarterfinals, plays Air Force on Saturday and host Denver on Sunday. It launches probably the most unusual schedule in Terrapin lacrosse history. In April, the squad will play in Florida for the first time when the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament moves to Orlando.
"It makes for a couple lengthy trips," said Edell, now in his 18th year at College Park. "But I think the kids will get a kick out of getting to different parts of the country, and hopefully demonstrating that we're a top program that plays exciting lacrosse."
Sophomore attackman Mike Mollot returned a lot of excitement to the Terps' offense last year as the team's quarterback and primary ball-handler. He led the club in scoring with 47 points on 15 goals and 32 assists. Edell wants Mollot to score more goals in 2001.
"I think for him to be a legitimate Division I attackman, he has to become a better shooter," Edell said. "You can't be simply a feeder. If you are, the defense is going to adapt and not give you room to feed, and then invite you to go to the goal.
"So to be a quality attackman at this level, Mike has to become a better shooter, and that's what we've worked on in the fall and the preseason. I'm anxious to see if he's made that improvement in game situations."
Senior Andrew "Buggs" Combs (22 goals, six assists in 2000) also returns on attack. He will be joined in the starting lineup by either freshman Dan LaMonica or senior Jon Kemezis (DeMatha High). Kemezis (Kem-iss) took just six shots last year but scored on three.
The Maryland offense did not scorch the nets in its three preseason games, losing 10-8 to No. 5 Georgetown and 8-6 at No. 9 Hofstra. In a two-quarter matchup, the Terps downed Rutgers, 5-3.
. "I think we should be able to improve on last year's offensive numbers," Edell said. "I'll be disappointed if they don't go up."
Senior Chris Malone and junior Mike LaMonica (Dan's older brother) return at midfield as top offensive threats. Malone was named third-team All-American in 2000 after scoring a team-high 28 goals and adding 11 assists. LaMonica tallied 20 goals and three assists.
Sophomore Brett Harper and junior Carrington King will try to replace Jeff Shirk as Maryland's top defensive midfielder. Shirk was not only a fierce defender, he won a team-best 50.4 percent of his face-offs. Junior Brian Carroll (38.9 percent) and sophomore Ryan Moran (40 percent) will have to improve their face-off percentage to increase the Terrapins' chances for success.
The Maryland defense, which has largely carried the squad the past two seasons, lost two starters from a year ago, including second-team All-American Casey Connor. Sophomore Michael Howley, who was named 2000 ACC Rookie of the Year, will direct a defense that includes freshman Chris Passavia and senior David Rose. Passavia is considered to be as good as Howley.
"Although we've got some experience on defense, it's awfully young with sophomores and freshmen in some key roles," Edell said. "Three out of our top four (defenders) are gone. I think we've got quality replacements for them, I just don't know if they're ready to function effectively as a unit this early."
Combs was impressed with Passavia and Dan LaMonica in the Georgetown scrimmage.
Senior goalkeeper Pat McGinnis was honored as a third-team All-American in 2000 after ranking among the nation's leaders in goals-against average (8.55) and save percentage (61.6). Against then-No. 2 Virginia, he posted career highs in groundballs (11) and saves (27).
"I think Pat's primed for an outstanding senior season," Edell said. "He's as good as anybody out there when he's right."
Edell said he thinks this year's team should be better than last year's, but he praised the effort and resiliency of his 2000 squad.
"We won five of the six one-goal ballgames that we were involved in," he said. "They just found a way to get it done, and hopefully some of those genes have been passed on to this group."
NOTES--The Terps open their five-game home schedule against ACC rival Duke on March 4 and Bucknell two days later. North Carolina comes to College Park on March 24 and Johns Hopkins on April 14. Maryland's game against Maryland-Baltimore County will be moved to Ludwig Field because of a concert in Byrd Stadium. ... Dave Slafkosky has moved from defensive coordinator to offensive coordinator to replace Scott Marr, now head coach at Albany (N.Y.). Jon Stainbrook assumes defensive coordinator duties. ... Connor and Shirk are working as student assistant coaches. ... Connor is one of eight former Terps playing in the indoor National Lacrosse League. He, Jon Brothers, Kip Fulks, Brian Reese and Brian Zeller play for the Washington Power, as does assistant Maryland women's lacrosse coach Gary Gait. ... The Terrapin women begin their quest for a seventh consecutive national championship by hosting Duke on March 2 and North Carolina on March 4.