No one said this season was going to be easy. The North Carolina game is in the rearview mirror and with No. 1 Virginia coming up on Saturday there is no time to dwell on the past. However, we will take a look back at the Terps' trip to Chapel Hill, get into some news and notes and finish with a preview of the Wahoos.
The Carolina Game:
• There probably wasn't much of an argument before the game, but UNC is a good team. They have All-Americans at every position (attack, midfield & defense) and are explosive on both ends of the field. That said, this was a tied game at the half and the Terps were just one break away from taking the lead in the second half.
• Maryland's man-up was terrific, as it has been all season long, scoring on three of four opportunities, but two of the three were not your typical man-up goals. The first was quick (14 seconds), but instead of it ending with an easy score the opportunity finished with a 13 yard shot by Adam Sear. The second was a classic dump to the crease that was finished by Sear with a quick turn-and-shoot. The third was the most unusual. Carolina looked to have caused a turnover, but Ryan Young was able to sweep in and steal the groundball amidst a crowd. Then, before the Tar Heel defenders could crash around him, he fired a 12-yard shot that beat the UNC goalie. The .750 conversion percentage looks great on paper, but it wasn't quite like what the unit practiced during the week.
• While it's always disappointing to lose a game, Maryland showed that it belongs in the conversation when people talk about teams with a legitimate shot at winning this thing on Memorial Day. The Terps were frustrated at times, but never quit and were in the game until the end. There will be some more on this later in the blog.
• Here's a little bit of info on the trip itself:
The trip started with a wet walk-through on Friday morning. The guys were upbeat and energetic despite the early practice time and the steady rain. I'm sure the thought of a shower and a quick trip to Stamp for some breakfast helped the mood.
The bus ride down was fairly uneventful with the trip being broken up with a stop at Cracker Barrel. The movie of choice for the first part of the trip was "Law Abiding Citizen" with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. I'm not sure how guys managed to sleep through the explosions, but some did and they missed a pretty good movie.
Cracker Barrel was pretty busy during the lunch rush and the team was pretty spread out throughout the restaurant. The staff was split among several tables as well, so I don't have confirmation on how Coach Moran did with the "Genius Game," but I do know at my table there were no geniuses that day, but two among the foursome of myself, equipment manager Tim Ahner, assistant athletic trainer Sean O'Keefe and video assistant Drew Ryan were "purty smart," while the other two were "just plain 'eg-no-ra-mooose.'" I'll let you try to figure out which two were which.
After lunch, "Gladiator" was the movie of choice for the remainder of the ride and you can never go wrong with this Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe "Best Picture" winner.
The team stayed at the Homewood Suites, which was a nice hotel. Some mistakes were made with the rooms that ended up with several of the players, including some freshmen, with single suites.
Coach Cottle made the decision to order dinner into the hotel and called Carrabba's Italian Grill. It turned out to be a great call as Carrabba's brought in salad, garlic potatoes, chicken alfredo, chicken parm, chicken marsalla, penne pasta and lasagna. I'm sure some of the players were looking for something to snack on later, but no one left dinner hungry.
After dinner there was a quick film session for the defense and offense and then the guys had some free time. Some played some very low-stakes poker, while others settled in to watch the NCAA tournament.
Game days are pretty much all the same: pre-game meal, play the game, shower, tailgate and then get back on the bus to head home.
There weren't any movies on the ride home because of the NCAA tournament. We were able to catch the last part of Butler's victory over Kansas State, which thrilled former Bulldog turned Terp Jeremy Sieverts. We were able to see then entire second game, which saw West Virginia advance to the Final Four over No. 1 seed Kentucky. No one on the bus was more into the game than I was, being a proud graduate of WVU.
The team may have lost the game, but trips like this always bring a group together. Eric Boyle was in control of a "FlipCam" on the trip, so hopefully we'll have some video up later this week.
News & Notes:
• Inside Lacrosse has released its first and second team midseason All-Americans and the Terrapins have three representatives on the two squads.
It's no surprise that Grant Catalino is one of the three first team attackmen, but it might come as a slight surprise (unless you've watched him for the Terps' first seven games) that Brett Schmidt was picked to be a first-teamer. An honorable mention selection in the preseason, Schmidt leads Maryland's close defenders with 18 groundballs and eight caused turnovers. He also has one assist on the year.
In what was probably the toughest pick of all, Brian Farrell was picked as the second team long pole with Syracuse's Joel White getting the first-team nod. These are clearly the top two long poles in the country. The only problem that will arise with the USILA All-America list at the end of the year is that there is not a spot for a long pole. These guys will either have to be listed on the ballot as defenders or midfielders.
• If anyone wonders why the ACC is considered to be the best lacrosse conference in the country here are some things to ponder from the midseason All-America list and the latest IL media poll:
- Seven first team midseason All-Americans come from ACC schools (2 of 3 attackmen, 2 of 3 midfielders and all 3 defenders).
- The Big East has five midseason All-Americans (2 first team and 3 second team) with four coming from Syracuse.
- Four of the top seven teams (#1, #2, #4 & #7) in the latest media poll are ACC teams. The Ivy League (#5, #6, #14 & #17) and the Big East (#3, #10, #15 & #18) also have four teams in the poll.
- ACC teams have a combined record of 30-4 with three of the four losses coming at the hands of another ACC school (UNC defeated both Maryland and Duke; Maryland beat Duke). The Ivy League's four ranked teams are a combined 22-6 with two of those losses coming via ACC teams. The Big East's four ranked teams are a combined 19-9 with three of those losses to ACC teams. In the interest of fairness I have to add that the Big East does have one win over an ACC team this season with Notre Dame topping Duke in February.
• Last week I had a section on undefeated teams and said that Lafayette had a good chance to go undefeated if the Leopards got past Drexel. Well, the Dragons ended Lafayette's dreams of a perfect season and now there are only two undefeated teams left in UNC and Virginia. The Terps will look to end the Wahoos' unbeaten streak this Saturday, while the Tar Heels travel to Homewood Field to take on Johns Hopkins.
This is a great weekend to be a lacrosse fan in the Baltimore/Washington area. Fans can go to Homewood to see UNC and Hopkins at noon. They could then hustle and make the short trip down Charles St. to see No. 12 Loyola host Ohio State at 2 p.m. That gives fans plenty of time to get some dinner and make the drive down I-95 to watch the Terps and the Cavaliers at 8 p.m. at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. Of course, if you can only make it to one of these I would suggest the nightcap in College Park. No. 4 vs. No. 1; what more needs to be said?
• NCAA rankings are out and the Terps' man-up unit continues to hold in the No. 2 spot with a .625 conversion percentage. Robert Morris leads the nation with a .636 conversion percentage. While I would not take anything away from a team that's making good on nearly 64 percent, but the Colonials have not played a ranked opponent all season, while the Terps have played three of the top 10 teams in the latest media poll.
Maryland is third in the NCAA in groundballs per game with 37.29. The Terps' opponent this week, Virginia, leads the nation with 40.0 groundballs per game. It seems like whichever team wins the battle when the ball is on the ground will have a leg up in this Saturday's game.
The Terps are also well represented in individual rankings. Catalino is in the top 10 in points per game (8th, 4.43) and assists per game (9th, 2.29). Farrell is tied for 12th in caused turnovers per game (2.0), while Bryn Holmes is 13th in groundballs per game (5.14).
• One last piece of news is that the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award has narrowed its list of finalists down to the top 10 and Maryland goalie Brian Phipps did not make the cut. To find out who did and to vote, click here.
A Look Ahead To Virginia:
• Coach Cottle after the game said the following: "When you hold a team to nine goals, you should win the game. Give them credit. They did a better job than we did today. When you're 6-0, it's hard to change things, but now we've got to make some changes."
There will be changes to the line-up when the Terps take the field vs. Virginia, but you're not going to get specifics here. One thing I will say is that athleticism will be a priority (it has to be against a very active, athletic, attacking UVa. defense), but that doesn't mean that guys that have been productive will be shifted to the sidelines.
• The Terps have won only five of 15 meetings with the Wahoos since 2002, but only four of those meetings have taken place in College Park. The two squads have split those four games 2-2. Virginia won in 2002 (11-10) and 2006 (15-5 en route to an undefeated season). Maryland topped the Cavaliers in 2004 (11-2) and 2008 (13-7).
• The 2008 game is similar to this year's in one way. Maryland entered that game ranked fourth in the nation with six victories, while Virginia was ranked No. 1 with a perfect 9-0 record.
• While the Terps' offense gets a lot of attention (and rightfully so), this week's game will largely hinge on how the Maryland defense handles the Virginia offense, which is loaded with speed and athleticism in the midfield. The Cavaliers have six players with 10+ goals and another one sitting at nine (who happens to be 2009 first team All-American Shamel Bratton, who missed a lot of time due to a hamstring problem). If the Terps' long poles and shorties can keep Virginia's midfielders from going where they want to go and Phipps makes saves then the Terps will have a good chance to get the win.
• I'm sure it will come up, but this year's game will have nothing to do with last year's seven-overtime marathon. No one in the Maryland locker room is thinking about revenge for what happened last year. This game is about this year and getting back on track after a tough loss. If you have no idea what I'm referring to or you are just a glutton for punishment click here.
That's it for this week's blog. We're changing things up with the game highlights from last week. We're going to have the UNC highlights up midday on Friday. The team will get the first look before the video gets posted for the public. Game notes will be up on Thursday. I look forward to seeing a huge crowd in red Saturday at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium cheering on the Terps.