Two down, one to go. Maryland's three-games-in-eight-days grind is in the home stretch. Towson and Penn are in the rearview mirror and UMBC is straight ahead. Let's take a quick look at the two games, which were as different as they were similar, and then get to some news and notes.
slogged their way through a rainy, muddy mess to tame Towson, 12-8 on Saturday.
The story of the day, aside from the weather, was the play and production of
the Terps' second midfield line of John Haus, Michael Shakespeare and Drew
Snider. That trio accounted for half of Maryland's goal scoring vs. the Tigers
and has been a bright spot for the Terrapins all season and the three are
really complimentary to each other.
Snider is a slick, skilled guy that can dodge with either hand and has a good shot. Haus can also dodge, but is also a very instinctual player who puts himself in good spots to make things happen. He also has a very deceptive shot that doesn't need a lot of space to get good velocity on it. Shakespeare, an outstanding high school hockey player, is adept at getting in the middle of things and finding a way to get his stick on the ball. Both of his goals vs. the Tigers were what some would call "garbage goals" where he cleaned up loose balls and put them in the net. Shakespeare also has a cannon for a shot that will make fans sat "Whoa!" when he finally lets it loose in a game.
Some people made a big deal about Grant Catalino not even getting a shot vs. Towson, but the Tigers chose to shut him off and essentially made the game a 5-on-5 game. All that did was open things up for the midfielders and the second unit really made Towson pay.
The game also marked the Terps return to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium and while the weather certainly didn't cooperate, it was great to see the team running out of the locker room and take their true home field. The field did get chewed up a bit, but the grounds crew will do their best to make sure the field is in top shape when Virginia comes to town on April 3. If the rain holds off and a there is a lot of sunshine in College Park during the next three weeks that will help out immensely.
day off, which was really a practice day to get ready for Penn, the Terps were back
at it against the Quakers. This time the game was at Ludwig Field, which has a
better drainage system than the one at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The
field was in good shape and Maryland took care of business with a 10-7 win.
After one day off, which was really a practice day to get ready for Penn, the Terps were back at it against the Quakers. This time the game was at Ludwig Field, which has a better drainage system than the one at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The field was in good shape and Maryland took care of business with a 10-7 win.
The Penn game was similar to the Towson game in that it was one unit that dominated the scoring for the Terps, but this time it was the attack that did the majority of the damage. The starting attack of Catalino, Travis Reed and Ryan Young combined for six goals and seven assists, while super-sub Joe Cummings added another tally.
The defense also played a big role in the offense with Brian Farrell scoring his second goal in as many games (he had his first of the season in the Towson win) and Dan Halayko and Dan Burns each had assists. The three goals the defensive guys had a hand in really show how potent the Maryland transition game is. When the Terps can run from defense to offense or get a break off the face-off they can beat any team in the country. It's not just the poles or the shorties that are getting involved in the transition game - every Maryland defender is looking to breakout and get in on a transition opportunity. At one point in the Penn game close defenders Max Schmidt and Ryder Bohlander were both in the offensive end of the field, along with Farrell, after a Penn turnover turned into a transition chance for the Terps.
One last thing from the Penn game: I talked with Young after the game and asked him if the two games in three days on grass were hard on the legs since the team had only had a chance to practice on grass for less than a week prior. Young said it wasn't that bad because the game vs. Towson was so sloppy that he couldn't really explode off the turf and that's what wears down the legs. He said it was more of trying not to slip than anything on Saturday and it was good to be able to have some surer footing vs. the Quakers.
News & Notes:
• The NCAA is doing a good job of getting its stats and rankings out each Monday and the Terps are doing pretty well in a couple of categories (these came out before the Penn game). Maryland is No. 1 in the nation in groundballs per game with 39.25, a 0.05 lead over Robert Morris. The man-up offense is also up there, checking in at No. 2 in the country with a .667 conversion rate behind only Robert Morris, which is converting at a .688 clip. Maryland is also in the top 10 in caused turnovers (5th, 11.0) and shooting percentage (7th, .347).
• Individually, Brian Farrell is second in the country with 3.0 caused turnovers per game. Catalino is the only other Terp ranked in the top 20 of any category, checking in at No. 14 with 2.0 assists per game and No. 16 with 4.0 points per game.
• If there is any question about which is the toughest conference in NCAA men's lacrosse, think about this: there are only seven undefeated teams left this year and three of them are in the ACC - Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. All three of those teams are ranked in the top five in the country in both major polls. The ACC is a combined 17-1 in non-conference play this year.
• Congratulations are in order for Bryn Holmes. The senior from Marriottsville, Md., scooped up seven groundballs vs. Penn to give him 199 for his career. That pushes him past Paul Gillette for first place on the groundball list in the "Cottle Era (2002-present)." With his first groundball vs. UMBC (which you have to assume he'll have at least one) he will become just the eighth player since 1974, which is when groundball records started to be officially kept at Maryland, to reach to 200-groundball plateau.
• In case you're wondering - Gillette only played three seasons for Coach Cottle. He officially has 222 career groundballs and ranks fifth all-time. Holmes still has 23 more groundballs to go to catch him on that list.
• There's not a stat or ranking kept for unit scoring in the NCAA, but I would have to believe the Maryland attack quartet of Catalino, Reed, Young and Cummings would be at or near the top. That group has totaled 54 points on 27 goals and 27 assists over the Terps' first five games. That's nearly 11 points per game! Only time will tell if they can keep it up for an entire season, but Terp fans should appreciate what they're seeing right now out of this group.
• A lot of people (fans and media) are going to try to play up Saturday's game at UMBC as a revenge game for the Terps. But that's not the way Maryland is approaching this game. Yes, the Retrievers have won the last three meetings and the Terps would like to get back in the win column against its fellow state university, but this team is looking to use this game as a positive springboard heading into conference games at North Carolina and Virginia. That's not to say the Terps are looking past UMBC, because that certainly isn't the case. What it means is that Maryland is taking this game as another game in a long season and the Terps want to maintain the momentum they have built up during the first five games. It just so happens that UMBC is next on the schedule.
• Only seven players (Farrell, Fran Gormley, Halayko, Dean Hart, Holmes, Brian Phipps and Adam Sear) were on the team in 2007 that lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and only Farrell, Holmes and Sear saw time on the field in that game.
• One thing that will be different for the Terps on this trip to UMBC Stadium is that they will have a locker room before the game. When Maryland visited the Catonsville campus in 2008 the Retrievers were still finishing their locker room complex and the Terps had to spend nearly all of the pregame on the field.
That's it for another week. Game notes will be posted on Thursday. Highlights from the Towson game will be up by Friday, so keep an eye out for those. Coach Cottle's Comments and Weekly Award Winners will be up as soon as that information is passed along to me. See you Saturday at UMBC!