There's only one thing that needs to be said about this week - it's Hopkins week! For the 106th time (or 96th officially for the Terps - the first 10 were played before men's lacrosse program was an official university athletic program) the Terrapins and the Blue Jays will hook up on the lacrosse field.
In a bit of a switch, we'll start with Hopkins, look back at the Navy game and then finish with some news and notes.
The Hopkins Game:
It's been said over and over again, but this game is what the word rivalry is all about. It's not a game when records matter or rankings (if it did I would point out that for the third time in the last four years Hopkins enters as the lower ranked team), but none of that matters, because this game is about two of the most stories programs in lacrosse history. The players on both sidelines play not only for themselves, but also for every former player that put on their respective uniform. The current coaches and players will say this game is only about the two teams playing on the field this year, but deep down they know it means much more than that. This is a game that will be remembered, for good or bad, for a lifetime.
It's also a game that players can have moments or performances that will live on in perpetuity.
• I was not here to see Frank Urso score three goals, including the game-winner in overtime, vs. Hopkins in the 1973 NCAA Championships, but I've read about it and heard stories about it.
• I wasn't there when Brian Dougherty made 23 saves vs. the Blue Jays in the 1995 national semifinals, but the story is repeated often.
• I was there to witness Joe Walters' dominating six-goal, two-assist performance in 2006 at Homewood Field when the Terps snapped a four-game losing streak vs. Hopkins.
• I was also there in 2007 when Paul Rabil ripped a shot from the left alley in overtime to give the Blue Jays an 8-7 win at Byrd Stadium, starting the Blue Jays' run to the national championship.
• I was there in 2008 when Brian Farrell thundered down the field and buried a one-handed shot with three Hopkins defenders draped on him.
I know there are many, many more performances (and I'm sure Christian Swezey will let me know about some of them) that I'm missing. The question is - will someone secure their place in this rivalries' history this year?
If you don't have your tickets yet (what are you waiting for?), you can click here to order them on-line. This will be Maryland's fourth game at M&T Bank Stadium in the past two years. Hopefully, the Terps will have two more there later this season.
There are some people (I don't want to call them fans) that take offense to calling Maryland-Hopkins "Lacrosse's Greatest Rivalry." Their argument is that a rivalry can't be one-sided and the Blue Jays have won eight of the last 10. But of those last 10 games five have been one-goal contests with three going to overtime. A rivalry is more than just the results of the last 10 years, or even the last 20 years. A rivalry that is worthy of the term "greatest" is one that has to have had two great teams (check), classic games (check), all-time great players (check) and been nationally relevant (check) for a long time. Some have claimed that Virginia-Syracuse is now the sport's best rivalry, and it is a great rivalry, but the two teams have only played 26 times. They only have 80 more to go to catch up to Maryland-Hopkins.
The Navy Game:
I'm happy to say that reports that the sky was falling in College Park after losses to No. 1 Virginia and No. 2 North Carolina (by a combined three goals) were false. While the game was only a two-goal victory for the Terps, the game was not really that close as Maryland dominated nearly every aspect of the game.
The attack unit was spectacular, racking up a combined 13 points on eight goals and five assists. Let's take a look at each of the attackmen vs. the Mids:
• The main story was the play of Travis Reed, who returned to the starting line-up after Will Yeatman was forced to miss the game due to injury (more on that later). Reed responded by tying career highs for points (5) and goals (4 - all coming in the second half). What may be even more impressive is that Reed took seven shots, all of which were on goal. He has struggled at times this season with his accuracy, but that certainly wasn't the case last Saturday.
• Ryan Young had another terrific game, dishing out four assists and scoring one goal himself. Three of Young's assists came on Reed goals in the third quarter. Young also had a good shooting day, putting all three of his shots on cage.
• Grant Catalino turned the game around in the second quarter. With Navy holding a 3-1 lead, Catalino ripped off three straight goals in a span of 2:28 to give Maryland a 4-3 lead. While Reed and Young put all of their shots on cage, Catalino took 13 shots with only five being on goal. However, that's not quite the whole story. Three of Catalino's eight off-target shots came on the Terps' extra-man opportunity in the third quarter when he was trying to pick the top right corner of the Navy goal from the top center position.
• The trio's ability to work with each other was evident on Young's goal in the fourth quarter. Catalino started the play with a skip pass across the field to Reed, who make the "one-more" pass to Young, who finished on the right goal line extended.
Maryland's depth at attack was also on display vs. Navy when you consider that two of the other three goals came from Joe Cummings and Owen Blye, who came to Maryland as attackmen and have moved to midfield. The only goal that didn't come from natural attackmen came from midfielder Dan Burns, who finished off a transition opportunity with six seconds left in the third quarter off an assist from Farrell.
Apparently the worst kept secret in college lacrosse was that Will Yeatman was not going to play vs. the Midshipmen. We tried to keep the injury quiet, but it's hard to keep that kind of info from getting out in this area. While Yeatman was disappointed he had to miss this game, his character was clearly on display. Before the game he encouraged Reed, who was taking his place in the starting line-up, telling him to play his best and to score enough goals for the both of them. The famous quote says, "Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it," and Yeatman's character was clearly revealed.
I know there has been a lot of space devoted to the offense, but I want to give some praise to the Maryland defense. The close defense of Brett Schmidt, Max Schmidt and Ryder Bohlander held the Mids' starting attack to just two assists.
The Terps were also outstanding when the ball was on the ground, beating the Midshipmen to 47 of 73 groundballs (64.4 groundball percentage). Maryland long poles Farrell, Jesse Bernhardt and Dan Halayko combined for 10 of those groundballs.
News & Notes:
• The ACC Tournament is just over a week away (get your tickets early!). I'm not sure why, but the ACC is waiting to officially release the pairings until after this week's Duke-Virginia game.
Unofficially (of course), the pairings look to be Virginia, the top seed thanks to its win over UNC last Saturday at the Big City Classic, taking on Duke, the 4th seed. Carolina would be the No. 2 seed and would face No. 3-seeded Maryland. That's all unofficial, of course.
Only two things can happen this weekend: Virginia could beat Duke or Duke could beat Virginia. The result doesn't effect the pairings (unofficially, of course). Here's why. If the Blue Devils beat Virginia this weekend that would put Virginia and Carolina at 2-1, while Duke and Maryland would both be 1-2. The first tiebreaker in a two-team tie is head-to-head. That's easy - Virginia beat UNC and Maryland beat Duke. If Virginia beats Duke then it's even easier. Virginia would be 3-0, Carolina is 2-1, Maryland is 1-2 and Duke would be 0-3. Either way the pairings remain the same.
The other question often asked is about starting times. The ACC can assign times if it feels ticket sales would be increased with a certain team in a certain time slot. Anyone that knows what traffic is like during rush hour on a Friday knows that it would be beneficial for ticket sales if Maryland were in the 7:30 game. This has not been set, but it looks to make the most sense. However, the other option is to let the top seed choose which time it wants to play and conventional wisdom says the earlier game would be the choice. It allows a few more hours for your team to recover and gives the coaches a chance to scout the next game. Since, unofficially, Virginia is the top seed, which would make the Cavalier-Blue Devil game at 5:00 and the Terps and Tar Heels at 7:30.
Of course, this is all unofficial until the ACC releases the pairings and times this weekend.
• NCAA rankings are out and for the fourth straight week the Terps are No. 2 in the country in man-up offense. Maryland dropped to 56.7%, but Robert Morris is still in striking range since the Colonials dropped to 57.1%.
The offense isn't the only side of the ball doing well in the rankings. Maryland is also No. 3 in the nation in caused turnovers per game (10.56) and No. 4 in groundballs per game (37.56).
Individually, the only Terp ranked among the Top 10 in any category is Ryan Young. He is eighth in assists per game (2.0).
• While Yeatman's injury was not exactly a highly guarded secret last week, there is one injury that remained silent until today when Coach Cottle talked to the media. He confessed today that Brian Farrell has been playing with a stress fracture in his foot the last three weeks. He suffered the injury in practice before the Carolina game, and while he was clearly not 100% in that game it's hard to tell if you look at his stats the last three weeks. Combined, Farrell has 11 groundballs, two caused turnovers and three assists against No. 2 North Carolina, No. 1 Virginia and Navy. Not too bad for a guy play with a bum wheel.
That's going to wrap things up this week. I'm trying to get another highlight video up this week, so keep an eye out for that. Game notes will be up on Thursday. I look forward to seeing a lot of red and black in the stands at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. The weather looks to be partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 60s. Throw in two great games at a top-notch professional venue and it all adds up to a terrific day of lacrosse. See you there!