There's no time for worrying about what coulda, woulda, shoulda with regards to last Saturday's Virginia game (although we will get into that a bit here), because it's Navy week. Let's take a short review of the game vs. the Wahoos, get into some news & notes and finish with an early look forward to the Mids.
The Virginia Game:
• Once again there was controversy (three games in a row between these two teams if you're keeping score at home) in the Maryland-Virginia game. The was he, wasn't he argument is a fruitless one to get into at this point. The ref made a call and that won't change. If you're wearing red and black it was a terrible call. If you're wearing orange and blue then is was a great call.
I've looked at both the TV feed and the coaches video and there is no clear evidence that Ryan Young stepped on the line. Unfortunately, there's also no clear-cut proof that he didn't. However, players on the field know what's going on and none of the Virginia defenders protested about the crease when the ball went into the net - and no they didn't already know the ref was coming in to waive off the goal. The Cavalier defense was dejected after the goal and didn't make one move to say that Young had stepped in the crease.
In the immortal words of Forest Gump - that's all I have to say about that.
• The Terps could not have gotten off to a worse start if they had tried, but one thing coming back from a 6-0 deficit against the No. 1-ranked team in the country shows is that this team has heart. It would have been easy to give up and roll over, but this Terrapin team never gave up. Look at some of what allowed the comeback to happen:
- Brian Phipp was peppered with shots in the opening 15 minutes, but gave his team a chance with eight first quarter saves.
- Bryn Holmes and the other Terp face-off men lost the first seven draws, but won nine of the next 17 to even up possessions for the remainder of the game.
- Those face-offs helped Virginia to a 12-1 first quarter edge in groundballs, but over the next 45 minutes Maryland won the battle of the ground, 29-22.
- Will Yeatman proved that he will never let a team quit. In his first start at attack he had a career best four goals.
- Virginia converted on its first man-up chance, but the Terps man-down unit killed the next three penalties.
• One of the big question marks going into the game was who did Maryland have that was capable of covering the Brattons? Rhamel had been playing out of this world so far this season and was primarily covered by freshman Jesse Bernhardt. In the end Rhamel was held without a point for the just the third time this year (the other two were against Mount St. Mary's and Vermont). Brett Schmidt marked Shamel throughout the night and when Schmidt was on him he was held without a point. Shamel did score the eventual game-winning goal, but he didn't score that on Schmidt. His goal came after the crease call and an on-field switch put a shortie on him when he scored.
• One more thing that caused some eyebrows to be raised was moving Dan Burns to the first midfield. The plan from the start of the season was to get Burns, arguably the best pure athlete on the team, on the field more, but an early hamstring injury derailed that plan. He's been working hard to get involved more offensively in practice and the coaches felt this was the time to make the move. It's a move reminiscent of what the team did with Jeff Reynolds in 2008. If you remember that turned out pretty well with Reynolds earning All-America and All-ACC honors. I'm not going to say Burns will be an All-American midfielder, but his athleticism allows him to make things happen on the field and this will get him out there more. When Rhamel Bratton had the ball stripped at the 2:22 mark of the fourth quarter Burns was there to pick it up and outrace Brian Carroll and both Brattons, giving Maryland a transition opportunity.
News & Notes:
• The ACC Tournament is coming up in a little over two weeks. Friday's semifinal round is one of the best nights of lacrosse of the year. All four ACC teams are ranked among the top six in this week's Inside Lacrosse media poll. An all-session general admission pass can be purchased for just $25 at umterps.com or you can upgrade to a mezzanine all-session pass for just $35. That gives you access to both days of the men's tournament, as well as all three days of the women's tournament, which is taking place in College Park the same weekend at Ludwig Field.
• A shout-out today has to go out to former Terp midfielder and current student assistant coach Jeremy Sieverts. For those that don't know the story, Sieverts came to Maryland in 2007 as a sophomore transfer after his original school dropped its lacrosse program. That school happened to be Butler, which came a half-court shot away from winning the NCAA basketball championship last night. I'm sure it was tough to watch for Jeremy, but I'm sure he was proud of how the Bulldogs fought and hung in there until the end and had a chance to win it all.
• The NCAA rankings are out and the Terps man-up unit continues to rank second (.607) in the country behind Robert Morris (.636). Maryland is also ranked among the top 10 in groundballs per game, checking in at No. 6 with 36.38 per game. All four ACC teams are ranked in the top 15 in groundballs per game.
Individually, Grant Catalino fell out of the top 20 in points per game, but remained in the top 10 in assists per game (10th, 2.0). Bryn Holmes is 20th in groundballs per game (4.75), while Brian Farrell is 14th with 1.88 caused turnovers per game. Brian Phipps is climbing the goals-against average rankings and is currently 17th with a 8.93 GAA.
• For those that are looking ahead to May, the first public RPI is slated to be released on April 26 on ncaa.com. The final public regular season RPI will be released on May 3. I'm sure someone has already said or thought, "but the season isn't even done, how can that be the final RPI?". That's just the final public RPI. The selection committee will be using the RPI that includes all games through the weekend of May 8-9. Why isn't that one posted? I'm not sure and I don't know if there's a good explanation. I'm just relaying the info the NCAA sent over. Don't shoot the messanger.
The Navy Game:
• Saying this is a huge game for both teams is a bit of an understatement, but it means a little bit more to both team this year.
For Maryland this game is a chance to right the ship (pun intended) against the Mids. The Terps won 11 straight games from 1993-2003, but have dropped five of the six games since then and the lone win came in double-overtime.
The Terps are also looking to prove it's the best team in the state. Maryland already has wins over Towson and UMBC, so a win over Navy would be another step to taking a mythical "state championship."
For Navy this game would be a quality win that could give the Mids a boost going into its Star game against Army. The Mids are 5-5 on the year, but only two of their victories have been against teams with a winning record and the opponents in those five wins are a combined 17-33 (.340) on the season.
• This game would mean more than just a victory for Maryland if it can get it. Since 2004, when Navy came out of relative obscurity to compete for a national title, the Mids have controlled the series with the Terps, taking five of the last six games. A victory for the Terps would snap their two-game losing skid. It doesn't matter that the two losses have come against the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams by a combined three goals. Everyone in the Maryland locker room wants to get back to winning games. Just like this game could be a springboard for Navy going into its annual rivalry game vs. Army, Maryland is looking to use this game to build momentum going into its biggest rivalry game - Johns Hopkins - at the Smartlink Day of Rivals (buy your tickets now!) and then into the ACC Tournament.
• This is a little bit of a different Navy team than the Terps have faced in the past. When you think of Navy you usually think of good defense, tough, disciplined, solid in goal, good on the ground and good facing-off. Check. Check. Check. Check (in face RJ Wickham leads the nation in save percentage). But the last two are not so typical this year. The Mids are winning just 43% of their face-offs this year. That has something to do with Navy also being out done in groundballs 338-282 (just a .455 groundball percentage for the Midshipmen), but Maryland has also struggled at the X, but the Terps are still winning the groundball battle 291-248 (.540 GB%).
• Weather for this Saturday has temperatures in the 60s with sunshine, so there's no excuse to miss this one in person. We are certainly aware of the problems with tickets for the Virginia game and all efforts are being made to make sure those issues do not come up again. It looks to be a perfect day to come to College Park, enjoy some tailgating in Lot 1 and then enjoy some terrific college lacrosse. Tickets are available on-line at umterps.com and over the phone by calling 1-800-462-8377. And with the game being at noon it gives fans plenty of time to get to wherever they are going to watch the UNC-Virginia game at 4 p.m.
That wraps it up for this week. Hopefully there was something in here that you found informative or entertaining. Coach Cottle's Comments will return later in the week and hopefully we'll have highlights up from the UNC and Virginia games. Game notes, as always, will be up on Thursday. Enjoy your week and I look forward to seeing you at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday.