The Terps' four-week run through Carolina, Virginia, Navy and Hopkins is over, but the fun isn't, as Maryland now has to get ready for the ACC tournament and a semifinal meeting with the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels Friday night. We'll touch on that game, as well as some news and notes, but first - let's talk about the Hopkins game.
The Hopkins Game:
• Any time you get a win over your oldest rival it means something and this was a win that meant a lot to the whole team, but it meant a little bit more to the five seniors who had lost three straight to the Blue Jays. Dan Halayko, Dean Hart, Bryn Holmes, Brian Phipps and Adam Sear suffered through three gut-wrenching losses to Hopkins (all in different ways), but these guys got the last laugh as all five played big roles in the victory.
Halayko may not have gotten as many runs as he has in the past, but his caused turnover in the third quarter was a huge play with the Terps holding on to a 6-5 lead.
Hart turned in his usual solid performance. His efforts don't show up in the boxscore, but his hustle and effort allow others to do a little bit more than they would if Hart wasn't on the field.
Holmes was spectacular. Face-offs were a problem area for the Terps just two weeks ago, but Holmes was a man on a mission vs. the Blue Jays and it showed with him winning 13 of 21 face-offs.
Phipps didn't have the huge, signature game that he might have liked in this game, but he didn't need to. One thing he did do was make two big saves when the Terps were a man down in the first quarter to help keep the game within reach.
Sear has seen his playing time diminish in recent weeks and has accepted his role as the leader of the third midfield line, but his true contribution has come on the Terps' extra-man unit. He scored his team-leading sixth extra-man goal of the season (the first of four EMO tallies on the day for the Terps) in the second quarter to cut the Blue Jay lead to 4-3.
• The victory was also sweet for the other two seniors, even if they haven't suffered through three Hopkins defeats.
Will Yeatman's journey to play in this game is remarkable. The first thing you need to remember is that he missed last season's 10-9 loss to Hopkins because of a severely sprained ankle. Ok, back to this year. Two weeks previous, he was the most dominant player on the field vs. Virginia, starting on attack for the first time this season and scoring four goals and adding an assist. Then, on Monday, April 5, he suffered a broken thumb in practice on a seemingly routine check by Brett Schmidt. Playing against Navy was out of the question, but Dr. Andrew Eglseder worked some medical magic, inserting seven screws and two metal plates into Yeatman's thumb on Wednesday, April 7, giving him a chance to play against Hopkins. Yeatman had his stitches removed Thursday morning and practiced Thursday and Friday, proving to the coaches he was ready to play vs. the Blue Jays. He finally took the field at the start of the second quarter and returned to the extra-man unit, helping set-up Sear's send quarter goal and Joe Cummings' man-up goal in the third. But it was in the fourth quarter that Yeatman truly made his presence felt. He assisted on Travis Reed's man-up goal to start the fourth quarter, but it was his goal at the 12:12 mark that showed why he is such a force for the Terps. With Maryland holding an 8-5 lead, Hopkins tried to double-team Yeatman on the left wing. Yeatman split not one, but two double-teams and then pushed a shot past the Blue Jay goalie to give the Terps their biggest lead of the game at 9-5. In the boxscore it looks just like any other goal, but the road Yeatman had to travel to get it makes it all the more special.
Fran Gormley is the final senior and he didn't even step onto the field until the final three minutes of the fourth quarter. But that's when Hopkins pulled the goalie and double the ball when Maryland got it into the attack zone. Gormley's speed helped spread the defense and allowed the Terps to run some valuable time off the clock. It may not seem like much, but things could have ended differently if Hopkins had had more than 10 seconds to try to tie the game. The coaches gave Gormley a job to do and he did it and that's all you can ask from any player.
• The story of the game was the special teams play for the Terps.
Maryland controlled possession by winning 13 of 22 face-offs overall, but it was nine face-off wins in 13 draws in the second half that was the key to the comeback.
The easy one to point to is the extra-man unit converting on all four of its attempts, but perhaps even more important was the man-down unit holding Hopkins to 1 of 7 when the Blue Jays were up a man (or two). The man-down unit didn't just hold Hopkins scoreless in its first six attempts; it also nearly got the Terps a goal. After a Jesse Bernhardt penalty (more on him in a bit) at the 12:30 mark the second quarter, Brian Farrell showed why he is considered the best offensive long pole in the nation when he picked off a pass by Michael Kimmell and raced down the middle of the field. The smart play, especially considering Hopkins was up 4-1 at the time, may have been to pull up and kill the penalty for sure, but Farrell saw Grant Catalino in the right alley (not his usual spot, but nothing about the play was usual) and flipped him the ball. Catalino then went on autopilot and ripped a shot that went wide, but the energy it gave the Terps and the message it sent to the Blue Jays was obvious.
• The last thing I want to get to about the Hopkins game is Jesse Bernhardt. Talk about fearless. This will not go down as the best game of his freshman season, but it may be his most memorable. Bernhardt committed three of Maryland's eight penalties on the day, earning him a temporary spot in the coaches' doghouse, but that all changed with just under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Hopkins had just scored two goals to cut the lead to two at 9-7, but Bernhardt picked up the groundball on the ensuing face-off and charged down the right alley. He had a similar play in the second quarter when he took a shot that was saved by Blue Jay goalie Pierce Bassett. This time he had a wide-open Catalino sitting on the left wing, waiting to take the shot from his favorite spot. Bernhardt saw Catalino, but instead of passing him the ball he ball-faked to Catalino and ripped a shot from 10 yards out that got inside the near post, which proved to be the game-winning goal. Fearless. We don't know what would have happened if Bassett would have made the save. Thankfully, we never will. What I do know is Coach Cottle had this to say about Bernhardt in the post-game press conference. "He went from the outhouse to the penthouse on that play."
News & Notes:
• The ACC tournament is here and I'm sure there will be the usual message board threads and opinion columns decrying the event saying it's unnecessary and does nothing but give an artificial boost to the ACC teams' strength of schedule. All I have to say about that is - Get over it! This thing isn't going anywhere and it means a heck of a lot to the guys playing in it.
I'm not sure what critics have against this event. All it does is give lacrosse fans three really good lacrosse games, featuring four of the top five teams in the country. What's wrong with that? I know these are rematches and that there is no automatic qualifier for the ACC. But even if it did have an AQ what would be different? If you added two teams to the ACC, which would give the conference an AQ, do you really think these wouldn't be the four teams that would make the tournament?
The other argument is that these four teams don't need to play each other again and could use this weekend to play another non-conference opponent. I talked about this at length last year and I really don't want to regurgitate that information, so you can find it here in the April 22 post.
• The perfect 4-for-4 performance by the Terps' man-up unit has vaulted it to the top spot in man-up offense in this week's NCAA rankings. If you're a fan of the EMO then this weekend's ACC tournament is the place to see some great units. Maryland is No. 1, while UNC and Duke are Nos. 2 and 4, respectively. Virginia, which is the top scoring offense in the league and fifth overall, is only ranked 20th on the extra-man.
Overall, Maryland is ranked among the top 10 in the NCAA in five statistical categories (man-up offense (1st), winning percentage (6th), caused turnovers (6th), groundballs (4th) and assists per game (10th).
Individually, Ryan Young is the lone Terp ranked among the top 10 in any statistical category, coming in at No. 7 with 2.0 assists per game.
• Fans should keep track of Ryan Young this weekend. He is just two points shy of becoming just the sixth Terp to reach the 100-point mark since Coach Cottle arrived in College Park in 2002, joining Joe Walters (227), Grant Catalino (126), Max Ritz (111), Xander Ritz (110) and Bill McGlone (107). The one thing that sets Young apart from the other six is that he would be the first to do it by having more assists than goals.
• This weekend will be the end of an era (a very short one, but an era nonetheless) for Maryland men's lacrosse. The Terps' athletic trainer Sean O'Keefe will be leaving the program following the ACC tournament to pursue a career in medical sales. Sean's stay in College Park was less than two seasons, but he has had a busy tenure. O'Keefe has been responsible for the treatment and rehab plans for Brian Farrell's epic thoracic injury last season, Brian Phipps' torn ACL in the 2009 NCAA quarterfinals, David Miller's $1 million hamstring and Will Yeatman's bionic thumb - just to name a few. On top of all of that, he's been a good friend and he will be missed. Good luck Sean.
The ACC Tournament:
• Last week I laid out the scenarios for the unofficial pairings for the ACC tournament and I'm glad to report that I was correct and did not lead any readers astray. Virginia and Duke will meet in the opener, while Maryland and North Carolina will play in the nightcap. Let's look at these in the order they'll be played:
- Duke and Virginia is an interesting rematch from just a week ago. The Blue Devils went into Klockner Stadium and knocked off the undefeated No. 1 Cavaliers, 13-9. That marked the eighth straight victory for Duke over Virginia and the third straight over UVa. when the Wahoos were No. 1. Does Duke just have Virginia's number or is there something about this match-up that favors the Blue Devils?
There is a lot of offensive firepower in this one. Duke is loaded at attack with Ned Crotty, Max Quinzani and Zach Howell leading the way. Virginia is more balanced, but the Wahoos have, arguably, the best midfield line in the country with Brian Carroll teaming with Shamel and Rhamel Bratton. But this one won't be won by offense alone and these two teams have talented defenders led by Ken Clausen for Virginia and Parker McKee for Duke.
-Terp fans can sit back and watch this one with a careful eye, because if Maryland advances then it doesn't matter who wins this one because a very good lacrosse team awaits the Terps on Sunday. But before we can even think about that, Maryland has to get by UNC.
These two teams met more than a month ago in Chapel Hill and the Tar Heels came away with a 9-7 victory. This wasn't the prettiest game the Terps have played this year, but it wasn't as ugly as you might remember. The game was tied at 4-4 at the half, despite the Terps not being able to generate much offense. From there, Maryland's offensive struggles led to UNC winning the third quarter 3-0 to essentially put the game away.
But that game provided the impetus for Coach Cottle to implement some line-up changes that have shown promise in the last few weeks. Maryland's midfields lines are more athletic now and give the offense more flexibility. How that will translate against the athletic Tar Heel defense will be determined on Friday.
Carolina is a solid team with All-Americans all over the field. Billy Bitter, the Tar Heels' top attackman, didn't play in the first meeting with the Terps due to a leg injury, but he's been playing since and will be on the field on Friday. The same certainty cannot be used with UNC's other question marks. Midfielder Sean Delaney hasn't played since suffering an arm or shoulder injury vs. the Terps. Attackman Thomas Wood is another one that hasn't played since scoring twice and adding two assists vs. Maryland. The real mystery, however, lies with defender Charlie McComas who missed the Robert Morris game last week. The injury rumor mill doesn't extend all the way down Tobacco Road (the obligatory reference for stud. assistant trainer Billy Langenstein), so information is hard to come by. That's a stark contrast to playing in Maryland where it is nearly impossible to keep an injury quiet (see Yeatman, Will for an example).
• One other thing that comes with the ACC tournament is the release of the All-ACC team, which one could argue is harder to make than the All-America team. The All-ACC team is selected by conference coaches, who pick the top 11 players regardless of position. I've long been a proponent of selecting the team according to position in order to avoid having six attackmen, four midfielders and one defender on the team, but so far no one has listened. I've stopped beating that horse and have just come to grips with it being a flawed system. Having said that, the team should be released prior to the semifinals (still waiting to hear from the ACC on exactly when the teams will be released), so keep an eye out to see which Terps are deemed to be among the best in the ACC.
Wrapping Things Up:
• I know we're far behind on getting highlight videos done and posted, but we're battling some issues with video projects in general. The ever-increasing demand for video projects has put a lot of other projects on the plate of the under-staffed video department, which provides the raw highlights that I put together into the highlight packages. We're working to get these done and we hope you'll have patience with us.
• That's it for this week. If you haven't bought your tickets for the ACC tournament you should do so now by calling the Terrapin Ticket Office at 1-800-462-8377 or on-line at umterps.com. Game notes will be up early on Thursday and the All-ACC team will be released whenever the ACC allows it. Enjoy the tournament!