There are no style points at this time of year - it's survive and advance and that's what the Terps did last week against Hofstra. We'll touch on that game, but first we'll look ahead to Notre Dame and check out the News & Notes.
The Notre Dame Game:
• This is a rare NCAA rematch for the Terps, who have not played the same opponent in back-to-back NCAA tournaments since facing Princeton in both 1997 and 1998 (Maryland also played the Tigers in 2000, but the Terps missed the 1999 tournament). Maryland lost the 1997 and 1998 games to the Tigers, so hopefully this time the Terps can win both games vs. Notre Dame. Part one of that scenario is taken care of with last year's 7-3 victory in the first round of the tournament.
• Last year, the Terps were faced with an Irish team that ran its offense mostly through its attack, but this year is a different story. Notre Dame likes to initiate things with its midfield and the Irish's top three goal scorers are all midfielders. Zach Brenneman leads the way with 35 points on 23 goals and 12 assists, but the other two middies, Grant Krebs and David Earl, each have 20 or more goals. That's a stark contrast with the Terps', who's top three scorers are attackmen and don't have even one middie with 20 or more goals. The depth of the teams' scoring is also a contrast. Maryland has had 22 different players score goals this season, while Notre Dame has had only 12.
• Both teams are good defensively, especially in the cage. Notre Dame boasts preseason All-American Scott Rodgers, who has a goals-against average of 7.99 and has a save percentage of 58.4. Maryland also starts a senior in Brian Phipps, who has a season goals-against average of 8.27 and a save percentage of 54.9. But if you look at the Terps' last seven games, Phipps has been phenomenal with a 7.45 GAA and a save percentage of 57.1.
• This game could come down to special teams and it will be strength vs. strength. Maryland has the No. 2 man-up unit in the country, converting on 54.3% of its extra-man opportunities. Of the eight teams left in the tournament, Notre Dame has the best man-down unit, allowing teams to score on the EMO just 25.8% of the time. One thing that helps Notre Dame's man-down defense is that the Irish do not commit a lot of penalties. Notre Dame has only had 31 penalties called on it in 14 games (2.2 penalties per game).
The other special team that could play a huge factor is face-offs. Trever Sipperly looks to be a true FOGO, taking 274 of the Irish's 288 face-offs. Sipperly has won 55.8% of his draws with 56 groundballs, but will have to go up against Maryland's Bryn Holmes, who has won 64.1% of his face-offs in the Terps' last seven games.
• The bottom line is that there are only eight teams left and each one of them is going to play with tremendous energy and urgency. All of these teams are one win away from the Final Four and all of the clichés ("It's not about the X's and O's, it's about the Jimmies and the Joes" and "It's more about will than about skill" in particular) have a lot of meaning to them. The coaching staff can draw up the best game plan on the planet, but it's up to the players to make it happen.
This might be a more talented team, looking at players 1-32, than the 2006 team that was the last Maryland team to make it to the Final Four. But talent does not always win this game. One of Coach Cottle's favorite sayings is, "The best team doesn't always win the game, the team that plays the best usually wins the game," and that will be true for every game from here on out. Maryland will be favored over Notre Dame, but the Irish aren't going to give the Terps anything. The Terps will have to go out, play hard, play smart and earn a victory on Saturday.
• To purchase tickets and get all of the information on the quarterfinals, click here to go over to Princeton's 2010 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Quarterfinals page.
News & Notes:
• Last year there was only one first round upset (Maryland beating No. 7 seed Notre Dame) and only one first round game was decided by one goal (Hopkins topping Brown, 12-11 in OT). What a difference a year makes.
This year there were two big upsets in the first round, both coming on Sunday. The Irish turned the tables this year, knocking off No. 6 seed Princeton, 8-5, to earn a rematch with the Terps in the quarters. The shocker of the tournament, and among the biggest upsets of all time, was Army taking down No. 2 seed Syracuse, 9-8, in double-OT in the Carrier Dome.
But upsets were only part of the story in the first round.
Three games were decided by just one goal with two of those going to multiple
overtimes. No. 7 seed Cornell was up 9-2 on Loyola, but the Greyhounds fought
back to send the game into overtime. The Big Red was finally able to win on
defender Max Feely's first goal of the season in the third overtime. Army and
Syracuse was the other overtime game with the Black Knights scoring the
game-winner with five seconds left in the second OT. The other one-goal game
was No. 4 seed North Carolina's 14-13 win over Delaware. That game was tied 6-6
after one quarter and 7-7 at the half. The game was 11-11 with 3:07 to go in
the third, but the difference proved to be a Marcus Holman goal with 1:29 left
in the third, giving the Tar Heels a 12-11 lead. The Blue Hens couldn't get the
game back to even after that and Carolina had a 14-12 lead late in the game.
But Delaware gave UNC a scare when it scored to make it a one-goal game at the
2:19 mark and won the ensuing face-off. Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Curtis
Dickinson tried to tie the game in the final minute, but UNC goalie Chris
Madalon made the save to preserve the win.
What a wild first weekend for the tournament? One can only wonder what's in store for this weekend.
• The Tewaaraton Trophy finalists were announced and neither Grant Catalino nor Brian Farrell were among the five chosen. That honor went to Duke's Ned Crotty, Syracuse's Joel White, Virginia's Ken Clausen, Delaware's Curtis Dickinson and Stony Brook's Kevin Crowley.
Both Farrell and Catalino have another year, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Farrell and Catalino had tremendous seasons against the toughest schedule in all of Div. I men's lacrosse. At this point I'm not sure what the criteria is for selecting the finalists, but it looks like being one of the nation's best players at your position, while playing the best competition, and having the numbers to back up that claim isn't enough.
• Maryland wraps-up final exams on Wednesday and Coach Cottle has decided to get the Terps out of College Park a day early and head up to Princeton, N.J. on Thursday after practice. Only four members of the staff were here the last time the team played at Princeton, but that was a great trip with first class accommodations and some great memories, including the game. You might remember that one: the 2005 quarterfinal overtime thriller with Georgetown. I remember it for Andrew Schwartzman nearly getting his head taken off while scoring the game-winner, but some might remember it for another reason (which will not be mentioned here).
The Hofstra Game:
• The scoring was balanced and we'll get to that in a bit, but there were three individual performances that need to be recognized.
First, the job Ryder Bohlander did on Jamie Lincoln cannot be understated. Lincoln came into the game leading the Pride in scoring with 53 points on 33 goals and 20 assists, but Bohlander stayed with him everywhere and held the Canadian sharp-shooter to just one shot, while forcing two turnovers.
Second, what more can be said about Brian Phipps? The senior proved once again that he's a big-time, big-game goalie with 14 saves vs. the Pride, which came into the game shooting better than 36% on the year. Coach Cottle said that winning the goalie match-up was one of the keys to the game and for a while it looked like Hofstra was going to take it as Andrew Gvozden had 10 saves at the half. But, Phipps ended up winning that match-up 14 saves to 13, including making six saves in the fourth quarter when the Pride didn't record a single stop from its goalie.
Third, no one would know by watching him that Ryan Young missed nearly the entire week of practice with a sprained ankle. He injured his ankle early last Monday in a routine groundball drill. He missed all of Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's practices and only returned for a light walk-through on Friday. Young may not have had his usual explosiveness, but his leaping goal in the fourth quarter was one of the best goals I've seen in six years with this team.
• By now you probably know that 10 Terps scored goals in the win over the Pride, but you may not realize that only 32 players are allowed to play in an NCAA tournament game. That means that 31.25% of the eligible players for Maryland scored goals. That number grows to 40% when you look to see that only 25 players stepped onto the field on Saturday.
• The other stat that jumps off the boxscore is that the Terps won the groundball battle 41-21. While the 10 goal-scorers gets a lot of notice, it's equally (if not more) impressive that 16 Terps had at least one groundball (64% of the 25 players that got onto the field). Only two of those had one groundball, which means that 14 players had at least two groundballs. It's no surprise that Brian Farrell led the way with six, but coming in behind him was Grant Catalino with four. Maryland's offensive players were terrific when the ball was on the ground with the starting attack combining for nine groundballs.
That wraps up this week's blog, but I'll try to have something posted after the team arrives at Princeton. Game notes will be up on Wednesday this week due to the early departure for Princeton (that's why this is up on Monday too). Weather.com shows a slight chance of thunderstorms for Princeton on Saturday, but that shouldn't stop anyone from heading up the Jersey Turnpike and watching the Terps take on the Fighting Irish. See you there.