It's game week! When it comes to the season opener it doesn't matter who it's against it is always an exciting game. This year the Terps open their season vs. Detroit Mercy at 1 p.m. at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.
Tickets can be ordered online or purchased by calling the Terrapin Ticket Office at 1-800-462-TERP (8377) or at the gate.
Mezzanine seating: $15
General Admission Adult: $10
General Admission Youth/Senior: $5
Groups of 20+: $4 per ticket
Of course if you want to treat yourself or get a group together you can always watch the Terps play from one of The Suites at Tyser Tower. For availability and rates contact Beth Deskins in the Terrapin Club at 301-314-7019 or via e-mail.
There are also two great group offers available this year (courtesy of Katie Thompson in the Maryland Sports Marketing department).
The first is a Fantasy Plan, which is available to groups of 50 or more for only $8 per ticket. In addition to tickets to the game, participants receive: an official Maryland lacrosse t-shirt, an exclusive autograph session for the group, a post-game photo on the field and an in-game announcement of your group at the game.
The second is a Party Package, which includes 15 guests (additional guests can be added for an additional $15 per person) for $250. In addition to tickets to the game, the Party Package gets you access to a Tyser Tower Suite for a pre-game party that includes pizza, cupcakes and beverages. The "Guest of Honor" of the party also receives a STX lacrosse stick and a post-game picture on the field.
If you're interested in either of these group offers you can contact Katie Thompson at 301-314-1517 or via e-mail.
A Season Opener Seven Years In The Making
The fact that this game is being played at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium is not inconsequential. This will be the first season opener the Terps have played on their true home field since 2004. That's seven seasons ago. Take a look at the season openers going back to 2004:
2010 - at Bellarmine
2009 - vs. Presbyterian (in Jacksonville, Fla.)
2008 - at Georgetown
2007 - Bellarmine (at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex)
2006 - at Georgetown
2005 - Georgetown (at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex)
2004 - Towson (Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium)
he other thing that came to mind after looking at this list is that this will be the first time the Terps have opened a season at home since this group of seniors came to College Park in 2008. Fifth-year senior Brian Farrell is the lone exception. He was a freshman in 2007 and had two goals vs. Bellarmine in his Terp debut. Maryland's other fifth-year player, Dan Burns, redshirted the 2007 season and did not play against the Knights.
Note: Originally this was written with 2000 being the last time the Terps opened at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, but further research showed that not to be true. While 2004 is not 2000 it's still quite a long time ago. Here's how long - the only person that was associated with the program in 2004 that's still with the program is equipment manager Tim Ahner.
The Syracuse Scrimmage
We'll get to the Titans in a bit, but first I wanted to address the Syracuse scrimmage.
By all accounts the Terps played well vs. the Orange in the Carrier Dome, which is a very tough place to play if you're not used to playing there. There are places on the web that have some reports on the game (click here to read Inside Lacrosse's recap - but be warned that not all information is accurate), but the best news is that Maryland came away from the game without suffering any new injuries.
Of course there are things that the Terps can improve upon, but the thing to understand is that this is still February. Never has a team won a national championship in February.
Before we put the preseason completely behind us I wanted to bring up one last thing on injuries. While it's never advantageous to have injuries it's much better for them to occur in January and February than it is for them to happen in April and May. But, there may be a silver lining to having an experienced player suffer a minor injury early in the season. It gives some extra reps to a younger guy who really needs them to get ready for the year if he's needed. There's nothing like getting live reps and Maryland will be a deeper team because of some of the minor injuries its worked through during the preseason.
Bring On The Titans
Before we get to a look at this year's Maryland team, let's take a quick look at the opponent for the 2011 opener - Detroit Mercy.
The Titans come to College Park with a 0-3 record in three road games to start their season. After a 13-5 season-opening loss at Delaware on Feb. 5, Detroit Mercy played two games last week, falling 4-3 at Ohio State and 9-6 at Bellarmine. At this point in the season (especially with such wildly differing results) it's hard to say what this means, but I'm sure that the Titans will come into College Park ready to play. One thing to note is that Detroit Mercy is playing without its leading scorer from 2010, Joel Matthews, who, according to Lacrosse Magazine's Matt DaSilva, is sitting out the season due to academics.
Ok, last week I promised a position-by-position look at the Terps, so let's get started: Things are being shaken up in College Park - Grant Catalino is moving to close defense to utilize his size better as a crease guy; Brett Schmidt is moving to midfield where his speed and athleticism will make him a dangerous dodger from the midfield stripe and Niko Amato will be moving to attack and running the offense from X.
Don't buy it? Ok, here's the real thing:
There are no secrets here. The senior trio of Catalino, Travis Reed and Ryan Young will spearhead Maryland's attack. How good have these three been in their first three seasons? They have combined for 351 points on 191 goals and 160 assists. How does that stack up against some of the other top attack trios entering 2011? Check it out:
Catalino, Young, Reed (Maryland): 191-160=351
McBride, Compitello, Belton (Stony Brook): 226-95=322
Card, Lincoln, Bentz (Hofstra): 215-83=299
Backing up the "Big 3" will be senior Fran Gormley and the freshman quartet of Rustin Bryant, Quinn Haley, Sean McGuire and Brendan Saylor.
The names are familiar, but how they are put together is the big question (one which will not be answered here). The Terps played four midfields last season and 11 of those 12 players return.
I'm not going to breakdown each player but here are the 11 returners:
Seniors: Eric Boyle, Dan Burns, Warren Hansen, Scott LaRue
Juniors: Jake Bernhardt, Joe Cummings, Michael Shakespeare, Drew Snider
Sophomores: Owen Blye, Kevin Cooper, John Haus
Haus was the Terps' leading goal-scorer from the midfield last season with 12 tallies. Bernhardt (11 goals) and Cummings (10 midfield goals - 6 of his 16 total goals were extra-man goals) were close behind.
It's doubtful that the Terps will consistently play four lines this season, so competition will be high to make the top three lines.
Freshmen midfielders are never counted on for instant production, but a couple to keep your eyes on are Brian Cooper, Greg D'Arienzo and redshirt freshman Tyler Adelsberger.
Like the attack, there are no secrets here. Seniors Ryder Bohlander, Brett Schmidt and Max Schmidt will be the cornerstone of the Maryland defense. These guys started every game side-by-side last season and will do so again this year. That trio combined for 105 groundballs and 68 caused turnovers in 2010.
Maryland didn't utilize reserve defenders much last year outside of man-down situations, but seniors Shane Hall and Michael White and junior Grant Oliver have stepped up their play recently in practice.
The improvement of freshman Michael Ehrhardt is also a bright spot at close defense.
The long pole spot begins with All-American Brian Farrell, but it doesn't end there because of the emergence last season of Jesse Bernhardt.
Not to sound like a broken record, but there are no secrets when it comes to Farrell. Defensively, he is a more than adequate cover guy, but it's in transition where he becomes special. Farrell is the Terps leading returning scorer among all midfielders with 35 points on 21 goals and 14 assists. He's also great when the ball is on the ground and is a good takeaway guy. Again, this isn't breaking news - Farrell is pretty good.
Bernhardt was a relative unknown quantity in February of last season, but that's certainly not the case this year. He'll once again be the Terps' No. 2 pole and will be ready to take over the top spot when Farrell graduates in May.
The third pole spot is still up for grabs with David Miller, Mike White and Ehrhardt competing.
One of the two big questions entering the 2011 season (along with who will take face-offs for Maryland) is who will win the goalie battle. For that answer you'll have to come out to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday or watch the game on TerpsTV Premium. But I will say that Mark White and Amato have waged a very competitive battle in practice. Regardless of who wins the battle the Terps have to feel good about having a quality starter and an equally capable backup.
Who will replace Bryn Holmes, who took 744 draws over the past four seasons, as the Terps' primary face-off man? You'll have to see on Saturday, but there are numerous candidates as Curtis Holmes, Jake Bernhardt, Dan Burns, Scott LaRue, Michael Shakespeare and Ryder Bohlander have all faced-off for Maryland in the past. The wild card of the bunch may be freshman Dan Noskin, a true FOGO who won 62.2 percent of his draws as a senior in high school.
Of course you don't have to rely on my brief preview of the Terps as they head into the 2011 season. Check out what Coach Tillman, along with Burns, Catalino, Farrell and Brett Schmidt had to say in the 2011 Video Preview.
Locker Room Improvements
I said last week that I would have a couple of photos of the improvements that have been made to the Terps' locker room and here they are:
The locker room looks great and is a huge improvement from what the Terps had before. Of course, the updated locker room would not have been possible without financial support of the program through the Face Off Club. If you want more information on the Face Off Club and how you can help the Terps, click here to view the brochure.
Wrapping Things Up
That's it for this week. It's hard to believe the 2011 season gets underway in just four days. This year's entrance video will be posted on Wednesday and game notes will be posted on Thursday on umterps.com, so be sure to check those out. On Friday I'll post a Gameday Guide, which will have information on tickets, parking and tailgating.
Next week we'll get back into our regular schedule of coverage. The blog will be posted on Tuesday with a look back at the opener and a look ahead to Georgetown, which opens its season on Sunday at Jacksonville. Wednesday I hope to have highlights from the opener posted and we'll have game notes for the Georgetown game on Thursday.