It seemed like it took a long time to get here and then it was over in the blink of an eye. Yes, the 2011 season finally got underway last Saturday with an unorthodox thumping of Detroit Mercy at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.
Inside this week's blog we'll take a look back at the opener, including an inside view of what happened with the illegal stick, look ahead to this coming Saturday, which is sure to be a great one for all lacrosse fans. So, let's get started ...
Terps Strike Gold vs. Titans
The first thing that probably jumped out for Terp fans on Saturday was the new gold jerseys Maryland was sporting. Check 'em out ...
An alternate third jersey (from the usual home whites and road reds) is nothing new for the Terps, who have donned fan-favorite black threads in recent seasons, but the Terps have not worn gold jerseys for 30 or so years before Saturday.
How were the golds received? The players loved them, but what about fans. We asked what Terp fans thought of the new look on our Facebook page and here are some of the adjectives used to describe them: "good," "cool," "fresh," "nice," "slick," "chill," "sick," and "sweet." I don't know when the golds will make their next appearance, but I'm sure this won't be the last time the Terps break them out this season.
Now about the game ... four minutes of non-releasable penalties were certainly not how John Tillman expected to begin his tenure as Maryland's head coach, but as he has shown a propensity to do he turned it into a teaching moment.
The Terps had just gone down 2-0 with just under six minutes left in the first quarter and Tillman called a timeout and told his team, "Hey, this is a great opportunity to come together, step up, rally around this and make this a positive, because we can't take away what happened. We need to move on, and we all need to step up."
And step-up they did, going on a 10-0 scoring run over the next 32:13 and ending any thoughts of a monumental upset by the Titans. Even after Detroit Mercy ended the 10-goal run, the Terps didn't let up and rattled off another five straight scores to make it a 15-3 game midway through the fourth quarter.
One thing that is telling about this team was its mood in the locker room after the game. Despite winning by 12 goals, the Terps, to a man, were only focused on what they needed to do to get better. Guys were more concerned about the little things that didn't go right than they were about the win or any stats. This team seems driven to get better and that was the talk of the locker room - how to get better before next Saturday.
I wanted to give a little recognition to one Terp who most fans might not have paid much attention to on Saturday - David Miller. The junior from Warrenton, Va., made his return after missing all of 2010 with an injury. But he didn't just return at one position, he returned at two (or three if you want to count playing the wing on face-offs as a separate position). Miller played both long pole and short-stick defensive middie in his return to action and contributed one groundball and a caused turnover.
How about John Haus? The midfielder had only two assists his entire freshman year and then goes out and doubles that in his first game as a sophomore.
There was a lot of talk in the preseason about Curtis Holmes replacing his brother Bryn as the Terps' primary face-off man. Well, at least for one week, that talk can be put to rest. All Curtis did was win 17 of 21 draws for a .810 winning percentage. In his four years with the Maryland program the most wins Bryn had in a game was 15.
Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention that the victory over the Titans was the first for head coach John Tillman at the helm of the Terrapin program. Congratulations Coach!
Tracking The Firsts
A new feature we're going to have when it applies is tracking firsts (goals, assists, starts, etc.) for the Terps in 2011.
First Goals: Landon Carr
First Assists: Sean McGuire, Michael Shakespeare
First Starts: Niko Amato (goalie), Owen Blye (first midfield), Shane Hall (close defense), Curtis Holmes (face-off), Jesse Bernhardt (long pole), Landon Carr (short stick)
First Game: Niko Amato, Patrick Rhodey, Michael Ehrhardt, Rustin Bryant, Greg D'Arienzo, Sean McGuire, Brendan Saylor, Emmett Cahill, Quinn Haley, Dan Noskin
The Illegal Stick
All it takes is a look at the box score and anyone can see it: at 8:16 of the first quarter Travis Reed was given a 3:00 non-releasable penalty for "illegal equipment."
Reed was given the penalty after scoring the game's first goal at the 8:16 mark on a great low-to-high shot from the right wing. Sticks are routinely checked after goals and Reed's was no exception. Like most players, Reed had his stick checked before the game by the officials and it was ruled legal.
So what was the problem?
The officials never had a chance to complete the inspection of Reed's stick. Reed thought the refs were done with it and hastily went to grab it back. The problem was that the officials weren't finished and once Reed touched his stick during the inspection it was an automatic 3:00 penalty.
Tillman, ever the teacher, used this as a teaching moment after the game, talking to his guys about knowing rules and procedures and preaching on the importance of having a backup stick that's ready to use if something goes wrong.
For Reed, the moment was upsetting to say the least. Of all the Terps, he's probably the most meticulous about his stick and is constantly working on it and checking it to make sure it's legal.
After the game Reed, who finished with four points on two goals and two assists with a backup stick, addressed his teammates and apologized. He took full responsibility for what happened and thanked his teammates for having his back. All of his teammates were there to lift him up and let him know they had his back and were there for him. They closed things by foregoing the usual "Be The Best" shout with one of "Family," which seemed very fitting of the occasion.
College Park Is The Place For Lax Fans This Saturday
Maryland men's lacrosse fans know this Saturday is the annual "Battle of the Beltway" between the Terps and Georgetown. But this is a big weekend in College Park for all lacrosse fans.
The Terps and Hoyas are scheduled for a 3 p.m. game at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium (you can order your tickets on-line by clicking here or by calling the Terrapin Ticket Office at 1-800-IM-A-TERP), but before that the top-ranked Maryland women's team will take on No. 3 Duke at noon at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.
This is a terrific opportunity for lacrosse fans to watch four of the top teams in the nation competing in the same day.
About The Hoyas
Like the Terps, Georgetown opened its 2011 season last weekend and came away with a win, topping host Jacksonville, 15-12, in the opening game of the Sunshine Classic double-header.
Three Hoyas had hat tricks vs. the Dolphins, but the big news coming out of the game was the return of fifth-year senior Barney Ehrmann, who missed most of last season with an injury. But he didn't show any signs of rust, tying for a team-high with five groundballs and causing two turnovers.
This will be the 11th meeting between the Terps and the Hoyas. Maryland has won eight of the first 10 meetings, but has not defeated Georgetown in College Park since 2005. As a matter of fact, neither team has defended its home field since then. The Hoyas won in College Park in 2007 (its first-ever win over the Terps) and 2009, while the Terps have won at the Hoyas' Multi-Sport Field in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
This will be the first time the two teams have met in Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium since 2003 (a 9-5 Maryland win). The 2005 and 2007 games were played at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex, while the 2009 game was moved to Ludwig Field due to the renovation of Tyser Tower.
As I mentioned above, Saturday is a great day to come to College Park to watch two quality lacrosse games, but if you can't make it then you'll be able to catch the Terps-Hoyas game on ESPNU.
As I've said, it's also a big week for the Terps' women's lacrosse team and if you want to learn more about their "BEAT DUKE" week, check out Jodi Fick's latest blog by clicking here.
Wrapping Things Up
That's it for this week. I'm hoping to have highlights from the TerpsTV Premium feed of the Detroit Mercy game tomorrow (A big thank you to all who signed up to watch the Terps, but for those that didn't you can still watch it by clicking here). As usual, game notes will be posted Thursday on umterps.com, so be sure to check those out. Have a great week and I hope to see you at the games on Saturday.