The first scrimmages are in the books and the countdown to the official start of the 2011 season is 12 days!
The Terps kicked off their preseason with scrimmages vs. Drexel and Penn at historic Franklin Field last Saturday and there is only one word that can accurately summarize the scrimmages - wet! A cold, dreary rain soaked everyone on the field and it's needless to say that it affected the level of play.
But, all in all, things went ok for Maryland on Saturday and by that I mean that no one was injured and the guys got some time playing against a different team in a different environment. It gets a bit tiresome to head out to practice everyday and face the same guys on the same field. Going up against a different opponent gives some much needed perspective in evaluating where this team is in its preparation for the 2011 opener.
Talking with coaches and players, three names kept popping up as standing out on Saturday: Shane Hall, Jake Bernhardt and Curtis Holmes.
Hall a fourth-year defender who plays with a ton of passion and energy has emerged as a viable fourth defender.
By now Bernhardt is a known quantity, but on Saturday he was the best midfielder on the field and scored multiple goals. He would be a valuable player just for his offense, but he becomes an even bigger piece of the Terps' puzzle when you factor in his abilities to play solid defense and face-off.
Holmes was effective at the face-off X and was successful getting the ball out and letting his wings outwork the opponents for the groundball. If Holmes can make it a scrum at the X and make it a groundball fight during the season the Terps have to like their chances.
The Terps will wrap-up their preseason on Thursday with a scrimmage at Syracuse.
As the season gets closer here's a chart that shows what is coming back from last year's team that went 12-4. The chart also includes a breakdown by classes coming back. Take a look:
|Stat||# Returning||Ret.||% Ret.||Ret.||% Ret.||Ret.||% Ret.|
Even just a quick glance at the top chart tells you that this team returns a lot of everything. The Terps return at least 80 percent of every stat category except for extra-man goals and groundballs.
The extra-man goals lost come from the loss of Adam Sear (8 EMO goals) and Will Yeatman (2). The groundballs lost are largely due to the loss of face-off man and short-stick d-middie Bryn Holmes, who was Maryland's leading groundball man for the past four seasons.
The more interesting chart may be the bottom one, which shows a breakdown of what's coming back by class. It shows that this is a senior-dominant team and that bodes very well for this season. But it also indicates that there will be some large holes to fill for the 2012 season.
Of course, one thing this chart can't show is how the 2011 freshman class will come along. There's a lot of talent waiting in the wings. I'm not sure how much fans will see from the likes of Sean McGuire, Rustin Bryant, Brendan Saylor, Brian Cooper, Michael Ehrhardt and others, but they will be names Terp fans will become acquainted with in the future.
Freshmen are always a wild card and Monday's practice showed why. On one possession McGuire made a great move to get free from his defender and finished the play with a slick shot past goalie Mark White to give the Black squad a point. On the very next possession McGuire had the ball on the left side of the cage and tried to dodge his way to the front of the net with another nifty move, but this time was checked off of his feet and stripped of the ball, which triggered a fast break going the other way. One minute there is a glimpse of greatness and the next - not so much. From the mountaintop to the valley in two possessions - such is the life of a freshman.
I mentioned last week that I would give Maryland lacrosse fans some insight into the Face Off Club. Essentially, the Face Off Club is a reorganized version of the Friends of Maryland Men's Lacrosse fundraising group. Here's what the Face Off Club brochure has to say about itself:
"The successful tradition of Maryland Lacrosse spans generations and includes countless All-Americans, 25 ACC Championships and two National Championships. Each year, Maryland Men's Lacrosse recruits student-athletes that are driven to Be the Best - in the classroom, on the field and in our community.
"You can help our program Be the Best by providing support to the Face Off Club, the official support group of Maryland Men's Lacrosse. We want to provide our student-athletes with the best experience possible and the funds provided through the Face Off Club will go directly to the program's greatest needs."
Coach Tillman and his staff have identified four specific areas that this year's Face Off Club contributions will support: Locker Room Enhancements (more on this next week), Travel, Technology and Additional Operation Expences.
There are four pledge levels: Red ($100), White ($250), Black ($500) and Gold ($1,000), but donations of any amount are welcomed and appreciated.
For more information on the Face Off Club, contact J. Batt in the Terrapin Club at 301-314-1270 or via e-mail.
One last thing I wanted to get in this week is an update on the men's lacrosse student-athletes involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Hyattsville Elementary School. The story was first made public last month on umterps.com, but the Terps are continuing to make weekly trips even during the season. Here are some photos from a recent trip to HES.
That's it for this week. Next week it's all about getting ready for Detroit Mercy on Feb. 19. We'll talk a bit about the Syracuse scrimmage and then get into a position-by-position look at the Terps. Plus, we'll have photos of the improvements that have been made to the Terps' locker room.