It was a four-day whirlwind for the Terps. In this somewhat abbreviated edition of the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Blog we'll touch on the Bellarmine, including the importance of playing mid-week games and Duke, including why purple is one of this Maryland team's colors, games.
Back In Black (& White)
We'll go in reverse order and take on the Bellarmine (a school in Louisville, Ky., that has had Div. I lacrosse since 2005 for those that are saying, "Who?") game first.
If you look at the final score (12-8 for those just tuning in) the first thing that may jump to your mind is, "Wow, that was closer than I thought." But you would be wrong on two fronts.
First, Bellarmine is a pretty good team that will be competitive in the ECAC. The Knights recruit well in Canada, which gives them finishers that present a style that the Terps don't see every week. Taking out the Maryland game, the Knights' other two losses this season have come in overtime at Delaware and a three-point loss at Loyola, during which the game was tied early in the third quarter. Also, you can't discount how hard that team plays (which is a tribute to former coach Jack McGetrick, who lost his battle with cancer in October, and interim coach Bart Sullivan, who was McGetrick's top assistant and took over the program after his passing). The Knights leave everything they have on the field during a game and that's an admirable quality for any program.
Second (and this might sound like it is contrary to my first point, but I'll address that in a bit), the game was 9-2 at the half and 10-3 early in the third when Maryland coach John Tillman put his front-liners away and played his reserves.
The Knights came to play in the first and were down only 3-2 after one. But, the second quarter was a different story. Maryland outscored Bellarmine 6-0 in the second, with Travis Reed scoring three goals and adding an assist (picking up his 100th career point in the process). More on this next week when I get a chance to do some research.
After Ryan Young scored the Terps' 10th goal it was time for the reserves and for a lot of them it was their first taste of competitive action this year (a lot of the backups got in vs. Detroit Mercy and late vs. Georgetown, but not for nearly 30:00 of time). That playing time is invaluable for these guys and their growth as players.
It's easy to say that guys like Sean McGuire, Quinn Haley and Brendan Saylor compete against the starting defense every day and that Michael Ehrhardt, Grant Oliver and Patrick Rhodey go against the starting offense every day, but there is a difference between practice and a game. There's no coach to whistle a play dead and fix things.
Bellarmine continued to play its front line guys throughout the game and scored five of the game's last seven goals to make the final score closer than the game really was, but that didn't matter as much as the experience Maryland's reserves got in those last two quarters.
So, why isn't the second point contradictory of the first? Simply put, Maryland was looking to get the taste of the Duke game out of its mouth and regardless of how hard Bellarmine played the Terps were determined to put together a dominant performance.
By the way, the Terps were back to their traditional home whites (with black helmets and shorts) on Monday. I know the gold jerseys were hit or miss for a lot of fans, so this photo is for those that are fans of tradition.
The Duke Game
Anyone that thought this was going to be a cakewalk for the Terps was simply fooling himself or herself. This isn't much of a news flash, but - Duke is pretty good!
Here's how this one boils down in a couple of bullets:
• Maryland didn't play its best game. (That one's not hard to figure out.) That's not the same Terp team you'll see throughout the 2011 season.
• Duke was a different team than they were in their first four games of the season. The Blue Devils have a ton of talent and it looks like they didn't know exactly who they were in their first few games, but they figured out some things before last Saturday.
I'm certainly not going to try to figure out what happened with the X's and O's, but this much I know. Maryland is always going to play hard; it's ingrained in this team's DNA and has been for a very, very long time. But, having said that, Duke played like a team that was playing to save its season.
Hopefully, Maryland will not have worse days (and let's not forget that this team rallied from a three-goal deficit and had a one-goal lead with less than five seconds left in the game) than it did in Durham and the lessons learned will be invaluable for the rest of the season.
Coach Tillman has said multiple times that this season (and any season when you think about it), is a work in progress. The goals that this team has set for itself are still in front of it and this one game will not derail the season.
Red, Black, Gold, White and Purple?
If you watched the Duke game on ESPN3.com on Saturday then you saw Coach Tillman wearing a black Under Armour hat with a purple logo and the players have purple ribbons on the back of their helmets. If you watched the game then you heard the story, but if you didn't (you could go back to ESPN3 and hear Rob Simmelkjaer talk about it between the 3rd and 4th quarters - about the 1:22 mark) the purple is for Ryan Young's mother, Maria, and supporting her in her struggle with pancreatic cancer.
I won't go into the whole story, but the Duke game was the best time to acknowledge the Terps' support of Maria, not only because of Ryan, but because his twin brother Kevin is a midfielder for the Blue Devils. Their older brother Michael also played for Duke and graduated in 2008.
Thankfully, Maria was able to make the trip to Durham to see her sons play their final regular season game against one another. I had a few minutes to chat with her at halftime and she is truly a charming and wonderful woman whose story is touching, moving, heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time.
In corresponding with Maria before the Duke game, she talked to me about the Lustgarten Foundation, which has as its mission to advance the scientific and medical research related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of pancreatic cancer.
Maria's story is one that has touched everyone involved with the Maryland men's lacrosse program. If you're interested in more information about the Lustgarten Foundation, including how to make a donation, click here to visit the foundation's website.
In case you're wondering here are some facts about
pancreatic cancer from the American Cancer Society:
• More than 43,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer present each year
• There are more than 36,000 deaths from pancreatic cancer each year
• The lifetime risk of having pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 71.
• The risk is about the same for both men and women.
Tracking The Firsts (Bellarmine):
First goals: Bob Kercher, Sean McGuire
First assists: Brendan Saylor
The Towson Game
The Terps will only have three days to get ready for a scrappy Towson team on Saturday (Tuesday is a mandatory off day for the team per NCAA regs). But these teams are very familiar with each other thanks to meeting every season for the past 21 years (not that any of these players played in that 1990 game, but you get the idea).
One thing I wanted to point out is that the game is set for a 12 NOON start. Originally this game was set for an 11 a.m. start due to television, but everything got worked out and the game was moved to noon. The weather is supposed to be fantastic on Saturday, so even if you get to Unitas Stadium early it will just give you more time to hang out with other Terp fans and tailgate (safely, of course).
That finishes this week for the blog. With the game on Monday I'm not sure about highlights from the Duke and Bellarmine games, but I'll keep you posted. Game notes for the Towson game will be up on Thursday. I hope to see you at Unitas Stadium on Saturday, but if you can't make it you can watch the game in Baltimore and surrounding areas on WMAR. If you're outside of the Baltimore market the game will also be carried live on ESPN3.com.