On Saturday the Terps lost a game. On Sunday we lost a member of our family.
I'll get into the game vs. Johns Hopkins, but in reality there are more important things to start with this week. We will also give you a peek inside the Lacrosse Reunion and preview this weekend's ACC tournament.
There's no where else to begin this week, except to express my deepest condolences to Ryan Young and his family over the passing of his mother, Maria, late Sunday evening.
I had met Maria briefly during the past four years that Ryan has been with the Terps, but had not had the opportunity to really talk with her or get to know her very well. But over the past few months I have exchanged e-mails with her and have been inspired by her story and touched by her warmth, courage and compassion.
I have known for some time that Maria was diagnosed with cancer. Ryan, like many young men, didn't talk much about his mom's battle with cancer, but during the past few years those of us close to the program kept tabs on his mom, hoping and praying that treatment would work and the her battle with cancer would be won.
In March I decided to try to raise some awareness for pancreatic cancer by seeing if Maria was comfortable sharing her story with me and then allowing me to pass it along to ESPNU, which was covering our game at Duke. It would have been perfectly normal for Maria to say that she wished to keep this a private family matter, but instead she embraced the opportunity to share her story in the hope that others will gain some information, insight and, maybe even some inspiration.
Here is what she sent to me:
- Three years ago Maria went for a routine exam because she had some stomach pain. At that time, they did a sonogram at New York Presbyterian Hospital and determined that she had a tumor on her pancreas.
- She was not considered a high risk for pancreatic cancer. No one in her family has cancer and she had never smoked, was not a drinker, etc.
- She had an eight-hour surgery called the Whipple, one week later and began chemotherapy and radiation four weeks after that.
- The treatment was successful and for two years she was cancer free
- Sadly, in January of 2010, Maria learned that the pancreatic cancer had metastasized to her lungs and was now considered Stage IV.
- Since that time, Maria has been undergoing extensive treatment (chemo) at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Maria, with her son Michael, made the trip from Long Island to Durham, N.C., to watch her sons (Ryan for Maryland and Kevin for Duke) play their final regular season game against one another.
I had the privilege of talking with Maria at halftime and then following the game. She could not have been more gracious and thoughtful. I had gone over to her to thank her for sharing her story with me and all she wanted to do was thank me for giving her the chance to tell it in the hope that others would be helped if they or someone in their family had to face battling cancer, whether it be pancreatic or otherwise.
The trip was taxing for her and Maria was soon after hospitalized with complications with her heart. Ryan took several days away from school that week to be with his mom, but came back to his team to help Maryland defeat Towson that Saturday.
This would become a common occurrence for Ryan, as he would travel back to Long Island following games to spend time with his mother. Maria shared that this, along with the company of Michael and Kevin, helped her get through some of her toughest times.
Sadly, Maria Young lost her battle with cancer on Sunday, April 17.
Now the tough times lie in front of Ryan and his family. But for Ryan, he has 48 brothers at Maryland to help him through this. Coach Tillman has often referred to Ryan as "the heartbeat of this team," and his teammates would, to a man, wholeheartedly agree.
If I learned anything on Saturday it is that Maryland Lacrosse is more than a program or a team. Maryland Lacrosse is a family and families rally around each other in times of great emotion, whether it is joy or sadness.
Ryan is one of the hardest-working Terps I can remember and the captains have said that the best way to honor Ryan and his mom is to practice and play as hard as he does. This team will rally around Ryan and will help take care of him in whatever way he needs. That's what brothers do.
The Terps have dedicated the rest of this season to Maria and the Terps will be wearing purple "MY" stickers on their helmets.
The Lustgarten Foundation
Here is something else Maria Young shared with me in our e-mail exchanges:
In my "fight," I have become very impressed with the Lustgarten Foundation, an organization that does research on pancreatic cancer. It is my hope that people will support this organization in its efforts to find a cure for this disease.
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.
Power In Purple
If you're new to this blog you're probably asking, "Why purple?" Well, purple is the color for pancreatic cancer and this season the men's lacrosse team has adopted purple as an honorary team color.
Ever since the game at Duke in March the Terps have worn purple ribbons on their helmets, but there will be more purple than just on the helmets in the future.
Just about everyone knows that pink is the color for breast cancer and the Maryland lacrosse program (as well as many other Terp programs), in partnership with Under Armour, has participated in Power in Pink games. But this year, the Terps have decided to make their final regular-season home game (vs. Colgate on May 7 at 3 p.m.) a Power In Purple game in memory of Maria Young.
Plans for the team are still being finalized, but I wanted to let fans know now so they can be prepared to wear purple when they come to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on May 7. Purple clothing is not that hard to come by in the Baltimore area (just break out that Ray Lewis or Joe Flacco jersey), so there's really no excuse.
More Sad News
There was more sad news last week for the Maryland men's lacrosse program. Frank T. Urso, the father of Terp legend and Hall of Famer Frank Urso, died last Thursday, April 14.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Frank and his family. God bless.
The Hopkins Game
In light of what I've written about above, a lacrosse game (even a Maryland-Hopkins game) doesn't seem overly important, but this is a blog about Maryland men's lacrosse and there was a big game last week.
By now, everyone reading this probably knows the outcome.
Hopkins came from five goals behind in the third quarter to take a two-goal lead in the fourth. The Terps fought back and tied the game on goals by Young and Joe Cummings to send the game into overtime.
In OT, Maryland dominated the first couple of minutes and looked to have the game won when Young found Cummings cutting to the crease. But Cummings' shot found the pipe instead of the back of the net and the game continued. Next, Jake Bernhardt had a chance to be the hero, but his shot was stopped by Blue Jay goalie Pierce Bassett.
And then ... a slashing call, a man-down stop and finally Kyle Wharton ended the game with 16 seconds left in the first OT.
This game was many things. For Maryland it was a bitter loss; for Hopkins it was jubilation. But for the game of lacrosse it was sensational.
While the outcome stunk (as every loss does), the game itself was everything that lacrosse can offer its fans.
There were amazing displays of skill, toughness and discipline on both sides of the ball. There were great moments of six-on-six lacrosse and even better moments of transition lacrosse. Face-offs were battles and groundballs were fought for like they were treasure.
Lacrosse fans can only hope that every game is played with the passion that last Saturday's game was played with.
On a side note: A HUGE thank you to all of the fans that came out on Saturday night. The weather was certainly a major question mark with possible thunderstorms in the area. The Maryland grounds crew deserves special recognition, as the field was never really a factor in the game, but the fans that came out to support their team, and the sport in general, deserve a huge amount of credit for helping make a great game feel like an event.
The Lacrosse Reunion
One of the ancillary events going on with the Maryland-Hopkins game last Saturday was the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Reunion.
The weather didn't cooperate with the event, which was schedule to be held in tent outside Cole Field House, but some last-minute arrangements by the Terrapin Club made it possible to move the reunion to the President's Suite in Tyser Tower.
After the details were worked out (which included some brave TC staffers manning the tent and concourse to help steer attendees in the right direction), the reunion was off and running and was an unquestionable success.
The weather forced some to abort travel plans, but despite the rain and potential storms nearly 100 Terp men's lacrosse alums made the trip back to College Park.
While I didn't have the chance to hang out and talk to former players as much as I would have liked, I did get the opportunity to spend some time at the reunion and I can tell you this - there were no strangers there. It didn't matter if you played in the 1950's or the 70's or the 90's. They all shared a bond. They were all Terps.
During the time I was at the reunion the one question that nearly everyone I talked to asked me was, "Are we going to do this every year?" My response was "I don't know, but I hope so." The best way for alums to see about making this an annual event is to get involved with the program through either the Face Off Club or the Terrapin Club.
The ACC Tournament
The Terps, who currently hold an 8-3 record, will look to boost their resume for the NCAA Tournament this weekend at the ACC Tournament.
But that's easier said than done. Standing in the way of the Terps and their playing for their first conference crown since 2005 is North Carolina in the semis.
Yes, the same Carolina team that handed the Terps an 11-6 loss at home in March after Maryland jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.
Some may say I shouldn't dredge up the past, but as famous Spanish philosopher George Santayana famously wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Maryland and Carolina, the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, are slated to play the first semifinal on Friday at 5 p.m. at Duke's Koskinen Stadium. If you can't make it down to Durham you can still watch the game live on ACC All-Access.
The winner of the Terps-Tar Heels game will meet the winner of the Duke-Virginia game, which is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start on Friday. The championship game is set for 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Raycom Sports will broadcast the championship game (check your local listings or on-screen guide).
Fans can check out the ACC Men's Lacrosse Championship webpage for more information.
That does it for this week's edition of the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Blog. With the Carolina game set for Friday, game notes will be posted on Wednesday this week.
I hope to see a lot of red and black in the stands at Koskinen Stadium on Friday. This team seems primed for a run and it can start this weekend.
Be The Best!