Short and sweet this week due to a lot of things needing to be done in a short amount of time, so we're not going to waste time with a witty intro. Here we go.
Just like two years ago, only one unseeded team won on the road to advance to the quarterfinals and just like 2009 it was the Terps moving on in the tournament.
We'll get to some of the big moments in the game, including that play, in a bit. First, lets look at this result with some historical reference.
Since the tournament went to a 16-team format in 2003 there has been at least one road team win a first round game every year with the exception of 2004. Never has there been more than two road teams win a first round game (2007, 2008 & 2010 are the only years when two road teams have won).
During that time there have only been 11 road victories in nine years. In total there have been 72 first round games since 2003, which means that the winning percentage of road teams is a mere .153.
Only three teams have both won a road game as an unseeded team and lost a home game as a seeded team since 2003 - Cornell, Maryland and Notre Dame.
The Terps are the only team since 2003 to have won two road games in the first round since 2003.
Maryland's margin of victory this weekend also has some historical significance. The Terps' seven-goal margin of victory is the second highest by a road team in the first round since 2003. The only other unseeded team with a bigger margin of victory was Ohio State in 2008 with a 15-7 win at No. 8 seed Cornell. (Special tip of the hat to the Washington Times' Patrick Stevens for the info on this one. Check him out at his D1Scourse blog.)
The UNC Game
We'll start with the play that everyone has been fascinated with since it happened. For those that haven't seen it (and even for those that have), here's what I'll be talking about for the next couple of graphs:
Simply put, this was a great play executed by some really terrific, creative lacrosse players.
This wasn't a called play. No coach in their right mind is going to call for his offense to run a hidden ball play, initiated by a long pole with less than two minutes remaining in the third with just a three-goal lead.
That being said, it was a very safe play to run. There wasn't a lot of risk. If UNC wasn't fooled by the fake then Brian Farrell simply moves the ball on, subs off and the Terps probably try to hold for one last shot.
So why did this one play get so much attention? Most teams will run this kind of play when they are on a man-up opportunity, so seeing it run in a six-on-six setting was a bit unusual. So, it was a bit unique in that regard, but most casual fans wouldn't know that. And that is exactly why this play got more attention - casual fans were tuning in because the game was being televised on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN3.com and even on ESPN Mobile. A ton of people saw this live and said "What the heck just happened?". Twitter and Facebook blew up after this goal because it wasn't something people were used to seeing.
As soon as the play happened it was expected that it would make SportsCenter's Top 10 (and it did coming in at #3), but it got it's own mini segment on ESPNews (not sure if it ran elsewhere on the network, but that's where I was it Monday morning), complete with spotlighting and digitally taking out some of the players on the field to help viewers follow the play better.
The play was still a hot topic Monday morning as Farrell was on ESPN's First Take show via the phone. That piece was run a number of times throughout the day as well.
Before we go on to some of the other big plays in this game, a lot of credit for the success of the hidden ball trick (or as my son called it the "sneaky play") to the other players of the field for either selling it or buying into it too. These things never work if only two players are into it.
All right, enough of that one play, because there were other big ones on Sunday and here are just a couple that jump to my mind in no specific order:
• Every face-off in the game, but specifically in the first and fourth quarters. Curtis Holmes won 10-of-11 draws in those quarters to give the Terps a huge edge in possession. FYI - When Dan Noskin came in to take the last draw of the game vs. the Tar Heels it marked the first time anyone beside Holmes took a face-off for Maryland since the last draw vs. St. Joseph's (bonus points for you if you know who took that one). During the seven games since, Holmes took 154 consecutive face-offs against 13 different opponents, winning 98 of them for a .636 winning percentage.
• Kevin Cooper scored three goals for his first career hat trick and it started with a BIG overhand high-to-high shot from the right alley that just blew past UNC goalie Steven Rastivo, who is known to be pretty good on shots that don't change planes. But he didn't stand a chance on this one.
• Timeouts are often overlooked in lacrosse, but at the 6:39 mark of the second John Haus was getting double-teamed and was very close to losing the ball. Coach Tillman sprinted down the sideline to get the timeout call and save possession. Five seconds after that TO was done Ryan Young ran past the UNC defense (with a key pick set by Cooper) from right goal line extended and scored unassisted to make it 5-2 for the Terps.
• Niko Amato had a great game, but he was simply from another world in the third quarter, making seven of his 13 saves. Three came in bang-bang-bang fashion. The first was on a shot by Marcus Holman that helped kill a UNC extra-man opportunity. The Terps failed on the man-down clear and Billy Bitter got off a clean shot, but Amato stood tall and snagged that one calmly as well. The third of the series was on a tricky shot from the right alley by Mark McNeill, which leads us into our next big play ...
• Amato made the save, but the rebound flew toward the far sideline and Holman looked to be the near-man to retain possession for the Tar Heels. But, as a former Terp assistant football coach has been known to say - Not so fast my friend. John Haus wasn't going to concede anything to Carolina and somehow (whether it was hustle, heart or something else) got past Holman and dived to the sideline to give the Terps the ball. You won't find any record of Haus' effort in the stats or even the play-by-play, but this was one of the biggest moments in what was at that point a two-goal game.
• The last play I want to talk is the final Maryland goal, but it has nothing to do with Cooper actually scoring. It has to do with what happened immediately after the goal went in. After Cooper split the double attempt by Ryan Flanagan and Charlie McComas and scored, Kevin Piegare came down looking to deliver a shot to Cooper, but it was Piegare that ended up getting knocked off balance as Cooper stood tall. As ESPN announcer Eamon McAnaney said on the broadcast, "And Cooper scores, and makes a statement."
A New Audience For The Purple Terps
With the UNC game being broadcast on ESPN and the fact that it was an NCAA tournament game, it meant that a lot of viewers were tuning in and seeing Maryland for the first time this season and a lot of them said (or tweeted), "Why are the Maryland coaches wearing purple?".
If you're reading this you probably already know the answer, but the fact that the question is being asked is part of the reason the coaches and all of the Maryland support staff are wearing purple.
For those new to this, purple is the color for pancreatic cancer, which is the disease Ryan Young's mother, Maria, was diagnosed with a little more than three years ago. Maria passed away due to complications from that cancer on April 17 and Maryland has been wearing purple in memory of her ever since.
The purple also helps raise awareness for pancreatic cancer and research to help find a cure. For more information on how you can help, please go to the Lustgarten Foundation's website.
One More Time vs. the Orange
Now the focus shifts for the Terps from Carolina to its next task, which just so happens to be the No. 1 seed in the tournament - the Syracuse Orange.
These two teams are not strangers. They scrimmage nearly every spring and met just two years ago in the quarterfinals in Hempstead, N.Y.
For lacrosse fans this one will be filled with marquee names at nearly every position for both sides and they will battle each other for 60 minutes.
How will Ryan Young handle matching-up with John Lade?
Can the Terps' defense deal with the creativity of the Syracuse offense?
Which goalie will stand tall in cage? Will it be the senior, John Galloway, adding to his legendary career, or will it be the redshirt freshman, Niko Amato, starting his own legacy?
Will we see the best match-up of long poles in the NCAA in recent memory when Brian Farrell and Joel White meet for the first time in their college careers?
Two of the true heavyweight programs will take the field on Sunday with only one advancing to play in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend. Whatever you do (go to church early, do all the chores on Saturday, etc.) make sure to get yourself in front of a TV (if you can't be there live in Gillette Stadium) at noon on Sunday.
Did You Know?
A lot of people have been very quick to point out that Maryland hasn't made it past the quarterfinals since 2006. But, did you know that there are only three teams to have even made it to the quarterfinals in each of the past four seasons? That's right - only three - and all three are from the ACC. Maryland, Duke and Virginia are the only schools that have made it to the quarterfinals every year since 2008.
That does it for this week's edition of the blog. Game notes for the Syracuse game be posted on Friday. I will try to post a quick update following the team's practice on Saturday, so keep an eye on your e-mail, the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Facebook page, and the umterps Twitter page.
I hope to see a lot of red, black and purple in the stands at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
If you can't make it to Foxborough, Mass., then be sure to catch the game on ESPNU at noon.
Be The Best!