Week two of "The Stretch" is here and that means there is a lot to get to this week, starting with why Saturday's Maryland-Virginia isn't really a true rematch. We will look at the Cavaliers and the ACC implications of the game. We also have a complete list of promotions for this week's game, as well as a look back at last week's UNC game. There's also the announcement of a Terrapin "Doc" that could make a house call at the Hall of Fame. So, lets get to it.
Don't Call It A Rematch
The names of the two schools taking to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday are the same, but that might be as close as it gets to calling the game between No. 9 Maryland and No. 2 Virginia a "rematch" of the 2011 NCAA Championship game.
Steele Stanwick might be on the field, but Brett Schmidt will not be the one covering him. Bray Malphrus won't be the Cavalier worried about the Terps offensive initiator, which won't be Ryan Young. Grant Catalino is not going to be trying to get a low-to-high past Adam Ghitelman.
The Terps are hardly the same team that took the field at M&T Bank Stadium last Memorial Day. Of the 10 starters for Maryland in the title game only four are playing for the Terps right now in 2012 (it would be five, but Jake Bernhardt has not yet played due to a preseason injury).
Taking that one step further, Maryland played 21 players in the championship game and only 12 (including Bernhardt) returned for the 2012 season.
Six Terps combined to score Maryland's seven goals with only three (including Bernhardt) back.
Contrast that to the Cavaliers, who see 16 of the 22 players who played in the title game back for this season, including 2011 Tewaaraton Trophy winner Steele Stanwick. Of the Wahoos' 10 starters, seven return.
Only three Cavaliers scored goals in last year's title game, but all three of them return, including All-America midfielder Colin Briggs, who had five goals vs. the Terps after being suspended by Coach Dom Starsia for the semifinal game vs. Denver.
Well, I've said it shouldn't be called a rematch (even if it technically is and is being aggressively promoted as such by our capable marketing go-getter Katie Thompson), but this weekend's game between the Wahoos and the Terps promises to be one heck of a lacrosse game.
The Cavaliers are 8-1 on the season after dropping an 11-10 decision in overtime to Johns Hopkins in an endlessly hyped No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown this past Saturday in Charlottesville.
It's easy to take a quick look at Virginia's roster and say that the strength of its team is its offense, but that would diminish the role of a solid defense that is capable of throwing multiple looks at opposing offenses. The Cavaliers showed last season that playing primarily zone defense can take a team to a title, but this year's group plays more man-to-man with the zone thrown in as needed.
But the offense Virginia rolls out is second to none in the NCAA and one of the big reasons for that is Stanwick, who despite not being 100% healthy for all of 2012 still leads the Cavaliers with 39 points on 11 goals and an eye-popping 28 assists. But Stanwick's career vs. the Terps has also been impressive with 11 goals and three assists vs. Maryland in five meetings.
Virginia's offensive riches don't stop with Stanwick. In addition to him, the Cavalier offense features four other preseason All-Americans. Briggs was a first team selection, while attackman Chris Bocklett was a second teamer. Do-everything middie Chris LaPierre was a third team pick, while middie Rob Emery was a honorable mention selection.
Add in sophomore attackman/midfielder Mark Cockerton, junior attackman Matt White, freshman middie Ryan Tucker and redshirt freshman attackman Owen Van Arsdale and you have a Cavalier offense that goes eight deep with double-digit scorers. Maryland's young defense will have to be tough and disciplined in order to rise to the challenge.
This year's meeting with Virginia also marks something that hasn't happened in 30 years. Both the Cavaliers and the Terrapins are coming off of losses in the previous week just as both teams did last season. The last time both teams lost its previous game in back-to-back seasons was 1981-82. The Cavaliers lost to Hopkins in both 1981 and 1982, while Maryland dropped games to UNC. Both times Virginia bounced back to beat the Terps (23-12 in 1981, 14-11 in 1982). The Terrapins topped the Cavaliers 12-7 last year, so if history is truly going to repeat itself then Maryland will come out on top on Saturday.
For what it's worth - if Maryland wins on Saturday it will ensure at least a share of the regular season ACC title. Maryland, North Carolina and Duke are all 1-1 in conference play. Maryland beat Duke and lost to UNC, while Duke defeated UNC. Virginia is the lone conference team not to play an ACC game yet, but if Maryland wins on Saturday then they will be 2-1 in the league, which would be the best that any other team could do if that happens. It wouldn't guarantee a No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament however, but there are too many scenarios to go into here this week.
No Excuses For Missing This Game
Saturday promises to be a tremendous day of lacrosse at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium and the University of Maryland and the athletic department marketing department are making sure no has an excuse not to be there. Take a look at the promotions for Saturday's game:
All high school and middle school teams will receive FREE admission with the submission of a Roster! Rosters must be submitted to the ticket office at least 24 hours prior to the game. Email rosters to email@example.com.
The Maryland athletics department and the Maryland chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are teaming up to offer $4 tickets for Saturday's game. Simply log on to umterps.com/fca and enter promo code "fca" to purchase $4 tickets.
PROFESSOR/ FACULTY APPRECIATION:
Players will select their most valuable professor (MVP) to be invited and recognized during halftime. Maryland men's lacrosse understands the importance of success both on the field and the classroom and want to express their gratitude to those that have helped them along the way. Support your fellow staff and be part of the faculty/staff appreciation day!
CAMPER REUNION DAY:
All campers will receive free admission to the game by wearing their Maryland men's lacrosse camp pinnies.
The Maryland athletics department and US Lacrosse are teaming up to offer $4 tickets for Saturday's game to all US Lacrosse members by showing a valid membership card at the time of purchase.
INDIAN GUIDES DAY:
Indian Guides are invited to spend an outing with their tribes at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium and enjoy an exciting night of Maryland lacrosse. Guides' tickets are only $4 and must be ordered in advance. All participants will receive a FREE Maryland patch. To order, call 301-314-1517.
Rewind: North Carolina
For the first 59:20 this was one of the best lacrosse games of the year. Five lead changes and four ties combined with hard-hitting action played at a high-tempo that sometimes led to sloppy play due to a very slick field (just ask the refs as at least two of the three hit the ground several times trying to keep up with the action).
There were some ridiculously talented players on the field on Saturday. Huge outside shots stung the corners of the goal. Three big outside shots come to mind for the Terps. First, Landon Carr's goal with 0:01 left in the first half. Second would be Billy Gribbin's third goal of the day at the 13:14 mark of the fourth to capitalize on an extra-man opportunity just as the penalty to UNC's Ryan Creighton expired. An finally Drew Snider's 12+ yard shot midway through the fourth quarter that was an absolute rocket.
It wasn't just the Terps that had some highlight-worth goals. UNC freshman Joey Sankey's third goal was something as he avoided two Terps coming into smash him sandwich-style and got off a shot that Maryland goalie Niko Amato never had a chance to see.
All in all, it was a display of everything that is good about college lacrosse. The tweets coming across Twitter at the start of the fourth quarter telling people to tune in if they weren't already watching were coming fast and furious. The game was that good.
Then the incident at the 40 second mark happened.
People that follow lacrosse - fans of Maryland or not - know what Terrapin lacrosse is all about. Maryland is known for its toughness, competitiveness and physical style of play. Maryland plays the game hard, but within the rules. Are there times when penalties are committed? Sure. It happens to all teams.
Since 2003, Maryland has averaged more than four penalties per game only four times (4.06 in 2010; 4.25 in 2007; 4.12 in 2005 and 4.69 in 2003).
No one on the team, in the Athletics Department or at the University condone what happened on the field last Saturday. One of Coach Tillman's favorite sayings is to "play the game with emotion, not play emotionally."
Kevin Cooper tried to make a play. With the Terps down two goals, Cooper committed a turnover with 53 seconds to play that might have sealed the game for the Tar Heels. He tried to create a turnover, but caught UNC's Greg McBride high and the penalty flag was thrown. From there things went sideways for the next 30-or-so seconds.
As I said, there is no condoning what happened. However, one thing I want to make perfectly clear is that Kevin Cooper is not a dirty player; nor does he have a history of provoking incidents on the field. Cooper has played in 32 games as a Terp and has a grand total of two penalties in his career. Prior to Saturday's game the only time he was whistled for a penalty was in last season's ACC title game vs. Duke.
After the game Cooper was apologetic to his coaches and teammates and sent a letter of apology to the athletics department, as well as one to North Carolina. This wasn't a case of a dirty player taking a shot. It was simply a player trying to make a tough, physical play trying to get the ball back. Unfortunately, for both teams, the hit ended up high and things got out of hand from there.
As far as Cooper's status for this week's game vs. Virginia we are still awaiting official word from the ACC office, but the NCAA rule book states: "Rule 5, Section 12: The penalty for an expulsion foul shall be a three-minute nonreleasable penalty, ejection for the remainder of the game in which the foul occurred and suspension from the next intercollegiate contest of that team."
The strange thing is, the way the final 40 seconds unfolded, the melee ended up giving Maryland a chance.
While Cooper and McBride were ejected from the game and both teams were assessed conduct penalties (which were served by the in-home for both schools), Maryland ended up with an extra-man opportunity because UNC's Charlie McComas was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for his hit on Cooper during the incident.
That allowed the Terps to double-team Jimmy Dunster on the restart and freshman Goran Murray caused the turnover and then scored his first collegiate goal (When what the last time that a close defender's first collegiate goal was a man-up goal?) to pull the Terps to within a goal at 11-10 with 20 seconds left.
Freshman Charlie Raffa won then ensuing faceoff, giving the Terps one last chance to tie the game. The ball ended up with Owen Blye on the right wing and he saw Joe Cummings cutting across the crease. The pass was a bit off, but Cummings tipped the ball, redirecting it on the way to the cage. Carolina goalie Steven Rastivo only made one save in the fourth quarter, but it was a kick-save on that tipped pass and that preserved the one-goal win for the Tar Heels.
It was a wild, crazy game. If you're wondering whether or not the Terps and Tar Heels will meet again recent history says they will. The last time Maryland and North Carolina played just once in a season was 2008.
Will Doc Make A House Call To The Hall?
When the finalists for the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame were announced last Thursday it wasn't too much of a surprise to see Terrapin great Brian "Doc" Dougherty among them.
Nothing in life is a sure thing, but it would be hard to argue against Doc becoming Maryland's first inductee since 2004 (Dick Edell and Mike Thearle). Take a look at the accomplishments the good folks at US Lacrosse put out for Doc:
- Two-time All-American at Episcopal (Pa.) Academy High
School (1991, 1992)
- Four-year player at the University of Maryland
- Two-time All-American: 1st Team (1995 and 1996)
- Two-time winner of USILA Kelly Award - Goalie of the Year (1995, 1996)
- Named Most Outstanding Player in NCAA Tournament (1995)
- Selected for North/South All-Star Game (1996)
- Named to ACC's 50th Anniversary Team
- Nine seasons at player in Major League Lacrosse
- Six-time MLL All-Star (2001-2004, 2006, 2008)
- Three-time MLL Goalie of the Year (2003, 2006, 2007)
- Two-time member of the US Men's National Team (1998, 2010)
- Inducted to USL's Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter Hall of Fame (2010)
I wasn't at Maryland when Doc was in cage wearing the red and white, but those who were around talk about his great ability to play his best on the biggest stage. Some I've talked to tell it that Doc put the 1995 Maryland team on his shoulders, nearly taking them to the NCAA championship.
How dominating was Dougherty in that 1995 tournament? Consider the fact that he was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player despite the Terps coming up short to Syracuse in the title game.
Now, you may ask - "How many players from a losing team have won the MOP?" The answer is that Dougherty is one of just five players from a runner-up squad to win the MOP. The last to do it was also a goalie, as Scott Rogers was chosen despite his Notre Dame falling in OT to Duke in 2010.
That does it this week. With the plethora of promotions going on for Saturday's game I'm sure there will be a terrific crowd on hand at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. Don't forget that reserved Mezzanine Seats are also available in advance by calling the Maryland athletic ticket office at 1-800-462-TERP (8377) or online by clicking here.
Be sure to "Like" the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Facebook page as we close in on 10,000 likes.
The Maryland Men's Lacrosse Twitter feed has gone over the 2,700 followers mark, so help us keep that going by following today.
See you all at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday. As always - Be The Best!