For as long as I've written this blog this week has always started with one thing - It's Hopkins Week! There really isn't anything more that needs to be said. But we'll get into the matchup with the Terps and Jays a little bit more, as well as rewinding the Navy game from last Friday. We'll also tell you about a certain Terp who has proven to be a true CLASS act.
Preview: Johns Hopkins
The 108th meeting of Lacrosse's Greatest Rivalry takes place this week at Homewood Field and it promises to be nothing short of an electric atmosphere.
Before I get into anything else here I want to implore fans to GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY! According to the Hopkins website, Homewood seats 8,500, but with terrific weather expected on Saturday and the fact that this is the first time this rivalry will be played at Homewood since 2008 fans should expect a near-sellout. That means if you wait to get to the field there could be long lines and no one likes to wait in a line if you can avoid it. Tickets are on sale online by clicking here. Questions on tickets can be directed to 410-516-7490.
Those that are familiar with Homewood Field know that parking is extremely limited, so get there early (the Space Telescope Garage and the 115 University Parkway Garage open 2 hours prior to face off), tailgate (responsibly, of course), enjoy the weather, proudly display your red and black, and then come into Homewood and and root for the Terps.
Now, lets get to things on the field.
This is a very, very good Blue Jay team. There is talent up and down the roster and there are multiple potential All-Americans at every position.
Hopkins is a dangerous team that became even more dangerous with the return of super-senior Chris Boland, who missed seven games with an early-season shoulder injury. Maryland fans are still trying to forget about his five-goal performance, all of which came in the second half, of last season's 11-10 overtime loss at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. Despite playing in just three games this season, Boland still ranks sixth on the squad with 13 points and is fifth on the team with nine goals. How Maryland handles Boland will go a long way in determining the outcome of Saturday's game.
Hopkins' first midfield line of John Ranagan, John Greeley and Rob Guida struggled early on this season with its shooting, but have been on point for the Jays lately. The Terps' Jesse Bernhardt is one of the nation's top long poles, but he can only cover one guy. Maryland's short sticks will have to rise to the challenge on Saturday.
On the other side of the field, Jays' goalie Pierce Bassett was the preseason first team All-American and has lived up to the hype so far this season. He currently ranks fourth in the nation with a 6.70 goals-against average. While Bassett is a superb goalie, his defense in front of him is equally talented. Junior Tucker Durkin, who will likely be matched up with Maryland's initiator Owen Blye, leads that veteran group.
Not to be overshadowed, Maryland has some talented midfielders of its own and how the first line of Chanenchuk, Haus and Snider plays will be a key for the Terps. Will Hopkins pole up Maryland's midfield? And if they do, can the Terps make them pay by getting quality opportunities vs. the Blue Jay shorties?
This game has all of the pieces in place to be a classic.
A CLASS Act
Last Wednesday the 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's lacrosse were announced and it was to no one's surprise that Maryland's Joe Cummings was among them.
According to the official release, CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®. The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 20 candidates announced in February. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to determine the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award website through May 14. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I men's head coaches' votes to determine the winner.
I'm sure people are well aware of what Cummings has accomplished on the field, but it's his contributions to the community off the field that set him apart. Take a look:
"A recipient of the 2011 Maryland President's Award for Community Service, Cummings helped lead and organize the Inaugural Forever Young Pancreatic Cancer Memorial Walk/Run in memory of former teammate Ryan Young's mother, Maria, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in April 2011. From 2009-11, Cummings started and helped coordinate the Big Brothers Program for the Maryland lacrosse team with Hyattsville Elementary School. He coached two Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) lacrosse teams during the summer of 2011 and served as a mentor and big brother for Boy's Hope in Baltimore, an urban program for middle and high school boys in Baltimore. In 2009 Cummings was a volunteer at Baltimore Christian School, an urban elementary school in Baltimore city, and from 2008-11 he started and led a group of 10-14 year old boys at a one week lacrosse summer camp."
Cummings is also a team captain for this year's Maryland squad, as well as being a two-year SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) representative for the men's lacrosse team. He has also served a UMD Campus Ministry internship with Jon Smith, ONEU, and Cummings participates in ONEU Campus Ministry.
So here is where Terp fans can help. First - VOTE. You can vote once per day every day, so go vote. Second - Spread the word. Post the link to your Facebook page and ask your friends to vote for Joe. Tweet the link asking any followers to vote for Joe. E-mail the link to friends and family.
The other nine candidates are all fine representatives for lacrosse, but they are not Terps. Support your Terp. Vote for Joe! Each day, Every day!
I'm not quite sure how many times over the past few seasons I've written that a game was the proverbial "Tale of Two Halves," but that is an apt description of last Friday's game vs. Navy.
A one-goal game at halftime turned into a seven-goal victory. It would have been an eight-goal margin but for a snafu by Terp defender Michael Ehrhardt that tipped in the lone Midshipmen goal in the second half.
So what was the difference? Two things.
First, the Terps hit their shots in the second half. Maryland scored six goals in the first half on 29 shots. That's a shooting percentage of .207. In the second half the Terps scored seven goals on 23 shots, which is a .304 shooting percentage.
Second, Maryland dominated groundballs in the final 30 minutes. The Terps also won the groundball battle in the first half, but it was 15-11. Maryland's groundball margin in the second half was 19-8, which gave the Terps a huge possession advantage.
Two players really stood out on Friday. The first was Curtis Holmes, who was dominating at the faceoff X, winning 15-of-20 draws with a game-high seven groundballs. Holmes' struggles have been documented in the media over the past several weeks, but on Friday he was back to the same player that won 34-of-47 (.723) in the first two games of the season. A healthy and effective Curtis Holmes will be a big reason for any success the Terps will have down the stretch this season.
The second was, and this is really no surprise, Joe Cummings. He has been the most consistent offensive player the Terps have had this season. When the Mids took a 3-2 lead late in the first quarter, it was Cummings who responded with two goals before the horn sounded to make sure Maryland was ahead at the end of the first. The first of those goals was an easy finish thanks to a terrific cross-crease pass by Kevin Cooper, who had two assists in his return from suspension and really was a difference-maker on the second midfield line. The second goal was all Cummings. He dodged his defender on the left side of the crease and beat him, but the angle on the goal was cut down dramatically. That didn't stop him from scoring inside the near pipe, putting the ball into a sliver of daylight between the pipe and Navy goalie RJ Wickham. Far from a flashy player, Cummings' third goal had more than a bit of flare with him picking up a groundball off a rebound and finishing with a behind-the-back shot.
One more player I want to mention is redshirt freshman Casey Ikeda, who made his long-awaited Terrapin debut in the win over the Mids. Ikeda missed all of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury. He had a good fall and was penciled in as a starter coming into preseason practice this spring. The injury bug bit him again and wasn't cleared for full practice until the Monday before the Virginia game. He didn't have enough reps to realistically be ready for the Cavaliers, but with two weeks of practice he was good to go last Friday. Good thing too, as Ehrhardt went to the sideline with an injury early in the game. Ikeda stepped in and was solid in his debut, which now gives Maryland a capable fourth defender as the weather heats up and a couple of rests here and there could be the difference in the defense being fresh in the fourth quarter.
Shots. Lot's of Shots
That's what Navy goalie RJ Wickman told reporters after the game with regard to what he saw Friday night.
Maryland out-shot the Mids 52-18 for a +34 shot differential. It marked the first time since March 7 of last season that the Terps had 50 or more shots in a game. Maryland had 55 shots in its 12-8 win over Bellarmine. The Knights had 21 shots in that game, so the shot differential was the same - +34.
Prior to that, the last time Maryland had more than 50 shots in a game was in 2009. Not surprisingly it was the seven-overtime game at Virginia. Maryland had 52 shots in that game, but only 38 in regulation.
The last time the Terps had a shot differential greater than +34 was also in 2009 and that one I'm pretty sure would be hard to top. Maryland racked up 74 shots in its 18-3 season-opening win over Presbyterian in Jacksonville, Fla. The Blue Hose mustered just 14 shots in the game, making the shot differential a whopping +60.
In my quick perusal of past media guides, the only game I came across that was close was the 18-3 win over Mount St. Mary's in 2007 when Maryland had 64 shots to the Mount's 11 for a +53 differential.
Hopkins Week is always a special week for Maryland men's lacrosse and for its fans. I hope each and every one of you that can makes it to Homewood Field Saturday. Get your tickets early. Get your parking spots early. And come in wearing your red and black proudly.
If you can't make it to Homewood, the game is being broadcast live on ESPNU (also to your smartphone if you have the WatchESPN app and a compatible cable carrier). Maryland's run of "opponent alma mater" announcers continues with Hopkins' own Quint Kessenich on the broadcast (joined by Eamon McEnaney providing the play-by-play). So far this season, Maryland had UNC alum Ryan Flanagan on the Md-UNC game and Virginia alum Matt Ward on the Md-UVa game. Are there any Terps interested in broadcasting? It looks like they could use you at ESPN.
That does it for this week's blog. As always - Be The Best!