Not a lot of topics this week, but there's still a lot to get to, including a rewind on the Virginia game with some insight into the Murray-Stanwick matchup and a look at the importance of the scout team and what's the big difference between last year's squad and this year's. But we start with a preview of this Friday's Maryland-Navy game.
This isn't the Navy we've come to know over the past 15 or so years. There's a new admiral (the "new sheriff in town" metaphor just didn't seem appropriate for Navy) on deck for this Midshipmen team as Rick Sowell is in his first year as the Mids head coach.
What does that mean? The truthful answer is "I'm not sure." And that probably is the answer a Navy fan would give you right now.
Sowell came to Annapolis from Stony Brook, where his Seawolf teams were known for their high-scoring offenses and middle-of-the-road defenses. The last three seasons, Stony Brook was ranked among the top 10 in scoring offense, but never ranked higher than 22nd in scoring defense (and that was last season when, by many experts' opinions, Stony Brook underachieved and missed the NCAA tournament).
Leading the way for those Seawolf teams was the Canadian combo of Kevin Crowley and Jordan McBride, but the last time I checked it wasn't likely for Canadian recruits to get admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy.
But Sowell's Mids aren't without offensive talent, as sophomore attackman Tucker Hull has been fantastic in Navy's first nine games of 2012 with 22 goals and 20 assists. That total ranks Hull fifth in the NCAA in points per game and sixth in assists per game.
Despite Hull's brilliance the Mids as a team are only 28th in the NCAA in scoring offense and are only slightly better at No. 21 in scoring defense. The main reason for both of those rankings is most likely at the faceoff X, where the Mids are, as a team, winning just 44.7% of their draws. The team that wins the faceoff battle will most likely be the victor on Friday night as the Terps are facing-off at only 47.2% this season.
There will certainly be differences in this Friday's game from Maryland-Navy games of the past, but one thing that will remain the same is the passion and respect the players from both schools will carry with them on the field. Records don't matter when these two teams play and fans will see high-level lacrosse played with exceptional skill and toughness.
The weather looks to be terrific for Friday night and there are no other games in the area on Friday, so get your tickets early (avoid the lines!) and enjoy one of the longest continuous rivalries in college lacrosse. This will be the 67th straight year Maryand and Navy will play lacrosse, dating back to 1946. The only thing that could stop this rivalry was World War II when Maryland didn't field a team in 1944 or 1945 (interestingly enough, both Army and Navy fielded a team during the war years).
One last tidbit - Maryland has won the last two games vs. the Mids. The last time the Terps won three in a row vs. Navy was 2001-03, which were the final three years of Maryland's 11-game winning streak that began in 1993.
Getting Into The Game Is Even Easier
Once again, Maryland's marketing guru Katie Thompson has culled together numerous promotions designed to make it easier for fans to get into this Friday's game. Take a look:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are invited to come out to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium and enjoy an exciting night of Maryland Lacrosse. Scout tickets are only $4 and must be ordered in advance. All scouts will receive a FREE Maryland Scout Patch. To order, call 301-314-1517.
Indian Guides Night:
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.
As always, group rates are also available. Groups of 25 or
more can save BIG with $4 tickets
for 2012 Maryland men's lacrosse games. For just an additional $4 per
person you can upgrade to the FANTASY
PACKAGE for groups of 40 or more in which each group will receive the
· Official Maryland Lacrosse T-shirt
· Invitation-only autograph session
· In-game video board recognition
For more group opportunities, including birthday party options, e-mail Katie Thompson.
For three quarters this was either team's game. Then the fourth quarter came and Virginia's depth and depth of talent made the difference in the game.
The one quarter that Maryland dominated was the second quarter. That's when the Terps won the shots battle (9-7), groundball battle (13-7) and faceoff battle (4-3). All of that led to the Terrapins winning the second quarter on the scoreboard (4-2).
The third quarter started out really, really well for Maryland as a bobble (Joe Cummings loses the handle coming around the right side of the goal, but regains control and beats the goalie, who lost his fundamentals coming after the ball when it was loose for a split second) and a bouncer (Michael Shakespeare splitting a double-team and bouncing one past the Wahoo goalie from in close) gave the Terps a two-goal lead less than five minutes into the quarter.
From there things looked to be going Maryland's way. Virginia won the ensuing faceoff, but Goran Murray (more on him in a bit) stripped the ball from Steele Stanwick (more on him with Murray in a bit) and the Terps had a two-goal lead on a three-goal run with the ball. But a save by Wahoo goalie Rob Fortunato sent the ball the other way, but Maryland couldn't clear the ball on a turnover by Virginia, which allowed another opportunity for the Cavaliers' potent offense. But, it wasn't just one extra chance on that possession as the Terps couldn't come up with a tough groundball following a save by Niko Amato. Seven seconds later Stanwick scored his first goal of the game when his bounce shot got over Amato's shoulder, hit the bottom of the crossbar and spun into the net to cut the lead back to one and give Virginia momentum. Just like that a potential three-goal lead for the Terps turned into a one-goal lead and energy with the Wahoos.
Virginia tied the game at 7-7 on a man-up goal with 1:05 left in the third and it looked like either team's game, but it wasn't so as the Terps played entirely too much defense in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers took an 8-7 lead by winning the faceoff and never letting the Terps get the ball, which is a scenario that played out three more times later in the game.
Some back and forth lacrosse led to Stanwick's second goal (his only "traditional" goal of the game, coming off an assist from Chris Bocklett) and a 9-7 lead for the Wahoos.
The Terps weren't done though as they won the ensuing faceoff and scored on a right-alley rocket from Drew Snider that cut the lead back to one.
But that was it for the Terps as Virginia won the following faceoff and scored 41 seconds later to make it a two-goal game again.
Virginia then played "Make it. Take it." twice to pull away to a 12-8 lead without Maryland ever having the ball.
So, what happened in the fourth quarter? The easy answer is the Terps' defense wore down. From 9:01 when Snider scored to make it a 9-8 game, the Terps' didn't get the ball into their offensive end until after the faceoff at 5:45 when a violation gave Maryland the faceoff win after Virginia took a 12-8 lead.
But even that didn't last long as 30 seconds later another save by Fortunato gave Virginia the ball back at 5:15 and it was back in the Maryland defensive zone 13 seconds later. The Terps didn't get the ball back until the 2:43 mark after Jesse Bernhardt caused a Matt White turnover.
That means that from 9:01 to 2:43 Maryland only had the ball for 30 seconds. That's 6:44 of defense being played by the Terps, which saw nearly every primary defensive player suffer from cramping at some point during that stretch. The old legal saying is that "possession is 9/10's of the law." I'm not a lawyer and don't have much of a legal background, but I know when you possess the ball in lacrosse for long periods of time its not going to be good for the other team.
One last thing about this game that I want to touch on is the matchup of Murray and Stanwick. If you just look at the stats it would be easy to say that Stanwick, the senior reigning Tewaaraton Trophy winner, had his way with the freshman, who was playing in just his eighth collegiate game.
That wouldn't really do justice to the job Murray did on Stanwick. Sure, Stanwick had three goals and five assists, but its sort of hard to pin all of the blame, fault or whatever for assists on the guy guarding the assist man. For the most part Murray played Stanwick well, but there is a reason Stanwick is widely regarded as the best player in college lacrosse right now - he's really, really good.
Fault for Stanwick's three goals also shouldn't be blamed solely on Murray.
The first was mentioned above and Stanwick (as a lot of great players over the years have done) got the benefit of a lucky bounce off the underside of the crossbar.
The second was fairly conventional - scoring off an assist from Bocklett. But if memory serves (and I haven't been able to watch the game again) correctly, I believe Murray wasn't on Stanwick at that time due to a switch.
The third was one of those highlight reel goals that might show up time and time again as the season goes on and ESPN ramps up its lacrosse coverage. Stanwick came around the left side of the crease and beat what amounts to a triple-team by all three Maryland close defenders and somehow got a shot off that Amato never saw coming; a great individual effort by a great player.
The purpose of this isn't to torture Terp fans by recounting Stanwick's day, but to point out that Murray, as a freshman, held his own against, arguably, the best in the nation. The future looks bright for Maryland's latest defensive find.
One thing I wanted to touch on for a while now is one of the most important aspects of any team - the scout team.
It's easy to look out on game day and see the guys busting their butts on the field - the one's scoring the goals, making the saves or delivering the bone-rattling hits and checks.
But what most don't notice are the couple dozen guys on the sideline that don't get in many of the games. What most don't realize is that those guys play just as important a role as the starters do.
Those are the guys that make up the scout team during the week of practice. Those are the guys that have the job of making the starters better by learning the opposition's offense or defense and playing hard every day.
It's easy to see the differences between the 2011 team and the 2012 team on game day. Gone are guys like Ryan Young and Brett Schmidt. In their place are guys named Billy Gribbin and Goran Murray; great players who have been replaced by potentially great players.
The place where those outside the program don't see the difference is in the scout team. Gone are veterans like Eric Boyle, Justin Blye, Warren Hansen, Shane Hall, Fran Gormley (although he's still around, just in a difference capacity) and Mark and Michael White.
Those guys were invaluable when it came to preparing the team for games. While all of them wanted to be "the guy," they embraced their roles and were as much of a reason for last season's success as any other players.
This year's scout team is largely made up of relatively young players, who need time to learn the opposition's sets, while still trying to learn Maryland's plays and improve on their own talents just in case they are needed in an actual game.
Ask any coach, and the Maryland coaches are no different, and they will be the first to praise the guys that bust their butts day in and day out knowing that it is unlikely they will log a minute of playing time during a game. The scout team is so, so important, but, like most parts of this Terrapin team, it is still a work in progress and as it improves, so will the Terps.
Rewind: 1950's Decade Reunion
It was Maryland's privilege to welcome back more than 40 Terps and their families from the Maryland teams of 1950-59 last Saturday at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.
I simply wish I was able to pull up a chair and listen as these Terps recounted tales of glory from their time on the field.
I would have loved to have heard each and every story (but, unfortunately, I'm busy actually working on game day), as at the end of each Terps' recounting of times gone by a round of applause could be heard throughout the press level of Tyser Tower.
I hope each and every Terp who was able to come back for the reunion had a terrific time and wish the best for them as they paved the way for the great tradition we hold dear as Maryland Lacrosse.
If any former (I still hate saying that, but I'm not sure there is a better way) Terp wants to send a story that may not have been told, whether it was about a specific game or teammate or themselves, please send me an email. After all, history should never be forgotten in the past.
That does it this week. With the plethora of promotions going on for Friday's game, and the usual large turnout of blue and gold clad Navy fans, I'm sure there will be a terrific crowd on hand at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. Avoid the lines on game day by getting yours 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. We're currently at 9,684, so if you've already liked the page, be sure to share it with your friends.
The Maryland Men's Lacrosse Twitter feed has gone over the 2,800 followers mark (up over 100 since the last blog was published), so help us keep that going by following today.
See you all at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Friday. As always - Be The Best!