Welcome to the first Maryland Men's Lacrosse Blog featuring the No. 1 team in the country. Of course, we will rewind the Loyola game and preview this Saturday's Duke game, but we will also take a look at the Terps' history as the top team in the nation.
Plus, we will also look at the Terps' leading scorer through
three games and what's unique about that situation.
Let's get to it ...
Did it live up to the billing of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 (or No. 1 depending on the poll)? That all depends on whether you were wearing red or green, but it was a compelling February lacrosse game.
The start was somewhat similar to last season's national title game.
Last Memorial Day, Jesse Bernhardt scored in transition at the 9:34 mark of the first to give the Terps a 1-0 lead. Loyola would tie the game on a goal by one of its first line middies shortly after and go on to win.
On Saturday, Mike Sawyer scored a transition goal at the 10:02 mark to put the Greyhounds up 1-0. Maryland tied the game on a goal by first line midfielder John Haus and go on to win the game.
Last season, Eric Lusby led all scorers with four goals for the Hounds. This year, Haus was the top scorer in the game with four for the Terps.
Last season, the Terps controlled the faceoff X, winning 12-of-15 draws. This year, Loyola got the better of the faceoff action, winning 14-of-25.
All of these were flipped this year and so was the result.
But there were some big differences, beginning with the Terps' shooting.
Last season, Maryland shot a season-worst 10.3% in the title game with Haus going 0-for-9 shooting with just three shots on goal (which accounted for half of Jack Runkel's six saves). This season Haus was a man on a mission, scoring four times on six shots, including five on goal. Overall, Maryland shot 33.3% on Saturday, scoring on 12 of 36 shots.
In total, Maryland's first midfield in last season's title game combined for one goal on 19 shots. This season, the Terps' first midfield scored seven goals on 15 shots.
The other difference-makers were on the defensive side of the field.
Jesse Bernhardt showed why he's on the short list of the nation's top defensive players. It seemed like he was everywhere, disrupting Greyhound passes or scooping up groundballs (he became the first Terp since Feb. 27, 2010 to have 10 groundballs in a game). He also pushed Maryland's transition game and picked up an assist on Landon Carr's goal at the end of the first quarter.
Michael Ehrhardt continued to play like an All-American and was terrific regardless of which Loyola attackman he was guarding at any given time. The close defense of Ehrhardt, Goran Murray and Casey Ikeda shut down the Loyola attackmen completely in the first half on 6-on-6 situations (Sawyer scored in transition for his lone goal of the game) and it wasn't until midway through the third that Justin Ward scored and Nikko Pontrello got his lone goal at the 3:39 mark of the third.
Last, but certainly not least, Niko Amato was absolutely terrific. It was just the number of saves, but when he made them. His save of a shot by Ward midway through the first quarter directly led to Maryland's second goal of the game. He then robbed Loyola's Kevin Ryan with 14 seconds left in the first and that keyed the transition of Bernhardt to Carr, which gave Maryland a 5-1 lead. The crazy three goals in 15 seconds looked like it could have been four goals in 30 seconds when Loyola won the faceoff after Scott Ratliff scored to make it 6-2, but Amato stoned Sawyer's shot to stem the tide.
Look at it this way, five of Loyola's first eight goals were either transition scores (Mike Sawyer, Ratliff and Laconi) or put-backs on saves that Amato just couldn't control the rebound (Ryan's behind-the-back on the EMO in the second quarter and Matt Sawyer's put-back late in the third).
So, what does this win mean for the Terps? Well, just take a look at what Amato said following the game - "No one's ever satisfied being a winner in February or March. You want to take it game by game, focus on each and every opponent and down the road in playoff time, that's when you want to come out victorious."
That about says it all. This was a game between two really good lacrosse teams and the win will give Maryland a quality win come tournament selection and seeding time, but there's a long way to go before that, which brings us to ...
Duke is 2-3 on the season, but all three of those games have come in February and the calendar flips on Friday. The Blue Devils are just 10-9 in February since 2009, but are 23-5 in March during that same span and four of the five losses came in the state of Maryland (twice to the Terps in Baltimore, once to Maryland in College Park and once at Loyola).
The last time Duke lost a home game in March was on March 10, 2010 when the North Carolina snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Blue Devils with a 13-7 win at Koskinen Stadium. Duke and Carolina would meet again in the 2010 NCAA quarterfinals and the Blue Devils advanced to the Final Four with a 17-9 victory in the rematch.
Prior to that, Duke hadn't lost at home since 2007 when No. 1 Cornell snuck out of Koskinen Stadium with a 7-6 win. The Blue Devils would go on to avenge that loss later in the season, topping the Big Red by a goal in the NCAA semis in Baltimore.
The moral of this story is that no matter what the records say, this one is going to be an uphill battle for the Terps.
While Duke has struggled defensively (allowing 10.6 goals per game and starting goalie Dan Wigrizer is saving only 43.8% of shots put on goal against him), but the Blue Devil offense has enough firepower to simply outscore opponents.
All three of Duke's starting attackmen, who are all juniors, - Jordan Wolf, Christian Walsh and Josh Dionne - were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List last week. Wolf has been sensational so far and leads the Blue Devils with 21 points on 15 goals and six assists. Add in the all-senior first midfield of David Lawson (6-3=9), Jake Tripucka (5-5=10) and Miles Jones (5-2=7) and a second line that includes Will Haus (3-4=7) and Josh Offit (5-2=7) and Deemer Class, who was Inside Lacrosse's No. 10 freshman in the country coming into the season and you can see the Blue Devils don't lack for offense.
Three-year starter Chris Hipps, who is paired with two-year starter Henry Lobb and 2013 team captain Bill Connors, headlines Duke's close defense. Hipps and Lobb are both listed at 6-foot-4 and look to matchup well with Maryland's Kevin Cooper (6-foot-4) and Owen Blye (6-foot-3).
The main difference will be not seeing No. 9 roaming the field for the Blue Devils. C.J. Costable has finally graduated, but the duo of Brian Dailey and Luke Duprey have done their best to fill the void, combining for 25 groundballs and 16 caused turnovers.
It's cliché to say that faceoffs could determine the outcome of the game, but when you consider that Duke's Brendan Fowler is winning 63.9% of his draws and Maryland's Charlie Raffa is winning 57.1% of his draws, whoever wins the faceoff battle could win the game. The X factor could be Curtis Holmes, who has only taken 20 faceoffs this season (winning 65.0%), but he's been great vs. the Blue Devils in his career, winning 64-of-112 (57.1%) with 24 groundballs.
Don't let the records fool you - this one will be your typical ACC battle, which you will be able to watch from the comfort of your couch thanks to ESPNU (even though the team would prefer to see Terp fans decked out in red and black (or purple) in the stands at Koskinen Stadium on Saturday).
Maryland As The No. 1 Team
It's official - the Terps are the No. 1 team in the country.
Maryland was already No. 1 in the USILA poll, but cemented that position this week by garnering nine of 11 first-place votes to open up a 12-point lead on No. 2 Notre Dame.
The Terps ascended to the top of the Inside Lacrosse media poll following their win at Loyola, taking 21 of the 25 first-place votes and holding a 19-point lead over the Irish.
This marks the first time since March 13, 2006 that Maryland is the outright No. 1 team in the country. Maryland claimed the top spot on March 6 after defeating No. 1 Duke, 8-7 in overtime in Durham.
The No. 1 ranking lasted only two weeks though. The Terps topped Towson, 9-6, in their first game at the top spot, but then dropped a 7-6 decision to Bucknell in double-OT (in what is still the coldest lacrosse game I have ever attended) on Tuesday, March 14. Maryland still held the No. 1 ranking when it defeated UMBC, 9-4, on Saturday, March 18, but loss to the Bison dropped the Terps to No. 4 in the March 20 rankings.
Overall, this is the ninth time that Maryland has held the No. 1 ranking (since 1978 when rankings were first recorded in Maryland media guides).
During the previous eight times at the top of the polls, Maryland has played 23 games and has a 15-8 record in those games.
Here's a look at all of Maryland's results as the No. 1
Mar. 18, 2006 - #1 Maryland 9, UMBC 4
Mar. 14, 2006 - Bucknell 7, #1 Maryland 6 (2OT)
Mar. 11, 2006 - #1 Maryland 9, #15 Towson 6
Apr. 10, 2004 - #4 Navy 9, #1 Maryland 6
Apr. 4, 2004 - #1 Maryland 11, #10 Virginia 2
Mar. 31, 2001 - #7 Virginia 7, #1 Maryland 2
Mar. 27, 2001 - #1 Maryland 8, #13 Bucknell 4
May 2, 1998 - #18 UMBC 12, #1 Maryland 8
Apr. 25, 1998 - #1 Maryland 16, #16 Rutgers 11
Apr. 11, 1998 - #6 Johns Hopkins 10, #1 Maryland 6
Apr. 4, 1998 - #1 Maryland 21, #14 Navy 7
Apr. 19, 1996 - #3 Virginia 13, #1 Maryland 9
Apr. 13, 1996 - #1 Maryland 12, #4 Johns Hopkins 9
Apr. 6, 1996 - #1 Maryland 11, Navy 10
May 23, 1987 - #4 Johns Hopkins 13, #1 Maryland 8
May 17, 1987 - #1 Maryland 12, #8 Penn 8
May 2, 1987 - #1 Maryland 11, UMBC 3
Apr. 29, 1987 - #1 Maryland 20, Delaware 3
Apr. 18, 1987 - #1 Maryland 11, #4 Johns Hopkins 7
Apr. 11, 1987 - #1 Maryland 17, #6 Navy 5
Apr. 4, 1987 - #1 Maryland 12, #6 Virginia 5
Apr. 6, 1986 - #7 Virginia 8, #1 Maryland 7 (OT)
Mar. 29, 1986 - #1 Maryland 10, #3 North Carolina 9
Home Team Bolded
Leading From The Middle
Last week I broke down Kevin Cooper's start to the season with his 11 points through two games, but this week something happened that hasn't happened in a long time for the Terps.
With his five points on four goals and an assist, John Haus took over the team lead in points with 13.
What's so unusual about that?
Maryland has not had a midfielder lead it in scoring through its first three games since 2002. Mike Mollot, who was a converted attackman, led the Terps with 10 points in the team's first three games in 2002.
Now, it's not unusual for Haus to get out to good starts. Last season he had nine points on four goals and five assists through three games, which was second on the team. As a sophomore in 2011 he was also second on the team with 10 points on four goals and six assists.
But Haus' 13-point start isn't just impressive for a midfielder. It's just plain old impressive. Only five other Terps have recorded 13 points in the team's first three games since 1998.
Check out the list:
15 - Grant Catalino (2010: 2-4=6 at Bellarmine, 1-2=3 at Georgetown, 5-1=6 vs. Duke)
13 - John Haus (2013: 2-3=5 vs. Mount St. Mary's, 1-2=3 at Hartford, 4-1=5 at Loyola)
13 - Joe Walters (2003: 0-2=2 vs. Duke, 4-1=5 at Towson, 4-2=6 vs. Bucknell)
13 - Buggs Combs (2001: 5-0=5 vs. Air Force, 3-0=3 at Denver, 5-0=5 vs. Duke)
13 - Dan LaMonica (2001: 2-3=5 vs. Air Force, 2-2=4 at Denver, 3-1=4 vs. Duke)
13 - Scott Hochstadt (1998: 2-1=3 vs. Villanova, 4-0=4 at Duke, 3-3=6 vs. Towson)
Before we get out of here for this week, a big congratulations is due to the Maryland women's lacrosse team, which also took over the No. 1 ranking after topping Duke on Sunday and former No. 1 Northwestern losing to North Carolina on Friday. This is the first time since 2001 that both Maryland lacrosse teams are ranked No. 1 at the same time. The women's team will look to hold on to its No. 1 ranking with a Friday night game at Virginia and a Sunday afternoon contest vs. Hofstra. Good luck to Coach Reese and her squad.
As I mentioned above, the Terps' game at Duke will be televised nationally on ESPNU at 11 a.m., so fans attending the game may want to add bacon and eggs to their tailgating menu. Tickets will be sold at Koskinen Stadium, but if you want to order yours ahead of time you can do so by clicking here.
There was more I could have gotten into, but this is running long (as usual), so we will have to leave it here.
As always - Be The Best!