The Terrapin Men's Lacrosse Blog: 2009 Edition
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - (May 27): Welcome to the final "regular" edition of the 2009 Maryland men's lacrosse blog.
Last week was a bye week here at the blog following the loss to Syracuse. The season ended in disappointing fashion, but that's how it ends for 15 of the 16 teams that make the tournament. The only team that finished the season with a good feeling was the Orange, who pulled off a miraculous comeback to defeat Cornell in the national championship game.
The biggest item of news heading into the offseason is the left knee of Brian Phipps. After two season of splitting time with Jason Carter, Phipps cemented himself as the starter heading into this year's NCAA tournament and was looking forward to a full season as the starter as a senior. Those plans are still in tact. Phipps is scheduled for surgery on June 16 with the same doctor who repaired his right ACL following his junior year in high school. Right now Phipps is walking with a brace and is doing "pre-hab" with athletic trainer Sean O'Keefe to hopefully put him ahead of schedule following the surgery. Phipps will not be available in the fall, which will allow redshirt-sophomore Mark White an opportunity to start. He will be pushed by redshirt-freshman MJ Leonard and incoming freshman Niko Amato.
Congratulations to senior Dan Groot and sophomores Grant Catalino, Max Schmidt and Ryan Young on being named UILA All-Americans. All four are certainly deserving of the honor and three will be returning next season. Young is the first Terrapin attackman not named Joe Walters to earn first, second or third team honors since 2001 when Andrew "Buggs" Combs was a second team selection. Schmidt's third-team selection runs Maryland's string of All-America (1st, 2nd or 3rd team) honorees to 11 years. The last time the Terps did not have a first, second or third team All-America defender was 1998.
Can't wait until next year? Here's a little tease for the 2010 season. Sure, the Terps lose five of their top nine midfielders and one starting close defender, but there's a lot coming back next season. Take a look:
Goals: 108 (returning)/170 (total) = 63.5% returning
Before I finish, I'd like to thank all of the coaches, student-athletes, support staff, parents and fans. Without all of you there wouldn't be a reason to put this blog out every week. I hope everyone liked the information, insights and anecdotes. There will still be a couple of videos to put together that will find their way into the Video Vault, so keep an eye out for those. If you have any comments or suggestions send them along by clicking here.
That wraps up the regular updates for the 2009 Maryland men's lacrosse blog. There will be an "Offseason Blog" that will have updates during the summer and fall. I hope everyone has a good summer and we will see you back here for the 2010 blog in December.
(May 13): One down, three to go - that's the mindset for the Terps and the other seven teams still alive in the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament.
First, let's look at trip to Notre Dame:
1. The trip out to Indiana could not have gone smoother. The charter flight was terrific. The team flew on Pace Airlines, which also flies, among others, the Boston Celtics and the Carolina Hurricanes. The flight took just a bit over an hour and the bus ride from the airfield in South Bend to the hotel was less than 20 minutes. Coach Cottle mentioned that it took less time to get to Notre Dame than it did to go to Philadelphia to play Penn last month. The trip back was just as smooth.
2. The staff at Notre Dame was terrific. I'd like to thank Tony Yelovich, John Heisler, Sean Carroll and Coach Coorigan for their hospitality.
3. The Marriott in South Bend was a nice hotel, but there was only one catch - the hotel hosted a freestyle rap competition in one of its lobbies on Saturday night. The windows of the odd-numbered rooms were shaking until the competition finished up at 11 p.m. The joke around the pre-game administration meeting was that Coach Corrigan was nice enough to arrange for the competition to be hosted by the Maryland team hotel.
Here are a few random thoughts:
1. What more can be said about the defense? The Terps turned in a historically great performance in South Bend. How good was it you ask? Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times has your answer in his blog D1SCOURSE. If you haven't read Patrick's blog before, take some time and look through the archives. He always provides some great insights. Here are a couple that deal with the Terps, this year's tournament or both:
2. Earlier this season it seemed as if it was either the attack or the midfield providing all of the punch for the Maryland offense. That's simply not the way it is right now. Instead of one or two guys scoring the majority of the goals in a given game, the Terps are now getting scoring, mostly one or two goals, from any number of guys. Six different Terps scored seven goals at Notre Dame. At Yale it was nine different Terps scoring 10 goals. Against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, seven Terps scored the team's 10 goals. At Penn it was eight Terps putting in nine goals. Balance has been the key for the Maryland offense over the past month.
3. The hardest working man on the Terps' squad last week had to be freshman Joe Cummings. A lot was made of the Terps' defensive effort in shutting down Notre Dame's talented crease attackman Ryan Hoff and while the majority of the credit has to go to the defense, some should go to Cummings as well. Last week at practice Cummings pulled double duty. He had to practice his own position and assignments on the Maryland offense, but he also played Hoff on the Maryland scout team. The quick change from regular practice pinnie to scout-team jersey was handled with precision thanks to student coach Patrick Hutchinson.
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) announced its final rosters for the 2009 season yesterday and even though the league has been pared down to six teams there are still plenty of Terps in the league.
Boston Cannons: Ray Megill, Chris Passavia
The season starts on Friday night with the Nationals visiting the Bayhawks at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Out of the four quarterfinal games this weekend only the Maryland/Syracuse game is not a rematch from the regular season. This is one of the problems that the NCAA selection committee face when they put together the bracket. A quick (and often short-sighted) look at the bracket says that two of these rematches could have been avoided by just flip-flopping either Duke/Princeton or Cornell/North Carolina. But if the committee had done either of those it would have had plenty of fans claiming that their team was disrespected since their team was seeded too low. Imagine if the committee had given Princeton the No. 3 seed over Duke. The seeds were correct and the result is that there are some rematches in the quarters. Fans will just have to live with seeing a great team play another great team that it has played before.
But let's be honest, it's not like the first games between these teams were horrible.
Cornell vs. Princeton (2:30 p.m., Saturday)
Johns Hopkins vs. Virginia (Noon, Sunday)
Duke vs. North Carolina
One thing we know for sure right now - at least one ACC team and one Ivy League team will be in Foxborough, Mass., next weekend.
One final thing that just came across in the e-mail inbox: "Every game that appears on ESPN or ESPN2 will be simulcast live on ESPN360.com, ESPN's broadband video player that is free to use for anyone on a college campus, as well as AT&T and Verizon Internet subscribers."
The Maryland/Syracuse game will be televised live on ESPN2 (no word yet on ESPN2-HD), so fans will also be able to see it on ESPN360.com. The direct link to the game is here.
That's it for this weekend. If you're a lacrosse fan this is probably the best weekend of the year. Four great games over two days; you can't beat it. The Terps and the Orange will be on "The Deuce," while the other three games will be on ESPNU. Hopefully you get the "U" at home. If not, find a friend with a dish or head to your favorite bar/restaurant with a satellite and order a plate of wings and your favorite beverage and settle in for some great action.
(May 6): The brackets have been announced, the teams have been selected and when all the dust settled the Terps are in the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship tournament.
Predictably, the lacrosse fans out there that complain about anything and everything that they can complain about jumped all over the Terps being in the tournament. They quickly tried to make the case that Loyola deserved to be in over the Terps, but maybe those wacky fans should make a comparison between Loyola and Brown, which by looking at how the bracket shook out, were the last team out and in, respectively. I'm not going to get into an "us vs. them" comparison, but the Terps earned their way into the field with wins on the field.
The committee really put an emphasis on quality wins this year. A study by the NCAA found that the RPI was flawed due to the sample size, so that was deemphasized a bit, while quality wins were elevated a bit. Maryland had a top five win (Duke) and a top 10 win (North Carolina). Another thing that is evident is that strength of schedule is still important. Maryland's strength of schedule was among the top five when all was said and done. That was another key factor in getting Maryland into the field.
One notion that fans seem to get hung up on is the "close loss." This is a slippery slope that leads to more slippery slopes. If the committee started to look at close losses then do they also have to take into account player injuries or when games happened? I'm not trying to single-out Loyola here, but that's who most angry fans are pointing to as this year's "snub." The fans argue that Loyola lost four games by a total of seven goals, including one-goal losses to Notre Dame, Syracuse and Hopkins. If the committee were to take those into account, wouldn't it also have to take into account Maryland's seven-overtime loss at Virginia (let's not even get into the inadvertent whistle) and the one-goal loss to Hopkins, during which the officials called seven penalties on the Terps in the third quarter alone? The point is, where is the line drawn?
One thing that makes things even more complicated is the polls. The Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and the USILA Coaches Poll both have Syracuse and Notre Dame ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in their final polls. Virginia is ranked fourth in the media poll and fifth in the coaches'. So the casual fan asks "How can Virginia get the No. 1 seed?" Simply put, the polls are a week-by-week glance at where the teams are right now. They are dominated by the recent past. Duke beats Virginia in the ACC Tournament and the Wahoos drop in the polls. What the polls don't really look at is the whole body of work and that's what the committee has to focus on. Sure, Duke beat Virginia twice, but the Blue Devils have three losses (Harvard, Cornell and Maryland). That begs the question "Are Virginia's two losses worse than Duke's three losses?" The easy and right answer is no, but that doesn't automatically put UVa. over Duke. So what did? Look at Virginia's schedule. The Cavaliers won at Syracuse, won at Hopkins and defeated UNC at a neutral site. Meanwhile, Duke's only quality wins outside of Durham still occurred in North Carolina - over Virginia and UNC at the ACC Tournament in Chapel Hill.
This is all just some food for thought. Let's get back to Maryland lacrosse.
Here's a quick look at the Terps' upcoming weekend. The team will be heading out to South Bend, Ind., on Saturday morning via a charter flight from BWI directly into South Bend. There's a short walk-through at Alumni Field before getting some lunch and taking a short trip to the College Football Hall of Fame. After that the team will have some dinner and meetings before settling down for the night. A noon game means an 8 a.m. breakfast. The team will arrive at the field around 10 a.m. After the game the team will head back to the airport and be back at BWI around 6 p.m. This just shows that there's not a whole lot of down time on a trip like this.
The tournament gives some teams a breath of fresh air. It's the start of a new season. Everybody is 0-0 and is on the same footing. This is the start of a four-game season that only has one winner and it can be any team. Some teams, like Notre Dame and Duke for example, will try to look at the start of the tournament as just an extension of the regular season. Why not, they finished strong and are looking to keep their respective ships steaming in the same direction. In a season where there isn't a "dominant" team, all it takes if for a team to get hot, get some breaks and hoist the trophy on Memorial Day.
The match-up between the Terps and the Irish is an interesting one. On paper these two teams are even. The one stat that clearly favors one side is save percentage. The Irish are stopping 66.5% of shots put on net, while the Terps are saving 54.5%. Can ND's All-America candidate goalie Scott Rodgers stop 66% against the Terps? Will the Terps be able to put shots on goal better than they did last week at Yale? That will be an interesting subplot.
One other stat that stands out is that the Irish are committing less than two penalties per game for less than 1:30 per game. Maryland's EMO unit is converting at 50%, which ranks second in the NCAA. Can the Terps draw the Irish into committing some penalties, which would allow their man-up unit to get some better scoring opportunities against one of the nation's stingiest defenses? The answer to that question may determine the outcome of the game.
There has been a little bit of a stir in the media over the past few days about Grant Catalino being listed as a starting midfielder in the Yale game. On paper that looks like a "Wow" thing, but really it's a matter of semantics. It could have been any of the attackmen listed as a midfielder. The offense right now is basically a group of fluid parts. Most times Catalino could be found at his familiar spot on the left wing. Sure, he moved around on the field, but so did all of the Maryland offensive players. Catalino has been playing "up top" all season on the man-up unit, so maybe this is just a bit of working that into the regular offense.
One person that has been flying under the radar for most of the season has been sophomore Travis Reed. He started the year slowly thanks to off-season surgery and shin splints. But since he's been healthy and gotten into playing shape Reed has been tremendously productive. The cutoff point for "out of shape" and "in shape" is probably the Bryant game. Since then (including the Bryant game) Reed has had at least one point in eight of the nine games, including multiple-points in seven of the nine. A close look at the stats for those nine games finds Reed is the team's top shooter, scoring on 41.4% of his shots, and is the team's second-leading goal scorer with 12.
That wraps up another edition for the blog. The weather is supposed to be good in South Bend on Sunday, so if you can get out there you'll be treated to a rare phenomenon this year - a dry Maryland men's lacrosse game. I'll try to have some updates on Saturday, so check back.
(April 29): A few weeks ago I wrote here that it was way too early to get into men's lacrosse "bracketology." Well, borrowing from S.E. Hinton (if you don't know, then Google him), that was then this is now. Keep in mind that there are seven automatic qualifiers and nine at-large selections.
First thing to consider: who is in right now with AQs? Navy won the Patriot League Tournament last weekend, so the Mids are in. That's it for now. AQs to be handed out this week in tournaments are (top seed in parenthesis): America East (UMBC), CAA (Hofstra), GWLL (Notre Dame) and MAAC (Siena). UMass can wrap-up the ECAC's AQ with a win at Rutgers on Saturday. The ECAC, which does not hold a tournament, awards its AQ to the regular season champ. The final AQ is in the Ivy League, which like the ECAC gives its AQ to the regular-season champ. That will be determined on Saturday when Brown plays at Princeton. If Brown wins they get the AQ. If Princeton wins then Cornell gets the AQ.
There are generally six teams considered locks for at-large spots: Duke (ACC), Virginia (ACC), North Carolina (ACC), Johns Hopkins (Ind.), Syracuse (Ind.) and Princeton (Ivy).
So where does that leave the Terps? Cornell will probably be in the field even if it does not get the Ivy AQ. The same cannot be said for Brown, which doesn't have the strength of schedule (SOS) to make a case for an at-large bid. Maryland has the fifth-best SOS, is in the top 15 of RPI and has a top five win (Duke) and a top 10 win (UNC, which could end up being a top five win before it's all said and done). A win on Saturday at Yale and the Terps should have their ticket punched for a seventh-straight NCAA tournament.
You're not going to get seeding speculation or pairing predictions here. If memory serves correctly, there were many in the legit media and the not-so-legit fringe-media that tried to predict the bracket last year and very few were even remotely close. I'll leave that up to the selection committee. But here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Conference teams cannot play each other in the first round. That means that Maryland will not be headed south to play Virginia, Duke or Carolia. It also means that Cornell, Princeton and, possibly, Brown can't play each other in the opening round.
2. The NCAA allows only two flights. But the limit for bus travel has been upped to 400 miles. That means that a Baltimore-area team (ie. UMBC) could be shipped up to Syracuse or a northern team (ie. UMass) could be headed to Homewood to take on Hopkins.
What does that mean? It means that there are only so many places that Maryland could end up in the first round - from the close (Johns Hopkins) to the west (Notre Dame, provided they get a home game) to the north (Princeton, Cornell, Hofstra perhaps).
A quick word on Maryland's streak of NCAA tournament appearances; there is only one school with a longer streak and that would be Johns Hopkins.
But let's take an even closer look at Maryland's history. The Terps have never had a losing record in its 84-year history. NEVER! In fact there were only four seasons that Maryland finished .500 (1946, 1947, 1980, 1993). That's amazing when you think about it. Some might think - "That can't be that uncommon for top programs." Think again. Here's a look at what most would consider 10 of the top programs in the country right now and their last losing season:
Take another look. Seven of those teams have had losing seasons since 2003. Only one team has not had a losing season since Maryland last had a .500 season. Critics have said that Maryland hasn't won a national title since 1975, but there are only seven schools to ever win an NCAA men's lacrosse championship and only four have won the trophy since 1992.
In order to win a national title a team has to first, have a winning record, and second get into the tournament. Maryland has done that consistently year-in and year-out.
One thing I want to touch on is the ACC Tournament. First, the folks at North Carolina could not have been more gracious or helpful. Second, the hedges around the field at Kenan Stadium ate lacrosse balls all weekend. There are probably a couple dozen in there that won't be found until next winter if ever. Finally, there were a lot of goals scored in the three-game tournament. How many, you ask? A total of 75 goals were scored in the three games. That's the most goals in the tournament in the past 10 years and ties the tournament record for most goals in a tournament (1997). In fact, this year is the only time in the past 10 tournaments that the total number of goals has topped 65 (granted there were only two games in 2006, but I'm not sure there would have been 30 goals scored in the other semifinal (35 were scored in the two games). Before this year the highest goal total for the past 10 ACC Tournaments was 64 in 2007 when it was held at Duke.
Why were there so many goals? As nice as Kenan Stadium was, it was not built to be a lacrosse venue. Light colored concrete walls, shiny aluminum bleachers and the fact that the sun sets directly in the line of sight of one goal all made for some tough conditions for goalies. Maryland had the "sun goal" in the first quarter of its semifinal against UNC and Jason Carter had a heck of a time seeing the ball coming out of the Carolina players' sticks. The six goals allowed in the first quarter to UNC are the most Maryland has allowed in any quarter in 2009.
One final thing to think about for the week - schedules in men's lacrosse are usually pretty easy. After all, most teams play the same opponents on the same weekend every year, right? As former Terp football coach Lee Corso is prone to say, "Not so fast my friend." Things are going to get a bit shuffled next year, mainly due to three factors.
1. The NCAA Tournament will commence a week later than in recent years due to Memorial Day moving back a week. That will leave two weeks in between the ACC Tournament, which will not move back because of final exams at some of the school, and the start of the NCAA Tournament.
2. The Ivy League will hold a tournament for the first time next year. That means that Maryland's recent year-ender against an Ivy League opponent will have to be changed to a non-Ivy foe. Which team will that be? We will all find out in November or December.
3. The formation of the Big East Conference in men's lacrosse will have a profound effect on schedules. How the Big East lays out its conference games will impact what other teams have to do. Will the Big East try to string off of its conference games in consecutive weekends to close the season or will it spread them out throughout the season? And, at least for now, there is not a Big East Tournament in 2010, but there will be one in the future.
That wraps up this edition of the blog. Hopefully it was informative and gives you something to think about or argue about with a friend. The Terps head up to New Haven, Conn., on Friday to play at Yale on Saturday. If I have a chance I'll try to put an update up from the hotel when we get in.
(April 24): Well, the Terps are in Chapel Hill. The team arrived ahead of schedule yesterday thanks to some light traffic on the I-495 beltway, especially on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
There was one snag in the travel plans. The team bus was late in coming to the Varsity Team House Thursday because of a scheduling snafu. The bus schedule had the team leaving on Friday morning, which would have made it hard to have practice at Kenan Stadium and make the banquet. Thankfully, arrangements were made, including a driver switch at a rest area on the beltway, and everyone got down here safe and sound.
Since the team arrived early its practice time was moved up to noon. Not much was accomplished because a couple Tar Heel players were up on the balcony overlooking the field. I guess no one from the ACC saw them or thought it was a big deal. The practice did give the team a look at a stadium where it has never played, which is always important. One thing that we did learn at the walk-through, courtesy of athletic trainer Sean O'Keefe, is that kahaki shorts, black socks and pale skinny legs do not make for a good look.
The banquet was a nice affair last night and that's coming from someone who doesn't really care for events like that. UNC put on a good spread that included fresh steamed vegetables, roasted potatoes, roast beef and chicken primavera. Topping it all off was a variety of desserts that left no one wanting for more.
I promised to divulge who had the most hideous jacket, but in all honesty no one from the Terps had a horrific jacket. The same can not be said for Grant Catalino's pants. Maryland was the only team to wear coats and ties. The other three teams chose to wear polos and khakis, except for Duke, which wore shorts. Apparently the Blue Devils thought they were going to a pig-picking. As good as the food was, I would have voted for the pulled pork, which is phenomenal in North Carolina.
The highlight of the night was the announcing of the All-ACC teams and the, as ACC championship honcho Davis Whitfield put it, "of the Year" awards. All of the honorees deserved the recognition and there are those that were left off the team that probably deserved it as well. But, there are only 11 spots and the ACC doesn't dictate that every position be represented on the team. I'm sure that guys like Catalino, Garrett Billings of UVa., Mike Manley of Duke and Sean Delaney of UNC will feel like they have something to prove this weekend.
(April 22): It's ACC Tournament week and that means a trip down "Tobacco Road" (had to get the reference in for Billy Langenstein one of the team's student athletic trainers) for the Terps and a semifinal game against the host Carolina Tar Heels.
This is the second year in a row that Maryland will have to take on the host school when the Terps are the higher-seeded team. It's also the second year in a row that the Terps will take on a lower-seeded host school that is ranked higher in the polls. Of course it's a bit of a stretch to say this a huge home field advantage for the Tar Heels. This year's ACC Tournament is being held in UNC's Kenan Statium, which is the home of Carolina's football team. The men's lacrosse team plays its home games at Fetzer Field. Carolina did play Duke in Kenan earlier this season and will have been able to practice there (maybe, I don't know that for certain), but it is different than playing a team on its regular field. Hopefully the crowds this weekend will justify shifting the games away from Fetzer.
One thing that comes with the ACC Tournament is the Championship Banquet on Thursday night. This year will be a bit different than in the previous years since the women's tournament is being held is Blacksburg, Va., at Virginia Tech. So this year it will just be the four men's teams in a banquet hall trying to get enough to eat and waiting for the reason the banquet still exists - the announcing of the All-ACC team and the three individual awards. One interesting thing every year at the banquet is which player is going to wear the most hideous sport coat. I'll fill you in on that little detail Friday, as I'll try to update the blog as long as we're in Chapel Hill.
Last week was a good week for the Terps. We got into the Binghamton game last week (just scroll down a bit to read that bit of interesting insight), so I'll just touch on the Penn game.
First, there were a bit of travel issues for the Terps on the way up to Philly. The bus carrying the Terps, which was not the usual "Terps" bus that people associate with Maryland athletics, got lost on the way to the team's pregame meal in Newark, Del. After that the bus made a wrong turn and mistakenly took I-76 East, which took the team to lovely Camden, N.J. The bus then turned around and headed back to Philadelphia on I-76 West, but somehow missed the correct exit and headed into downtown Philly. The team got a quick bus tour of City Hall and the famous museum of art where Rocky ran up the steps. The traffic in downtown Philadelphia was a mess due to several events taking place there and a number of key streets being shut down, either for the events or repairs. Finally, the team arrived at Franklin Field, but the game's start-time had to be pushed back from the original 4:30 start to 5:15.
When the game finally did start it didn't take long for the Terps to assert themselves and dominate the Quakers, en route to a 9-2 victory. For the second game in a row, every available Terp got into the game, which not only is big for the reserves who get a chance to play, but also for the regulars who only have six days to get ready for the ACC semis on Friday.
That rest is especially big because the weather in Chapel Hill this weekend is supposed to be in the 80s with sunshine. Two things are going to be key items this weekend - Gatorade and sunscreen. Players are going to have to make sure they are hydrated for the game. The ACC Tournament follows NCAA Tournament rules, which allow for only 32 players to be on the active roster. Another 10 are allowed to dress and participate in warm-ups, but not play in the game. Players have to be ready to play more minutes in conditions they haven't played in all season (outside of the two games in Florida, but that was more than two months ago).
The last thing that I want to address is the number of critics of the ACC Tournament that have sprung up recently. Those critics bash the ACC Tournament, saying that it's just a way for the teams to beef up their strength of schedule by playing each other one more time (or two in the case of the two teams that make the finals). This wasn't a very popular argument as many as five years ago (the last time the tournament was held in Chapel Hill). That year the Terps won the title by beating Duke in the semis and Virginia in the finals. Funny thing is that both Duke and Virginia had losing records and didn't make the NCAA Tournament in 2004. I don't remember (which doesn't mean it wasn't out there) this argument coming up until last year when it was essentially North Carolina's strength of schedule that propelled the Tar Heels to a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
These same critics have said that there are other possibilities for scheduling that fans would be clamoring for, such as a de-facto ACC-Ivy or ACC-ECAC challenge, a la the ACC/Big 10 Challenge in basketball. The problem with that argument is that those leagues are still playing their conference schedules and are not going to reconfigure their schedules to accommodate something like this on this weekend every year. Most schools have set schedules that find them playing the same opponents on the same weekend year after year after year. A lot, and I do mean a lot, of schedules would need to be reconfigured for anything like this to happen; and it wouldn't be just the schedules of the teams playing in the "challenge."
Say the challenge would take place on the second weekend of March. For the Terps that's the weekend it usually plays UMBC. Maryland and UMBC would not want to discontinue their series, so they would have to find another day to play. UMBC would have to find someone else to play that weekend and another weekend to play the Terps. That's easy; just swap whoever the Retrievers are playing this weekend for that weekend. No so fast. UMBC plays its entire America East schedule in consecutive weeks and finishes this weekend (this year at home vs. Vermont). In order to keep that in tact, the rest of the Retrievers' schedule would have to be shifted up a week. This year that would have affected Ohio State, who UMBC played the week following the Terps.
I'm sure by now you can see the trickle-down effect this would have. A "challenge" is an easy thing to talk about, but a much harder thing to make happen. Harder, not impossible, but I don't see the ACC canceling the tournament. This is the 21st year for the event and it is a big deal to the schools, coaches and players. There might not be an automatic qualifier for the winner, but it's a great weekend of lacrosse. It gives Virginia another chance to take down a Duke team that it hasn't beaten since 2004. It gives UNC another shot at the Terps, who squeaked out an 8-7 win in College Park on a game-winning goal that bounced off of two Tar Heel sticks. And, if things would happen to turn out this way, who wouldn't want to see Maryland and Virginia play one more time after the seven-overtime thriller last month in Charlottesville?
That's where I'll leave this edition of the blog. Keep an eye on umterps.com for the All-ACC announcement and check back here on Friday. I'll have a look at the team's trip down "Tobacco Road" (there you go again Billy), a look at the team's practice at Kenan Stadium and you'll find out who wore the most hideous sport coat at the banquet.
(April 15): The blog is a bit late today thanks to having to finish things related to the game yesterday and getting things ready for this Saturday at Penn.
About the Binghamton game ... it was kind of like "Senior Day Part II" and it was great to see those guys getting a chance to take the field and play some meaningful minutes. Scott Tompkins, who has seen quite a bit of time this season, looked good quarterbacking the offense and finished with a career-best four points on a goal and three assists. Overall, every Terp that isn't redshirting or injured got into the game. Originally, Mark White was listed as an eligible Terp that didn't play, but White is redshirting the season. Sorry for the confusion.
The victory was a historic one for the Terrapin program - the 700th win in Maryland's 84-year history. Only four other teams have 700 or more Division I wins (Hopkins, Syracuse, Navy and Army). The Terps reached the milestone in 84 seasons and 940 games played. Of the other four teams, only Hopkins got to 700 wins in fewer games (932), but did so in its 105th season. Syracuse is the only other team to get to 700 wins in its 84th season. It took Army 92 seasons and Navy 99 seasons to get to 700 victories.
I know the coaches and the players don't read what is being said on the message boards, but I do (it's part of the job) and some of the things said there are laughable. Many people on the numerous boards are crying foul that the Terps are the top seed in the ACC Tournament, but those people need to keep in mind that Maryland doesn't have a say in that. The rules are set by the ACC and the third tiebreaker, which is what it went down to, states that the tie will be broken by goals allowed in games played between the tied teams. Maryland gave up only 18 goals to Duke and Virginia. Duke gave up 21 and Virginia 24, so the Terps are the top seed. Going on goals allowed is certainly better than goals scored since no one wants to advocate for running up a score just to get a better seed. Besides, there are no easy games in the ACC Tournament. What's Maryland's reward for getting the top seed? That would be playing the host school, which also happens to be a very, very good team.
One other topic that needs to be addressed is Will Yeatman, who has been a favorite target of message board wonks ever since transferring to Maryland. I have been around college athletics for a long time now and would be hard pressed to come up with a more well mannered, nice young man. He's been nothing but a positive for this team and University. Some have said that he has been a detriment to the team, but nothing could be further from the truth. He is well respected by his teammates and is one of the true leaders on the squad. People also need to remember that he's really playing lacrosse for the first time in a year and a half. He didn't play last year and spent the summer and fall preparing for football. He really didn't pick up a lacrosse stick until he came to Maryland in January. Yeatman is just getting comfortable on a lacrosse field again and that should be worrisome for Maryland's opponents.
From one Terp who's getting too much attention wrongly to one who isn't getting the attention he deserves. Max Schmidt has grown into one of the best close defenders in all of college lacrosse. A lot has been asked of Schmidt this season and he's responded in spades. People forget that he is just a sophomore and he's become the leader of a Maryland defense that is among the NCAA leaders in scoring defense and man-down defense. Over the Terps' last four games Schmidt has had 15 groundballs, including setting his career-high twice, and nine caused turnovers. Hopefully voters will give him his proper due when it's time to evaluate players for postseason honors.
Now is the time of year that everyone starts thinking about how the NCAA Tournament is going to shake out. While this is a nice exercise and certainly provides a conversation (or argument) starter, it's really a moot point right now. There are too many big games left to be played to really predict the field right now. You don't have to look past this weekend to find some huge games that have national implications. Take a look at these games that will be played on April 18 and tell me they won't have an impact on what the tournament field will look like in three weeks:
#1 Princeton at #5 Cornell (could determine the Ivy champ)
There may only be three weeks left until the tournament selection show (airing live on ESPNU if you get it), but there are too many big games to make any real predictions at this point.
I hope people are enjoying the highlights currently up at the Video Vault. The Virginia game should be up on Thursday. So far the videos have been viewed more than 7,000 times. Not too bad, but it only means that we're 117,770,000 views behind Evolution of Dance.
That's it for this week. Hope to see you in Philly for the Penn game on Saturday at Franklin Field. Admission is free and the weather is supposed to be in the 60s with "few showers," which isn't bad considering some of the weather we've had this year.
(April 8): There's only one thing that needs to be said about this week - it's Hopkins week! For the 105th time (or 95th officially for the Terps - the first 10 were played before men's lacrosse program was an official university athletic program) the Terrapins and the Blue Jays will hook up on the lacrosse field.
On a whim I went and typed "rival" into dictionary.com and here's one of the definitions that came up:
One who is in pursuit of the same object as another; one striving to reach or obtain something which another is attempting to obtain, and which one only can posses; a competitor
That about sums it up. Two teams will enter M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, both needing a win, but only one will emerge with the victory.
There's been a lot written about the Hopkins-Maryland rivalry and a lot more will be (keep an eye out in the Baltimore Sun for an article by Ed Lee later this week featuring some of the key figures from the past from both programs). Type "Maryland Johns Hopkins Rivalry" into Google and 67,000 results turn up (not all of them related to lacrosse, but you get the idea). Here are a few for you to check out and kill some time at your desk:
Inside Lacrosse: Rivalry Day: Johns Hopkins and Maryland is the granddaddy of them all in lacrosse
If you haven't already gotten your tickets (shame on you!), here's where you can get them: DayofRivals.com.
Every year there is a lot riding on the outcome of the Maryland-Hopkins game, but this year there seems to be a bit more and that could be because of the unsettled landscape of college lacrosse this season. It's a bit simplistic to say that the winner of this game will get a top eight seed in the tournament and the loser will be on the road for the first round, but it could end up meaning that.
There's no dominant team out there right now; everyone has flaws. The trick every week is to try to minimize your flaws while exploiting your opponent's. Making it even trickier is that some weeks a team's flaws may change.
It doesn't take a lacrosse genius to see where the Terps' flaws are at the moment. Ever since the now infamous inadvertent whistle in the seven-overtime marathon at Virginia, the Maryland offense has been in a bit of a funk. No one really knows why, but four goals at Navy certainly qualifies as a funk. The reason isn't talent, because this group has that in abundance. But it could come down to confidence, which has been a bit of a hot topic, not just around College Park, but in the entire sports world. Jimmy Roberts, formerly of ESPN and now a part of NBC's golf coverage, has a new book out called Breaking the Slump: How Great Players Survived Their Darkest Moments in Golf - and What You Can Learn from Them that deals with overcoming adversity and frustration. I heard Roberts on a radio interview and he recalled a conversation with Paul Azinger who said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that confidence is something that when you have it you don't think you'll ever lose it, and when you don't have it you think you're never going to get it back. How will the Terps regain their confidence? Well, success breeds confidence and confidence breeds success, so if Maryland has something break its way early on Saturday that could be all it takes to get the ball rolling again.
One other thing that makes Hopkins Week special for the Terps is the annual Father/Son dinner that is held on Friday night. This is yet another thing that the Terrapin parents do to make playing at Maryland a true family experience.
I've provided the link above to buy tickets for Saturday's game and when (not if) you do, be sure to clear your calendar to be there for both games. The Army-Navy game is something special regardless of the sport, but the lacrosse rivalry is probably second only to the football rivalry among the academies. This is a great chance to be a small part of Army-Navy history. There are rumors of a full march-on by both academies, so be sure to get there early.
That's it for this week. Don't forget that the Terps also play on Tuesday against Binghamton. See you in Baltimore on Saturday.
(March 31): Tuesday is really Wednesday this week, so that means that there's a blog update today. What? Since the Terps are playing on Friday, the week has been pushed up a day. The team is in Wednesday mode for practice, so why not here at the blog?
Lets get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the official blew the call last week at Virginia. Did that cost the Terps the game? Yes and no. Yes, it cost Maryland the game-winning goal in OT, but there were so many other chances to win that game that it was only one opportunity. I could go on and on, but the fact remains that the game is over. I could Google "officiating errors" or "bad officiating" and compile a list of other times officials have made bad calls, but that would mean too much time looking back. Playing the "what if ..." game about last week doesn't help get ready for this week.
Speaking of this week, it's another marquee game on the schedule - Navy. It would be easy to rattle off a bunch of war metaphors when talking about this game, but I respect what those guys will be doing once their time at the Academy is done too much for that.
One thing you can count on for this game is that, if history is to be believed, this will be a close game and probably decided by one goal. Over the past 10 years, the Terps and Mids have played once a season and eight of those have been one-goal games. Maryland has won five of those one-goal affairs and is 6-4 in the last 10, but the Midshipmen have won four of the last five. The one the Terps have won in the last five was the last time the game was played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium - an 8-7 OT thriller in 2007.
Some might say that Navy is down this year, but don't be fooled. The Mids, as always, are well coached and have one of the nation's stingiest defenses. Their man-down unit is the best in the country and Navy's offense has some potent weapons. Also, Navy might be 7-3 on the season, but all three of its losses have been by one goal and two of them were on the road in February. One other thing to think about is that Friday will be "Senior Night" for the Mids. It's an emotional night for any program, so there's no way that Navy will come out flat. Hopefully the weather will cooperate (chance of rain is forecast) and we'll get to see both teams at their best.
This will be a shorter edition of the blog, but before I go here are a couple of thoughts and updates:
It was great to get Bryn Holmes and Brett Schmidt back last week. Those two really make a difference for the Terps. Holmes is one of those guys that just makes people around him better because he challenges them and demands them to get better.
Everyone around the program gets a lot of questions about Brian Farrell, so here's an update. He's still recovering, but has been cleared for light jogging. He's not been cleared to practice or even go hard in conditioning. We're hoping to hear good news later this week when he goes to see the doctor.
With the Terps and Mids facing-off on Friday night fans will have the chance to, if they can, catch the Big City Classic. The Princeton-Syracuse game has the potential to be a classic and could April 4 be the day that North Carolina snaps its 19-game losing streak to ACC teams when it plays Virginia?
Coming out on Friday to watch the Maryland-Navy game will be a good preview of the Smartlink Day of Rivals. If you don't have your tickets for this event (and it's not overstating it to say it will be an event) then head over to DayofRivals.com and buy them today. How can you beat the pageantry and competition of Army-Navy and the intensity and passion of Maryland-Hopkins?
That's it for this week. Keep a look out for some new highlight videos soon. UMBC, Carolina and Virginia are all in the works.
(March 25): Where did the week go? They say time flies when you're having fun, but it never moves faster than when there is a lot to do.
Before we get into lacrosse there are a few congratulations to be sent out. First, congratulations go out to Coach Gary Williams and the men's basketball team. He and the Terps took some heat earlier this season and it just goes to show that midseason talk doesn't mean much. Second, a big congratulation goes to Coach Kerry McCoy and the Maryland wrestling program. A 10th-place finish and three All-Americans at the NCAA Championships in McCoy's first season is something to crow about. We would send out congratulations to Coach Brenda Frese and the women's hoops team, but hopefully it will be another two weeks before their season is done. Good luck in Raleigh ladies!
We're about at the midpoint of the 2009 season and the Terps' 6-2 record is similar to where they've been over the past four years. In fact, the record is identical to Maryland's mark after eight games in 2008, 2007 and 2006. In 2005, the Terps were 5-3 at this point. Some may say that the Terps have failed to live up to the preseason hype that surrounded them. But one thing that has to be noted is that the hype did not come from within the program. Coach Cottle has said since the first day of practice that this will be a better team in April and May then it will be in February and March. Of course if you look at some of the obstacles that this year's Terps have had to overcome, then the 6-2 record looks pretty good. If you told people back in January that this team would lose Brian Farrell for five (and possibly a few more) games, be without Bryn Holmes and Brett Schmidt for a couple of key games and be down to its sixth starting close defenseman for the UNC game and still be 6-2 they would say you're crazy.
Last week here on the blog we talked about the season that Grant Catalino was putting together (and it's still very impressive - he was named a second team midseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse). This week it's time to focus on another Terp that's putting together a great season of his own - Dan Groot. It might be a bit premature, but right now Groot should be in the discussion for All-America honors. He's second on the team in scoring right now with 20 points on 11 goals and nine assists, but his offense is just one part of the equation. Most people don't recognize Groot for what he's done on the defensive end of the field. He's been solid for the Terps and has played a lot of minutes playing defense and that's been huge for a unit that's running thin on short-sticks. With injuries to Farrell, Holmes and Schmidt, several shorties have had to pick up long poles and that's put more defensive responsibilities on the offensive middies, especially Groot and fellow senior Jeff Reynolds. Groot will also see time in key situations on the face-off wing. From here, it sounds like Groot favors comparably to another all-around middie who is constantly mentioned for postseason honors - Syracuse's Matt Abbott, who has 11 points on six goals and five assists through seven games. We're just hoping that the people doing the voting for postseason honors give Groot the consideration he deserves with the season he's putting together. Of course, a great three-week stretch will go a long way to getting those voters' attention.
It's official! The Maryland men's lacrosse team (along with other sports based out of the Varsity Team House) has started following one of the hottest trends in athletic training and rehabilitation - Wii-Hab! Yep, take a trip to the athletic training room at the Varsity Team House and you will likely find someone playing Wii Sports. Coach Cottle and men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovsky helped make it happen and athletic trainer Sean O'Keefe (who is becoming a regular mention on the blog) has embraced the benefits. Don't believe it? Here's some articles to check out ... apparently Wii really is good for you.
Word is that Brian Farrell is already a bowling pro and as long as Craig Sullivan doesn't use his Mii he'll probably stay that way. (Appologies go out to student coach Patrick Hutchinson, who was erroneously mentioned as the culprit in the original posting. Sorry Hutch.)
Enough fun for now, this is a big week. The Terps head down Rt. 66 to Charlottesville for a huge (if huge is a big enough word for it) game at No. 1 Virginia. The Terps and the Wahoos are slated to face-off at noon on Saturday. If you can't make it down to Klöckner Stadium, no problem; the game will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2-HD. ESPN2 is in more than 90 million homes nationwide, so there's no excuse for missing this one. In the recent past Klöckner has been a "House of Horrors" for the Terps. Maryland has not won in Charlottesville since 2003, a nail-biting 8-7 win. Since then, the Cavaliers have won three straight at home over the Terps, the last of which came in last season's ACC Tournament. The weather forecast is calling for a chance of showers and thunderstorms with temps in the upper 50s. That's eerily similar to the conditions in 2005 when the game was delayed for nearly 45 minutes and ended with a 10-2 Virginia victory. Let's hope the weather and the result are different on Saturday.
Two quick things to mention about last week's game vs. UNC. First, "Senior Day" is always special. It was very early this year due to scheduling quirks, but it was great to honor those 14 young men for their contributions to this program. But it's not just about honoring the players; it's also about recognizing the parents and families who have helped them along the way. Since I have a hand in putting the whole thing together, it never seems like it will work out, but in the end it does and we're thankful for all of the help from the rest of the athletic department and the men's lacrosse program, players and families. Second, what a game! There's never a bad way to win a game and in the end any win is a good win, but no one could have predicted how the game-winning goal would be scored. After the game Groot said he must have had the "Luck of the Irish" with him. I'm not sure if he has any Irish in him, but maybe there are a couple of four-leaf clovers growing on Ludwig Field.
That's it for this week. Hope to see you in Charlottesville. If not, be sure to catch the game on ESPN2.
(March 18):How important is emotion in determining the outcome of a game? If you watched Maryland's loss to UMBC last week you already know the answer. When a talented team plays a similarly talented team something has to separate them and last Saturday that separator was emotion.
Why did the Terps come out flat? No one knows - not the coaches, not the players. I've talked to a lot of them and listened to conversations in the Varsity Team House and the explanation just isn't there.
But one thing that is certain is that the Maryland team that took the field on Sunday against Bryant came out with that emotion and it showed. Please don't make the mistake of saying, "Well, it's just Bryant." Bryant is a quality opponent, which will probably go on to dominate the Northeast Conference when it fields lacrosse next year. The Bulldogs are a dangerous team that are extremely well coached, has the NCAA's top face-off man, has the all-time leading goal scorer in NCAA history and has a quality goalie. Add all of those things together and you get a dangerous team; one that had the Terps come out flat against could have pulled off an upset. But Maryland didn't come out flat. The Terps flew around the field and looked every bit as dangerous as people expected in the preseason.
Three guys that really took the UMBC loss personally were the three senior midfielders and they played like they had something to prove on Sunday. Dan Groot had four points, including three goals in the first quarter, helping to set the tone for the team. Jeff Reynolds had a goal and an assist, but it was his five groundballs and his play on the face-off wing that stood out. Jeremy Sieverts had his point-scoring streak snapped, but if you ask him he'll tell you that didn't matter. The three tough groundballs that he scooped up were more important than a goal or an assist on Sunday.
The UMBC game was a wake-up call and if this team needed one then this was the besit time for it to come. Take a look at the next four weeks (we who are close to the team rattle these four games off like Seth Davis will rattle off hoops stats on the pregame show tomorrow) - Carolina, Virginia, Navy, Hopkins. These are the make-or-break games of the schedule. These are the games that will define the season.
Speaking of defining a season, how about the season that Grant Catalino is putting together. He's not only leading the team in scoring, but he's leading the ACC in points per game. His 30 points are only one point off the pace that Joe Walters was on in 2004 when he went on to total 68 points, the seventh-best single season in school history. Of course it's hard to impress everyone and it seems that Catalino's season is not that impressive to Geoff Shannon at Inside Lacrosse, who didn't list Catalino as one of the top seven attackmen through the first third of the season. If Catalino keeps putting up the numbers he's been putting up over the next four weeks it will be hard to continue overlooking him. (Which begs the question ... how do you overlook someone that's 6-foot-5, 240 pounds?)
Another Terps who deserves a bit of pub is sophomore Brett Schmidt. Where would this team be without Schmidt, who has really stepped up to become a good close defender. Since moving into the starting line-up as a close defenseman (filling in for the injured Brian Farrell) in the Duke game, Schmidt has seven groundballs and nine caused turnovers. He still has a lot to learn about playing down low, but his quickness, athleticism and active stick have helped fill a gaping hole for the Terps. Schmidt's speed is also an asset in the clearing game. He runs a 4.5 40, so if they need him to clear the ball with his legs he can do that pretty easily.
This weekend a lot of sports fans will be surrounding TV sets watching for upsets and buzzer-beaters in the NCAA basketball tournaments (yes, there are two - the women's tournament matters too, especially in College Park). But this is also a huge weekend in the world of college lacrosse, one that will go a long way in determining tournament slots and seeds come May. Here's a look at some other key games (aside from the Terps-Tar Heels showdown) this weekend:
Friday, March 20
Saturday, March 21
Ohio State (4-2) at #6 UMBC (4-2)
#20 Georgetown (2-3) at #8 Duke (6-3)
Colgate (3-3) at #13 Navy (5-2)
UMass (3-3) at #14 Loyola (5-2)
Saturday's game against North Carolina will be a bit more than just a game, since it will feature the annual "Senior Day" ceremonies prior to face-off. This won't be the final home game for the 14 Terrapin seniors (Jason Carter, Anthony Costanzo, Danny Gallagher, Mike Griswold, Dan Groot, Spencer McAllister, Rob Morrison, David O'Quinn, Jeff Reynolds, Chris Rhine, Jeremy Sieverts, Kevin Slafkosky, Scott Tompkins and Nick Ward), but it will be the final weekend regular season game. It will be a little different holding "Senior Day" at Ludwig Field, but hopefully Terrapin fans and lacrosse fans will come out and give these guys the appreciation that they deserve.
If you haven't already done so, click over and check out the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Video Vault, a new feature on umterps.com. New highlight videos will be uploaded as we can produce them. Hopefully its something Terp fans will enjoy.
That's it for this week. See you at Ludwig on Saturday, the weather is supposed to be fantastic so there's no excuse for not being there.
(March 11): Who says Spring Break is a time to relax and kick back for college students? It's certainly not the case for the Maryland men's lacrosse team, which will be spending its Spring Break playing three games in eight days. Now who thinks that's better than a week in Cancun?
First up for the Terps is local rival UMBC, which is No. 10 in this week's Inside Lacrosse media poll. It may not seem like much of a rivalry since the Terps have won 24 of the 30 games the two teams have played, but the game has something extra in it for Maryland since the Retrievers have won the last two in the series.
One quick thing about the UMBC game - the game time is now 12 noon. The game was originally scheduled for 1 p.m., but was changed for television. Please make sure that you update your schedules. You don't want to show up to find the game is already at halftime.
The UMBC game is Maryland's second straight WMAR "Game of the Week" which means two things. First, lacrosse fans in the greater Baltimore area will be able to watch the game live on WMAR (provided they don't cut out in the third quarter this week). Second, and more importantly to the team, is that games televised and produced by WMAR are the only lacrosse games to have media timeouts. These scheduled breaks (the first deadball after 10:00 and 5:00 of each quarter) can play havoc with midfield rotations and the overall flow of the game. There's no way of knowing whether or not the media timeouts will favor a certain team, but they are something to be aware of when you sit down to watch the game on Saturday.
After the game on Saturday there will be little or no rest for the Terps as they have to turn around and get ready to play a dangerous Bryant team on Sunday. Some may ask "how is team playing its first season as a Division I team dangerous?" Well, the Bulldogs have been planning this transition to DI for a couple of years now and have a lot of talent, the least of which is the NCAA's all-time leading goal scorer Zack Greer. You might remember him from his days as a Duke Blue Devil the past four years. You might also recognize Bryant's head coach, Mike Pressler - another former Blue Devil. He's one of the finest coaches in the game and any team he leads will be ready to play and he will have a plan in place to give his guys a chance to compete.
You hear about trap games a lot in football and basketball and I'm sure some would say the same thing about the Bryant game since it is sandwiched between the UMBC and North Carolina games. But rest assured, the coaches and the Terrapin players are not looking past the Bulldogs, who just gave Loyola all it could handle on Tuesday.
The 2009 schedule is a quirky one due to the unavailability of Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium and the way the contracts with Penn and Yale fall this season. Those two Ivy League opponents being road games and the Johns Hopkins game being moved to Baltimore to be a part of Inside Lacrosse's "Day of Rivals" event means that next Saturday's North Carolina game will be the last weekend home game of the season for the Terps - on March 21. The only other remaining home game on Maryland's schedule is April 14 against Binghamton (otherwise known as the Sean O'Keefe Grudge Match). March 21 seems a tad early for senior day, but given that the alternative is a 3 p.m. game on a Tuesday, there aren't many other options.
Speaking of seniors, this year there are 14 seniors on the roster. That's nearly 30 percent of Maryland's roster, which is officially 49, but that number includes Eric Boyle, Owen Blye, MJ Leonard and Drew Snider who are all expected to redshirt the season. The Terps signed eight to National Letters of Intent last fall, but that still leaves a couple of roster spots open for the 2010 season. That leaves a couple of spots open. Could there be another signing or two coming during the "Regular Period" that begins on April 8?
It was great to see Brian Farrell on the sidelines at Towson. It gave a boost to the team to see their teammate back. A lot of the guys went and visited him while he was in the hospital, which just goes to show how tight this group of guys really is. He almost didn't look like the Brian Farrell though; he lost a lot of weight. There is no timetable for his return to action. The most important thing is for him to recover fully and get back into shape. Once he's on the field he's going to go right back to doing the things he's always done, so the doctors and trainers will make sure he's ready before clearing him to get back out there. We'll keep you posted on any progress.
We have not forgotten about getting highlights of the games up. We've run into a bit of a snag getting the "game melts" for the Duke and Towson games. For those that don't know, game melts are the highlights clipped without all of the graphics. They usually have all of the angles that the director has at his disposal, so they work best for producing highlight clips. The Georgetown highlights below were done using a melt. One of the issues with getting the Duke melt is that the game was produced in HD and there was no way to get the melt on a regular tape from the truck. Don't worry though, we're expecting the tapes shortly and we'll have the highlights up soon. We started something good here and haven't given up.
That's it for this week. See you for two this weekend at Ludwig.
(March 4): What a difference a week makes. Last week at this time the only thing people were wondering about the Terps is what went wrong. Now (it's amazing what a quality win will do to people's perspective) Maryland is again a talented team that can play and beat anyone on any given day. But that's the way college lacrosse is today.
Speaking of college lacrosse as a whole - what a crazy start to the season. If someone can explain how Georgetown looks great against the Terps and then goes out and loses to St. John's I'd appreciate it. I guess it just comes down to parity reaching college lacrosse. Chances are you're not going to see the Red Storm playing on Memorial Day, but for one game they can take out a top 10 team.
Back to the Terps. A week after the Maryland attack was reported as dead and ready to be buried, the trio of Grant Catalino, Will Yeatman and Ryan Young go out against Duke and put up seven goals and six assists.
Catalino was named the player of the game at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday and he was certainly deserving of the honor, but the real hero for the Terps was Jeff Reynolds. It was a rough day at the face-off X for the Terps until Reynolds stepped up to the stripe after Duke tied the game at 3-3 late in the second quarter. He then won not one, but two face-offs that led directly to a pair of goals (just five seconds apart) to give Maryland a 5-3 lead going into the break and an all-important boost of confidence. Lacrosse is a game that can have huge swings in momentum and Reynolds gave it back to the Terps and they never gave it back en route to the 11-8 win.
One other thing that people found interesting was that Brian Phipps played the entire game in cage of the Terps. The well-reported "goalie rotation" has come to be an absolute by many, but nothing could be further from the truth. Coach Cottle has always stated that he'll keep a hot goalie in the game. Of course, it makes the decision all the easier when the other goalie comes up to him and tells him to keep the other guy in and that's exactly what Jason Carter did on Saturday. Phipps and Carter are two tremendous people. They are willing to sacrifice playing time if it will help the team win. There' not too many players that can be said about.
There's a lot to get to after winning a big game, not the least of which are the clutch performances of Brett Schmidt and Dean Hart, but I'd be remiss to say that something was missing on Saturday. Or maybe someone is more appropriate. The absence of Brian Farrell is extremely noticeable thanks to his size and what he brings to the game. There's not another player in the college game like Brian and there's just a certain something missing when he's not on the field. For those that don't know, Farrell suffered two cracked ribs against Air Force on Feb. 14. He played against Georgetown despite not being able to practice due to the injury. He had a hard time breathing and anyone who watched that game knew something was up when he looked to have a fast break, but instead of charging hard toward the goal he passed the ball to a teammate and headed to the box for a quick sub. The game of lacrosse is better when Brian Farrell is playing and here's wishing him a speedy recovery.
Wow. All of that on last week's game and I haven't even mentioned the most noticeable thing about the game - the white helmets. The Terps busted out white helmets for the first time since April 17, 2004 - the 100th game against Johns Hopkins. This isn't the first time that Maryland has done something different with the uniform. The alternative black jerseys were worn for big games the last couple of years, but with only limited success. The only time the Terps won wearing their blacks was the 8-7 overtime thriller over Navy in 2007. Here's hoping that the white helmets will work out better.
The players loved the white helmets, but for a long time only a few players had one. They were so well received by the team that Coach Cottle decided to use them as a motivational tool - players had to earn one. Cottle would decide after practices who gave extra effort - showed leadership, made all the runs, fought for tough groundballs, etc. Then he would call over equipment manager Tim Ahner and tell him to give a white helmet to the players that earned one. It's not easy getting focused during practice in 20-degree weather in January and this is just another little thing that helped the Terps get through the dog days of winter.
Congratulations to Will Yeatman, who was one of 84 players to make the tryout pool for the 2010 U.S. men's national team. The tryouts will be held from June 7-10, 2009 at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. Following the tryout weekend, the group will be trimmed to approximately 40 players that will compete in three training weekends during the fall of 2009. After those three weekends, the roster will be cut to the FIL-mandated size of 23 players.
Now on to this week's game - Towson. The Tigers are 1-2 on the season after going 1-1 over the weekend in Denver at the Pioneer Face-Off Classic. Towson has always played the Terps tough, but facts are facts and the facts show that the Terps are undefeated all-time in games played at Towson. Maryland has played on the Tigers' home turf 13 times and have come away with a victory 13 times. But don't expect this game to be easy. Maryland is still trying to figure out exactly what kind of team it wants to be and Towson will be looking at this game as a springboard for its season.
One thing neither team can do is look past the other even if big games are on the horizon for both squads. Next up for the Tigers (after the Terps) is No. 1 Virginia on March 14. That same day finds the Terps hosting No. 8 UMBC, which has won two straight over Maryland.
If you haven't already done so, head over to Facebook (if you don't have an account what are you waiting for?) and become a fan of Maryland Men's Lacrosse. Not only can you get in touch with fellow Terps fans, but there are video highlights posted and photo galleries. Go check it out.
That's it for this week. If you can't make it over to Unitas Stadium on Saturday there are a couple of ways to follow the action. First, if you're local to the area you're in luck. The game is WMAR's "Game of the Week," so find WMAR and tune-in at 2 p.m. If you're outside the area the game is also being shown on ESPNU. Towson will have LiveStats available during the game and you can also listen at wmucsports.com. Of course the best way to see the Terps is live and in person. You can buy your tickets in advance on-line and save $2 per ticket.
(Feb: 25): Intensity. That's the word of the week for the Terps - or at least that's what it should be after watching the first two days of practice.
First things first, last week's loss to Georgetown is just that - one loss. Seasons are not made, nor broken the third week in February. That said, hats off to the Hoyas. They played a great game and showed that they are a very good team and could be a really tough out once tournament time comes around.
A couple of bright spots for the Terps are the play of the first midfield, which accounted for seven goals and a pair of assists, and Bryn Holmes, who went 12-of-16 at the face-off X.
Want to know how good Holmes has been so far this season for the Terps? Get this - he won 75 percent of his draws against Georgetown and his season average went down. He entered the game with an 85.2 winning percentage. After the Hoya game he's now at 81.4 percent. That's a tough pace to keep up.
The Georgetown game did give the Terps a lot of areas to address this week. I'm not going to go into a lot of them here (who knows, the Blue Devil coaches might just read this - not likely, but you never know), but one that I do want to address is the midfield. Some people just look at the stats and think that the Terps' second line didn't show up. It's true that the twos only took one shot (Joe Cummings' shot came as part of the man-up unit), but those guys were hardly on the field in the second half. Turnovers in the third quarter meant that the first line was barely on the field in the third. That means that they were fresh and ready to play just about every offensive possession in the fourth. Numbers can lie if you don't keep them in context with what happened in the game.
On another Georgetown-related note, the loss to the Hoya snapped an impressive winning streak for the Terps' athletic trainer Sean O'Keefe. He came on board in the middle of the men's soccer season (which is his fall sport) and the Terps didn't lose a match after he arrived and went on to win the national championship. Here's hoping that O'Keefe starts another long run of wins this weekend.
Which is a great transition from the Hoya game to this week's game against Duke. Every game seems to be a big one for the Terps, but anytime it's a conference opponent the game is that much bigger.
Another thing that makes this week's game against the Blue Devils bigger is the event. The Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic is just in its third year, but it has already become one of the signature events in all of college lacrosse. A press release sent out by Inside Lacrosse shows that presale tickets have eclipsed the 10,000-ticket mark with more expected to go this week.
Want to go? Don't have tickets? What are you waiting for? The weather is supposed to be nice with temps in the mid-40s. Here's the ticket info straight from IL:
Ticket prices for 2009 Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic are $20 for Lower Level reserved seats and $30 for Club Level seats. All seats are reserved and lacrosse fans are urged to make their plans now to reserve the best seats in the house. For groups of 10 or more, fans can purchase tickets for only $10 in advance. Fans interested in ordering tickets can call the Baltimore Ravens box office at 410-261-RAVE or go to www.ticketmaster.com. Lacrosse fans can also go online to www.faceoffclassic.com to download a ticket order form and find out the latest information regarding the 2009 Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic.
If you are coming, come early and wear red. Let's turn the Face-Off Classic into a true home game for the Terps. The first game is a good one, so come early, get a good seat and enjoy an afternoon of lacrosse.
The team will practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Friday. Many of the seniors were part of the 2006 team that played in the ACC Championships at M&T Bank Stadium, but most of them only participated in warm-ups. Jeff Reynolds and Dan Groot saw significant time in both games in 2006, while Danny Gallagher and Rob Morrison saw limited action in the Virginia game. It will be especially important for the goalies to get an idea of sightlines and how shots look with those purple seats in the background.
Game notes will be posted tomorrow, so check those out. See you at the game on Saturday.
(Feb. 18) Mission accomplished (where have I seen that before?). The Terps traveled to Jacksonville for two games and came back to College Park with two wins.
Granted, the wins were expected, but any win is a good win. Some people have wondered what is gained by playing games against a Presbyterian or an Air Force. Here's a couple:
Those teams are Division I programs. Are they the caliber of teams from the ACC? No, not really, but they are DI teams. The Maryland schedule is littered with top quality opposition. A team cannot play against Top 10 teams every week, it just doesn't work like that.
These were two games that let the Terps knock a bit of rust off before playing Georgetown this weekend. Playing in a regular season game is different from scrimmages and certainly different from practice.
Weather and conditioning also played a factor in scheduling this trip. It was great for the team to get out of the cold and play in some warmer weather, which also was beneficial for the team's overall conditioning.
The games benefit the opponents too. Presbyterian and Air Force now have a yardstick to measure their progress against. The Terps are one of the top 10 teams in the country and one of ways to get better is to play better opposition. The Blue Hose and the Falcons will probably be better in the long run for playing the Terps.
There are roughly 50 guys on the Terrapin roster. Not everyone of those guys will play in games against Georgetown, Duke, UNC, Hopkins, Navy ... you get the idea. But everyone who made the trip played in those games against Presbyterian and Air Force. The 30th-50th guy on the roster comes in everyday and practices hard. For some, whether the guys are freshmen or seniors, these games could be the most significant playing time they get all season. They deserve the chance to play too.
Finally, and I don't want this to get buried as just another bullet point, is the cause that the teams were raising money for in Jacksonville. Maryland went down to play in the Wounded Warrior Project's "Face Off for a Cause" to help raise money for a very worthy cause. There has been quite a bit written about the WWP in this blog, but it's really not enough. Being down there and talking with Dan Nevins, the Maryland honorary captain, brought everything these guys went through and are still going through into a new light. These guys are true American heroes and what the WWP does for them is phenomenal. One great bit of news that we heard is that the WWP will be a part of the Day of Rivals at M&T Bank Stadium on April 11. If you don't think that will add a little more juice to that Army-Navy game you're kidding yourself.
The team returned to College Park late Saturday and everyone got home safe. That's including the team's equipment manager Tim Ahner and student athletic trainer Billy Langenstein, who made the trek to Florida in a box truck carrying the team's equipment. That saved the team from having to go through checking baggage at the airport and trimmed roughly an hour off of the travel time for the team.
I mentioned last week about the tremendous support this team receives from the players' parents. Well, they outdid themselves in Jacksonville. Not only were the parents there supporting the Terps (some despite some travel difficulties), but they also wanted to say thank you to Sgt. Nevins and presented him with a small token of their appreciation at the team breakfast on Saturday. It was a class act from a class group of people.
Speaking of parents, a small group got the chance to play a round of golf at the TPC Sawgrass, the home of the Players Championship. In the end, Wilson Phipps took honors with a one-stroke victory over Leah Farrell. Coach Cottle tried to keep Wilson's retelling of the match to a minimum at the Presbyterian tailgate, but the news quickly spread.
Ok, enough about the past. Let's look to the future and that mean's Georgetown.
The game is set for 1 p.m. start at Ludwig Field. Yes, the renovations to Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium mean that all five of the Terps' home games will be played at Ludwig. If you haven't seen a game at Ludwig, do yourself a favor and come check out the game this Saturday. It is a great place to watch a lacrosse game.
The weather should not be a factor (at least as I write this). The forecast is for a slim chance of rain with temperatures in the mid-40s.
This is a game of big vs. big. The Hoyas have the biggest first midfield in Division I with Brancaccio (6-5), Kocis (6-4) and D'Agnes (6-2). That will pose a challenge for the Terps' "D", especially the shorties. Georgetown is also big defensively with Barney Ehrmann checking in at 6-foot-6. He's been playing some close defense this year and it will be interesting to see whom the Hoyas have him mark. The other three starting defenders (Eric Bicknese, Stevie Bauer and Chris Nixon) are talented and more than capable but lack Ehrmann's size. Let the chess game begin.
And while we try to go week-to-week here, I'd be remiss not to mention the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic next Saturday, Feb. 28 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. This has the makings of a special Saturday for the sport of lacrosse. Extended weather forecasts show sunny and mid 40's for Feb. 27 (the 28th isn't available yet), so the weather will not be an excuse for not attending. Your best bet will be to buy your tickets in advance right here. I just checked and club level seats are still available.
Enjoy the game this weekend!
(Feb. 13): The trip to Jacksonville started very, very early for the Terps. Most of the student-athletes tried their best to catch up on some rest on the flight down to Florida, but they were still fairly weary when they arrive at Jacksonville Airport.
Once down here the Terps were greeted by Adam Silva from the Wounded Warrior Project. He gave the team a brief introduction and then announced that the team bus would receive a police escort to Ponte Vedra High School for the team's practice session. The sight of sheriff motorcycles speeding along side of the bus at around 100 mph and stopping traffic woke up all of the players in a hurry.
The sherrif's department could not have been nicer and Nate Silva and some of the other officers stayed at practice, talked with the staff and then escorted the team to lunch at Moe's Southwest Grill, where Brad Chasteen, a former Maryland resident and local middle school lacrosse coach, and his staff took great care of the team. No one left Moe's underfed.
The team then headed to the One Ocean resort hotel, which is located right on Atlantic Beach. There wasn't much time for looking around, however, since the team had less than an hour to get ready to visit the TRACK Center and Sacrifice Center.
There the team was once again greeted by Adam Silva, along with other members of the Wounded Warrior Program staff, and met Maryland's honorary team captain for the weekend, Dan Nevins. After a couple of brief videos that really showed what the WWP is all about, the Terps were given tours of the two centers. Walking through there and seeing the passion the staff and Warriors have it's hard to leave without having a greater appreciation for the sacrifices they made and are continuing to make.
One thing that stood out during the WWP tour was the "egg chair." If you're in your 30s or older, you'll immediately know what it is if you think about "Mork and Mindy." This is a slightly more modern version of Mork's chair since it is wired for surround sound and is gaming compatible.
From there the team went to eat dinner at Sneakers where the food was good and the mood lively. After dinner some of the guys played some video games, while others just enjoyed the 15-foot televisions showing the Notre Dame-Louisville hoops game.
Joining the team at the WWP tours and at dinner was a group of the players. Their involvement is really special and is just another thing that makes the Maryland men's lacrosse program what it is.
That's about all for the Terps' Thursday Florida adventure. Check back to umterps.com later today (that's Friday) for complete coverage of the 2009 opener vs. Presbytrerian.
(Feb. 11): The 2009 season is here! Well, almost here.
The Terps are getting ready for an early (like 6 a.m. early) flight to Jacksonville Thursday morning to kick off the 2009 season at the Wounded Warrior Project's Face Off for a Cause. In addition to the games, the highlight of the trip is expected to be a tour of WWP's Sacrifice Center and TRACK Center.
From the WWP website: "The WWP Sacrifice Center was built to tell the stories of America's injured service members, starting with the decision to serve and continuing on through injuries to triumphs and successes post-injury. Exhibits include displays with warrior stories, videos of WWP programs in action, and examples of body armor and prosthetic technologies for the public to see first-hand."
"In August 2008, WWP launched TRACK to offer wounded warriors an integrated approach to address long-term needs for education and training, advocacy, and secondary rehabilitative care for the MIND, BODY and SPIRIT. This unique program offers participants a range of college preparatory classes and services customized to their needs, helping them build career skills, train in veterans' advocacy, and continue recovery toward a more independent life. The wounded warriors attend college classes as a group, with the ability to draw from their shared experiences. TRACK has three state-of-the art classrooms, as well as a gym, and individual workspaces for the warriors and instructors. TRACK's first cohort began August 15, 2008."
We'll have a recap of the Terps' visit tomorrow evening.
One exciting thing happening on this trip is that one of the Terps (we're not sure who just yet) will be recording their experiences for Inside Lacrosse thanks to one of IL's Flip Video cams. We'll let you know when the video is up on insidelacrosse.com.
Let's take a little time to look back and look ahead.
First, taking a look back at last weekend's scrimmages, the best thing to come out of the Princeton and Stevenson scrimmages is that no one got hurt. Maybe a fresh bump or a new bruise, but no one suffered a serious injury.
Aside from the health of the team, one of the best things from the Princeton scrimmage was the play of Brett Schmidt. The sophomore long pole is fully recovered from a stress fracture and makes a huge difference in the Terrapin defense.
Another thing that stood out last weekend was the play of Bryn Holmes. He is the Terps' "Mr. Everything." Holmes is going to be Maryland's primary face-off man (he was over 70% vs. the Tigers), is on the second midfield and is going to be used as a shutdown d-middie in key situations. He's one of the toughest (if not the toughest) players in college and will play a big part in the Terps' success in 2009.
Here's a question for you (it maybe unfair since we don't publicize stats from the scrimmages): Who was the Terps' leading goal scorer during the four scrimmages? The answer will be at the end of this posting.
That's enough on what's already happened, how about what is going to happen this weekend.
Here's a fact - the Terps have won their last 15 season openers and are 79-3-1 all-time in season openers. During the 15-year run the Terps have never failed to score double-digits in an opener. Here's another fact - Presbyterian gave up an average of 16.6 goals per game last season.
If you've taken a look at the game notes you already may know this. Maryland has played 71 different opponents (the Blue Hose, that's the Presbyterian nickname, will be No. 72) in its 83 previous seasons. The Terps have a record of 67-4 (.944) in first-ever meetings. But consider this, three of those four first-time losses happened in the 1920s.
If you're a Terrapin fan and you're heading down to Jacksonville for the games make sure to head over to the STX booth where Joe Walters, the Terps' all-time leading scorer, will be greeting fans and signing autographs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that credit cards will not be accepted at the event, so be sure to have cash in hand for your tickets if you're coming to the game.
We're looking forward to the trip this weekend and hope to see as many Terrapin fans as possible in Florida. Check back Thursday for a recap of the WWP tour and again on Friday and Saturday for complete game coverage.
Answer: Joe Cummings
(Feb. 6): A week from today the season starts. A week! It's hard to believe, but it's true.
Tomorrow the Terps host the final preseason scrimmages on the Comcast Center turf fields. Maryland and Princeton will play at 11 a.m. Following that, the Terps will play Stevenson and the Tigers will move over to play Bellarmine.
If you're looking for results of the scrimmages you are in the wrong place. The final score of these scrimmages (they are not games) is mostly irrelevant. Why? Well, lets look at last week's Maryland-Delaware scrimmage. The Blue Hens, who open their regular season tomorrow, played their starters throughout the entire scrimmage. Meanwhile, the Terps subbed liberally, especially in the second half. Another thing is that these scrimmages are played to help coaches evaluate their teams. No scouting is done and no time is spent preparing for the opponent.
So what does it all mean? That depends on who you are.
Coaches: it gives them a chance to see how different units look together, how fit players are where the team is at as a whole right now. (Remember, this is not the date coaches have been targeting in practice and training. The real season is still a week away.)
Players: it gives them a chance to get some work in against someone who is not a teammate. These guys have been practicing against each other for a couple of weeks and it's nice to play someone they don't know in a different colored pinnie (if you need another indication that these scrimmage don't really count - the players don't wear jerseys). It also lets them know that there is still a lot of work to be done. When you practice against the same players day after day it's easy to get into a comfort zone, because you know their strengths and weaknesses. That's not the case when you're going up against a different team. These scrimmages are designed to help get players ready for when the games really matter.
Fans: it gives them a chance to finally see the team they've talked about, heard about, read about and even written about (I know some of you are on the message boards). It's exciting. It provides player families with a chance to get together again and for freshman parents to be welcomed to the family.
With that all said, it was great to see the Terps on the field last week. It's a day (ok, maybe more like five or six) late and a dollar short, but here's what caught my eye last week:
Attackmen and midfielders get all the attention, but Brian Farrell is just a special player and could prove to be a contender for player of the year honors. He's so good when the ball is on the ground and there is not another long pole in the country that can match him on the offensive end of the field. Last year he had eight goals and three assists, so it's not out of the question to see him put up double-digit goals this year.
Joe Cummings is going to have a role on this team somewhere. There's a logjam at attack, but it seems like every time Cummings was on the field he scored. I'm not well versed in the intricacies of lacrosse, but I know that the way you win is to score more goals than the other team and if Cummings is going to keep scoring goals, the coaches will find a way to get him on the field.
Maryland is extremely athletic - everywhere on the field. It starts in the midfield with Jeff Reynolds, Jake Bernhardt and Danny Burns, but don't discount the athleticism of Dan Groot, Jeremy Sieverts, Bob Kercher and others. The attack's athleticism starts with Ryan Young, who everyone knows about, but don't underestimate Will Yeatman and even Grant Catalino. Travis Reed has been hampered with leg injuries, but he's been working extremely hard to improve his fitness level. On the defensive side there's Farrell and Max Schmidt, who are both very athletic. Freshman Craig Sullivan is someone to keep an eye on and is another groundball machine. Add into that long pole Brett Schmidt, who is an athletic freak, and the Terps can match-up athlete-for-athlete at any position on the field with just about any opponent.
Don't read too much into goalie play during these scrimmages. Both Brian Phipps and Jason Carter mentioned following the game how hard it was to see at the Comcast Center turf field because of the sun and the glare off of the cars and buildings. If you were there you noticed how may shots hit off the goalies' bodies - not just the Terps, but Delaware and Loyola too.
So what should fans look for tomorrow:
Midfield lines are still being shifted around, so take them with a grain of salt.
The third close defense spot is still up for grabs, so keep an eye on that battle. Mike Griswold and Ryder Bohlander each got a start last week and could be battling it out again this week. Remember, last year the third spot was a semi-rotation with Max Schmidt and Jacob Baxter. Also, in 2005 the third spot was Sean Sullivan's at the beginning of the season, but eventually Ray Megill, took over the spot. It was also in 2005 that Gavin Webb started the first 10 games before being supplanted by Joe Cinosky, who was then a freshman. Point being is that this is a spot that could be held by several players during the season.
The offense needs to finish better. Overall, the team's shooting last week could have been better and this week the Terps should show improvement in this area. Remember, Coach Cottle believes that the team should be shooting at 30% or better. The team's first-half shooting percentage improved dramatically from the Delaware scrimmage to the Loyola scrimmage, so that's a positive sign.
Final thing to remember is that Princeton has only been practicing as a team since Sunday. The Ivy League dictates that teams cannot practice until Feb. 1. The Tigers were able to do small group work, but when they arrive in College Park on Saturday they will only have had six days of practice as a team.
The weather is supposed to be much, much better than last week and I'm sure that will make the experience of preseason Maryland lacrosse all the better. Enjoy the scrimmages. We'll be back early next week with another update.
(Jan. 28): The spring semester (that's what it's called, but you would be hard pressed to find any evidence of spring in College Park right now) has started and classes are in session. That means that in addition to practices, weights and getting ready for the upcoming season, the Terps are going to class, labs, doing homework and writing papers - and if the fall semester is any indication this squad is doing it all very well. There were a lot of 3.0 or better GPA's for the lacrosse team in the fall and many took classes over the winter term that pushed the GPA up even further.
I'd like to give a special thanks to Gabe Unterman and his staff in the video services office for putting together the video season preview. This is the first time this has been done for lacrosse. If you haven't checked it out you can do so by clicking here.
"Social Networks" have exploded over the past year or two and I wanted to let Terps fans know about the official Maryland Men's Lacrosse Fan Page on Facebook. I've started to add some old highlight videos and will have a lot more content coming during the season. One nice thing this allows fans to do is have a place to post encouragement to the team and interact with other Maryland fans. As of this writing there are 219 fans and we're hoping a lot more join after reading this posting.
We've had some inquiries about this Saturday's scrimmages. Maryland is slated to play Delaware at 11 a.m. (a change from the originally published time of noon) at the turf field adjacent to the Comcast Center. Following that game, the Terps will play Loyola on the same field. The fourth team is Ohio State and the Buckeyes will play both of their games at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Stadium, beginning with the Greyhounds at noon. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and something warm to drink because the weather is supposed to be clear, but in the low-to-mid 30s and there are no seats or concessions available at the Comcast turf field. There are, of course, bleachers at the FH & Lacrosse Stadium.
While many fans are looking forward to this weekend's scrimmages, I'm already looking forward to the start of the regular season, which this season has additional meaning. This season the Terps will kickoff the season as a participant in the Wounded Warrior Project's "Face Off for a Cause," which is a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. All of the information about the event can be found on the website, so I'm not going to repeat it here.
But, one of the great things about this event is that every team has been paired with an honorary captain. For the Terps, this is Maryland native Dan Nevins. The Florida Times-Union has a story on Jacksonville.com about Dan and his life since joining the Army right out of high school in 1991. I highly suggest you take the time to read this. A Wounded Warrior
Finally, I want to give another plug to Inside Lacrosse and its preseason coverage. It has been outstanding, as usual, and the inclusion of video in this year's previews from both coaches and analysts is great. Maryland is due up on Friday, so be sure to check that out. In the meantime here are links to each of the previews for each of the Terps' opponents in the preseason Top 20:
(Jan. 23): Sorry for the lack of updates this week, but sometimes other parts of the job have to be taken care of. That said, this is going to be a quick update - but hopefully a good one.
The team is showing a lot of heart in practice so far. The energy is good and there has been some pretty good play.
It's nice to see Will Yeatman on the field finally. The whole process took several weeks and it finally ended with him becoming a Terp. This team has always had its fair share of big players, but Will brings it to another level. He's not the tallest player on the team (that honor goes to Anthony Costanzo at 6-foot-7), but his overall size and athleticism makes it so much more noticeable.
One thing to remember is that he didn't play last season and he didn't play during the fall, so this is really his first time going full speed in a year. With that said, in the week he's been playing he's made some plays that makes those of us on the sidelines say "Wow!" - and we're a pretty jaded group that's used to seeing great plays in practice. On his first day (last Thursday) he took a pass on the wing, spun around Brian Farrell, who jumped out to defend, and wrapped a shot around Farrell that beat the goalie (sorry, I can't remember which one it was) short side for a goal.
Speaking of Farrell, he is another one who has turned in some "Wow!" moments. He's been better than expected playing down low and is still ready to race down the field to create a scoring opportunity. He's been picking passes out the air and has been so good when the ball is on the ground. Some might think he'll be less of an offensive threat now that he's playing down low, but don't bet on it. One thing that the switch to close defense will mean is that he'll be on the field more this season. He's also been working hard on his conditioning so he'll be able to play the extra minutes and not lose a step.
Some of the freshmen have looked good, but illness has slowed Michael Shakespeare and Owen Blye. One frosh who hasn't been slowed down is Jake Bernhardt. Florida is not known for producing lacrosse standouts, but Bernhardt looks to have an inside track on one of the top six midfield slots. He's a good dodger and can shoot well on the run. He's also one of the top two or three pure athletes on the team and is holding his own on the defensive side of the field.
Another freshman who has stood out is Joe Cummings. The coaching staff is looking for ways to get him on the field, because he has the potential to put up some points this year.
Some people are wondering about how the defense will look this year. One thing I can say is that no one needs to worry about Max Schmidt. Last year he played in all 16 games with 10 starts. He's been terrific so far during practice and has all the makings of a No. 1 defender for the next three years.
The team is really looking forward to the scrimmages next weekend. Those games will take place at the Comcast Center field turf fields, beginning at noon. Bring your own lawn chair - there are no seats around those fields.
That's it for this week. Next week we'll start to look ahead to the season, specifically the trip to Jacksonville, Fla., for the Wounded Warrior Project's "Face Off for a Cause."
(Jan. 16): Two days down, many more to go. The Terps have gotten through their first two days of practice and so far, so good.
The practices have been good, according to Coach Cottle. The players have been enthusiastic and have been competing hard. A little bit of rust is there, but for the most part the guys are giving a tremendous effort.
Players have been fighting for loose balls and have shown no problem with giving or taking a hit or two. A funny bit in the Thursday practice saw a loose ball in front of the crease and a pile-up ensued. Senior defender Kevin Slafkosky provided a moment of levity when he decided to do his best Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka imitation onto the pile.
A couple of minor bumps and tweaks have been suffered during the first two days. But there was a scare midway through Thursday's session when senior midfielder Jeff Reynolds limped off the field. Thoughts immediately turned to that cold February day in 2007 when he tore his ACL, but this time it was just a minor hyperextension.
So what has been learned during the first two days?
The sophomore attackmen are back to their old tricks. Travis Reed is still finding ways to score goals from the wing, Grant Catalino is still ripping shots past the goalies and causing mismatches for defenders, and Ryan Young is looking even quicker working from behind the goal.
Brian Phipps and Jason Carter continue to frustrate shooters. Both netminders seem to have picked up right where they left off. Bad shots have no chance of getting through and even when good shots find their way on cage they are often stopped. Scoring goals is not easy during practices right now.
The battle for open spots on the midfield is going to be fierce. The coaching staff has already pegged Dan Groot and Jeremy Sieverts on the first line and Reynolds and freshman Jake Bernhardt together on the second. Who fills the third spot on those two lines and what trio makes up the third line are question marks. Freshman Michael Shakespeare looked good at times and made some good shots. Upperclassmen Adam Sear and Rob Morrison also showed flashes. Of course, the glut of attackmen could see some movement there too. The loss of Drew Evans and Max Ritz, both of whom were good invert guys, has the coaches looking for a couple of middies that can fill that role.
Watching two-on-two drills with the close defenders and attackmen saw an interesting pairing with the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Catalino paired with 5-foot-11, 165-pound freshman Madison Fiore. Catalino drew the double team and dished a slick pass to Fiore, who was wide open on the right side of the crease. Fiore had a quick catch-and-shoot and seemed to have an open net, but he found out things are always as they appear when Phipps quickly closed the gap and