Terps on the defensive
With a lot of attention -- and perhaps rightly so -- centering on the addition of former Notre Dame standout Will Yeatman to an already potent attack, the Maryland men's lacrosse team is being pegged by many as a serious contender for its first NCAA championship since 1975.
But the Terps' path to Foxborough, Mass. -- site of this year's Final Four -- could be determined by the play of their defense. Sophomore Max Schmidt, the lone returning starter from last season, fills the void left behind by the graduation of Joe Cinosky as the unit's primary shutdown defenseman. Junior Brian Farrell moves down from the long-stick midfielder position to close defense, and seniors Mike Griswold and Anthony Costanzo, sophomore Ryder Bohlander and junior Dan Halayko are expected to battle for the third starter's role.
Replacing Cinosky, who was selected ninth overall by New Jersey in last year's Major Lacrosse League draft, will be key, according to Maryland coach Dave Cottle.
"He was great last year," Cottle said of Cinosky. "His senior year was clearly his best year. He played a lot of years, but he really covered his senior year and did a great job during the tournament. So I think from that position, losing him is going to be the hardest for us to replace. But we have some young guys, and it's their turn now. Joe Cinosky wasn't who he was in his senior year in maybe the other three years. Guys develop and guys improve, and we may have some of those guys on our roster right now."
The defense can at least lean on the goalkeeping duo of senior Jason Carter and junior Brian Phipps. Phipps had better numbers (including a 6-1 record, a 6.06 goals-against average and a .636 save percentage), but Carter's statistics (4-5, 8.46, .561) were influenced by overtime losses to Virginia and UMBC and tough losses to Johns Hopkins and Duke, and he played the entire game when the Terps upset then-No. 1 Virginia on ESPN2 on March 29.
Cottle said he does not intend to stray from his strategy of rotating both Phipps and Carter in the net. One player will start the game in net and how he plays will determine whether he is replaced in the second half.
"We've left the disclaimer in there where if somebody's on fire, we're not going to take him out," Cottle said. "These guys have been so unselfish. Both of them have come up to me and said, 'He's on fire. Let him stay.' That's never happened before."