Postscript from Maryland at Notre Dame
Don’t tell Dan Groot that Sunday’s victory over Notre Dame was an upset.
Even though the unseeded Terps defeated the No. 7 seed and previously unbeaten Fighting Irish, 7-3, at Alumni Field in South Bend, Ind., some Maryland players like Groot felt seeding (or lack thereof) was inconsequential to the outcome.
"It’s an upset because they were the seventh seed, and we weren’t seeded," said the senior midfielder who led all scorers with two goals. "I think we came in here confident. They didn’t look so confident to me in warm-ups. But I wouldn’t say it was an upset. We were ready to play. We thought we were the better team. We thought we could come in here and win it, and that’s what we did."
Notre Dame’s first loss in 16 contests raises the question of whether the team deserved one of the eight seeds after completing a regular-season schedule that was not considered among the most strenuous in the country. The Fighting Irish did beat North Carolina on March 8 and Villanova on March 31, but those were the only two tournament teams on their schedule.
Coach Kevin Corrigan, whose team will move to the Big East for the 2010 season, defended his team’s schedule.
"We beat the University of North Carolina, who beat [the Terps] by six [in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament]," he said. "The strength of schedule didn’t have anything to do with it. We played poorly today. That had everything to do with it. We weren’t prepared.
"We’re a very good team," Corrigan continued. "I’m not going to beat up our team for being 15-0 against any schedule. We had a great season, we played really well for a long extended period of time. We didn’t play very well today, and therefore we lost."
Maryland coach Dave Cottle opened his post-game conference by praising Notre Dame’s run, saying, "I don’t think our team could’ve done what they did in the regular season. So I feel for them."
*With Irish senior goalkeeper Scott Rodgers standing at an imposing 6 feet 4, 254 pounds, the onus was on the Terps to solve the man who had yet to surrender 10 goals in a single game this season. That streak remained intact, but Maryland was able to score twice in each of the first three quarters.
Five of those goals occurred on shots between the left and right wings, mainly staying in the center of the field -- a tactic that was designed, according to Cottle.
"We felt like this goalie was outstanding down the alleys," he said of Rodgers. "We had to shoot from the middle of the hash marks and in to be effective. You can say you want to shoot from those areas, but it’s hard to get to those areas. But we felt like we could get it inside a little bit."
*With the return of former Fighting Irish and current Terps attackman Will Yeatman, both teams’ post-game conferences were littered with questions about Yeatman. Corrigan said the team refrained from getting involved in the attention surrounding Yeatman’s presence.
"I don’t think it was a distraction to our guys," he said. "It wasn’t something we talked about, it wasn’t something we focused on. It just wasn’t an issue."
Senior defenseman Regis McDermott roomed with Yeatman during his freshman year in 2007, and McDermott said the two of them talked in the days leading up to Sunday’s contest.
"We just decided that we weren’t going to get into any talking during the game," McDermott said. "I never talk to the attackmen I’m covering. So it was business as usual."
That’s not quite how Yeatman remembered it though. "That was his decision," he said of McDermott.
*The 36-minute, 31-second drought Notre Dame labored through was the longest Maryland had applied to an opponent this season. The previous long was 29:39 against Virginia on March 28. ... Groot has scored a team-high 16 goals in the Terps’ last 10 contests. "It’s nice when your captain and senior steps up in these games," Cottle said. ... Here's a nugget from Sean Carroll, assistant sports information director with the Fighting Irish: Notre Dame's last three trips to the NCAA tournament have ended in losses to the eventual national champion. In 2006, the Fighting Irish lost to Virginia in the first round. The following year, Johns Hopkins edged Notre Dame in overtime in the first round. And last May, the Fighting Irish fell to Syracuse in the quarterfinals. Does this bode well for Maryland?