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March 31, 2011

Maryland's Reed expected to play Saturday vs. Virginia

Travis Reed, the senior attackman who has sat out the last three games, is expected to play Saturday when No. 9 Maryland visits No. 7 Virginia in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.

Terps coach John Tillman said Reed has been taking part in practice despite a left shoulder injury suffered in the team’s 8-4 victory over Towson on March 12.

“He’s doing pretty well,” Tillman said Thursday. “I’m optimistic that he’s going to play in some capacity on Saturday. He was in practice yesterday, he was in his full equipment at practice. He was doing some stick work and some shooting drills. He’s been out there. We’re allowed to take 32 people, and he will be one of those 32 people. Because we can only take 32, I wouldn’t take anybody that had no chance of playing.”

Maryland (6-2) won two games during Reed’s absence, but Reed’s accurate outside shot was sorely missed last Saturday when No. 5 North Carolina employed a zone defense to dare the offense to shoot from the outside. The Terps fell, 11-6, and Tillman said Reed’s presence would be a boost for the offense.

“One of Travis’ great strengths is his ability to shoot from the outside,” Tillman said of Reed, who has registered seven goals and six assists. “So we’re better in that aspect if we have him – as opposed to if we didn’t have him. I like the opportunity of having him in there and being able to stretch a defense. He’s so experienced, and he’s got a quick release and is a little bit of sharpshooter. So that’s a nice shot in the arm for us, but we were zoned by three or four teams prior to that, and we did fine without him. So we’ve got to be prepared to handle a zone either way.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland

Princeton clinging to postseason hopes

At 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Ivy League, Princeton’s postseason hopes would appear bleak.

But the players and coaches remain optimistic that they can still qualify for the Ivy League tournament, capture the crown and automatic qualifier, and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.

“Every one of our goals is right in front of us,” Tigers coach Chris Bates said Wednesday. “We felt that at the beginning of the year that we could be a deep-into-May kind of team, and we’re still kind of finding ourselves, but that possibility is still very real for us. That’s the approach we take as coaches, that’s the approach we’re demanding of our team, and that’s the expectation. So we’re preparing as such.”

Injuries have taken a toll on Princeton. Freshman midfielder Tom Schreiber, who leads the team in scoring, sat out the team’s loss to Penn on March 19 because of a rib injury before registering a goal and an assist in last Saturday’s 8-7 overtime loss to Yale.

Junior long-stick midfielder Jonathan Meyers has been hobbled by a strained hamstring, and sophomore defenseman Rob Castelo (torn knee ligaments) and freshman short-stick defensive midfielder Nick Fernandez (broken arm) are out for the rest of the season.

Joining them could be senior attackman Jack McBride, who has missed three games with a groin injury. Bates, who hinted to last week that McBride could be shelved, said a decision on his status and his eligibility will be made at the end of the week.

“To be determined on both fronts,” Bates said. “I’d prefer to leave it at that. I’d rather not speculate. Let’s let the kid work through the issues here. I think we’ll have a decision in the next two days.”

The Tigers next face Brown on Saturday before meeting two non-league opponents in top-ranked Syracuse and Rutgers. Then they finish the regular season with games against Dartmouth, Harvard and No. 8 Cornell.

Bates said the team understands the task ahead.

“We’re certainly behind the 8-ball because of the goals we still have for this season,” he said. “Honestly, I was rooting hard for Hopkins for no other reason than we had beaten Hopkins. Just from my team’s standpoint, that was a very clear message. ‘Fellas, we essentially dominated Johns Hopkins, who three weeks later, beat the No. 2 team in the country, and you can’t tell me that so much is different in three weeks.’ Jack McBride didn’t play against Hopkins, so it was essentially the same team. This week is a big week. We’ve got two non-conference games and then we finish the last three weeks with the Ivies. We feel good about going into Saturday, and we’ll take it from there.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Perseverance pays off for North Carolina

Trailing 4-1 at the end of the first quarter against an energized rival and in a hostile environment might have been the death knell for North Carolina a few years ago.

But rather than fold, the Tar Heels rallied to convincingly beat then-No. Maryland, 11-6, on Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

“I think for our young guys to go up there at this point in the season and just play with the confidence that they had, just staying the course was the biggest thing,” recalled North Carolina coach Joe Breschi, who burned through his two first-half timeouts within the first nine minutes of the contest. “Now they’re looking at you with both eyes instead of one in the huddle, saying, ‘You know what? You’re right. If we stay the course, maybe good things will happen.’ Not that we’ll win every game, but we’ll have a chance to win every game, and that’s all we asked our guys. … I think for us, it was a game that we matured in and got better. It didn’t start off the way everybody anticipated on our end. They took it to us, but we were able to withhold and stay in it long enough to get our own act together.”

The Tar Heels, who improved to 7-2 and moved to No. 5 in The Sun’s latest rankings, get another test Sunday at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic when they meet No. 6 Johns Hopkins (6-2) at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Breschi, who was impressed with the Blue Jays’ 12-11 win over then-No. 2 Virginia, said the Johns Hopkins team from Saturday’s victory is far removed from the version that fell to Princeton, 8-3, on March 5.

“I think when you start in February, much like us, teams are trying to figure out an identity – who they are and what they’re good at, who’s going to contribute and who’s going to be a consistent contributor – and they’ve done a terrific job of figuring out who they are,” Breschi said Wednesday. “With the amount of goals that they’re scoring and the number of points they’re putting up and a terrific team-defense style, they’re really putting pressure on opponents’ defenses. … I think for them, the 8-3 game against Princeton is so far in the past, and the way they’re playing now, they’re certainly one of the best teams in the country.”

One ingredient that could play a role in the outcome is the availability of freshman faceoff specialist R.G. Keenan, who absorbed a pair of bone-rattling hits in the win against the Terps, and junior attackman Thomas Wood, who has missed the last two games with an unspecified injury. Breschi said he would lean on the school’s training staff before clearing Keenan and Wood for Sunday.

“We’re never going to put somebody in a position to hurt himself further,” Breschi said. “Once the medical staff clears them, they’ll play. If they’re healthy and 100 percent ready to go, we’re going to play them. If the staff says they should get another week, then we’ll definitely hold off.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland

Greeley or Coppersmith for Johns Hopkins?

With sophomore midfielder John Greeley recovering from a hard hit in Johns Hopkins’ 12-11 win against then-No. 2 Virginia last Saturday, Lee Coppersmith may be in line for his first career start.

While characterizing Greeley as “day-to-day,” coach Dave Pietramala seemed to acknowledge that Greeley, who did not return to Saturday’s game after leaving in the second quarter, may not be available and that Coppersmith could suit up for the No. 6 Blue Jays’ contest against No. 5 North Carolina at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.

“That decision might be made for us. You just don’t know,” Pietramala said. “But just because a guy gets injured doesn’t mean that he loses his position. As a staff, you sit down and make the determinations about what’s best for the team, but John Greeley’s been a mainstay and one of the reasons why we’re 6-2. So just because a guy gets hit and gets knocked out of a game, it’s awful tough for him to lose his spot just because of that.”

Coppersmith scored three goals against the Cavaliers while filling in for Greeley on the first midfield with sophomore John Ranagan and freshman Rob Guida. But Pietramala said he was more impressed with another facet of the sophomore midfielder’s performance.

“As I told someone else, everybody wants to talk about the goals Lee got,” Pietramala said. “I want to talk about the decisions that he made. That was more important to me, that he made good decisions with the ball. He made a good decision on when to shoot it, he made a good decision on when to move the ball down the side, and he made a good decision on when to pull it out. Those are things that he’s had to show us that he could do better, and he certainly went out on the field on Saturday and did that in a pressure situation.”

Defeating Virginia set off a raucous on-field celebration for Johns Hopkins, which had dropped the previous six meetings to the Cavaliers. The victory was a welcomed outcome for the Blue Jays, but senior faceoff specialist Matt Dolente said the players have moved forward.

“You enjoy the win on Saturday, think about it a little bit on Sunday in terms of what you did well and what you didn’t do well, and then on Monday, it was all about fixing our mistakes and moving onto North Carolina,” he said. “With our schedule, you can’t feel good about a win because you have another great team coming up. So we’re focused on preparing for UNC and trying to fix some of the mistakes we made in the Virginia game.”

Pietramala said he wasn’t exactly sure how the team would respond in the aftermath of the win.

“Our guys, I hope, have put it behind them, but I don’t know that we’ll see that until this weekend,” he said. “You don’t know how you’re going to handle success until you actually go out there and do it. We’ll see on Sunday.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

March 30, 2011

Mount St. Mary's eager to delve into conference play

Mount St. Mary’s was 10 minutes, 30 seconds away from potentially sending Loyola to its fourth consecutive loss on Saturday. Instead, the visiting Greyhounds snapped a 9-9 tie with a game-ending 5-1 run.

Being so close to a positive outcome only to come out on the losing end could devastate a young, emerging program, but coach Tom Gravante said he believes that the Mountaineers (3-4) won’t be bothered by a hangover effect.

“That could be the case,” he said Tuesday. “We told them after the game, ‘Gentlemen, we’re very proud of you and how you played, but the bottom line is, you can’t just play 55 out of 60 minutes.’ You’ve got to play a complete game, and that’s a tough one to take on the chin. But sometimes there’s more to learn by losing than winning, and hopefully, this makes them hungry and ready to focus on practice first as we move towards Saturday. I think they have responded. We had a good go this morning, and we’re looking for a good go on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I’d be a little concerned and nervous if they were gun-shy and licking their wounds and feeling sorry for themselves. But I think they know me well enough that I’m not going to allow them and this program to be like that.”

It helps that Mount St. Mary’s begins play in the inaugural Northeast Conference (NEC) on Saturday with a visit from Robert Morris. Although there is a two-year waiting period for a conference automatic qualifier, there is still a season-ending league tournament and the boasting power of being the NEC champion.

“That pressure isn’t there yet, but still, it’s the pressure of competing to make the playoffs,” Gravante said. “And what I like is if you stay on top, you get to play at home through the playoffs, and that’s a definite advantage for teams.”

While this will be the Mountaineers’ first foray into conference play, it won’t be their first meeting with the Colonials, who dropped a 19-13 decision to Mount St. Mary’s last season. Gravante said he emphasized to his players that they actually trailed 6-2 in that game before rallying for the victory.

“I certainly don’t want that same thing to happen because you might not get a second chance,” he said. “That team isn’t going to forget what happened. If they get up on us this time, they may not let us back in. This time, I want to start and finish this game on top. So I let them know that today at the end of practice.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's

Hofstra rolling through the punches

The hits just keep coming for Hofstra, which added junior midfielder Dan Pezzolla to its list of season-ending injuries.

Pezzolla was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back, joining fifth-year senior Steve Serling (lacerated spleen) and sophomore Drew Coholan (shoulder) as midfielders who will miss the remainder of the season.

“We did get hit pretty good with the injury bug, and it’s going to be here for the remainder of the year,” coach Seth Tierney said Tuesday. “We’re just kind of going back and maybe some of the guys who were a little lower on the depth chart have now moved up, and we have to catch them up. And it’s certainly easier to catch up guys in the preseason, but when you’re in your CAA [Colonial Athletic Association] swing, it’s not so easy. But we’re trying to get there little by little and go from there and see what happens.”

The loss of Serling and Coholan, a pair of first-line midfielders who had combined for five goals and eight assists before their injuries, has been somewhat mitigated by the play of junior Kevin Ford (three goals and two assists in his last four starts) and sophomore Ian Braddish (three goals and two assists in his last three starts).

Still, Tierney said the offense is trying to regain the rhythm it had with Serling and Coholan in the lineup.

“Drew and Steven were great at keeping the flow of the offense, making the simple play, and understanding things out there,” Tierney said. “And that’s what made our first midfield pretty potent and certainly helped our attack. The next players stepping up are equally as good, but we just need to teach them some things that Drew and Steven had under control pretty much.”

The Pride bandwagon got lighter after the injuries to Serling and Coholan were publicized first by Inside Lacrosse and lost even more members after the team dropped the league opener against Delaware on March 19.

No. 10 Hofstra, however, rebounded with a convincing 11-6 victory over No. 18 Drexel last Saturday, and Tierney said the players and coaches haven’t gotten swept up in the gnashing of teeth outside of the program.

“We didn’t take it that way,” he said. “You just have to move on. They’re big hits, but you move on. And there are other players out there waiting for their opportunity and fighting for their opportunity, and now they have it, and we’re going to see what they can do with it. But we haven’t dwelled on it as much.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)

No cause for alarm around Virginia

Losing is a rarity for Virginia, which has lost just 19 times since 2005. Which is why the No. 7 Cavaliers were itching to return to the practice field Monday and Tuesday after Saturday’s 12-11 loss to No. 6 Johns Hopkins.

“I think we were anxious to get back on the practice field,” coach Dom Starsia said Tuesday. “That’s usually how it works. When you come off a loss, everybody’s anxious to get to it. I know for me, you kind of sit around and stew a little bit on Sunday, and you’re always glad to be back with the team on the practice field. And we had a spirited workout. So it was good.”

Virginia may have fallen in the rankings after the setback on Saturday, but the team is still 7-2 with victories over high-quality opponents like No. 8 Cornell, No. 11 Delaware and No. 18 Drexel. And with upcoming contests against No. 4 Duke, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 9 Maryland and No. 16 Penn, the Cavaliers are assured of running through a schedule that will earn points with the NCAA tournament selection committee in early May.

“I do think that we understand that we play a pretty iron[-clad] schedule,” Starsia said. “We never talk about going undefeated although when we’re in the middle of this thing, our intent is to win every game. But I think we’re able to take a somewhat mature outlook on this and think that Hopkins is a good team, we played them on their field, and we can take away some things from that and know that it doesn’t torpedo our playoff chances completely. But what we need to do is take the things we can learn from that experience and try to do them better the next time around.”

That process begins Saturday when the Terps (6-2) visit Klockner Stadium. The last meeting between these two Atlantic Coast Conference rivals in Charlottesville, Va., entailed 85 minutes of play through seven overtimes before Virginia prevailed, 10-9, on a Brian Carroll goal on March 28, 2009.

Starsia recalled that the women’s lacrosse team, scheduled to play after the men, was forced to wait a long time. So when a few of his players grumbled about having to wait for a women’s game to end earlier this season, Starsia pointed out the irony to his players.

“We’ll talk about all those things because I do think that Virginia-Maryland lacrosse is a special moment for these kids, and there have been so many great games over the years,” he said. “I know I will remember some of those kinds of things.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland

March 29, 2011

Loyola, Salisbury snag weekly awards

Loyola sophomore long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff earned Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

Ratliff helped the Greyhounds score four goals in transition, registering one goal and two assists in the team’s 14-12 win against Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday. He also collected a career- and game-high six ground balls.

Salisbury junior attackman Matt Cannone took home Offensive Player of the Week laurels from the Capital Athletic Conference.

Cannone posted 10 points in two victories, including five goals in the No. 2 Sea Gulls’ 10-7 decision against then-No. 8 Roanoke on Wednesday night. With 121 career goals, Cannone is just 10 goals away from passing Eric Bishop for 10th place on the school’s all-time goals list.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Salisbury

Goucher bouncing back at right time

Coach Kyle Hannan is philosophical about Goucher’s 1-4 start.

The way he sees it, the lethargic beginning was just the first third of the season. The second third entailed a 5-0 run that has the Gophers sitting at 6-4 and poised to undertake the final stretch with five opponents from the Landmark Conference.

“We were 1-4 in our first season and then 5-0 in that middle third,” Hannan said Monday. “So that’s what we’ve been harping on. And now we have our third season, and the goal is to be 5-0. We just did it, so anything less would be disappointing. I think the guys are confident, but also understand that we need to continue to get better if we want to accomplish the goals that we have this year.”

Hannan said the program spent a lot of time poring over its strengths and weaknesses after a shocking 13-12 loss to Randolph-Macon on March 5 that dropped the team to 0-3. Since that setback, freshman Max Roach has replaced freshman George Skelos in the starting attack, and the first midfield has moved from junior Pat Peddicord to sophomore John Curry to freshman Pierce Ingram, who has started the last two contests.

Another key to Goucher’s reversal was blending a group of veterans with newcomers, which, Hannan seemed to hint, involved a clashing of egos.

“We had so many guys return from last year’s team, but then we brought in a lot of talented, young kids,” Hannan said. “So I think early on, we had a lot of guys back that were proud of some of the accomplishments over the past couple of years, and we had some talented young kids that were really competing for starting spots. We were trying to find out who we were, where we were going to play guys, and how we were going to get our most talented guys on the field. It took a little bit of time, but over the last two weeks, we’ve played very good lacrosse.”

The Gophers begin conference play on Saturday against Susquehanna at home, and Hannan said Goucher, which won the Landmark tournament and represented the league in the NCAA tournament last May, is ready.

“I think it gives us a lot of confidence not only because of the wins, but they’re out there every day and they sense how much better we’re playing right now and how the leadership has come together,” Hannan said. “So we’re in a good place right now. We’ve got to keep working like everybody else does, but I like where we are heading into this stretch against just conference opponents.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Goucher

Yale in midst of program-defining season

No. 8 Cornell and Dartmouth may lead the Ivy League currently with 2-0 and 1-0 records, respectively, but Yale’s 8-7 overtime win over Princeton on Saturday thrust the team into the national spotlight.

Not only did the victory propel the Bulldogs (5-1 overall and 1-1 in the league) to No. 19 in the latest Sun rankings, but it also snapped a six-game losing skid to a perennial Ivy League power.

“We try not to project, but we hope to win every game and be in every game,” Yale coach Andy Shay said Monday. “I guess we’re right there with what we thought would happen. I think with the Princeton win, our history hasn’t been great, so I wouldn’t say that we expected that. We knew it would be a hard-fought game. We knew we’d have to play hard and play tough, and the guys were able to gut it out. So we’re very pleased about that.”

The Bulldogs are a confident bunch. They lost to the Tigers, 7-6, last season, but overcame a 0-2 start to qualify for the inaugural conference tournament, where they fell to Princeton again by the same score.

Shay said reaching the Ivy League tournament provided a boost to the program, which is also aiming for its first berth in the NCAA tournament since 1992.

“It was huge,” he said. “It was our first postseason in 18 years. So it was a big deal. We hadn’t had a ton of success going into that. Certainly, starting out 0-2 and losing to Cornell and Princeton put our backs against the wall, but we had a resilient group of kids, and they just wanted to keep fighting and play one game at a time, and it worked out for us down the stretch.”

Yale gets another test on Friday in No. 16 Penn, which fell to the Big Red, 13-12, in overtime last Saturday. Shay said he doesn’t think the team will bask in the aftermath of Saturday’s victory and forget about the Quakers.

“Time will tell,” he said. “We want to worry about this week, and hopefully, we can take another step this week. We try not to think about the entire season in those terms.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)

March 28, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will provide commentary on Saturday’s contest between Colonial Athletic Association rivals Towson and Hofstra at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday. Prior to then, Dixon was kind enough to discuss why he thinks Notre Dame could be the last undefeated team left in Division I, whether 1-5 Princeton can still make the NCAA tournament, and how Duke has reeled off six consecutive wins since a 1-2 start.

Question: Of the two remaining undefeated teams in Division I, does top-ranked Syracuse (7-0) or No. 3 Notre Dame (6-0) have a better chance of staying that way before these two meet on April 30?
Answer: I think both of them have the best defenses in the country. I think Notre Dame probably plays – on paper – the “easier” schedule. They did beat Rutgers [Sunday], 8-3, and they continue to lean on that defense and cobble goals together. Syracuse is a team that has shown that it can play any style that’s necessary to win. They can run or they can play slow-down. They didn’t shoot particularly well [Saturday] night against Villanova. Notre Dame still has to play Villanova [on Saturday], which should be a great game. Probably in my heart of hearts, I’d say that Notre Dame may have a better chance of being undefeated, but if both of them are undefeated on April 30 when they play one another, I won’t be surprised at all.

Q: What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
A: Obviously, Hopkins beating Virginia was surprising. I thought the game would be close, but I didn’t necessarily think that Hopkins was going to beat Virginia just based on the offensive firepower that the Cavaliers possess. I guess the second surprise would be North Carolina beating Maryland. I thought Maryland would win that game maybe by three or four goals. And not only that Maryland lost, but the fact that it was freshmen from North Carolina that led the charge offensively. I think the freshmen combined for 14 points in that game – seven goals and seven assists. So that surprised me as well.

Q: What does the 12-11 win against No. 2 Virginia mean for No. 9 Johns Hopkins?
A: One, it gives them a marquee victory. It gives them a win that when you couple it with their strength of schedule – and last year, the argument was, who did Hopkins beat? – it’s a quality win. It also gives those kids a lot of excitement and a lot of personal satisfaction. I was at the game [Saturday], and I was sitting with my family at the scoreboard end [of Homewood Field in Baltimore], and when the game ended, these guys were running onto the field and jumping on one another. I was thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s kind of unusual for a Dave Pietramala team to be celebrating like that.” But when you consider what that senior class has been through, they haven’t beaten Syracuse, they haven’t beaten North Carolina, and they hadn’t beaten Virginia until [Saturday]. So to have that victory and to be able to savor that and enjoy it, I think it means a lot to them. It means a lot for their confidence, it means a marquee win that will go a long way on Selection Sunday should they be able to handle their business in relatively decent fashion from here on out. But I’m sure that Dave Pietramala is already hitting on this theme, that one win and one game does not make a season. They’ve got North Carolina up next, a team they haven’t beaten in three seasons. Then they’ve got a tough Albany squad, which has shown the ability to beat anybody when healthy and when they execute. And then of course, they’ve got Maryland. So it doesn’t get any easier, but I think this gives this group a lot to build on, a lot of confidence, and a lot to be proud of.

Q: On the flipside, what does the 11-6 loss to No. 7 North Carolina mean for No. 6 Maryland?
A: That’s such a senior-laden team, and to get beat at home after being up, 4-1, by essentially a bunch of freshmen, I think that’s got to be disheartening. Everyone has pointed to that [senior attackman] Ryan Young stick penalty as the turning point of the game, but if you remember, near the end of that first quarter when Maryland was up 4-1, they had a goal disallowed after a player was pushed into the crease prior to the shot being released, and once a player enters the crease in any way, shape or form, the play is blown dead immediately if the offense is still in possession of the ball. And on the next play, they hit a pipe. So instead of being up – potentially – 5-1 going into that second quarter, it’s only 4-1. So you had three things that didn’t go their way and kind of stole their momentum. If I’m Maryland, I’m looking at a couple of things. One, I’m looking at the team defense overall. I think teams are getting way too many inside looks against Maryland. [Goalkeeper] Niko Amato was great against Towson, he was terrific against UMBC, and he wasn’t that great [Saturday]. That’s going to happen. Everybody has on off day. And he’s a redshirt freshman who is fronted by all seniors – [defenseman] Ryder Bohlander, the Schmidts [Brett and Max], [long-stick midfielder Brian] Farrell, [short-stick defensive midfielder] Danny Burns. So I think Maryland’s defense has to do a better job of not giving up shots inside. And two, I think the offense has to do a better job of finishing. When you win 15-of-20 faceoffs and you win the ground balls, you’ve got to shoot the ball better. Right now, [senior attackman Grant] Catalino is the only outside threat. This team desperately misses [senior attackman] Travis Reed. He was having a nice 2011, and he’s got that heavy left-handed shot. You put Catalino on the right, Reed on the left, and that really opens a lot of things up. Now teams are keying on Catalino or playing zone and daring other players to beat them from the outside, and it’s just not happening for Maryland. But Maryland’s got Virginia, Navy, Johns Hopkins, so Maryland has a lot of opportunity in front of them.

Q: With Princeton falling to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Ivy League, do the Tigers still have a shot at qualifying for the NCAA tournament?
A: They do. They’ve lost to Penn, and they’ve lost to Yale, but they still have Cornell, they still have Dartmouth which is still undefeated in the Ivy League, and they also have to play Brown and Harvard. So they have opportunity to make it into Ivy League tournament, which is a four-team tournament, and the winner gets the automatic qualifier. So they still have some opportunity in front of them. It’s going to be tough though. They lost to Yale [Saturday], and the injuries continue to pile up. One of their short-stick defensive middies [freshman Nick Fernandez, according to The Trentonian] broke his arm and, I think, will be lost for the year. [Senior attackman] Jack McBride came back [from a groin injury], and now he‘s back on the shelf, and apparently, a decision is due on him in the next couple of days on whether he’ll be able to play the rest of the season. He may miss the remainder of the season. So they’ve just got a lot of injury problems, and you couple that with [sophomore midfielder] Mike Chanenchuk not coming back in the offseason, and defensively, they’ve struggled. That’s surprising. You knew they were going to have to play more defense. With the type of two-man offense that they play, it can lead to a lot of turnovers and things of that nature. So you knew the defense was going to have a little bit more pressure on it, but I think the defense has been a bit more undisciplined. The midfield defense hasn’t been that strong. [Sophomore midfielder] Jeff Froccaro hasn’t been able to follow up a sensational freshman season. There’s been a number of things that aren’t going well for Princeton. And I think another thing you can point to is, they’re only winning about 38 percent of their faceoffs. When they get the ball on offense, they can do some things, but winning faceoffs has been a huge problem for them, which puts more pressure on their defense. So it’s going to be an uphill battle, but they definitely have some opportunity in front of them.

Q: When you’re talking about the hottest team in the country right now, it’s difficult to overlook the last two remaining undefeated teams, but could No. 5 Duke also make a claim?
A: I’m incredibly impressed with the turnaround that Duke has had, and they’re actually having a better regular season up to this point than at this point in 2010. I think they had lost three games even before they got out of the month of March. I think you really have to tip your cap to [coach] John Danowski and his coaching staff. They weren’t afraid to make some changes. I think the biggest change was really getting Jordan Wolf, the freshman [attackman] from Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, more involved in the offense. He had seven points [Saturday] against Georgetown. He’s just terrific. I saw him at the Under Armour All-American game and commented at the time that he was a right-handed Max Quinzani with better speed and better dodging ability. He’s just fearless, and he’s been a great addition. I think [goalkeeper] Dan Wigrizer is playing much better than he did last year as a freshman. He’s saving over 60 percent of his shots, and [senior] Tom Montelli is leading a defense that – if you remember – lost Mike Manley in the offseason to a torn ACL in addition to losing Parker McKee to graduation. But I think when you look all around, they’re playing at such a high level right now. They beat Georgetown by two, and some people might scoff at that, but this weekend was all about close games and teams giving up leads. I think Duke right now is playing at a very high level, and fans are in for a real treat next Sunday at the Big City Classic when they face off against Syracuse. And you had asked the question of who do I think has a better chance of going undefeated in the regular season between Notre Dame and Syracuse, and the Duke game against the Orange next Sunday is a big reason why I may just shade a little bit towards the Notre Dame side of that equation.
Q: Could I ask you to review each conference that has an automatic qualifier for that league’s tournament champion and pick the leading candidate for that AQ? Let’s start with the Ivy League.
A: Last year, the four teams that made it into the [conference] tournament, the semifinals were determined by one goal and then the championship game was one goal. So I think the margin for error is razor-thin. Cornell beat Penn yesterday in overtime, Yale beat Princeton in overtime, Dartmouth beat Harvard in a close game. I think it’s anybody’s ball game right now, but until proven otherwise, I think you still have to go with the Cornell Big Red. They’ve been the team to dominate the Ivy League over the last five or six years.
Q: What about the Colonial Athletic Association?
A: Another one that’s just an absolute mess. You have Hofstra losing to Delaware a week ago, and then they beat Drexel when everybody thought the Dragons were going to make their move. Delaware looks good right now, winning two games in a row over Hofstra and Towson. I think when you look at this, you still have to go with Hofstra despite the fact that they’ve lost [fifth-year senior midfielder] Steve Serling probably for the year because of a lacerated kidney. But I think they will still have enough balance in the midfield. You’ve got that attack that is so explosive, and the defense is playing better. So I think you still have to go with the Pride.

Q: How about the Eastern College Athletic Conference?
A: The ECAC is Denver’s to lose. Not only will they make the four-team tournament, but then they have the tournament being held in Denver. So I think the Pioneers are the clear favorite.

Q: The Patriot League?
A: I have to go with Army, the Black Knights. They’re playing some pretty good lacrosse right now. For the last, I think, five games, they’ve been without [senior] Bill Henderson, their best defenseman and a captain. [Senior defenseman] Matt Marasco didn’t play [Saturday], and they still beat Lafayette, 7-6. So people might look at that score and say, “What’s going on with that?” But I think Army is your team in the Patriot. But keep an eye on Bucknell. I think they’re playing some pretty good lacrosse right now. Then again, they did lose to Robert Morris mid-week, and that’s the crazy thing. You look at a team like Bucknell, and they’re sitting at 6-1 and you see Robert Morris on their schedule and you think, “OK, they’re going to go to 7-1.” And then they lose. But I think right now, Army is the team to beat.

Q: The America East?
A: It used to be a one-horse race with Stony Brook, but with the Seawolves losing to Towson and then to Cornell, I think you have to start looking at some other teams. I think Albany – if healthy – has the ability to take Stony Brook down. They’ve had some injuries. [Senior midfielder] Brian Caufield has missed some games, [junior midfielder] Rocky Bonitatibus has missed a few games. I think when healthy, Albany is the greatest challenger to Stony Brook in the America East. But if I had to pick one today, with [senior midfielder] Kevin Crowley and his ability individually, I’d probably still stick with Stony Brook.

Q: The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference?
A: Right now, you’d have to go with Jacksonville. I think the Dolphins are playing pretty good lacrosse, and that would be a pretty sweet story, a lacrosse program in its second year of existence. Their best player, in my opinion, is [senior] midfielder Bobby Stockton, the transfer from UMBC. I think he’s a terrific player.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

March 27, 2011

Postscript from Virginia at Johns Hopkins

After compiling the program’s first sub-.500 season since 1971 and starting eight sophomores and freshman this year, Johns Hopkins wasn’t expected to seriously challenge the rest of Division I for the national championship.

But after extending top-ranked Syracuse to overtime on March 19 and nipping No. 2 Virginia by a goal on Saturday, the No. 9 Blue Jays may have to set their aim a little higher.

Johns Hopkins (6-2) is still a young squad and prone to bouts of inconsistency and ineffectiveness. Just look at the 63-second span of the third quarter when the Blue Jays allowed the Cavaliers to score four consecutive goals to turn a 9-5 deficit into a 9-9 tie with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.

But the team bounced back, getting the game-winner from fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland with 1:39 remaining.

Coach Dave Pietramala conceded that squandering the lead in the third quarter worried him.

“Doubt can start to creep in, and we’ve talked with this team about not having any doubt, believing in itself,” he said. “Like I said, I watched us grow up last week, and I watched us grow up in a losing effort. We played the game, and we played it to the best of our ability. Well, we turned around and did the same. To the guys’ credit, they never panicked. … The guys kept their composure.”

Aside from Boland’s three-goal, one-assist effort and senior midfielder Mark Goodrich’s lone goal, the remaining eight goals and four assists came from the sticks of freshmen and sophomores.

“We have a young team, and we expect that out of them,” Boland said. “… It’s good that these guys have confidence and to get a good win like this, but it’s back to another tough game and another good week of practice.”

Indeed, the schedule doesn’t get any easier with Johns Hopkins taking on No. 7 North Carolina at the Big City Classic at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. The Tar Heels (7-2) blasted No. 6 Maryland (6-2), 11-6, on Saturday.

“Now to be honest with you, I told the team last week that how we handle the Syracuse win would define our team,” Pietramala said. “I think we handled it pretty well. I’ll reiterate that to them again. How we handle this one will continue to define our team.”

Other notes:

*Saturday was a coming-out party for Blue Jays sophomore midfielder Lee Coppersmith. Filling in for injured sophomore midfielder John Greeley, Coppersmith registered the first hat trick of his career. All three of his goals were timely. After Greeley was drilled by junior defenseman Matt Lovejoy on a shoulder check with 7:20 left in the second quarter, Virginia scored twice to trim a four-goal deficit in half. But Coppersmith answered, tickling the net with a left-handed drive at the 4:04 mark of the second quarter and then a right-handed blast at the 2:55 mark. And when the Cavaliers took their first lead of the contest on a goal by freshman midfielder Rob Emery with 9:17 left in the fourth quarter, Coppersmith tied the score with another right-handed laser with 6:43 remaining. “It definitely gives me a lot of confidence going forward because I haven’t had a game like this in my career,” Coppersmith said. “I hope I continue to contribute on this team.” Virginia coach Dom Starsia was impressed by Coppersmith. “I would tell you that the two right-handed shots he hit, those were big-boy shots at a big time,” Starsia said. “He shoots one left-handed, so we sort of needed to be reminded of who he was. You immediately force him to his right hand – and we do a nice job there, he hits the first one and the second one, we get to him, and I can hear our defense talking, we slide to him – and he still hits his shot. So he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

*Speaking of Greeley, he did not return after the check by Lovejoy. He was dressed in street clothes and standing on the sideline in the second half. Per his own policy, Pietramala did not address the nature of Greeley’s injury, but insisted that the midfielder should be available for Sunday’s contest against North Carolina. “He will be fine,” Pietramala said. “He’ll play.”

*Another player who had an eye-opening outing was freshman defenseman Jack Reilly. A week after limiting Syracuse sophomore attackman JoJo Marasco to a single assist, Reilly shut out Cavaliers senior midfielder Shamel Bratton, who put just four of his 11 shots on net. Bratton did score twice, but Reilly was not on him on both occasions. “I watched Jack Reilly grow up right in front of my eyes in the last two games,” Pietramala said. “We’ve asked him to cover two of the best players in the country, JoJo Marasco and now Shamel Bratton. I thought he did a wonderful job.”

*Saturday’s final score was the seventh consecutive time that a meeting between these two teams at Homewood Field had been decided by two goals or less and the fifth time over that same seven-game span that the margin was just one goal. But Virginia had routed the Blue Jays by scores of 19-8 and 15-6 in the previous two contests. Still, Starsia said the Johns Hopkins team he saw Saturday didn’t appear that much different from the previous squads. “I’ve always felt like they were pretty good,” he said. “So I wouldn’t be able to quantify that. I’ve always felt like they’ve got a lot of athletes, they can get up and down the field. I thought today, they played some in the unsettled game, and I’ve always felt that they had the personnel to do that. They’re a little bit more complete perhaps defensively. But I think the boy in the goal [sophomore Pierce Bassett] playing like that, he makes it look good. And that’s part of the team defense, the goalie playing like that. But I think all of those pieces had to fit together today for them, and that’s a good lacrosse team.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Postscript

March 26, 2011

Virginia at Johns Hopkins: Halftime thoughts

In what could be a season-changing outcome for Johns Hopkins, the No. 9 Blue Jays lead No. 2 Virginia, 7-3, at halftime at Homewood Field in Baltimore Saturday.

If Johns Hopkins (5-2) could hold on, it would be a significant win for the Blue Jays, who have dropped the last six meetings and 10 of the last 14 to the Cavaliers (7-1). In addition, Johns Hopkins has lost the last 10 contests against both Virginia and Syracuse.

The Blue Jays scored all four of the game’s first quarter goals. Sophomore attackman Matt White’s conversion of an assist from junior attackman Steele Stanwick with 9:28 left in the second quarter snapped a scoreless drought of 20 minutes, 32 seconds for the Cavaliers.

Virginia appeared to regain the momentum when the Cavaliers followed a Chris Boland goal on a 6-on-4 man-up opportunity with a shorthanded goal by junior midfielder Colin Briggs and an even-strength tally by junior attackman Chris Bocklet within a span of 80 seconds.

But back-to-back goals by sophomore midfielder Lee Coppersmith helped Johns Hopkins re-assume a four-goal advantage at intermission.

Other notes:

*Coppersmith, who leads the Blue Jays with two goals, is playing on the first midfield with sophomore John Ranagan and freshman Rob Guida after sophomore John Greeley was drilled on a shoulder-first check by junior defenseman Matt Lovejoy with 7:20 left in the second quarter. Greeley lay on the turf for several minutes before walking off the field with some assistance from a trainer and senior midfielder Tim Donovan. But Greeley sat on the bench for the remainder of the period. Boland has registered one goal and one assist, and sophomore attackman Zach Palmer has posted two assists.

*Virginia senior midfielders Shamel and Rhamel Bratton have been silenced by a rotation of long poles that includes sophomore defenseman Chris Lightner, freshman defenseman Jack Reilly and seniors long-stick midfielders Ben Smith and Orry Michael. And Stanwick has collected just one assist against sophomore defenseman Tucker Durkin.

*Johns Hopkins sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett is out-dueling senior goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman, making eight saves to Ghitelman’s four. Bassett’s best stop occurred with less than 11 minutes left in the second quarter when he turned away an attempt by Rhamel Bratton on the crease.

*The Blue Jays have won 9-of-12 faceoffs as senior Matt Dolente has been successful against junior Ryan Benincasa and then senior Garett Ince. Johns Hopkins has also converted 2-of-3 extra-man chances against a Cavaliers unit that had entered the game ranked first in Division I in man-down defense.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:13 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Johns Hopkins

Virginia at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

No. 2 Virginia (7-1) has survived some hiccups, but the Cavaliers have thrived against Johns Hopkins, winning the last six meetings and 10 of the last 14. The No. 9 Blue Jays took top-ranked Syracuse to double overtime, but was saddled with a 5-4 setback. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

1) Virginia is no Syracuse. One factor in Johns Hopkins’ ability to stymie the Orange a week ago was slowing the tempo and holding onto the ball for extended possessions. That kept the Orange’s high-octane offense in neutral, but it also hampered the Blue Jays offense. So coach Dave Pietramala didn’t sound too optimistic about repeating that game plan against the Cavaliers. “I’m not sure we can hold the ball as we did against Syracuse,” he said. “For one, I don’t think Virginia necessarily will allow that. And number two, we’re going to have to score some more goals, so we’re going to have to take some more chances. We didn’t get a chance to really push a lot of transition against Syracuse, and we need to do that. We need to get some more chances, and we need to be better on the extra man.”

2) Boland and Wharton must contribute more. Senior attackmen Chris Boland and Kyle Wharton combined for 0-of-5 shooting, zero assists and seven turnovers against the Orange. That must change against Virginia, Pietramala said. “We need our two senior captains to be very visible in games like this,” he said. “And what I mean by that is, they’ve got to be very vocal with our team. They’ve got to get our team in the right sets, but they’ve got to be productive. Now production doesn’t always mean scoring a goal. But they’ve got to make sure the ball moves well. They’ve got to make sure that we attack the goal. So those two are very important to the success of our team. So we need to get Kyle some more looks. We need to get Chris more involved. Those two are very, very important to our success. So we’re going to need them to play well as we move forward.”

3) To double-pole or not to double-pole. One dilemma opposing coaches face is whether to assign a long-stick midfielder and a defenseman on the Cavaliers senior midfield duo of Shamel and Rhamel Bratton. The problem is that could leave either sophomore attackmen Connor English or Matt White or freshman attackman Mark Cockerton alone with a short-stick defensive midfielder. Not surprisingly, Pietramala was non-committal about the defensive game plan. “We’ll try to come up with the best game plan to defend them, but also one that will fit our personnel,” he said. “That’s the important thing. You’ve got to do things that fit your personnel, and with this young group, we’ve got to be careful and still allow them to continue to grow and avoid putting them in situations where they can’t be successful. So any game plan we put together is going to be based on what we think we’re capable of doing.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch

North Carolina at Maryland: Three things to watch

No. 6 Maryland and No. 7 North Carolina enter Saturday’s contests with 12 combined wins and just three losses. But both teams are 0-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and jockeying with each other to avoid meeting league-leading Duke in the conference tournament semifinals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

1) Reviewing Rastivo. The Tar Heels (6-2) started two different defensemen in senior Emmit Kellar and freshman Jordan Smith in Tuesday night’s 12-7 victory over Dartmouth, but Terps coach John Tillman pointed out that the players they replaced, junior Charlie McComas and senior Kevin Piegare, were inserted five minutes into the game and played extensively. The biggest change involved sophomore Steven Rastivo starting in place of redshirt senior Chris Madalon. “We’re still going to generate the same types of shots, quality shots – at least in our opinion – and we’ve just got to stick those shots,” Tillman said. “Madalon was a veteran guy, a big guy [at 6 feet, 3 inches and 210 pounds] which posed some problems. Rastivo seems to be very, very quick. He was really good in high school. He looked great the other night. So we’ve still got to finish shots, get good shots, make the most of them, and make them earn saves.”

2) Minding the midfield. Injuries have sapped North Carolina in the midfield, but sophomore Marcus Holman has flourished since being moved from attack to midfield. Junior Jimmy Dunster scored four goals against Dartmouth, and the possible return of junior attackman Thomas Wood would keep Dunster and Holman paired on the first line. “If Wood is in there, Holman goes to midfield and he can initiate,” Tillman said. “If you put a short stick on him, he’ll either dodge or he’ll go behind and play a pick-and-roll game with their attackmen. So that means that all of a sudden, you now have to deal with picks and either [attackmen Billy] Bitter or [Nicky] Galasso, who are very talented. And if you put a pole on him [Holman], that will let Dunster dodge a little bit more, and he’s very, very fast and extremely dynamic.”

3) Keeping up with Keenan. The Tar Heels have been buoyed by the play of freshman R.G. Keenan, who has won 67 percent (118-of-176) of faceoffs this season. Sophomore Curtis Holmes is no shrinking flower for the Terps, having won 60.3 percent (79-of-131) of draws thus far, but Tillman said the rest of the team must assist him against Keenan. “We have a lot of confidence in Curtis, but like any game we go into, we know it’s not just Curtis against their guy,” he said. “We always look at it as a 10-on-10 faceoff. Curt’s going to have to be at his best, but so will the wing guys, and so will the attackmen and the defensemen. Hopefully, Curtis will get off the ball pretty quickly. I know Curtis is a very tough. Keenan’s a very tough kid. … We’re going to have to work our butts off, and that’s a credit to Keenan. We’re going to have to do a really good job.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch

March 25, 2011

Familiar face to return to starting lineup for Mount St. Mary's

Less than a year removed from a season in which he registered 17 goals and 21 assists in 17 starts, Brett Schmidt has been playing off the bench more this spring.

That’s about to change as the junior attackman will return to the starting lineup for Saturday’s home contest against Loyola, coach Tom Gravante said Friday morning.

“He’s back to playing the level of ball that we needed from him against Towson [on March 5],” Gravante said. “So he earned it back, and it’s time to get him in the game right from the start.”

Gravante said the decision to demote Schmidt was two-fold. First, the coaches wanted to give Schmidt, who had posted just one goal and one assist in his first two games, what Gravante called “a kick in the pants.” Second, the staff thought running Schmidt out of the box would pair him with an opponent’s short-stick defender, which would be a mismatch.

Schmidt’s linemate, junior Cody Lehrer, has also experienced a resurgence. After scoring just twice in his first three contests, Lehrer has scored 14 goals over the team’s last three.

It’s all part of Gravante’s philosophy that practice determines the starters.

“Starting jobs are won and lost in practice,” Gravante said. “I don’t want to be surprised. If you’re a gameday player, you’re not going to play for me. I need to be wooed in practice. Raise my eyebrows in practice, and that gains my confidence to keep you in the game. I think that was the key [for Lehrer].”

After dropping their first two games, the Mountaineers have won three of their last four and welcome a Greyhounds squad that has lost back-to-back contests and may be forced to play without primary faceoff specialist John Schiavone (concussion) and fifth-year senior midfielder Chris Palmer (concussion).

“We might be able to catch them at the right time if they don’t get themselves out of the rut,” Gravante said. “But I’m certainly not going to assume that based on Coach [Charley] Toomey and his staff. He’s going to get those guys organized and ready to play, and that’s what I want. I want these guys to play a team of status and give me 60 minutes of lacrosse. They beat the teams they’re supposed to be beat, in my opinion. But [against] the teams of status, they haven’t played 60 minutes yet. Very immature against UVA, and you can’t be immature against those guys. Against Towson, I don’t think they handled the pressure and weren’t ready to play. With Drexel, you can’t play 30 minutes of lacrosse and spot a team seven goals and expect to win that game. So with Loyola, I’m hopeful for a much better start-to-finish. We’ve been telling them, ‘You’ll beat this team if you play 60 minutes of lacrosse.’ We’ll see where we are at the end of the game.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Mount St. Mary's

Bonus Q&A with Delaware's Grant Kaleikau

In a goof of monumental proportions, I arranged for two Q&A’s this week – one with Mount St. Mary’s senior goalie T.C. DiBartolo and one with Delaware junior attackman Grant Kaleikau. Since only one could run in the paper, here is the Q&A with Kaleikau, a Germantown native who ranks second among the No. 13 Blue Hens in both assists (10) and points (15).

Question: How significant was the 7-6 upset of then-No. 5 Hofstra on Saturday?
Answer: It was huge. After our losses to Stony Brook and Albany, we needed something. We needed to get our confidence back, and that game did that. We’ll find out on Saturday. It’s just one win, but it’s huge for our confidence and our team morale.

Q: Would you say that was a must-win situation?
A: I wouldn’t call it a must-win, but it was close. There are still five games left in the CAA. So it wasn’t a must-win, but we definitely needed it.

Q: How much pride does the team have as the reigning CAA tournament champion?
A: We have a lot of pride in that. That’s one thing that Coach [Bob Shillinglaw] definitely reminded us of the week before Hofstra. He told us, ‘You guys are the defending CAA champs, and Hofstra made the NCAA tournament.’ So we had a big target on our backs. We take a lot of pride in what we did last year, and we want to do it again this year.

Q: Delaware had a big win and Saturday’s opponent, Towson, also enjoyed an upset by beating then-No. 4 Stony Brook, 9-8. Yet the Tigers are only 2-4. Are they still a dangerous team?
A: Definitely. They always play us tough. For the three years I’ve been here, they’ve beaten us two times, and we’ve only beaten them once, and that was last year in the [CAA tournament] championship. Any conference opponent is a tough team to play. And like you said, they took down Stony Brook, who handled us pretty well.

Q: You’re from Germantown, and you played at Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg. Were you recruited by any of the local programs?
A: Interestingly enough, I was recruited by Towson, and I was going to go to Towson, but at the time, I couldn’t get in. So I did a postgraduate year at Bridgeton Academy in Maine. I went there, and things didn’t work out at Towson. So I was kind of in a hole for a while and then out of nowhere, Delaware popped up, and thank God they did. But while I was at Watkins Mill, I was only recruited by Towson, Washington College, Quinnipiac.

Q: Were you shocked at the lack of interest in you?
A: Kind of. I was a little shaken by it. I wasn’t really expecting Hopkins or Maryland, but it just didn’t work out, and I’m happy where I am. That’s all that matters.

Q: Why didn’t things work out with Towson when you were at Bridgton Academy?
A: I actually took a visit to Towson, and I made a verbal commitment in my senior year. But they couldn’t get me in. so they told me that Bridgton Academy would be a good place to go and then there was the possibility that I could get in the next year. And then early at Bridgton, they told me that they were kind of full and that it wouldn’t work out. So that’s when Delaware stepped up.”

Q: At 5 feet, 7 inches and 170 pounds, do you feel that you are representing the smaller guys who can play attack?
A: Definitely. I take pride in being a little guy out there, playing tough, and trying to be quick out and elude some of the bigger guys out there. I’m trying to show that the little guys can play, too.

Q: Who is the toughest goalkeeper you’ve played against?
A: When I was at Bridgton, we played Navy Prep when they had Navy’s starting goalie now – [junior] R.J. Wickham. He was probably the toughest goalie to score on. He’s a lot like [Delaware senior] Noah [Fossner]. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s quick.

Q: Favorite movie and why?
A: I’ve got to say Miracle just because I grew up as a hockey player, and I think anybody that plays hockey loves that movie.

Q: Favorite meal?
A: Chipotle steak burrito. We’re getting one here on campus. It’s not here yet, but over the summer when I’m home, I eat there three or four times a week.

Q: Celebrity crush?
A: Eva Longoria.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Towson

Leftovers from Q&A with T.C. DiBartolo of Mount St. Mary's

Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Mount St. Mary’s senior goalie T.C. DiBartolo. Due to space constraints, here are some answers that didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why did you choose Mount St. Mary’s as your destination?
Answer: Well, actually, my mom really wanted me to go here. I wasn’t exactly a big fan of the school at first. But she asked me to try it out, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ And it grew on me a lot. It definitely helped that the coaches and players have been great here, and the people on campus have been great, too.

Q: Did you ask your mom why she was so insistent on you attending Mount St. Mary’s?
A: The recruiting process was really tough for me, and thing didn’t work out the way I wish they would’ve. My mom liked that it was close to home. And even though she doesn’t come to any of my games because she can’t stand to watch me play because it makes her too nervous, it allowed her to know that if there was any issue, she could come and be here quickly.

Q: Did you have a role model in sports when you were growing up?
A: As far as lacrosse, I guess it would be Mickey Jarboe, the goalie from Navy. I remember my dad taking me to watch him play, and he was the first real goalie that I saw. He is still, to this day, the best goalie I’ve ever seen. I try to base my stance [in the net] around him and my style of play. He was real athletic and just a great player.

Q: Who has the hardest shot you’ve ever had the pleasure of blocking?
A: The hardest shot I’ve ever faced is probably Andrew Brancaccio of Georgetown. He hit me in the hand last year, and the ball actually went into the goal, and it was the very first goal of the game. But I couldn’t feel my fingers until the second quarter. My fingers were numb. And it was a really hot day. It wasn’t because it was cold or anything. It just hurt. I’m glad he graduated last year.

Q: What’s your favorite movie and why?
A: That’s really tough for me because I’m a big movie fan. I would probably go with “Green Street Hooligans.” It’s a solid lacrosse-player movie because it just gets you excited and you want to go out and play a game immediately afterwards.

Q: What’s your go-to meal?
A: I get made fun of for this, but I have to have fish or some type of fish product the night before every game. I like to eat sushi. I like eating light. If I eat heavy, I feel like I’m weighted down for games. I’ll eat as little as possible, which drives Coach insane.

Q: If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?
A: This was actually discussed earlier in the week by some of us. I am terrified of flying, so I would never want to fly. That was everyone’s go-to. Mine would be to be invisible. But then I found out that was kind of creepy. But that would be mine.

Q: Do you have a celebrity crush?
A: I have a huge celebrity crush on “Sloan” from “Entourage” [Emmanuelle Chriqui]. I love her. She just makes my day whenever she’s on TV. She should get more movies.

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Q&A

Navy turns attention to defense

Many of the questions floating around Navy in the preseason centered on the offense’s youth and inexperience.

With the offense averaging 11 goals thus far, the Midshipmen are now focusing on the other end of the field.

Opponent are averaging 9.1 goals against Navy, which is ranked 34th in Division I. During the team’s four-game losing streak, the defense surrendered at least 10 goals three times.

That’s an alarming number for a program steeped in a history of defensive excellence, but coach Richie Meade said overhauling the starting lineup or re-drawing schemes wasn’t the answer.

“We just need to play better,” he said Thursday. “Coming into the season, it was well-publicized and everybody was concerned [about us] offensively, how we were going to be, et cetera, et cetera. We actually weren’t that concerned about it. But we did focus offensively on some things, and as it unfolded, I think we discovered we have young guys playing on the defensive end, too, and they were making mistakes that cost us. Some of the basic stuff that we do, they just weren’t getting it. I think we’ve gone back and dissected everything that we do defensively and re-taught it all. And I think we’re getting a little better.”

One personnel move the coaches did make was shifting senior Brian Striffler to short-stick defensive midfielder after spending his first three seasons as an offensive midfielder. Striffler, who ranks third on the team in ground balls with 21 because of his proficiency at playing on the wings on faceoffs, has solidified the unit, according to Meade.

“We felt like we needed some more experience,” he said. “Our short-stick defensive middies are talented but young. Some of our poles are a little bit younger, and we just felt like if we could get more experience out there – if we had [defenseman Tom] Mansfield, Striffler, [short-stick defensive midfielder] Marty Gallagher and [defenseman Michael] Hirsch out there – that’s four seniors in any combination. We felt like we needed some more experience, but not so much with playing the ball. We’re pretty good at playing the ball, but off-ball. We’d slide and not seal the inside or not recover correctly or not slide to the right guy at the right time. So we felt like Brian could help with that.”

The re-emphasis on defense paid off last Saturday when Holy Cross could only manage three goals in a five-goal loss. But Meade said a truer test of the defense’s progress will be determined this Saturday when Colgate visits Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

“Colgate’s a good offensive team,” Meade said. “They’ve got seven or eight very good offensive players. They mix them up very well. I’m impressed with Colgate.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy

March 24, 2011

Hopkins women looking for upswing after Penn win

The Johns Hopkins women had not beaten a team ranked as high as No. 4 Penn in five years, so their 8-5 victory over the Quakers on Wednesday night rated pretty lofty on coach Janine Tucker’s scale of big wins during the program’s 13 years in Division I.

“It’s way, way up there,” Tucker said. “This is not going to be forgotten.”

In 2006, the Blue Jays upset No. 3 Princeton, 8-7, but in recent years, they have struggled against ranked teams, falling to 20 straight before beating a pair of No. 17s late last season. Penn is their first win over a ranked opponent this spring, having lost one-goal heart-breakers to Princeton and Georgetown.

“Something we talked a lot about over the last year or two is that we’ve been kind of knocking on the door, like we were knocking on the door with Princeton and with Georgetown. We really were looking for that game that was going to help us turn the corner,” Tucker said.

That's pretty important for a team like Hopkins, which has struggled to make a consistent mark in Division I. They made it to the NCAA Tournament three times with just one first-round victory -- in 2007. They haven't been back since.

If the Blue Jays (5-3) can sustain the momentum from such a milestone victory as the one over Penn, it could give them a solid run at a couple of their ranked American Lacrosse Conference rivals, Vanderbilt and Florida, in early April before powerhouse Northwestern comes to Homewood Field on April 16.

The Blue Jays used a huge possession game to hold the Quakers scoreless for the final 19:20 of Wednesday's game. Hopkins didn't score in the last 24:20, but that was OK because they took an 8-2 lead when Rachel Serio scored their final goal. Candace Rossi's goal a less than two minutes into the second half held up as the game winner.

Over the final 14 minutes, the Blue Jays had possession for 13 minutes. Tucker said they didn't deliberately stall until the final three minutes. Penn did not challenge them, so they patiently held possession, waiting for the Quakers to press out so they could find the openings.

With George Washington coming to Homewood Field at 6 p.m. Saturday, Tucker is trying to bring the Blue Jays back to earth and maintain that one-game-at-a-time focus.

"Penn's over. We're not thinking about that anymore," she said. "We've got to be focused on GW, so that's something that's really important. This is part of what our program is learning how to do. There's other programs out there where the kids have been able to [sustain momentum against ranked teams], and we really respect that, that's now where our kids are. We've given ourselves an opportunity with a big win to follow it up."

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 3:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse

Maryland on the mend

Maryland’s defense is tied with Rutgers as the second-stingiest unit in Division I, surrendering just 6.1 goals per game thus far despite the absence of senior Dan Burns.

Burns, widely regarded as one of the top short-stick defensive midfielders in the country, is inching closer to making his 2011 debut on Saturday when the No. 6 Terps welcome No. 7 North Carolina to Byrd Stadium in College Park.

“I’m pretty optimistic that he could be out there on Saturday, but I don’t know what his conditioning situation is,” coach John Tillman said Thursday, confirming a Lacrosse Magazine report about Burns’ potential return. “But we’re certainly excited about trying to get him out there. If everything looks good tomorrow, we’ll give him a go. If he’s not quite ready, we’ll wait another week. But I’m excited for him.”

Burns could further solidify an already-tough Maryland defense, but Tillman didn’t object to the idea of limiting Burns’ minutes.

“I think we’d be smart about it,” Tillman said. “The key for him is he’s got to be able to do everything. We may not play him the whole game, but he’s got to be able to do everything. If he couldn’t backpedal or if he couldn’t move well laterally, it wouldn’t be worth our while playing a team like Carolina. He’s got to be better than the other guys. And we feel like he’s pretty much getting there.”

Tillman sounded a little less optimistic about senior attackman Travis Reed, who has missed back-to-back starts since injuring his left shoulder in the team’s 8-4 win against Towson on March 12.

“We’ll see,” Tillman said of Reed, who returned to practice this week. “He said he felt much, much better today. So we’ll see how he goes tomorrow. He said within the last two weeks, he’s made a ton of progress. I know he was really, really down two weeks ago, so we’ll see. We’ll see what he can do tomorrow and see if he can dress. If he can dress, throw the ball around, and everything looks good, we’ll certainly throw him in there. … He’s got to prove to us that he’s got the range of motion and strength. We’re not going to put him in a spot where he could hurt himself.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland

Loyola on verge of dubious streak

Since Charley Toomey took over as the head coach prior to the 2006 season, Loyola has never lost three regular-season games in a calendar year.

Back-to-back losses to No. 15 Denver and Air Force, however, have put the Greyhounds (3-3) on some shaky ground, and the reverberations were felt as soon as the team returned from Colorado on Sunday morning.

“We got off that plane as a coaching staff and got back to Ridley [Athletic Complex] at about two in the morning and we sat in Ridley until about 5:30,” Toomey said Wednesday. “We were analyzing every aspect of the program. Do we need to go back to fundamentals in practice? Do we need to simplify things? Looking at our attack, looking at our lines in the midfield, do we need to shake some things up? Do you beat your team up or do you pat them on the back to help them get through this? I think it’s a combination of both. But I do believe that the guys are working hard. I had about 15 kids texting me and asking me to meet on Sunday, to come up to the office and talk. They’re saying the right things.”

Toomey didn’t sound too concerned when asked about the players potentially questioning themselves or the coaches.

“I think everybody is questioning themselves,” he said. “I think the challenge is to not press. The challenge is to stick to the game plan and to believe in what we started from Day One. We can’t have everybody stand around and wait for [sophomore attackman] Michael Sawyer to take a shot. Everybody has a role, and you’ve got to fill that role.”

Toomey hinted that Saturday’s road game at Mount St. Mary’s could be the first start for several players as the coaches contemplate shaking up the starting lineup.

“Kids are competing, and that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “We need to compete from top to bottom, and starting spots are going to be earned Monday through Friday, and the guys that are going to compete every day in practice are going to take the field on Saturday for us.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Loyola

Towson hoping there's no hangover effect vs. Delaware

Tony Seaman has seen it before. A team secures a momentum-turning victory, but then buys into the hoopla in the aftermath and proceeds to lose, falling back to earth.

That’s why Seaman and the rest of the Towson coaches have been hammering home the point of avoiding the letdown factor during practices this week after the team’s 9-8 upset of then-No. 4 Stony Brook.

“That’s something that we’ve addressed each day in practice,” Seaman said Wednesday. “I’ve seen that all too often where a team gets a win and then they celebrate too long. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to us.”

Fortunately for the Tigers, they next face No. 13 Delaware, a Colonial Athletic Association foe who prevented Towson from advancing to the NCAA tournament by winning the conference tournament final last May at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

“I think there are enough bad relationships with Delaware that they’re not remembering Stony Brook,” Seaman said. “They have not forgotten that [loss to the Blue Hens]. There’s no ‘like’ there anyway. It’s been like that in football, basketball and now lacrosse. They’re one of our least favorite teams.”

Like the Tigers, Delaware is coming off a stirring victory, upending then-No. 5 and CAA rival Hofstra, 7-6, last Saturday. Seaman said he expects the Blue Hens to play with the kind of brashness that comes from knocking down the preseason favorite to win the league.

“Oh yeah, I’m sure they feel very good about themselves,” Seaman said. “That gives them renewed confidence. I think they were questioning themselves after the last couple of weeks, but that really brings their game together. They’ve got one under their belts, and they’re leading the league right now. They knocked off the team that was picked to win the CAA. So they feel great about that.”

One other note: Seaman said he anticipates that senior Tim Stratton will earn his second consecutive start on attack after being benched against Navy on March 15. Junior Sean Maguire set a career high with three points on two goals and one assist against the Seawolves, and Stratton snapped a six-game goalless drought with a goal, but Seaman said he would go with the four-year starter.

“I think Stratton will start, and Maguire will rotate through,” Seaman said. “… He [Stratton] was a little bit better. I’d still like to see him improve and really become a point-getter for us.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Towson

Maryland's B.Schmidt tight-lipped about North Carolina's Bitter

Few opposing defensemen have rattled North Carolina senior attackman Billy Bitter the way Brett Schmidt has.

The Maryland senior held Bitter without a point and caused four turnovers in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on April 23, 2010. The only other time Schmidt and Bitter have tangled occurred on April 24, 2009. Bitter registered three goals and two assists, but he also committed four turnovers – three of which were credited to Schmidt.

But Schmidt took the diplomatic approach when talking about potentially shadowing Bitter again when the No. 7 Tar Heels visit the No. 6 Terps on Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

“We’ve always had a great team defense that knows how to play against UNC’s offense,” Schmidt said Tuesday. “I think we just stick to our game plan. We did that last year, and we had pretty good success. So we’ll see.”

Asked if he noticed anything about Bitter’s game that contributes to Schmidt’s success, Schmidt took the high road again, saying, “I just watched film and prepared last year. I don’t really know if there’s anything specific I’d want to say, but I’m just playing defense. I know that I have everyone behind me for help when I need help. We just had a great plan last year.”

Schmidt did acknowledge that being backed by fellow senior defensemen Max Schmidt (no relation) and Ryder Bohlander gives him a little leeway to be aggressive.

“They’re my roommates, and I trust them 100 percent,” Brett Schmidt said. “That’s been a strength for our defense this year, just believing in each other and trusting each other. So that’s definitely comforting that I have those guys right next to me on the field.”

Over the past two seasons, Schmidt has tangled with the likes of Bitter, Virginia midfielder Shamel Bratton, Navy midfielder Andy Warner and former Johns Hopkins attackman Tom Palasek. Schmidt said he relishes those type of challenges.

“We prepare so hard and work so hard all year-round that we don’t get too nervous,” he said. “We always have great game plans, and we have so much trust in our defense that we’re comfortable every game – regardless of who we’re going against or who we match up defensively.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland

Postscript from Tufts at Stevenson

Wednesday night’s showdown between No. 1 Tufts and No. 2 Stevenson is just one of many games those two programs will play this season, and perhaps that’s why both coaches declined to make too much of the 14-13 outcome in favor of the visiting Jumbos.

“I don’t think so,” Tufts coach Mike Daly said when asked if the win sent a statement to the rest of Division III. “I think these guys are still 18- to 22-year-olds, and shoot, we’re going to have our hands full with Williams College on Saturday. They’re an in-league opponent, and we’re onto the next challenge.”

Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene was even blunter, saying, “Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything. This is a regional game for us. We understand that. But at the same time, we understand that we’ve got to win our games and win our conference. I think we’re already in a great position for the NCAA tournament with three big wins over top-10 teams in the southern region. So I think we’re in a good position. We’ve just got to continue to get better. That was a great game, probably one of the best Division III games around, and we’re going to continue to get better. We’ll be back. Our guys are motivated. They understand what just happened, and we’ll be back.”

Barring a total collapse in the latter half of the season, both sides are virtually guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Still, if you’re a Jumbos fan, there’s a lot to be excited about. The offense tagged Stevenson with a season high in goals, and junior goalkeeper Steven Foglietta demonstrated that he may be one of the best at his position.

Tufts senior attackman D.J. Hessler said the victory should silence the critics questioning the team’s staying power after capturing the NCAA championship last May.

“We know we’re not a one-hit wonder,” he said. “If that’s what other people want to think, so be it. Maybe this game would send a statement, but it really comes down to May. Even if we had lost this game, it’s not the end of the season. We keep going at it. But it definitely says that we’re not some phony who won by chance or won by luck. Hopefully, that answers the call.”

Other notes:

*Both sides seemed to agree that in game that featured 27 goals, the star of the game may have been Foglietta, who entered the contests with an 8.40 goals-against average and a .562 save percentage. Foglietta made 24 saves against Stevenson, including 13 in the second half, and Daly was matter-of-fact about his goalie’s value. “Without Steven Foglietta, we don’t win that game,” Daly said. “I don’t know what it is about the bigger the game, but he just shows up and gets it done. We’re real lucky he’s on our side.” Added Cantabene: “We couldn’t get it by the goalie. He was the biggest difference. Twenty four saves, and a lot of them were with him standing on his head.”

*The Mustangs seemed to miss the presence of fifth-year senior attackman Richie Ford, who had ranked third on the team in goals (15) and points (22) prior to the contest. Cantabene said Ford left the game early in the second quarter after pulling a hamstring. “When you lose an attackman of that caliber – and he was making some plays, he was putting some heat on early on – losing him hurt,” Cantabene said. “We had to adjust a little bit. And that’s what happens when you’re nine games into the season. Guys start to get banged up. We’ll get him back in about a week.”

*The Jumbos (4-0) appeared to attack Stevenson’s interior defense, scoring at least half of their goals from in front of junior goalkeeper Ian Bolland (eight saves). Hessler said although the coaches and players decided to attack the front of the cage, he also said that the team’s transition game forces defenses to open up. “We love to push in transition, especially with our poles and D-middies, and they have to respect our guys if they’re going to the goal,” Hessler said. “We have some guys on the side who are pretty sneaky and able to get open. So that’s part of our game plan, and we know that if we catch them dodge-watching, we can get open looks in the middle.”

*Even with the loss, the Mustangs are 8-1 and very much in contention for repeating as Capital Athletic Conference tournament champions. Senior midfielder Neal Barthelme guaranteed that the team would rebound from this setback. “We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “Lacrosse is a game of bounces, and you’ve just got to work hard every day. Eventually, it adds up and you make that play, and it will be there next time. For now, we’ve just got to get better and work on things that didn’t work out well today.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Postscript, Stevenson

March 23, 2011

Some women's teams can't beat a lion of a March day

Ah, spring! Well, maybe you’re happy with the weather if you’re playing lacrosse in Florida.

Further north, March may come in like a lion, and the beast is hanging on. Wednesday's bad weather from Virginia to New York made a mess of the women’s lacrosse schedule, with four games postponed.

Albany at Colgate and American at George Mason were put off before they started due to forecasts of snow and storms, respectively. They will be played April 5.

Two others – Virginia at James Madison and Columbia at Princeton – made it to around halftime before lightning stopped the action. At Princeton, while everyone waited for the storm to pass, snow coated the field, and officials decided it wasn’t playable. Both games will be made up April 27 when, because of NCAA rules, they will start the games over.

A few other games went on in chilly, wet conditions. Johns Hopkins upset Penn at Homewood Field, where it was misty and 45 degrees. Loyola beat UMBC in Catonsville in a rainy 48 degrees. Penn State beat Lafayette in State College, where it was raining and 32 degrees, but fortunately for those teams, the Nittany Lions have an indoor facility, so no one froze.

Maybe the worst weather – Northwestern beat Syracuse at breezy Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill. on the shore of Lake Michigan, where it was 35 degrees and overcast.

Winner for the best weather – Gainesville, Fla, where the Gators beat Fairfield on a sunny, 78-degree day. No wonder the Gators play 11 of their 16 games at home.

I’ll bet every other team mentioned here would rather have been playing in the warmth of the Sunshine State. Come on, spring!


Posted by Katherine Dunn at 10:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse

Tufts at Stevenson: Halftime thoughts

Looks like the game was worth the wait after all.

After a weather delay that lasted 1 hour, 45 minutes, Tufts and Stevenson finally took the field at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, and the visiting Jumbos own an 8-6 advantage at halftime in the showdown between the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in Division III.

Stevenson (8-0) led 6-5 after senior midfielder Kyle Moffitt scored his second goal of the game with 2:02 left in the second quarter.

But Tufts, the 2010 NCAA champion, roared back with three consecutive scores in the final 1:28, including two within an 8-second span. That run was fueled by senior attackman D.J. Hessler, a Monkton native and St. Paul’s graduate, who scored twice.

The Jumbos had capitalized on the Mustangs’ porous interior defense and their shoot-first mentality to take a 5-2 lead into the second quarter. But Stevenson answered back with goals from senior midfielder Neal Barthelme (14:14), Moffitt (13:14) and freshman midfielder Tony Rossi (6:54).

Other notes:

*Mustangs senior attackman Richie Ford will not play in the second half. He scored a goal in the first quarter, but he was relegated to the sideline for the latter half of the second period. He wore his helmet, but did not have his stick. It’s unclear if he was injured or how he got injured.

*Tufts has been buoyed by the play of junior goalkeeper Steven Foglietta, who has turned away 11 Stevenson shots. The Mustangs have outshot the Jumbos, 35-22.

*Stevenson senior attackman Jimmy Dailey’s goal with 11:03 left in the first quarter helped him pass Eric Schmith as the program’s all-time points leader. Dailey, who now has 260 points, has registered 133 goals and 127 assists.

*Besides Hessler, Tufts has been paced by junior midfielder Kevin McCormick’s two goals and two assists and junior attackman Sean Kirwan’s two goals.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Stevenson

Tufts-Stevenson game moved

Due to an abundance of rain saturating the grass field at Caves Athletic Center in Owings Mills, Stevenson’s home game against Tufts has been moved to Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium. The time of the contest has also been shifted from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The visiting Jumbos (3-0) are the reigning NCAA champions and are ranked No. 1 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll. The Mustangs have opened the season with eight consecutive wins and are ranked one spot behind Tufts.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson

Loyola could meet Mount without key contributors

As Loyola tries to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday at Mount St. Mary's, it might be missing two key contributors.

Senior faceoff specialist John Schiavone and fifth-year senior midfielder Chris Palmer suffered concussions in the Greyhounds’ 12-8 loss to No. 15 Denver a week ago, and both players did not make the trip to Colorado for the team’s 8-6 loss to Air Force on Saturday.

Schiavone, who has won 52-of-91 faceoffs for a 57.1 success rate, has not returned to the practice field yet, putting his status for Saturday’s game even further in doubt.

“It’s a concussion thing, so he has to go through a period of non contact and then he has to have a period of some non-contact workouts,” coach Charley Toomey said. “And when the trainer tells me that he’s good to go, he’ll be back out there for us.”

Similarly, Palmer, a transfer from Bucknell, is edging closer to being kept out on Saturday.

“I’m hopeful, but I don’t know,” Toomey said. “Right now, he will not practice again today. Again, he’s got to get through a workout with the trainer and be headache-free and symptom-free for 24 hours. We’re not going to push this thing. Nothing is more important than these guys’ health and listening to our trainers and doing the right thing. When he’s ready, he’s going to be out there.”

If Schiavone cannot play, junior J.P. Dalton is expected to handle faceoff duties. He won 10-of-16 in the loss to the Falcons last Saturday.

“He stepped in, and I do believe our faceoff coach [volunteer assistant Steve Vaikness] does his job in a terrific way of preparing whoever we throw out there,” Toomey said.

Even if Schiavone and Palmer were to bounce back quickly between now and Saturday, Toomey acknowledged that there is some consideration to making sure they’re much more improved in time for a trip to Eastern College Athletic Conference rival Ohio State on April 2.

“I don’t want them to come back if they’re not ready to take a hit and to give one,” Toomey said. “I think in this day and age, it’s a physical game, but we don’t have professional lacrosse. There’s life after lacrosse. So I think you have to err on the side of good judgment.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:16 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Mount St. Mary's

Maryland's offense goes with the flow

I got a chance to watch Maryland live for the first time Friday night as the Terps rolled over UMBC, 15-6. It was a very impressive showing by Maryland, and one of the best offensive performances I have seen by the Terps in many years.

I'm not just talking point production, but concepts such as the motion they had inside around the crease and over the middle, and how they moved the ball. I never saw that type of movement under previous Maryland coaches Dave Cottle or Dick Edell. Granted, Maryland was facing a struggling UMBC squad, but the Terps offense had a good flow.

And the Terps have good weapons in attackman Grant Catalino, Ryan Young and Travis Reed, and midfielders John Haus and Jake Bernhardt. I don't know who how far the Terps can go this season, but we'll soon find out in a stretch of games against Carolina, Virginia, Navy and Hopkins. 

Posted by Mike Preston at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Tufts at Stevenson: Three things to watch

In what should be a thrilling Division III contest, top-ranked and reigning national champion Tufts pays a visit to No. 2 Stevenson. The Jumbos have won their first three consecutive games. The Mustangs have won their first eight games, including victories over No. 4 Cortland, No. 9 Roanoke and No. 10 Lynchburg over an eight-day span. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Caves Athletic Center in Owings Mills.

1) Press down on the accelerator. With an offense that ranks fifth in the country with an average of 16.5 goals per game, Stevenson wants to run and push the tempo. The Mustangs might get a willing dance partner in Tufts, which also has the athletes get into a run-and-gun setting. Cantabene said he is looking forward to a freestyle pace. “They will give us a much different challenge than Cortland did because they want to get out and run whereas Cortland wanted to hold the ball and throw it around,” Cantabene said. “And we think we play pretty fast as well. I think it’s going to be about who gives up more transition goals in this game. Both teams are deep and play a lot of people, so we’ll see.”

2) Don’t foul. Despite playing fast and aggressive, Stevenson has been quite disciplined, drawing less than five penalties per game thus far. That self-control will be especially important against the Jumbos, who have converted on 10-of-15 extra-man opportunities. That’s 20 percent of Tufts’ output. Cantabene said he hopes that percentage doesn’t grow on Wednesday. “We’ve just got to be careful with our fouls,” he said. “We have to keep our sticks and understand how the game is going to be called. We’ll see how it goes, and it kind of goes both ways. We’re about 44, 45 percent on the man up, so I think both teams don’t want either team to be on the man up.”

3) Attack the defense. The Jumbos return their top five scorers from last season, but have had to revamp the defense after the graduation of three starting defensemen. Three sophomores are starting for Tufts, and they will be responsible for limiting the Mustangs’ attack of seniors Jimmy Dailey and Richie Ford and sophomore Tyler Reid. On the flipside, Stevenson’s senior group of Evan Douglass, Ian Hart and Kyle Menendez has to contain the Jumbos’ starting attack of seniors D.J. Hessler and Ryan Molloy and junior Sean Kirwan. “I think the key will be which defense plays better,” Cantabene said. “They’ve got a bunch of new starters on the defensive end, and we’re pretty seasoned on ours. Our guys are playing really well and giving up just seven goals per game. So we’ll see. Whichever defense steps up to the plate and gets stops when it matters is going to win.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson, Three things to watch

Virginia preparing for Johns Hopkins' methodical approach

One factor in Johns Hopkins’ ability to extend top-ranked Syracuse to double overtime last Saturday was the Blue Jays’ control of the pace of the game, slowing the tempo and possessing the ball for long stretches of time.

Johns Hopkins’ next opponent, No. 2 Virginia, is prepared for a similar tactic when the Cavaliers visit Homewood Field on Saturday.

“That’s the dilemma you face, and what the discussions in the office are, if their approach is the same, do you go out and kind of flush it out?” coach Dom Starsia said Tuesday. “The problem in a game like that is Hopkins limits their own opportunities to score goals, too. I’ve been on both ends of that situation. Syracuse is a very good defensive team. So they’re not an easy team to get chances against. I remember when it was only two years ago when we went up and played Hopkins to 16-15. I think we were up five at halftime or something like that, and Hopkins came roaring back. So I don’t think game can be so easily predicted in terms of how it’s going to play. We don’t expect that Hopkins will necessarily pick the same approach that they took against Syracuse.”

And when Virginia does get the ball to its offense, that unit will have to solve a Blue Jays defense that ranks first in Division I, surrendering just 5.4 goals per game. Starsia said a young group that was exposed last season has gotten exponentially better.

“I think they’re dramatically improved defensively,” he said. “I’m very impressed with their athletes on defense right now, and I think the play they’re getting from [senior short-stick defensive midfielder Tim] Donovan and [freshman short-stick defensive midfielder Phil] Castronova has really helped them. I felt like that was the part that was unusually vulnerable this past year or so for Johns Hopkins, and it looks to me like they’ve shored that up quite a bit. Not that the defenders are all non-descript, but they’re all big, strong kids. They move their feet, and it looks like a very solid group overall.”

If there’s an opponent that has bedeviled Johns Hopkins recently, it’s the Cavaliers, who have won the last six meetings and 10 of the last 14 games against Johns Hopkins (5-2). Starsia said he had no explanation for his team’s run of success, which he compared to his program’s skid to Duke, which has won nine of the last 10 meetings against Virginia.

“I can’t really explain it,” he said. “It goes to the fact that we hadn’t beaten Duke for eight times in a row going into last year’s ACC [tournament semifinal] game. Some of these things are just unexplainable to a certain extent. Some teams match up better against others. People would ask me, ‘How come you haven’t beaten Duke?’ I say, ‘Well, it’s because they’re a good team.’ I don’t want to seem evasive, but I’m not sure I have a suitable answer. It’s not about talent, it’s not about coaching. It may just be one of those statistical quirks, but whatever it is, I hope we can figure a way to keep it going.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins not fretting about disputed no-goal call

Johns Hopkins fans have bemoaned an official’s ruling that senior attackman Kyle Wharton was guilty of a crease violation before scoring the apparent game-winning goal with four seconds left in overtime Saturday against top-ranked Syracuse.

Instead, the Orange got a goal from senior attackman Stephen Keogh in the second extra session, and the No. 9 Blue Jays were left with their second loss of the season. But coach Dave Pietramala said the controversial ruling is in the team’s rearview mirror.

“They said he dove. Listen, it’s one play in a series of plays that happen throughout a game,” he said Tuesday. “And while it’s one that stands out to a lot of people, there were other plays that we could have made to win the game. So it’s not something that we’re harping on. We’ve moved on, and we’re getting ready for Virginia.”

That’s probably a good decision considering that the No. 2 Cavaliers (7-1), who will visit Homewood Field on Saturday, have won the last six meetings and 10 of the last 14 games against Johns Hopkins (5-2).

The contest pits the most prolific offense in Division I (Virginia has scored an average of 14.5 goals per game) against the country’s stingiest defense (The Blue Jays have allowed an average of 5.4 goals).

But is it too much to ask the defense to repeat its performance from Saturday when the unit held Syracuse to six goals under its season average?

“We did a good job in that game, and we did what we needed to do in that game to put ourselves in a position to be successful,” Pietramala said. “That becomes more challenging as teams get more film on you, and as you play better teams. But that was the No. 1 team in the country. So we’re pleased with that effort, but we know we made a bunch of mistakes, and we know we’ve got to clean some things up. We can do a better job there and we’ll have to. It was a day where the offense wasn’t in a great rhythm and wasn’t putting the ball in the back of the net. So it was our [defense’s] job to step up and play well – just like if there’s a day where we’re having trouble defensively got to and can’t get stops, it’s their [the offense’s] job to step up and score some goals.”

Similarly, Pietramala said he’s not interested in being comforted with the notion of making Syracuse sweat.

“We expected to go up there and win. That was the plan,” he said. “… We played well enough to win that game, but we didn’t win, and life’s not fair. You move on and you learn from the experience and you take some confidence from it, but there are no moral victories here. Everybody keeps saying, ‘Well, what a great job you guys did.’ We went up there expecting to win. How can you not?”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

March 22, 2011

Weekly awards announced

Navy had a pair of players earn weekly honors from the Patriot League.

Senior midfielder Andy Warner was named the Offensive Player of the Week for registering four goals and seven assists in two wins last week. He posted two goals and a career-best six assists in the Midshipmen’s 14-11 victory over Towson on Tuesday night and then added two goals and one assist in an 8-3 win against Holy Cross on Saturday.

Freshman attackman Harrison Chaires was selected as the Rookie of the Week for scoring four extra-man goals, including three against the Crusaders. Chaires became the first Navy player to score three times on man-up situations in a single game since Adam Borcz did so against Penn State on April 14, 2001.

Towson sophomore attackman Matt Hughes earned Offensive Player of the Week honors from the Colonial Athletic Association after he recorded a hat trick each in two games last week. His third goal of the game with 9:50 left in the fourth quarter on Saturday proved to be the game-winner in the Tigers’ 9-8 upset of then-No. 4 Stony Brook.

In Division III news, No. 2 Stevenson swept the Capital Athletic Conference awards.

Freshman midfielder Tony Rossi was chosen as the Offensive Player of the Week for totaling five goals in wins against No. 4 Cortland and No. 9 Roanoke. His three goals in the 10-8 victory over the Red Dragons on Saturday tied a career high.

Senior defenseman Evan Douglass was named the Defensive Player of the Week for compiling seven caused turnovers and seven ground balls. He caused his 100th turnover, which is a school record.

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Categories: Navy, Stevenson, Towson

UMBC transfer Stockton thriving at Jacksonville

Had Bobby Stockton elected to remain at UMBC, the senior midfielder would have led the team in goals this season.

Instead, Stockton’s 14 goals pace Jacksonville, the school to which he transferred after the 2010 campaign.

“The transition so far has been good,” Stockton said last week. “I’m liking my team. We haven’t started up as well as we wanted to yet, but we’re about to get into our conference now, so this is where the season starts. I think we’re going to be good.”

Stockton, who hails from the Jacksonville area, registered 12 goals and three assists for the Retrievers last spring, but decided that a parting of ways was best for him and coach Don Zimmerman.

“It’s just that me and the coach didn’t see eye-to-eye on some things, and I think I just needed a change,” Stockton said.

The Dolphins are 3-5, which doesn’t sound great but is somewhat better than UMBC’s 1-4 mark thus far. Stockton, who said he’s still tight with a few of his former teammates, including senior attackman Jamie Kimbles, said he was aware of the Retrievers’ struggles.

“I haven’t been following them as much as I should, but I know they’re a young program now because they lost several people, including some people from my class,” Stockton said. “I knew it was going to be hard on them this year, but I wish the best for them.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: UMBC

Salisbury taking care of business while keeping an eye on rivals

While rivals like top-ranked Tufts, No. 2 Stevenson and No. 4 Cortland battle each other and other quality opponents, No. 3 Salisbury has been dismantling its opponents while sprinting to a 7-0 start.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Sea Gulls aren’t aware of what’s occurring outside of the friendly confines of their campus.

“I know that they’re winning, and I’ve seen who’s scoring their goals,” coach Jim Berkman said. “I’ve watched them on webcasts when we’re not playing and have seen them all play. We’ve been doing that for a long time.”

Salisbury encounters perhaps its stiffest test of the season when it travels to face No. 9 Roanoke Wednesday night. The Maroons recently overcame a five-goal deficit in the fourth quarter and scored the final nine goals to hold off No. 10 Lynchburg, 14-10, on Saturday.

“They’re definitely explosive on offense,” Berkman noted. “They’ve scored a lot of goals this year already. They had a lot of shots against Stevenson, almost 40 shots against them. But they’re definitely an explosive offensive team that likes to run and gun.”

That would seem to fit the Sea Gulls’ free-wheeling style of play, but Berkman said that’s not necessarily the case.

“They’re run and gun almost to the point where they’re unpredictable,” he said. “You have to be ready at all times because they’re like a bunch of gunslingers out there that don’t care what the odds are. I don’t think we’re quite that way. I think we throw in our cards a little smarter than they do as far as taking opportunities. But they attack at all times. They could be three-on-six, and then you’ll see a guy quick-dodge somebody and fire a shot. They just go to the goal.”

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Categories: Salisbury

Top-heavy schedule doesn't weigh down Stevenson

In a span of eight days, Stevenson was challenged by three top-10 teams and emerged with victories each time.

On Wednesday, the Mustangs (8-0) will meet their fourth top-10 opponent in top-ranked and reigning national champion Tufts (3-0), and according to coach Paul Cantabene, the players embrace the hectic schedule.

“I don’t think the schedule wears on the guys because our guys just want to play the best teams possible,” he said Monday. “It doesn’t matter when we play them. They like being challenged. The only thing that is probably a little challenging for us is that this is going to be our ninth game and it’s going to be Tufts’ fourth game. So we’re kind of more into the season. But I don’t think it really wears on the guys. I think they’ve been handling it great. I think the biggest thing that has helped us is that guys came into the season in such great shape. So I think that’s worked out well for us.”

In addition to beating No. 4 Cortland, No. 9 Roanoke and No. 10 Lynchburg since March 12, Stevenson has also taken care of No. 7 Haverford. Cantabene hopes that those tests will benefit the players during tense situations.

“We’ve been through some situations where games have been on the line, and we’ve been through some tough parts where things haven’t always gone our way,” he said. “So hopefully, we’ve learned those lessons and gained experience and hopefully, we have a little bit of an edge there. But at the same time, they’re a pretty good team, and they’ve been through a lot of situations as well.”

Playing host to the 2010 NCAA title-winning Jumbos might be the ultimate challenge for the Mustangs, but Cantabene pooh-poohed the notion that this game was more important than any other on the team’s schedule.

“I don’t think we circled it or anything, but it’s a game they know about just because we thought if we could’ve gotten by Salisbury [in the NCAA tournament semifinals] last year, that would’ve been a good matchup for us. We’re eager to prove that we should’ve been the team to represent the South, but at the same time, we didn’t make the plays we needed to. But it’s just a great game to play, and I think our guys are excited to play the game.”

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Categories: Stevenson

March 21, 2011

Johns Hopkins' Dolente goes from doormat to dominator on faceoffs

No. 14 Johns Hopkins’ 5-4 loss in overtime to top-ranked Syracuse Saturday night overshadowed an impressive performance by Matt Dolente.

The senior faceoff specialist won 10-of-14 draws against the Orange, which allowed the Blue Jays to control the tempo of the game and maintain possession.

For the season, Dolente has won 67-of-95 faceoffs (70.5 percent), and has won 10 or more in four of his last five contests. For his career, he has won 315-of-609 (51.7 percent) and ranks seventh in school history in faceoff wins and sixth in faceoff attempts.

Dolente’s season almost contradicts last spring when he won just 65-of-143 draws (45.5 percent) as he split duties with then-senior Michael Powers. Prior to Saturday’s result, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said Dolente was motivated by not being being the team’s primary faceoff specialist last year.

“I think the greatest thing that I would attribute his success to is [what happened] a year ago,” Pietramala said. “I think he was humbled, I think he was embarrassed, and I think Matt is a proud young man who takes pride in his performance. He spent the summer working hard, and he’s come back and really improved.”

Dolente has helped the Blue Jays cut down on jumping early on faceoffs, according to Pietramala.

“I think he’s been much more disciplined this year,” he said. “A year ago, we were violating almost 25 to 30 percent of all faceoffs in every game. So we’ve really cut down on that. The discipline level has been much higher. Is it because Mike Powers isn’t here? Not necessarily. I think Matt has earned the right to be the guy to start things off.”

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Categories: Johns Hopkins

Towson's Stratton fueled by "fire"

Towson senior attackman Tim Stratton said he understood the reasoning behind the coaches’ decision to sit him in Tuesday night’s 14-11 loss to Navy.

But that doesn’t mean that he was happy about not starting. Stratton said that the demotion served to motivate him to score his first goal since last season in the Tigers’ 9-8 upset of No. 4 Stony Brook on Saturday.

“I definitely had a little more fire behind me just because I had never been benched before,” Stratton said. “But I just wanted to step in and do what I could to help our team get a win. That’s was the biggest thing, to contribute in any way.”

Stratton, who returned as the team leader in goals with 15 last spring, had registered just three assists in his first four starts. So he said he couldn’t really argue with the coaches’ decision.

“We were a couple games into the season, and I wasn’t producing, and you’ve got to switch things up and see what’s working, and give some other kids a shot,” Stratton said. “[Junior] Sean Maguire has been playing well in practice all year, and he deserves a shot. He had another great game today. Hopefully, what we’ve got going now works and we can keep it going.”

Stratton’s goal with 13 minutes, 19 seconds left in the second quarter was his first since since May 5, 2010 and snapped a six-game drought.

“It felt good to just finally get that whole first goal out of the way,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to come after a while. But it’s a relief. Now I can just play.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Towson

Q&A with ESPN's Matt Ward

A former All-American attackman who helped Virginia capture NCAA championships in 2003 and 2006 and won the Tewaaraton Trophy in 2006 as the sport’s top player, Matt Ward knows a thing or two about the rivalry between the Cavaliers and Johns Hopkins, which will be renewed again on Saturday. But first, Ward, an analyst for ESPN, offered his opinion on No. 1 Syracuse’s chances of going undefeated, the team that suffered the biggest hit with a loss on Saturday, and the team that may have elevated its hopes with a win on Saturday.

Question: Syracuse is 6-0, but has needed overtime in two of its last three games to remain unblemished. Do you think the Orange can be beaten?
Answer: I do. Syracuse is obviously a very skilled team, but I think this year – more than any other that I’ve seen – it’s wide open. Syracuse, in terms of skill set, has one of the best defensive ends in the country, but I don’t know if they have enough athletes to run the table and go undefeated. Certainly, they’re going to be a team that is in the hunt for a national championship, but they’re going to get tested all year. On the offensive end, the one question I have is outside of [sophomore attackman] JoJo Marasco, who’s going to run by someone and make a dodge to the goal? Most of their players are crafty, slick, off-ball players.

Q: What was the biggest surprise of the weekend?
A: To me, I thought it was Towson over [No. 4] Stony Brook. I was a believer – and still am a believer – in Stony Brook because of their faceoff guy [senior Adam Rand] and the talent they have on offense. But to me, that [9-8 score] was shocking. That was a great win by Towson. I think Towson’s a young team, and they’ve got some talented players who are starting to play a little bit better. But that’s a game that Stony Brook should win. I want to see Stony Brook bring it every single day if they want to become a national powerhouse, and I didn’t think Stony Brook brought their “A” game [Saturday]. And [No. 5] Hofstra going down [7-6] to Delaware as well. I wouldn’t have predicted that in a million years. I thought Hofstra was a team that had so many offensive weapons, while Delaware was a team that was struggling. But it was a great win for Delaware. Teams like Hofstra and Stony Brook, when you’re ranked No. 4 or 5 in the country, you need to win those games.

Q: In addition to Stony Brook and Hofstra losing, No. 11 Princeton and No. 15 Loyola were upset by No. 20 Penn and Air Force, respectively. Which of those four teams will be most haunted by Saturday’s setback?
A: I think it’s Princeton. Princeton is now 1-4, and they’re going into their Ivy League schedule. The Ivies are great this year. I don’t think there’s a bad team in the conference this year. So being 1-4, it’s going to be really hard for them to turn that around and make the NCAA tournament. It’s going to be a struggle. They have the players, but right now, it’s not looking good. Penn is an up-and-coming program. I love Coach [Mike] Murphy. He’s done a great job there. But that’s a game that Princeton needs to win. Losing to [No. 19] Villanova and UPenn in the same week can’t be a good feeling.

Q: By the same token, which team among Air Force, Delaware, Penn and Towson helped themselves the most on Saturday?
A: I think it’s Penn. When you look at their body of work and what they’ve done, beating Duke is a game where we’re going to look at it at the end of season and realize that it was a better win than we initially thought it was. I think Duke’s going to turn it around and finish fairly strong at the end of the season. So I think that’s going to help Penn, and Penn beating Princeton and getting an Ivy win is a big step for them. They’re going to be in the conversation for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Q: Was there a team or individual that impressed you the most?
A: I thought [sophomore Pierce] Bassett in the cage for Johns Hopkins was great. I love the way he plays. He’s big, but he’s very quick in his fundamentals, and any time you keep Syracuse to five goals, that is impressive. And I think he’s a player that’s really helped that defense and the younger players be encouraged with what they’re doing. He’s given them a lot of confidence, and confidence is key.

Q: No. 14 Johns Hopkins was within a disputed no-goal call of tagging the Orange with its first loss of the season, but lost 5-4 in double overtime on Saturday night. What do you make of the Blue Jays, who looked discombobulated and lifeless in that 8-3 loss to No. 11 Princeton on March 5?
A: I think when you look at Johns Hopkins, you still see a very young team. It feels like I’ve been saying that for a couple years now, but they are. They’re very young with a lot of talent. So they’re going to play a Syracuse very, very well, and also have some growing pains where they play against a team like Princeton, which can take you out of your comfort zone, and they struggle. That’s kind of the ups and downs of a young team. But when they play well, they can compete with anybody because they have the athletes, their defense is good, and their goalie is great. When you have that, you can be in a lot of games, and I think Johns Hopkins is going to continue to grow on the offensive end as a unit. They’re going to be a solid team, and they’re going to be right there vying for a Final Four spot.

Q: Senior attackman Kyle Wharton appeared to score the game-winning goal for Johns Hopkins with four seconds left in the first extra session, but the goal was waived off after an official ruled that Wharton was in the crease. Agree or disagree?
A: In my opinion, based on the way the refs have been calling that all year, it’s a goal. It should have been a push in the back. The thing is, if Syracuse hadn’t pushed him, he was going into the crease regardless. But once you put your hands on his back and extend your arms like that, the ref has to call that a goal because that’s what they’ve been doing all year. Every time someone ends up in the crease, it seems that it’s a push. So I don’t know why they would change that in the last moment of the game.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Q&A, Towson

March 20, 2011

Postscript from Stony Brook at Towson

Now that the party has ended after Towson’s 9-8 upset of No. 4 Stony Brook on Saturday, what does this victory mean for the Tigers?

While it helped stop a two-game losing skid and gives a beleaguered team some much-needed confidence in preparation for the start of play in the Colonial Athletic Association on Saturday, a long and arduous road awaits Towson.

Delaware, Saturday’s opponent, pulled off an upset of its own, knocking off No. 5 Hofstra, 7-6. Similarly, unranked Penn State surprised No. 13 Massachusetts, 8-7. Drexel is 4-3, and may have the league’s best goalie in Mark Manos.

Winning the conference tournament and securing that automatic qualifier is a surefire way for Towson to advance to its first postseason since 2007. But coach Tony Seaman correctly noted that a win of this magnitude could help the team at least generate discussion for an at-large bid.

“For the NCAAs and all those kinds of things that lay ahead of us, this is a huge win on your resume,” he said. “You need a top-five or -six win in order to have the committee really look at you as long as you don’t come in under .500.”

Senior goalkeeper Travis Love said while the win will be glossed over by Monday, the outcome should serve to elevate the players’ morale.

“I think it really sets the tone for our team that we can go out every week and play with any team,” he said. “And we have been playing with these teams, and I think that will be just the little bit of confidence that will help our whole team.”

The victory has helped the Tigers re-gain at least one supporter – Seaman himself.

“I wasn’t sure if this team was good enough to kid me all this time and make me think that we were good enough to beat some people,” said Seaman, who began to question the squad after Tuesday night’s 14-11 loss to Navy. “Maybe we’re really not that good. Coming home Tuesday night on that bus, I was like, ‘Wow, my own team has really faked me out here. We’re nowhere near as good as I thought we were.’ But today, they made me a believer again. So maybe we do have a future, and maybe we can pull something out here and see if we belong.”

Other notes:

*Junior attackman Sean Maguire established a career high with three points on Saturday, and he did so coming off the bench. The Lutherville native and Calvert Hall graduate has trailed senior Tim Stratton, junior Matt Lamon and sophomore Matt Hughes on the depth chart, but he said he has grown accustomed to his role off the bench. “It’s tough sometimes because you never know how your stick’s going to throw when you come out,” Maguire said. “But I expected it. Coach told me before the game. So it’s not too bad. I was ready for it.” Seaman said that Maguire, Stratton and Lamon could rotate in games, but that Maguire could see more action after Saturday’s showing.

*After Saturday’s win, Seaman said that no one played better than senior defenseman Marc Ingerman, and Seawolves coach Rick Sowell was inclined to agree. After watching Ingerman limit senior attackman Tom Compitello to a single assist, cause a game-high two turnovers, and collect two ground balls, Sowell sounded impressed with Ingerman’s outing. “I thought the Ingerman kid did a nice job on Compitello,” Sowell said. That really throttled our offense a little bit.”

*Despite the loss, Stony Brook (3-2) remains – in the minds of many analysts and fans – one of several teams favored to make the Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend. Barring a major collapse in the America East conference, the Seawolves are expected to win the league tournament and secure the automatic qualifier. “It certainly hurts,” Sowell said. “You’re right though. It is just our second loss, and we’ve got seven more games to play. You guys know as well as I do that in our sport, there’s a lot of parity, and on any given day, a lot of teams can beat you if you don’t show up and play well. Certainly, we proved that today. Give Towson a lot of credit, but we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of. The good thing is – and I told this to the team – we can turn around on Tuesday and get rid of this taste, which is certainly not a good one. We’ve still got a long, long way to go. We’ve still got a few games left in our non-conference schedule, and then we have to turn our attention to our conference schedule. In terms of our ultimate goal and where we want to be come the second week of May, there’s still an awful lot of lacrosse left to be played and hopefully, we’ll learn some things from this game that we can take forward and use to our advantage so that we don’t put ourselves in this position again.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Postscript, Towson

March 19, 2011

Stony Brook at Towson: Halftime thoughts

A potential upset is brewing as Towson enjoys an 8-5 lead at halftime against No. 4 Stony Brook at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday.

With 54 seconds left in the second quarter, the host Tigers owned an 8-3 advantage, but a pair of Kevin Crowley-to-Robbie Campbell goals in the final 13 seconds trimmed the deficit to three. The five-goal hole was the largest the Seawolves (3-1) had experienced this season.

After both teams exchanged three goals each in the first quarter, Towson (1-3) scored five unanswered goals, using its speed down the alleys and behind the net to find scoring opportunities.

Campbell’s first goal with 13 seconds remaining snapped a scoreless drought of 17:14 for Stony Brook.

Other notes:

*The Tigers have been fueled by junior attackman Sean Maguire, who has scored two goals and assisted on another. Sophomore attackman Matt Hughes has scored twice, and senior attackman Tim Stratton scored in his first game since being benched on Tuesday night. Stratton’s goal was his first since May 5, 2010 and snapped a six-game drought.

*Crowley, a senior midfielder who is a favorite to be a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award and the top pick in the Major Lacrosse League draft in February, has registered one goal and three assists. Midfielders Timmy Trenkle and Campbell have scored twice each, but Towson defensemen Marc Ingerman and Michael Landy have shut out the Seawolves senior attack duo of Tom Compitello and Jordan McBride, respectively.

*Stony Brook has won 10-of-15 faceoffs, but it does not appear that the Seawolves are enjoying the kind of advantage they had hoped to. The key has been the play of Tigers redshirt sophomore Ian Mills, who has battled Adam Rand – the No. 2-ranked faceoff specialist based on win percentage – valiantly.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Towson

Stony Brook at Towson: Three things to watch

No. 4 Stony Brook is riding a three-game winning streak after dropping the season opener in overtime to No. 2 Virginia on Feb. 26 and is gaining momentum as a favorite to make the Final Four. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Towson has sandwiched a victory over Mount St. Mary’s with a pair of losses. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.

1) Thrive offensively and defensively. In the Tigers’ first three losses, the defense surrendered 21 goals, while the offense scored just 12 times. The team flipped the script in Tuesday night’s 14-11 loss to Navy. So although coach Tony Seaman was pleased that the offense scored on six of its first seven possessions and 11 of 18, he said the both units need to play well at the same time. “We just need a game where we put them both together – on the offensive end and defensive end,” Seaman said. “We need to get back to playing pretty good defense, and we need our goalie to make some saves. If we can handle that part of the field, I think offensively, we starting to find ourselves a little bit.”

2) Face off to a draw. The Seawolves are averaging 11.5 goals per game because – in part – of the play of senior faceoff specialist Adam Rand, who ranks second in Division I with a 72.9 success rate (62-of-85). Towson, however, is winning just 40.7 percent (37-of-91) of its draws. “If we could go 50-50, I’d be the happiest guy in Baltimore tomorrow,” Seaman said half-jokingly. “We’re going to do what we did against Navy in that second half. He’s a wonderful faceoff guy, but he’s not exactly great with the ball nor does he even like having it. The guy who really helps him a lot is No. 21 [senior midfielder Kevin Crowley] coming in from the wings. We’re going to put a pole on Crowley, and we’re going to put a pole on the faceoff guy and go after that guy if he wins the faceoff to keep it alive.”

3) Capitalize on the schedule. Stony Brook is the overwhelming favorite to capture the America East championship, and the program is also gaining steam with regards to its fate in the NCAA tournament. The Seawolves have a significant test on Tuesday night against No. 10 Cornell. So could Stony Brook possibly overlook the Tigers? “That’s what I’m hoping,” Seaman said with a chuckle. “That’s my fantasy for the week.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch, Towson

Cortland at Stevenson: Three things to watch

Both Cortland and Stevenson enter Saturday’s contest with high expectations and unblemished records. The Red Dragons, who are ranked No. 4 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, are off to a 4-0 start. The Mustangs, who are ranked two spots ahead of Cortland, have won their first seven games. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Caves Athletic Center in Owings Mills.

1) Solve the Red Dragons’ defense. Cortland ranks second in Division III in defense, surrendering just 2.5 goals per game this season. The unit is anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Mike Kaminski (2.51 goals-against average and .690 save percentage) and a pair of senior defensemen in Justin Schneldman and Shane Crossett – a group that has caught Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene’s attention. “They’re big and long, and they’ve got some pretty good middies, but at the same time, I’m not sure they’ve faced the offenses that we have,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great challenge. They don’t slide a whole bunch because they play great individual defense. They don’t take a whole lot of chances. But at the same time, we make it hard on other teams with our multiple-formation, motion offense that we run. But they give us a great challenge, and our guys are motivated by great challenges.”

2) Cut down on turnovers. Opponents are committing an average of 25.8 turnovers against the Red Dragons. The Mustangs have coughed up the ball an average of 17.6 times, but Cantabene said he’s more concerned about the location and timing of those turnovers. “I think the biggest thing with turnovers for us is, where are we committing those turnovers?” he asked rhetorically. “Are we committing them in the midfield and then they’re going the other way and scoring goals? We’re going to turn the ball over a little bit, and we understand that. But I think it’s about our decision-making and how we play. Cortland’s defense is very structured, and they’re not going to go out with a lot of takeaway checks. But I think we’ve done a great job of taking care of the ball.”

3) Neutralize the Red Dragons on faceoffs. One reason why Cortland has succeeded is that the team has won 52-of-71 faceoffs (73.2 percent) with seniors Chris DeLuca (28-of-32 for 87.5 percent) and Justin Battino (23-of-33 for 69.7 percent) fueling that unit. Stevenson will lean on senior Ray Witte (79-of-120 for 65.8 percent) to win his fair share and keep the Red Dragons on the defensive. “Ray’s used to going up against some of the best faceoff guys in the country,” Cantabene said. “That’s going to be a great match-up. Whoever wins that match-up is going to have a big edge in the game because possessions are going to mean a lot. With Ray’s continued to win faceoffs and also score off the faceoffs, it’s going to be a big thing. And I know that DeLuca is able to win faceoffs and score off of them.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson, Three things to watch

Postscript from UMBC at Maryland

Travis Reed sat out Maryland’s 15-6 rout of UMBC Friday night and is not expected to play Sunday when St. Joseph’s visits Byrd Stadium.

But the No. 8 Terps could really use Reed when No. 9 North Carolina pays a visit next Saturday.
Sophomore Owen Blye, who started in Reed’s place with seniors Grant Catalino and Ryan Young, wasn’t a liability against the Retrievers, but he shot 0-for-3 and put just one shot on net.

But it sounded like Maryland was in no hurry to rush Reed back after he suffered a shoulder injury in the team’s 8-4 win against Towson a week ago.

“He’s got a little bit of a unique injury,” coach John Tillman said. “To be honest with you, I couldn’t even tell you the name of it. And they say it’s a little more common to car accidents and things like that. So it’s not a broken collarbone, it’s not a separated shoulder. It’s something a little bit different. With range of motion being so important, we were like, ‘Listen, let’s make sure we’re careful with it.’”

Reed is not the most mobile guy on the field, but his accuracy and shot velocity force defenses to pay attention to him. Catalino acknowledged that Reed’s absence was felt.

“Travis plays a big role in our offense, but our team plays in a system, and when one guy goes down, another picks it up,” he said. “So we just moved Owen Blye in there, and the engine runs. Obviously, we miss Travis, but Owen did a great job today.”

Other notes:

*Maryland can enjoy Friday night’s win – but not for long with the Hawks (0-5) visiting on Sunday. Tillman said the staff would take it easy with the players, organizing a light walkthrough and film session on Saturday without making them practice rigorously.
This is the second time in three weeks that the team will play two games in a span of three days. Maryland lost, 9-8, in overtime to Duke on March 5 before beating Bellarmine, 12-8, two days later. Catalino said he has no problems with the quick turnaround, saying, “It’s great practice for the ACC tournament and the Final Four, places that we hope to be in the championship at. Playing games like this will help us get ready for those.”

*Catalino became the 12th player in the program’s 86-year history to score 100 goals in a career. Catalino, who is tied with Bill Pettit for 10th in career goals with 103, shared the credit with his teammates. “Playing for a prestigious school like Maryland, to be able to put up goals like that, it’s a great honor,” he said. “But it’s a tribute to my team and the last four years I’ve been here, I obviously wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.” Tillman called Catalino “the ultimate professional.” “Last week, we had a day off, and he’s shooting with other guys, working on the little things, working on both hands,” Tillman marveled. “He studies film, he’s hard on himself. He knows where everybody else should be – along with himself – in the offense. He’s a terrific captain and a leader on that end, and nothing he does surprises me.”

*One bright spot for UMBC was the play of sophomore Scott Jones, who was moved to attack from midfield. Jones scored three goals in a catch-and-shoot role that he is more familiar with after playing box lacrosse in his native country of Canada. “It was a tough role,” Jones said of playing midfield. “I’m more of an inside guy. I’m not really a quick guy, so I’m not a big dodger.” Coach Don Zimmerman said Jones will stay at attack for the time being. “That’s his position, and I think that was a good move for us,” Zimmerman said. “He’s a good off-ball guy.”

*Jones said the players aren’t happy with the team’s four-game losing skid, but he also said that there’s still plenty of season left. “The Hopkins game, I don’t think we played well at all,” he said. “This game, we ended on a pretty good note. We’ve just got to build off of that. We can’t keep our heads down. We’re only halfway through the season, and we’ve got to finish strong here.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Postscript, UMBC

March 18, 2011

UMBC at Maryland: Halftime thoughts

It appears that UMBC’s search for a turning-point win will continue as Maryland has taken a commanding 10-2 lead into halftime at Byrd Stadium in College Park Friday night.

Any hope the Retrievers (1-3) had of potentially upending the No. 8 Terps were extinguished as the hosts scored two goals within the first 3 minutes, 38 seconds of the game en route to a 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Sophomore Scott Jones, who started at attack instead of his customary midfield position, ended the drought 2:17 into the second quarter when he banged home a pass from junior attackman Rob Grimm to make it 4-1, but Maryland scored five consecutive times  before both sides exchanged goals in the final 33 seconds of the second quarter.

Other notes:

*The Terps have won just 7-of-13 faceoffs, but they have an overwhelming advantage in other areas. Maryland has outshot UMBC, 27-10, collected 22 ground balls to the Retrievers’ 10, and committed just five turnovers to UMBC’s 11.

*Terps senior attackman Grant Catalino has already registered five points on four goals and one assist. His third goal with 1:39 left in the second quarter made him the 12th player in the program’s 86-year history to score 100 goals in a career. Junior midfielder Joe Cummings has scored three times, and senior attackman Ryan Young and sophomore midfielder Kevin Cooper have two assists each.

*Jones leads the Retrievers with two goals. Freshman Zach Linkous, who started in Jones’ place on the first midfield, has an assist.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Maryland, UMBC

Maryland's Reed ruled out for game vs. UMBC

No. 8 Maryland will play host to UMBC Friday night without senior attackman Travis Reed.

Reed, who injured his shoulder in the Terps’ 8-4 win against Towson last Saturday, will be on the sideline at Byrd Stadium.

Reed, who has registered seven goals and six assists in four starts thus far, will be replaced by sophomore Owen Blye, who has posted three goals and three assists in five starts in the midfield.

Junior Drew Snider (six goals and zero assists) will take Blye’s spot on the first midfield with juniors Joe Cummings (8, 0) and Jake Bernhardt (4, 1).

The Retrievers have also made some moves in their starting lineup. Sophomores Scott Jones and Joe Lusgarten will join junior Rob Grimm on attack. Freshman Zach Linkous will occupy Jones’ spot on the starting midfield with sophomores Dave Brown and Scott Hopmann.

Finally, junior defenseman Aaron Verardi replaces sophomore Riley Hansen, joining senior David Stock and junior Tim Shaeffer.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, UMBC

Towson's Stratton to return to starting lineup

When Towson plays host to No. 4 Stony Brook Saturday, a familiar face is expected to return to the starting lineup.

Senior attackman Tim Stratton, who did not record a goal, assist or shot in the Tigers’ 14-11 loss to Navy on Tuesday night, is slated to start on attack against the visiting Seawolves.

Coach Tony Seaman, who was tight-lipped about Stratton’s limited playing time in the midfield after the setback to the Midshipmen, confirmed Friday that Stratton would return to his customary position.

“We’re going to give him another chance, see if we woke him up,” Seaman said, noting that Stratton, who returned as the team’s leader in goals with 15 last year, has yet to score a goal. “He’s played four games and had two assists. And in three of the four games, he had no shots. I’ve got to have that kid shooting the ball a little bit or no sense in having him out there. So we’ll see.”

Towson (1-4) is still smarting from that loss to Navy in which the Tigers squandered three three-goal leads. Seaman said the players have dealt with their frustration in different ways.

“It goes both ways,” he said. “It all depends on how the individual reacts. Some of them can just let it go, while guys like [senior goalkeeper] Travis Love are so angry that it’s carried over for three days of practice. … It’s hard to treat as a team.”

Despite the team’s record, Seaman is still optimistic that Towson can turn its fortunes around, especially when play in the Colonial Athletic Association begins in eight days.

“The only thing that’s frustrating to me is I think we’re just good enough that it makes me think we’re going to be pretty good,” he said. “But at the same time, maybe it’s leading me to believe that we’re not as good as we can be. That’s kind of the turmoil I’m in now.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy, Towson

Syracuse-Johns Hopkins not just another game to Blue Jays

Coaches frequently emphasize that one regular-season game does not define a season or a team. Count Johns Hopkins’ Dave Pietramala as a member of the group that believes that.

But even Pietramala conceded that the Blue Jays’ annual contest against Syracuse – the top two programs with regards to NCAA championships – has a little extra “oomph” to it.

“There are rivalry games and there are just games,” he said Thursday. “This is a game where both programs have storied traditions. It’s a game where both programs have played for national championships and have played each other for national championships. And quite honestly, it’s a game against the No. 1-ranked team in the country right now. So yeah, absolutely, there is probably a little more excitement. You hope your guys will take every game the same way, but you know as well as I do that young men are young men, and when you see that orange, you hopefully play a little harder, especially against a talented group like they have.”

No. 14 Johns Hopkins (5-1) leads the overall series, 26-21-1, but the Orange (5-0) have won the last four meetings and five of the last six.

Syracuse blasted No. 12 Albany, 18-13, on Tuesday night, but the team needed overtime to get past unranked Georgetown, 9-8, at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore last Saturday.

“I think the thing that Georgetown did best was they didn’t let Syracuse get up and run,” Pietramala said. “I think part of that was Georgetown and part of that may have been Syracuse. I think every team that goes in to play against them has that plan. Are there elements? Sure. You don’t want to let them get up and get out and get faceoff transitions or get transition from the defensive end off of a save by their goalie. But that’s every game. This team just happens to be really good at it and better than most. So that’s certainly something we can take from that game, how important that aspect is.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

UMBC at Maryland: Three things to watch

UMBC has won three of the last four meetings between these rivals, but the Retrievers limp into Friday night’s contest with three consecutive losses after opening the season with a win against Presbyterian. Maryland (4-1) has won two straight, but might be forced to play without senior attackman Travis Reed (shoulder). Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

1) Fury Factor. UMBC coach Don Zimmerman delivered a strong message after the team’s 16-5 loss to Johns Hopkins last Saturday, and the players have reportedly responded in practice. An injured adversary is usually a dangerous one, and Terps coach John Tillman is making sure that his players don’t overlook the Retrievers. “I think they’ll be excited to show that last week was really not them,” Tillman said. “They’re going to try to prove to everybody, especially Maryland, that they’re better than that and that they can beat anybody in the country. … So we have to be very prepared and very disciplined and very smart on Friday. We’re going through exams right now, so there’s another thing going against us. I expect UMBC to play very, very well on Friday night, and I’m hopeful that we play very well, too.”

2) Fastbreak Factor. Zimmerman echoed Towson coach Tony Seaman’s concern about the Terps’ ability to move from defense and offense before their opponents can insert their defense. Zimmerman said the onus will be UMBC’s offensive players to be patient and wait for quality scoring opportunities. “If you take a shot that’s an easy save for the goalkeeper, not only do you possession of the ball, but against a team like Maryland with the way they get it up and out and so quickly, they can come right back at you and turn a save into a fast break into a goal,” he said. “I refer to those as a ‘two-goal swing play.’ So we have to shoot the ball smartly, and when they do get the ball, we have to understand that we have to turn and fly into the hole and get as many people back on defense as we can to try to prevent them from cashing in.”

3) Fix Factor. The Terps defeated the Tigers last Saturday, but Tillman wasn’t entirely pleased with what he watched unfold. Towson trailed 6-2 at halftime, but scored two goals in the third quarter and would have cut the deficit to one if not for a heady play by senior long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell, who blocked a shot that got past redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato. A general sense of malaise and lethargy seemed to envelop the offense, which Tillman would prefer to avoid. “I just didn’t feel like in the third and fourth quarters, our flow on offense or our pace was very strong, and that was disappointing,” he said. “We failed to clear a couple times, and that was disappointing. We missed some ground balls. I’d like to see us clean up some of those areas, and I certainly think we can do that.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch, UMBC

Stevenson's Dailey opens up on the Web

Saturday’s edition will include a feature on Jimmy Dailey, a senior attackman who has propelled Stevenson to a 7-0 record and the No. 2 ranking in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.

It turns out that the Westminster native and Winters Mill is just as prolific at storytelling.

This spring, Dailey has agreed to participate in a weekly blog where he shares his thoughts with a school staffer, who then transcribes and posts his comments on the program’s website.

Dailey said he didn’t need much arm-twisting.

“I jumped on the idea,” he said. “I absolutely loved it. We just kind of go with it. I go in there unprepared, and I love the spontaneity. I think it’s kind of a fun thing that people can read.”

A finance major who has dreams of becoming an actor, Dailey pontificates about the one guy on the Mustangs who is the funniest (senior midfielder Joe Valderas), the film that should’ve gotten the Oscar for Best Picture (The Social Network), and the number of Chik-Fil-A milkshakes he is trying to consume this spring (24).

Dailey does talk about lacrosse, but he said he tries to mix it up, too.

“Everybody has heard about our season, and I don’t want to be redundant,” he said. “So I think it kind of gives everybody a look into my life and the life of my teammates off the field. The blog comes out every Friday, so it’s kind of a nice way to end the week.”

Dailey said he has final editorial control of the blog, but has yet to exercise it.

“I’ve gotten a little heat from Coach [Paul] Cantabene,” Dailey conceded. “We certainly have fun on there, but I try to be respectful and give everyone the proper respect.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson

Q&A with former D-III National Player of the Year Tommy Kehoe

Tommy Kehoe was named the Division III National Player of the Year after the long-stick midfielder helped guide Gettysburg to the NCAA tournament final in 2009. A contributor to Inside Lacrosse who shared his thoughts on Stevenson senior attackman Jimmy Dailey for Saturday’s edition, Kehoe also offered his perspective on a few area topics of interest.

Question: What’s going to be the key for No. 2 Stevenson to beat No. 4 Cortland on Saturday? Can the Mustangs pierce Cortland’s defense, which is allowing just 2.5 goals per game thus far?
Answer: More than any other factor, you’ll see a lot of this game play out in the faceoff battle. [Senior Chris] Deluca of Cortland, the reigning National Player of the Year, is a threat off the draw, but really finds ways to contribute in every facet, starting with transition, then into settled offense, and then back onto defense. Stevenson, for obvious reasons, has always been great at facing off, and [senior] Ray Witte can do all the things Deluca can, but is complemented with a more fluid attack in transition. I have the distinct pleasure of knowing [Stevenson volunteer assistant and former faceoff specialist] Gregory Furshman, who handles the faceoff instruction up there, and his knowledge pertaining to digging one out is as humbling as it is inspiring. So I’d suspect him to come up with a plan of attack detailing the exact angle and velocity Witte is to clamp. It’ll be interesting to see if these guys get into stalemates or if it turns into a home-run derby with both guys getting 50/50 shots at pushing it forward cleanly. I’d say the stalemates would favor Stevenson because Cortland’s offense isn’t as dynamic. So they’d benefit more than Stevenson from the high-percentage looks in transition. As to Cortland’s defense, I know they’re good because I’ve seen them play and I have a lot of respect for their coach [Steve Beville], who has what I wish was my [2009] national championship ring somewhere in his house. But I would not put much weight into their goals-allowed average at this point in the season. The 2.5 goals a game means they're executing, but I’d expect any top-four defense to execute against their schedule thus far. The impressive Gettysburg win should be the feather in that defense’s hat, but as much as it pains me to say, Gettysburg’s offense has been sputtering all season. So it’s not as commanding as a statement as it would of been in years past. This game will tell the tale, which is why it’s on the schedule.

Q: What does former Maryland/Syracuse recruit Tony Mendes provide for Salisbury’s offense? Is he the key to alleviating some of the pressure off of Sam Bradman, the National Midfielder of the Year in 2010?
A: To be honest, I have not seen Tony Mendes play for Salisbury, although I am familiar with his skill set and reputed athleticism. Similar to Stevenson with Dailey, Salisbury has an offense that possesses overwhelmingly favorable athletic match-ups that can create big problems for defenses. Unfortunately for aspiring D-III teams, Mendes and Bradman both represent that dilemma. Bradman has shown he’s more than capable of generating enough offense to keep the Gulls flapping, but now that you add Mendes to the mix, you have serious liabilities at two ends of the defense. Neither player has many assists yet, which surprises me, but with Bradman shooting 45 percent, I guess you want him shooting more anyway. As to him [Mendes] being the key to taking pressure off Bradman, I don’t know that he’ll take as much pressure off Bradman as much as he’ll improve Salisbury’s ability to capitalize on that excessive defensive focus. The problem with midfielders is that they almost always have an angle to score, so you’re always one or two steps from giving up a decent shot at the cage. The slides upfield have to be very crisp and precise. Bradman, similar to Dailey, plays with a style that forces a lot of ball watching because it’s up to him to decide which direction he’ll attack, and that kind of play-making ability innately invites eyes onto the scene of the crime. So look at it this way: a defense either has a shut-down LSM [long-stick midfielder] or they don’t, and if they don’t, you can’t worry about Mendes off-ball, with a lower shooting angle, when the priority is Bradman with the ball in front of the cage. As a defense, you can’t game-plan to focus one pass ahead of Bradman when he consistently shoots above 30 percent, meaning Mendes won’t create hesitation in the slide, but he’ll certainly punish you for your obligation to Bradman.

Q: After qualifying for its first NCAA tournament, Goucher is off to a 2-4 start. Can the Gophers turn things around in time to win the Landmark Conference tournament and the league’s automatic qualifier?
A: Goucher is in a comfortable, albeit frustrating position. They started 0-3, but those losses come from respected teams from very respected conferences, two Centennial and one ODAC [Old Dominion Athletic Conference]. They were also one- and two-goal losses early in the year, which doesn't feel good in the locker room, but with respect to the bigger-end goals, the team has to know they can get those games to bounce the other way when it really counts. Sometimes it takes a slap to get that kind of will anyway. If Goucher goes 3-0 in those games, it wouldn’t have been enough to get them a Pool C [at-large invitation] if they didn’t win the Landmark because that would entail some tough losses. No different than last year, Goucher has to fight it out in-conference and develop the poise to win some tough games in the tournament. Goucher has the roster to unexpectedly jump-start the season, but they’ll have to focus on generating consistent quality during Landmark play because there is no room for error.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Goucher, Salisbury, Stevenson

March 17, 2011

Northwestern women to play in Cowboys Stadium

Northwestern’s No. 2-ranked women’s lacrosse team takes its show to Dallas Saturday for a game against William & Mary in Cowboys Stadium.

The marquee draw in the day-long Dallax event which also features high school games and youth clinics, the Wildcats-Tribe game includes three players who hail from Texas -- Northwestern's Taylor Thornton and the Tribe's Sarah Johnson and Hannah Clark. Sponsored by, Dallax puts the focus on women’s lacrosse in an area where the sport is growing.

“I’d wanted to play a game in the Dallas area because of Taylor Thornton and we have quite a few recruits coming in in the next few years from Texas,” Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said, “so I just wanted to get out there and showcase the sport. We like to go into different areas and expose the sport to different areas. The last couple years we’ve played in Southern California and San Diego.”

The Wildcats, who won five straight national titles between 2005 and 2009, are the only team outside the Eastern time zone to win an NCAA women’s lacrosse championship. They have played on big stages but never in such a big arena as Cowboys Stadium, the site of last month's Super Bowl.

Amonte Hiller contacted Thornton’s high school coach and her former Maryland teammate, Patty (Parichy) Wick at The Hockaday School in Dallas to ask about setting up a game in the area. Wick’s team includes a granddaughter of Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and that set in motion the idea to secure the stadium.

“We’re pretty pumped up about it,” Amonte Hiller said. “Taylor is over the moon. To have an opportunity to play in her state is special, but to play in the best venue in the country is even an added bonus.”

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 12:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will provide analysis for Friday night’s game between UMBC and No. 8 Maryland. While offering his perspective on the state of UMBC’s program for an article slated to run in Friday’s edition of The Sun, Dixon also shared his thoughts on a a few national topics.

Question: Can anybody beat top-ranked and undefeated Syracuse?
Answer: I think so. They’re clearly the No. 1 team in the country right now. We always say their seven seniors, but I think [midfielder] Josh Amidon has really struggled in 2011. So it’s really been the six seniors getting the job done for them. And [sophomore attackman JoJo] Marasco’s played well, and you’ve got [sophomore defenseman Brian] Megill playing well. And [Tuesday] night, [junior attackman] Tom Palasek had a big one for Syracuse. I don’t think they’re unbeatable. I think they’re great early in games. They got up early on Denver, they got up early on Army, but Army battled back. I think Virginia met them punch-for-punch, but their defense was a little undisciplined and had a lot of fouls, and then you had an offense that decided to stand around and watch [senior midfielder] Shamel Bratton in the fourth quarter. Virginia, I think, could beat them. Maryland is a team where, if they can get it together on a consistent basis, they’ve got talent. So I don’t think Syracuse is unbeatable, but right now, they are the best team in the country, and they’ve played a pretty robust schedule up to this point. They’ve knocked off a decent Albany team, Army, Virginia, Denver. That’s a really nice schedule that they’ve played.

Q: How significant was No. 19 Villanova’s 10-9 win over No. 11 Princeton on Tuesday night?
A: They’re a good team, and it all starts in the defensive midfield with [senior] Brian Karalunas. He’s terrific. He’s a Major Lacrosse League pick by the Long Island Lizards. He’s already caused 33 turnovers in six games. That’s pretty good for a long-stick middie. He’s great on ground balls, good in traffic, a tremendous leader. But the two attackmen, [sophomore Jack] Rice and [junior Kevin] Cunningham, are really getting the job done. They really remind me of the team that went to the 2009 NCAA tournamernt. Karalunas is doing great things, and they’ve got a nice, strong attack. They’ve got good balance. That’s a huge win for them. They beat Penn, they beat Drexel. To beat Princeton, that’s a landmark win for that Villanova program, and they’re doing a great job. The sky’s the limit for them. Obviously, when you look in the Big East, Syracuse and Notre Dame are your top two teams, Georgetown has seemed to figure itself out on the defensive end for at least one week, and Villanova is a team that can definitely challenge for an AQ in the Big East. They don’t have the depth that some of the other teams have, but if you look around the country, what team really is all that deep? … Villanova is a dangerous team. I guess the bad news for them is the cat’s out of the bag. No one’s going to be taking them lightly, especially after knocking off Princeton.

Q: What’s plaguing Princeton, which is 1-3?
A: Princeton’s just had a lot of injuries. [Senior attackman] Jack McBride hasn’t been playing, and I think that’s a huge loss on the attack end. He’s a leader, someone who definitely can take the ball to the goal and take a lot of pressure off of their guys. Their best offensive player so far has been a freshman in [midfielder] Tom Schreiber. If you take into account the loss before the season in [sophomore midfielder] Mike Chanenchuk, that’s a huge loss. This is a team built on defense, but the defense has been shallow quite a bit. The offense has been hot early. They’ve gotten out to three 3-0 leads but lost two of those games. They won one of those against Hopkins, but I think they’re demonstrated that they’ve struggled against some of the elite offenses in the country – North Carolina, Hofstra. I wouldn’t put Villanova in that elite category, but Villanova was beating them and then Princeton stormed back. So I think it’s a team that’s inconsistent. They’ve got one of the country’s best goalies in [junior] Tyler Fiorito. One-on-one, I think they’re defense has been pretty good. [Senior defenseman] Long Ellis has been outstanding, but for whatever reason, as a team, they’re struggling defensively, and they’re really struggling on faceoffs as well. That’s an area that has to get better for them.

Q: How do you see Thursday night’s game between No. 7 Duke and No. 9 North Carolina unfolding?
A: Two teams that are back from the dead. I think it’s going to be a great game. You’ve got Carolina that’s doing great things at the faceoffs with [freshman] R.G. Keenan. He’s been a difference maker for them. Their freshmen have grown up very, very quickly – Duncan Hutchins and Mark McNeill in particular. We all knew what [attackman] Nicky Galasso brought to the table, but with Hutchins and McNeill in the midfield, it’s really given them a shot in the arm and taken a lot of pressure off of [junior midfielder] Jimmy Dunster. [Senior attackman Billy] Bitter is Public Enemy No. 1. He’s being blanketed by everyone, but they’ve got [junior attackman] Thomas Wood and [sophomore attackman] Marcus Holman playing great. And then you look at the goaltending, which I think is the big Achilles heel for North Carolina. R.G. Keenan not only gets the offense possession, but he also keeps the heat off of the defense and [senior goalkeeper Chris] Madalon. And then you look at Duke, a team that everybody kind of turned their back on after they lost to Penn. They’ve come back and beat Maryland and Loyola. This is a team that keeps getting better and better, and I think that speaks to [coach] John Danowski’s teaching and coaching. I think there’s also a number of kids back from the team that won the national championship a year ago – [junior long-stick midfielder] C.J. Costabile, [senior defenseman] Tom Montelli, [senior attackman] Zach Howell and [junior midfielder] Justin Turri – but like Carolina, they’ve had a lot of contributions from freshmen. [Attackmen] Jordan Wolf and Christian Walsh have done a great job. So I think it’s going to come down to faceoffs. You’ve got Keenan and probably Costabile going at it. But it’s also going to be what defense will continue to play at a high level.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Q&A

Postscript from Denver at Loyola

Charley Toomey may have lifted a page from Don Zimmerman’s playbook.

Four days after Zimmerman was critical of his UMBC players for what he called an “unacceptable” performance in that team’s 16-5 loss to No. 14 Johns Hopkins at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic Saturday night, Toomey seemed to issue a similar challenge after No. 15 Loyola fell, 12-8, to No. 17 Denver in a game between Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore Wednesday night.

“We need to be tougher,” Toomey said. “We need to be tougher on ground balls, we need to be tougher playing defense, coming off of picks. And what means is a little more physical. We’re going to do some soul-searching over the next couple days and figure out who we are. We might have to think about some of our schemes defensively to give our goalie a chance. I really don’t believe we’re giving our goalie a chance to make saves on top of the crease. So we’re really going to have to look at the film and try to figure some things out. But we’re very disappointed.”

The Greyhounds may have dropped their second straight contest and are now 1-1 in conference play, but Toomey correctly noted that they can still finish in the top four in the league and qualify for the four-team ECAC tournament at Denver in May.

Still, Toomey wasn’t thrilled with Loyola’s scoreless drought of 27 minutes, 15 seconds spanning the third and fourth quarters nor was he pleased with the team committing seven of its nine penalties in the second half.

“We’re addressing everything right now,” he said. “Do we have all the balls off the practice field? Because I do think it translates to getting to the right spots in the clears. I think it translates to knowing your scouting report. That’s what we’re talking about, just making sure that we buckle up a little bit. You probably don’t have that sense of urgency until you’re faced with days like this. We promised as coaches that we’re going to fix this thing. We’re going to have to make some changes. But one change that I’m asking them to make that they can make is the discipline. Knowing their scouting reports, taking care of our locker room, taking care of the off-field stuff. … We’re going to button it up.”

Other notes:

*As mentioned before, the Greyhounds tied the score at six just 39 seconds into the third quarter and did not score again until 2:06 remained in regulation and the Pioneers had a 12-7 advantage. Denver senior defenseman Jeff Brown said coaches and players emphasized during halftime returning to their defensive fundamentals. “I think it was just sticking to our rules,” said Brown, who limited Loyola sophomore attackman Mike Sawyer to just one goal in the second half. “In the first half, we were kind of sloppy and didn’t play good, sound team defense. But in the second half, Coach stressed sticking to our fundamentals. It was really just a team effort. Everybody was behind us and sliding and all that kind of stuff.”

*Sophomore midfielder Eric Law, who transferred from Salisbury in the offseason, scored the Pioneers’ first goal Wednesday night. Law, who runs on the second midfield, said he is growing more comfortable with his new teammates. “It’s been very easy for me because I grew up in Denver,” he said. “I had a great chance to play at Salisbury and got great experience, and I loved it out there when I was there. But some things happened, and I needed to come back home for some family and personal reasons. It’s been very easy. I thank Coach [Bill] Tierney for bringing me in like he has, and it’s been very easy. These guys have accepted me as one of their own. It’s like I’ve been here since the beginning.” Law has registered three goals and seven assists while acclimating to his new role as a midfielder. (He played at attack for the Sea Gulls.) “I think having Eric come back into that fold was the easy part,” Tierney said. “I think for him to switch from attack to midfield and accept our reasoning on that and do it as flawlessly and as seamlessly as he has is a credit to him. It’s a credit to Coach [Jim] Berkman [of Salisbury] and his staff for giving Eric that experience last year. He’s the only guy on our team who has played on Memorial Day. Hopefully, it can be contagious.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Postscript

Duke's Kimel reaches 200 wins

Duke coach Kerstin Kimel became only the 10th coach in Division I women’s lacrosse history to earn her 200th career victory Wednesday.

Kimel, who was the national Defender of the Year as a player at Maryland in 1993, reached the milestone with an 18-8 win over Virginia Tech. She coached one season at Davidson before taking over the Blue Devils program and is in her 16th season in Durham. She joins Navy’s Cindy Timchal, Notre Dame’s Tracy Coyne, Princeton’s Chris Sailer and Virginia’s Julie Myers as the only active coaches in the 200 club.

"I had no idea whatsoever," Kimel said in a news release. "It was a very nice surprise, and a great way to do it."

The Top Five Active Division I coaches:

Cindy Timchal, Navy/Maryland/Northwestern, 29th season, 387-100

Chris Sailer, Princeton, 25th season, 305-112

Tracy Coyne, Notre Dame/Roanoke/Denison, 24th season, 254-118

Julie Myers, Virginia, 16th season, 228-77

Kerstin Kimel, Duke/Davidson, 17th season, 200-101


Posted by Katherine Dunn at 1:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse

March 16, 2011

Denver at Loyola: Halftime thoughts

Like last season, Loyola finds itself trailing Denver at halftime, but this time, the deficit is not as daunting.

The No. 15 Greyhounds are down 6-5 to the No. 17 Pioneers at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore Wednesday night. Last April, Denver owned a 6-2 advantage at intermission.

Loyola (3-1) got on the scoreboard just 47 seconds into the first quarter when sophomore attackman Mike Sawyer beat his defender from the left wing and slipped the ball past freshman goalkeeper Jamie Faus.

But the Pioneers (3-2) went on a 4-0 run and held the Greyhounds at bay until Sawyer trimmed the deficit to one with 2:16 left before halftime,

Loyola has allowed Denver to score off of three faceoffs, including one that the Greyhounds won. Junior attackman Alex Demopoulos forced a Loyola turnover deep in its own territory and then alley-ooped senior attackman Todd Baxter for an empty-net goal.

Other notes:

*Loyola has won 8-of-12 faceoffs, but has also committed nine turnovers. Meanwhile, the Pioneers have committed just three turnovers, which is one factor in their lead at halftime.

*Sawyer, who leads the Greyhounds in goals (14) and points (14) thus far, has paced the offense with three goals. Denver is led by sophomore faceoff specialist Chase Carraro’s two goals and Demopoulos’ two assists.

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Loyola

UPDATED: Maryland's Reed doubtful to play vs. UMBC Friday night

Maryland senior attackman Travis Reed is “not likely” to play when UMBC visits the Terps at Byrd Stadium Friday night.

A team source confirmed that Reed suffered an unspecified injury in Maryland’s 8-4 win against Towson last Saturday. Reed has not practiced the past two days and is scheduled to see a doctor on Wednesday or Thursday. If he cannot practice Thursday, it’s doubtful that coach John Tillman would allow him to play against the Retrievers (1-3).

Reed ranks third on the Terps (4-1) in goals (seven) and points (13) thus far. If he is unavailable, junior Joe Cummings (eight goals and zero assists) could shift from midfield or perhaps freshman Sean McGuire (1, 1).

UPDATE: Sun freelancer Rich Scherr, who covered Maryland’s win against the Tigers, reported that Reed had injured his shoulder. The extent of that injury is unknown at this point.

According to Scherr, Reed briefly re-entered the game in the third quarter before removing himself for the remainder of the contest. “He tried to go again, so to me, that makes me a little bit optimistic,” Terps coach John Tillman said afterwards. “If it was something that was extremely serious, I think they would have prevented him from going back in.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, UMBC

Denver at Loyola: Three things to watch

Both teams enter Wednesday night’s contest involving Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals saddled with recent losses. No. 17 Denver, the reigning conference regular-season champion, dropped a 10-9 decision to No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday night and flew in to Baltimore on Sunday night because the school is on spring break. No. 15 Loyola absorbed a 14-9 setback by Duke, which scored the game’s first nine goals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.

1) Turnovers. Part of the Greyhounds’ troubles against the Blue Devils on Friday night was an inability to protect the ball. Loyola committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, and Duke turned those miscues in three goals. Just as important was that the Greyhounds had limited possessions and opportunities on offense.”I think the bigger stat was the turnovers and where those turnovers were occurring,” coach Charley Toomey said. “You allow a team to run on you and score eight easy goals. … And we certainly know that we played a Denver team that has three very talented attackmen. So we’re going to have to lock it up down low.”

2) The Pioneers’ defense. Denver is surrendering an average of 8.6 goals per game. That’s middle-of-the-pack in Division I, but the unit ranks eighth in the nation in caused turnovers (10.4). Still, the Pioneers start an entire defense composed of first-year players in senior defensemen Jeff Brown and Steve Simonetti, freshman defenseman Harley Brown and freshman goalkeeper Jamie Faus. “We’re going to look for opportunities between the lines, and if they’re not there, we’re going to have to make sure that we run our offense and put ourselves in position to challenge a younger group, but a younger group that’s playing very well,” Toomey said. “That’s still a Bill Tierney-coached defense, and they know how they want to slide and who they want to slide to. They make good decisions and cover up with their second slides. So we’re going to have to move the ball and really work hard to get good offensive looks.”

3) Faceoffs. The game within the game could involve Denver sophomore Chase Carraro and Greyhounds senior John Schiavone on faceoffs. Carraro is tied for 14th in the country at 62.2 percent (56-of-90), while Schiavone is five spots behind at 58.8 percent (40-of-68). “Any time you look at the numbers and you see a young man around 60 percent, that concerns you,” Toomey said of Carraro, who went 0-of-4 against Loyola last season. “He’s a very athletic faceoff guy who’s got good hands and the ability to go forward or work with his wings. John will be up for that. He’s excited about that opportunity, and we’ll just have to see how things go throughout the game.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Three things to watch

Postscript from Towson at Navy

It might not be too much of a stretch to link Navy’s recent two-game revival with the play of Logan West.

The Midshipmen have beaten Lafayette, 15-6, on Saturday and Towson, 14-11, on Tuesday night. Over that same span, West has won 35-of-52 faceoffs (67.3 percent), including 19-of-29 on Tuesday.

The junior, who was one faceoff win shy of tying the school record shared by Chris Pieczonka in 2004 and Dan Sullivan in 1995, said he had no idea he was that close to the mark.

“Retrospectively, it kind of sucks that I was one away,” he said. “I wish I would’ve known. Maybe I could’ve gotten one more ground ball and have the record. But it’s not important to me. I just wanted us to win as a team.”

West has had his fair share of struggles. He went 0-of-9 in the team’s 10-8 loss to North Carolina on Feb. 25 and 7-of-21 in a 9-8 loss to Loyola six days earlier.

But coach Richie Meade has consistently endorsed West as Navy’s primary faceoff specialist.

“Logan’s worked really hard,” Meade said. “Logan took the brunt of the beginning of the season, and he’s worked with Coach [Mark] Goers and the rest of the faceoff guys, and he’s doing pretty good right now. And I also think that [freshman long-stick midfielder] Pat Kiernan and [senior midfielder] Brian Striffler are doing a real good job on the wings for him, which helps. But Logan’s been pretty impressive.”

West said he’s beginning to become more comfortable in his arsenal of maneuvers against opponents.

“I’m starting to find my groove,” he said. “I lost a little bit of confidence in the beginning of the season, but just with the coaches and the other faceoff guys helping me out, I’m really starting to get it back and get back in my groove.”

Other notes:

*While Meade called the Midshipmen’s offensive output “a good night,” senior midfielder Andy Warner said the offense is not content with 10 goals per game. He said the goal before every contest is to score 15. “Last year was 10 goals,” he said. “This year, we think we have the ability to put up 15, if not more, every game. I think if you go back and look at all of our games, we have had a ton of opportunities. So we could be putting up 20 per game if we didn’t have the turnovers and missed shots. So we’re not surprised at 14.”

*While much of the attention has been centered on Navy’s precocious attack of freshmen Sam Jones and Tucker Hull and junior Taylor Reynolds, the first midfield is beginning to produce, too. Warner has registered at least three points in each of his last four games, junior has posted at least three points in each of his last three contests, and sophomore Jay Mann has scored two goals in each of his last two games. An opportunistic midfield could alleviate some of the burden on the attack. “It’s an interesting combination,” Meade said. “I think that he [Warner] and Davis and Jay Mann are starting to learn how to play together a little bit. The attackmen tonight didn’t get much separation, but the middies did a good job of kind of creating the cracks and getting them the ball.”

*Towson tied a season high with 11 goals against the Midshipmen and found the net on three of its first four shots to sprint to a 3-0 lead. But the Tigers squandered their advantage, and coach Tony Seaman was not in much of a mood to throw compliments around. “It’s lousy when it’s 14-11,” he said of the offensive fireworks. “We needed four more. It was good to see a couple guys throw the ball in the cooker tonight, but we’ve got to play 60 minutes, and we’ve got to play both sides of the ball. So for four games, we’ve been playing defensively and not doing it very well offensively, and then tonight, we do great offensively and our defense looks like they stayed home at Towson.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy, Postscript, Towson

March 15, 2011

Towson at Navy: Halftime thoughts

Two teams that have struggled at times to produce consistently on the offensive end of the field have exploded – by their standards – for a combined 14 goals with Towson and Navy taking a 7-7 lead tie into halftime at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis Tuesday night.

The visiting Tigers (1-3) scored on three of their first four shots to sprint to a 3-0 lead, but the Midshipmen (2-4) answered with a 3-0 run over a 2-minute, 55-second period spanning the first and second quarters.

Towson took another three-goal lead with junior attackman Matt Lamon’s second goal of the game with 4:58 left before halftime, but Navy scored tied the score in the final three minutes.

The Midshipmen got a pair of goals from freshmen attackmen Sam Jones and Tucker Hull with 51.8 seconds and 1.7 seconds left, respectively.

Other notes:

*The Tigers have not been able to handcuff senior midfielder Andy Warner, who has registered five assists thus far. Jones and junior midfielder Nikk Davis have each scored twice. Towson has been led by a pair of goals each from Lamon and senior midfielder Pat Britton.

*After dominating Lafayette with an 18-of-25 effort on faceoffs, Navy has been even more effective, winning 13-of 16 draws. But the Midshipmen have not been able to take advantage of junior Logan West’s work. On the flipside, Towson’s chances will dive if the team doesn’t improve on faceoffs.

*Navy has 15 ground balls to the Tigers’ 11, but the Midshipmen have also committed seven turnovers to Towson’s three. So far, neither stat has hurt either side too much, but that could be something to keep an eye on in the second half.

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Navy, Towson

Slow starts plaguing Loyola

Loyola’s 3-1 start masked a serious concern: the team’s lethargic starts.

In all four contests thus far, the No. 15 Greyhounds have either trailed or been tied at halftime. Eventually, the team made adjustments in the second half, but a 7-0 deficit at intermission against then-No. 11 Duke on Friday night exposed Loyola’s vulnerability.

Coach Charley Toomey conceded that the coaching staff has done considerable soul-searching and has been tweaking the team’s pre-game routines.

“As coaches, we’ve tried to look at things that we do in our pre-game and are considering maybe shortening it up and how we go about our time before the game,” he said Tuesday. “But we’ve really had some seniors step up this week and say the right thing. You’ve got to come out and you’ve got to be excited to play. Don’t get me wrong, our kids are. But now it’s a sense of concern in our locker room that we need to get out and we need to play fast. We can’t play from behind. Our defense, there seems to be a lot of pressure on them to play every possession and not with a lead. We’d like to be able to play with a lead for a while.”

Toomey is convinced that Loyola just needs to convert a few opportunities early in games to get the ball rolling. Playing with a lead benefits both the offense and defense, he said.

“It just takes a lot of pressure off every possession,” Toomey said. “You can play with a little bit of a swagger. You’re not playing as tense. You’re not worried about making a mistake. And you’re going out and seven guys in the defensive end can be on the same page. Your goalie’s not worried about making a mistake. He can go out and have fun and not play on pins and needles.”

The Greyhounds will try to take different path on Wednesday night against No. 17 Denver at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore. But they will likely do so without senior attackman Eric Lusby, who has sat out the past two games due to lingering issues from knee surgery in the offseason.

“He’s still fighting that knee injury,” Toomey said of Lusby, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the program’s first-round loss to Cornell in the NCAA tournament last May. “We tried to get him out there for the first couple of games, and he was really limited. He’s jogging with the trainer, and we miss his shot. We miss him on the offensive end. He’s certainly day to day, but he’s not ready to compete at this point. He can’t do it physically.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola

Towson at Navy: Three things to watch

Both teams enter Tuesday night’s contest with unrealized expectations. After falling to then-No. 12 Maryland, 8-4, last Saturday, the visiting Tigers are 1-3 for the fourth consecutive year. The Midshipmen snapped a four-game losing skid by routing Lafayette, 15-6, last Saturday, but they lost to Towson, 10-9, last season. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

1) Tigers’ accuracy. Towson’s glaring vulnerability has been the inaccuracy of its offensive players. In the last two setbacks, the offense has placed less than 40 percent of its shots on net. The team has averaged just 5.8 goals thus far, and that task could get tougher against Navy junior goalie R.J. Wickham, who will not surrender any easy goals according to Tigers coach Tony Seaman. “We’ve got to put the ball in the goal when we get chances, and we’ve got to put it past their goalie,” Seaman said. “We’ve got to … and find a way to score goals.”

2) Midshipmen’s off-ball movement. A pair of freshman attackmen leads the Navy offense. Sam Jones powers the team in goals with 16, while Tucker Hull leads in assists with 10. They are 1-2 in points, but Seaman said he’s not stunned by their development. Seaman said the key is scrutinizing their off-ball movement and making sure every defender has his head on a swivel. “They’re all good players,” he said. “And they move the ball around a lot. A lot of their stuff is off passes and assists. So it doesn’t surprise me.”

3) Faceoffs. Both sides have not fared well on faceoffs, winning less than 50 percent thus far. But junior Logan West won 16-fo-23 draws for the Midshipmen last Saturday, and he’s at 50 percent (47-of-94) for the season. Towson sophomore Matt Thomas has won just 41.9 percent (18-of-43) and went just 1-of-5 against Terps sophomore Curtis Holmes, but sophomore Warren Kalkstein did go 6-of-11 against Holmes. “You never know about match-ups until they happen,” Seaman said. “This kid from Maryland has done a great job for them and dominated people, and we make it [almost] even with him on Saturday. So you never know who’s going to win that battle.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy, Three things to watch, Towson

Albany's run ignited by "must-win"

In the span of eight days, Albany went from being a winless team to a squad with a 3-1 record, a pair of wins against ranked opponents, and the No. 12 spot in The Sun’s latest poll.

The Great Danes had opened the season with a 14-7 loss to Drexel on Feb. 26, but have since registered victories over Delaware, then-No. 7 Massachusetts and then-No. 16 Ohio State.

Coach Scott Marr pointed to the team’s 11-9 win against the Blue Hens on March 5 as kick-starting the current spurt.

“It was a big win and a win that we needed,” he said Monday. “We kind of looked at that Delaware game as a must-win as far as our program was concerned and where we were at. Considering how things had started for us last year at 0-5, we just didn’t want to be in that hole. … We had a chance to play three quality programs in a week, and our goal was to be 3-1 at the end of the week, and you can’t get to 3-1 until you’re 1-1. So the Delaware game was, in our eyes, a must-win. And I thought we came out and played well.”

Marr credited part of Albany’s transformation to some personnel changes after the loss to the Dragons. Freshman goalkeeper Edmund Cathers replaced junior John Carroll, senior defenseman Scott Raffensberger took over for senior Mike Finnegan and junior faceoff specialist Keith Olson filled in for sophomore Matt Mackenzie.

Cathers has settled the defense, posting an 8.92 goals-against average and a .586 save percentage in three starts compared to Carroll’s marks of 14.67 goals-against average and .476 save percentage in the season opener.

Marr conceded that making a change in the net was a difficult one.

“John had played for two years without a ton of competition behind him, and then you get somebody in who’s going to compete for the spot with him and push him,” Marr said. “It was a tough decision because John cares for his teammates and this program, and he comes out every day and works hard. He supports Eddie right now. It was tough to make that change, but I just felt that we just needed a different look at the time, and we just needed some kind of a spark.”

The Great Danes will test their ranking against No. 1 Syracuse on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome and could be forced to play without their starting midfield of seniors Brian Caufield and Derek Kreuzer and junior Rocky Bonitatibus, according to Lacrosse Magazine.

Still, the players are excited about their 3-1 start, and Marr said he won’t do anything to rain on their parade.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “It’s a feeling we actually haven’t had in a couple of years. The last couple years have really been riddled with injuries and really sub-par play at times. You want them to feel good about what they’re doing, but you certainly want them to keep progressing and keep learning from each game. We did some things against Ohio State that we can certainly correct. Our clearing game in the fourth quarter was awful. So we’ve got to learn how to take care of the ball better and clear the ball better. So there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement, but I think excitement and enthusiasm and being positive are qualities that you want to take into games because sometimes those can push you over the edge and help you get a win.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)

North Carolina finds its rhythm

The 13-8 loss to then-unranked Ohio State on Feb. 19 seems like a lifetime ago for North Carolina.

Since that setback, the Tar Heels have reeled off four consecutive wins, including the last two over then-No. 9 Penn on March 8 and then-No. 6 Princeton on March 11.

Hardly anyone would blame North Carolina coach Joe Breschi if he wanted to take a moment and gloat at the doubters who jumped on the team after the loss to Ohio State, but Breschi took the high road.

“We didn’t handle it well,” he said Monday of the Tar Heels’ first road trip of the season. “We regrouped as a team and as a staff and said, ‘What are we good at and what do we need to work on?’ We felt that we had to make a few changes here and there, but really stick to the fundamentals. When you’re a young team, you’ve really got to pound away at doing the simple things right. And that’s what we got back to, the basics. It wasn’t a complete overhaul, but it was tweaking things a little bit in terms of practicing harder and paying attention to the details. It really was more of an approach rather than an event.”

North Carolina, which is ranked No. 9 in The Sun’s latest poll, has gotten a lot of mileage from its freshman class thus far. Attackman Nicky Galasso leads the offense in assists (11) and points (22), midfielder Duncan Hutchins has posted two points in each of his last three contests, Mark McNeill scored twice in the team’s 9-5 upset of Princeton, and faceoff specialist R.G. Keenan has won 64.1 percent (82-of-128) of his draws.

Breschi would have preferred acclimating the freshmen slowly, but injuries that sapped the team of its depth in the midfield forced his hand.

“This year is a lot different from last year and so forth, and I think we’ve tried to bring along the freshmen as slowly as we can, but they’ve been forced into roles,” Breschi said. “One of the things we keep telling them is, we’re going to get better once these guys gain experience. I credit the upperclassmen and assistant coaches of doing a tremendous job of getting them that confidence to handle those big games that we’ve been playing in. they’re starting to make plays, which is a great thing. We keep saying, ‘Just stay the course, focus on the details, and we’ll figure out who we are as we gradually go along.’ We’re playing eight or nine and sometimes 10 freshmen in the game, and they’re going to make mistakes. But I think if we can limit those by putting them in a position to make fewer, I think that’s been a positive for us. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re getting better, which is all we ask of our guys.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)

March 14, 2011

Towson trying to remain positive

Towson limps into Tuesday night’s game against Navy with a 1-3 record. Normally, that would be troubling, but a closer look reveals that the mark is a little deceptive.

All three of the Tigers’ losses have come against ranked teams (No. 14 Johns Hopkins on Feb. 19, No. 8 Loyola on Feb. 26 and No. 12 Maryland on March 12), and the margin of victory is a combined nine goals, which averages out to just three goals per contest.

In the three setbacks, Towson has made fewer or just as many turnovers as the opponents. The team has also caused more turnovers than the Blue Jays and Terps forced.

Still, Tigers coach Tony Seaman would like to see a reversal of this trend – and soon.

“It gives us more hope, but it also causes tremendous frustration at the same time,” he said Monday. “It’s kind of a two-edged sword there. You’re just so frustrated because you know how close you are. I thought in the Hopkins game, we shot horribly. We just missed the cage, and we made it easy for the goalie. In this game, we made the goalie work, and he did. He played really well in the fourth quarter. But it’s frustrating. You’ve just got to hang in there and expect that it’s going to turn.”

Now Towson will get a Midshipmen squad that has lost four games by a combined eight goals and just walloped Lafayette, 15-6, on Saturday.

“And Navy’s not that much different,” Seaman said. “They had a tough [10-8] loss to Carolina and a couple of one-goal losses to Bucknell and Loyola. They’re in every game they’ve played, and then they blow out Lafayette. So maybe they’ve found themselves.”

After a brief pause, Seaman ended his thought by saying, “Great.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Navy, Towson

Video: Scenes from the Face-Off classic

Posted by Baltimore Sun sports at 9:38 AM | | Comments (0)

Lower-than-anticipated attendance doesn't fluster Face-Off Classic organizer

The announced attendance of 17,057 at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday was the second-smallest crowd to watch the event since its debut in 2007.

It was also the smallest crowd to attend the Face-Off Classic since it began offering three contests in 2010. Inside Lacrosse, which organizes the event, has already locked in a date and teams for next year’s Face-Off Classic, but what about 2013?

Andy Bilello, director of business development for Inside Lacrosse, said that for now, the company is committed to another installment two years from now.

“It doesn’t make me question whether we should do the Face-Off Classic in 2013,” he said during the third contest between No. 14 Johns Hopkins and UMBC. “It makes me pause to consider how we should do it. Are there things we can improve about the event, how we promote it, how we present it to fans?”

Next year’s Face-Off Classic is already scheduled for March 10 and pits Cornell against Virginia and Princeton against North Carolina. The addition of a third game is still up in the air, Bilello said.

“We didn’t lock in on it [a third game],” he said on Thursday. “Adding third games, while we started doing it, there’s also some other scheduling issues with TV. It’s helpful to get a handle on that first, which we probably won’t until the summer months, before we make that commitment.”

If a third contest is added, it would seem that an area team should be included, but Bilello said he’s not wedded to that idea.

“That’s a matter of opinion, and we’re going to have to hash that out,” he said. “… It’s just that two of the top teams consistently at the top of the rankings are two local teams in Johns Hopkins and Maryland that can provide a draw. But that is certainly something that we have to figure out. I would say that it’s part of the discussion, but it’s not something that we have decided is a must.”

Inside Lacrosse has found success with its Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. And with lacrosse growing in communities like the New England area, Denver, Florida and Texas, could moving the Face-Off Classic from Baltimore be an option.

Not yet, according to Bilello.

“I would say on a very basic level that it’s come up in some of our planning, but we’ve never pursued it because Baltimore has kind of proven itself as a place that we believe is most likely support this, especially this early in the season,” he said. “If you go up north, the weather becomes even more of a concern. It’s a roll of the dice a bit in the Baltimore market, too, but you have even less confidence in getting a good day going north. And there are just not many markets that give you the feeling that you can get the right number of people so that all the different pieces are viable. To date, Baltimore has done really well for us, and we’re happy to keep it here, and we don’t see any immediate reason why that should change. But you never know. But right now, it’s been good to us.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland

Syracuse's Palasek says he is "getting there"

The numbers would seem to indicate that Tom Palasek’s decision to transfer to Syracuse from Johns Hopkins has not turned out the way some had initially thought.

Although the top-ranked Orange are off to their first 4-0 start since 2002, Palasek, a junior attackman, is the team’s fourth attackman and has yet to score a goal. In fact, the junior has more turnovers (five) than points (two) and ground balls (two) combined, and he has taken just one more shot (six).

But Palasek, who did not take a shot or register an assist in Syracuse’s 9-8 overtime win against No. 15 Georgetown at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday, said he is finding a comfort level in the offense.

“I think I’m getting there,” Palasek said after the contest. “I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent, obviously, considering I’ve only been here for two months now, and some of these guys, especially the seniors, have been playing together since they got here. But I feel like I’m picking it up pretty well. I think I’m doing well in practice, proving my worthiness to the guys.”

Palasek hasn’t gotten nearly as much playing time as the starting attackmen of senior Stephen Keogh, junior Tim Desko and sophomore JoJo Marasco, but Palasek said he understands.

“Obviously, I’d like to get as much playing time as I could, but we’ve got such a talented team that – and I’ve said this before – these guys would be good with or without me,” he said. “I’m just hoping that my skillset can help them as much as possible. I want to do whatever I can whenever I do get out there.”

Palasek acknowledged that there is a small part of him that wonders what if he had remained with the Blue Jays, for whom he registered 14 goals and 11 assists in 28 games.

“Of course you do think like that, but I try not to think like that,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep my focus on Syracuse and playing in the Syracuse offense. But I’ve seen those guys on TV, and it’s nice to see those guys do well. I’m looking forward to playing them next week. As far as regrets go, definitely not. I don’t regret leaving.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

March 13, 2011

Postscript from Johns Hopkins vs. UMBC

It’s been documented that Johns Hopkins has fared well when it wins the battle for groundballs. The No. 14 Blue Jays have also proven that they can be dangerous when their midfielders are creating scoring opportunities.

In Saturday’s 16-5 demolition of UMBC at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the offense ran quickly and smoothly – in part – due to the playmaking abilities of the midfielders.

Sophomore John Ranagan scored twice and assists on three others, freshman Rob Guida scored a goal, and sophomore John Greeley assisted on one.

Those might not be the kind of numbers the midfielders from Virginia and Notre Dame produce, but coach Dave Pietramala said Johns Hopkins places other responsibilities on the midfield.

“We’ve asked the middies to be more assertive,” he said. “People watch us play, it’s not about how many goals our midfielders have. It’s, ‘How many slides did they draw?’ There can be a game where they really assert themselves, and they don’t have many goals, but they drew slides and then the attack benefits from those slides. So we’ve asked the middies to be more assertive. We’ve asked the attack to be good off the second pass. … So I think today, we actually got into a rhythm, which was hard the other night because they held the ball. I thought our midfielders were unselfish.”

Ranagan said there’s no competition nor pressure on either the attack or the midfield to lead the offense.

“So far this year, there’s been games when the attack has really stepped up, and there’s been other games when our midfield has had a lot of points,” he said. “But today, I thought all six of us on the field played great today. It’s nice when it all works together.”

Other notes:

*On three occasions in the first half, the Retrievers cut into the Blue Jays’ lead with a goal and boost their self-esteem. But Johns Hopkins responded with goal each time, taking 59 seconds, nine seconds and 77 seconds to regain the lead and momentum. “It takes all that momentum that you just got, and you lose it,” UMBC coach Don Zimmerman noted. “That happened on several occasions. … In the second half, we went to putting two long sticks on the wings, and we didn’t get a faceoff. So back to the drawing board. What we’re trying to find out is, who on our team is capable of stepping up and stopping the bleeding? That’s what had to happen tonight. They started running away with it, and we put in guys to see who could step up, and just stop the bleeding. That’s a work in progress. I think some guys tried, but I felt that other guys, they had an opportunity to come in and show us something, and it didn’t happen.”

*Zimmerman thought the defense strayed from its principles, pointedly noting that an unnamed player didn’t slide to cut off Blue Jays senior attackman Chris Boland because he didn’t want to leave his assignment uncovered. “I just felt like we were a little selfish,” Zimmerman said. “We were too worried about our man. Forget about your man. When we have to slide, nobody has a man. You have an area of responsibility, and you have to cover that area.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Postscript, UMBC

Postscript from Syracuse vs. Georgetown

That top-ranked Syracuse recorded season lows in both goals (9) and shots (29) in a 9-8 overtime win against Georgetown in the first game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore wasn’t a case of the Orange being unlucky with their shots or not getting enough possessions.

Much of the credit goes to the Hoyas’ new-look zone defense, which was installed after the team’s 16-15 loss to Harvard on Tuesday.

Senior defenseman Barney Ehrmann said the team had just three days to work on the scheme, which appeared to flow smoothly between zone and man-to-man.

“Just tried to slow down the game a little bit,” the Baltimore native and Gilman graduate said. “The coaches thought it would give us the best chance to win, so we worked on that all week, and it really worked out for us. It’s something for us for the rest of the season.”

Syracuse coach John Desko conceded that his team was caught off-guard by Georgetown’s zone defense.

“I was surprised from the standpoint that we hadn’t seen that before,” he said. “But I think with what they’ve been going through and playing Syracuse in this kind of venue, you had to make some changes, and my hat’s off to the coaching staff for getting them to play differently from what we’ve seen them play, to go into a zone, which we hadn’t seen this year. Offensively, I think they played pretty basically, but they still outshot us and out-ground balled us. They were a very well-prepared team today.”

Other notes:

*Orange senior attackman Stephen Keogh’s four-goal outing against the Hoyas Saturday shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Keogh scored five goals in Syracuse’s 15-12 victory over Georgetown last season. Keogh credited his success to his teammates’ ability to create scoring opportunities. “I think their defense is really aggressive,” he said of the Hoyas. “We’ve got great dodgers on our team that go hard to the cage, and they always draw the slide. So I just kind of play my game and try to get open in the middle, and all of the guys on our team have great vision. I thought I shot well today and found the back of the net.”

*The last time the Orange was involved in a game that went beyond regulation, Syracuse lost in double overtime to Army in the first round of the NCAA tournament last May. The Orange avoided a similar result, but Keogh said the team would treat Saturday’s game as a learning tool. “It’s definitely going to help us,” he said. “We’re going to watch this film and learn from our mistakes, but we’ve been there before. We’re seniors, and we just never gave up. We’re just happy we came out with the win.”

*Gerry Reilly’s second goal of the season may have been his most important. It was the junior short-stick defensive midfielder who tied the score at eight with five seconds left in the fourth quarter. Georgetown coach Dave Urick said Reilly has solidified his presence on defense. “We didn’t recruit him,” Urick said. “He came here to play football, and he did it for a year. He’s been a great addition to our team. He’s a defensive middie, and they don’t score a lot of goals, but he scored a big one today.”

*The Hoyas pushed Syracuse to the limit, but the end result was still another mark in the loss column, their third of the season. That’s why it was difficult for sophomore attackman Davey Emala to be extremely optimistic about the team’s showing. “I wouldn’t say it’s a moral victory,” he said. “I’d say that I’m proud of the work we did today. I think our team took some positive steps forward. At the same time, you want to make the final play and win that game. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way today, but we’ll definitely keep at it.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Postscript

March 12, 2011

UMBC's Zimmerman on loss: "This is unacceptable"

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman is generally an optimistic person, but there was very little that he could take solace in after watching his team get routed, 16-5, by No. 14 Johns Hopkins in the final contest of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday.

In fact, Zimmerman, whose team had lost three consecutive games after opening the season with a victory, sounded off when asked about toeing the line between disciplining and encouraging the players.

“To tell you the truth, there wasn’t a whole lot of encouragement in that locker room, and there shouldn’t have been,” Zimmerman began. “You can’t be encouraged after a day like today. This has got to hurt, and they got to sense that, and they’ve got to know that’s the way I feel. That’s the educational process from today. This is unacceptable. This is unacceptable, and to perform like this is unacceptable. Now what can we do to improve? That will come starting on Monday. But you can’t be encouraged. I can’t go in there and be encouraging to these guys. I did that after the North Carolina game. I went in and said, ‘Hey, we just lost, but we showed some good things, we fought hard, we came back.’ And that might have been a mistake because maybe our guys were thinking, ‘It’s OK if you lose because you still did OK.’ This is a bottom-line business, and I’ve never been a win-at-all-costs coach, but I am an educator, and the guys have to know that this is unacceptable. But the key is, now what are they going to do? What are they going to do and for each and every man in that locker room, what is he going to do to try to assure that this doesn’t happen again? And that’s basically work harder, get tougher on ground balls, play more as a unit, and get better. But today, there can be no encouragement. There can’t be.”

A reporter then asked Zimmerman to comment on the difference between the Retrievers’ seven-goal rally in an eventual 13-9 loss to North Carolina on March 5 and the team’s effort against the Blue Jays.

“I wish I knew,” he said. “Again, it’s a young team, and sometimes if you give a young team an inch, they take a mile. Last week, we did play well in the second half against North Carolina, but I can tell you that after the game, we talked about it, and I had to handle some things. And when I went up into the locker room and the guys were showering, it almost sounded like we had won. I addressed that. I said, ‘Look, don’t take a little encouragement and run with it. We did show some good fight, and we did climb our way back, but we lost the game. That’s not acceptable.’ Sometimes I’m too nice to a team, and I understand that they’re young kids. I’m getting older, and I understand they’re young kids, and I want to encourage them. But I think at this point now, I’ve got to lower the hammer a little bit and demand more of them. I told them, ‘This whole thing about us being young, that’s over with now. We’ve got to grow up now.’ We’ve got to grow up and understand that to play at this level, you’ve got to be able to do some things and handle some things and work with some things to be successful. So the whole thing about us being young is no more of an excuse. We’ve been through enough battles right now. So our kids understand this is what it takes, and we’re going to do it. And I think they will. It’s a great group of kids, but sometimes kids are going to make mistakes, and they learn tough lessons. You’re definitely going to stick with them, but I’ve got to be harder. I can imagine that [Johns Hopkins] Coach [Dave] Pietramala was very hard on his team this week, and it paid off. Maybe I should’ve been harder on my guys this week. But that’s hindsight.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: UMBC

Attendance announced

It was just announced that the attendance for Saturday’s Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic was 17,057. That’s a somewhat surprising number considering the lineup of No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 15 Georgetown, No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 13 Cornell and No. 14 Johns Hopkins vs. UMBC.

That’s the second-smallest crowd to watch the Face-Off Classic since its debut in 2007. The smallest crowd to attend the event was 17,000 in 2009, and that was just a doubleheader involving Maryland against Duke and Princeton against Johns Hopkins.

Last March, an announced attendance of 19,742 watched the Face-Off Classic’s first foray into three games.

Posted by Edward Lee at 5:53 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, UMBC

Johns Hopkins vs. UMBC: Halftime thoughts

After more than six hours, it appears the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic has run out of gripping, tense dramas as No. 14 Johns Hopkins is enjoying a 9-3 advantage at halftime against UMBC at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in the final game on Saturday.

After top-ranked Syracuse survived a 9-8 overtime contest against No. 15 Georgetown and No. 2 Virginia edged No. 13 Cornell, 11-9, the Blue Jays (4-1) scored the game’s first three goals and five of the first six to put the Retrievers in a significant hole.

Johns Hopkins has attacked UMBC’s short-stick defensive midfielders, initiating from up top and forcing slides that have opened up shooting lanes for the attackmen.

Sophomore midfielder John Ranagan leads all players with four points on two goals and two assists, and fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland has registered two goals and one assist.

Other notes:

*Sophomore midfielders Dave Brown and Scott Hopmann and junior attackman Rob Grimm have each scored a goal, but UMBC has taken just 16 shots to the Blue Jays’ 21. Part of the problem has been the Retrievers’ shot selection, which has been suspect.

*Johns Hopkins is winning the possession battle. The Blue Jays have won 9-of-14 faceoffs and scooped up 20 ground balls to UMBC’s 14. Both teams have committed five turnovers each.

*Sophomore goalkeeper Adam Cohen has fared well so far in his first start of the season for the Retrievers. He has made six saves, which matches the number of saves Johns Hopkins sophomore Pierce Bassett has recorded. Junior Brian McCullough, who had started the first three games for UMBC, is out with a thumb injury.

Posted by Edward Lee at 5:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Johns Hopkins, UMBC

Syracuse vs. Georgetown: Halftime thoughts

In what may be considered a surprise, top-ranked Syracuse leads No. 15 Georgetown by just two goals, taking a 4-2 advantage into the locker room at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in the first game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic.

The Orange (3-0) has sandwiched a pair of tallies from sophomore attackman Davey Emala with a pair of goals, but the Hoyas (2-2) have played solid defense.

Georgetown has done a good job of switching assignments to confuse Syracuse’s attack, senior goalkeeper Jack Davis has turned away five shots, and the Hoyas have handcuffed the Orange in transition.

The only issue? Not enough possessions for Georgetown, especially in the second quarter. The Hoyas lost all three faceoffs, were outshot 6-1, and were outscored 2-0.

Other notes:

*Although Syracuse won all three draws in the second quarter, Georgetown has split all eight faceoffs in the first half and actually has scooped up 19 ground balls to the Orange’s 13. Hoyas coach Dave Urick had said that winning faceoffs and collecting loose balls would be key for a unit that was winning just 48.8 percent entering this contest and had picked up 35 fewer ground balls thus far.

*Syracuse is led by senior midfielder Jeremy Thompson and senior attackman Stephen Keogh, who have each recorded a goal and an assist. Senior attackman Tim Desko, who scored a career-high five goals in the Orange’s 12-10 win against No. 2 Virginia on March 4, has been limited to one assist by defenseman Chris Nourse.

*Emala, a Baltimore native and Gilman graduate, has scored both of Georgetown’s goals, but he has gotten little help from his teammates. Don’t be surprised if Syracuse assigns senior defenseman John Lade to shadow Emala.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts

Johns Hopkins vs. UMBC: Three things to watch

Both teams enter the contest from opposing directions. No. 14 Johns Hopkins (4-1) defeated Manhattan, 10-3, to further the distance from last Saturday’s 8-3 loss to No. 6 Princeton at Homewood Field. Meanwhile, UMBC (1-2) lost to No. 17 North Carolina, 13-9, last Saturday. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

1) Testing the Blue Jays’ conditioning. It's no secret that players prefer games over practices, but Wednesday night’s victory over the Jaspers was still physically draining on Johns Hopkins. The Retrievers, however, are well-rested and have spent the week concentrating on the Blue Jays. “I think it’s a team that you know is going to be well-prepared and play extremely hard,” coach Dave Pietramala said of UMBC. “… And yet you only have a day-and-a-half to prepare for them. That’s a concern. I would expect that we’ll see similar things to what Princeton and Manhattan did. A team that wants to be patient and value their possessions, a team that’s very good on the extra man, a team that’s athletic and tough and physical between the boxes.”

2) Playing with confidence. A loss is recorded as a loss, but the Retrievers gained some confidence after rallying back from seven-goal deficit and losing only by four to the Tar Heels. Coach Don Zimmerman liked the resiliency that his players showed, but moral victories only get you so far. “We still have to keep in mind that we lost these games,” he said. “We’re not going to be good losers. We got it to within two goals, and I thought we were in a position to continue to mount that comeback, and that’s when we made a couple of mental mistakes and broke down technique-wise. That really sealed our fate. There’s some bright spots, but the bottom line is we came away on the short end, and we want to change that.”

3) Winning faceoffs. A year after struggling with faceoffs, both Johns Hopkins and UMBC have improved vastly in that category. The Blue Jays have won 62-of-99 draws (62.6 percent), while the Retrievers have won 43-of-77 (55.8 percent). The team in charge of faceoffs will be able to control the pace of the game, according to Pietramala. “It allows, in part, the team that’s winning the faceoffs to dictate tempo,” he said. “It allows your offense to get into a rhythm. … It also allows you to go on runs. If you get a goal and you win the next faceoff, you can start to string goals together, which can force the team you’re playing against to play differently because they’re playing from behind. It would force us to play differently if we were losing faceoffs and playing from behind.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch, UMBC

Virginia vs. Cornell: Three things to watch

Both teams buried memories of losses last weekend with mid-week victories against second-tier opponents. Still, both No. 2 Virginia (5-1) and No. 13 Cornell (3-1) could use a victory over a team that many consider to be a lock for the postseason. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

1) Attacking the Cavaliers’ youthful defense. With Virginia starting a freshman defenseman in Scott McWilliams and three more first-year starters in redshirt junior defenseman Chris Clements, sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Blake Riley and freshman short-stick defensive midfielder Bobby Hill, that unit’s inexperience was exposed in the 12-10 loss to top-ranked Virginia on March 4. Figure on the Big Red to test the defense, but coach Ben DeLuca pointed out that those players are starting for a reason. “We’re going to focus more on the things that we do and try to stay within our system to play together and play in that selfless team manner and to utilize our strengths against Virginia,” he said. “I don’t know that I would say that because their defense is young, that is a weakness of theirs. We’re pretty young as well, but I don’t look at that as a weakness. It’s certainly inexperience, but you also have a certain amount of fearlessness that comes with youth.”

2) Containing Rob Pannell. Cornell’s offense begins with the junior attackman, who is averaging a nation-leading 6.0 points per game thus far. In fact, Pannell is the only player on the Big Red roster who has reached double digits in points. But Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia expressed concern about focusing all of his defense’s energy on Pannell and overlooking his teammates. “That’s the dilemma,” Starsia said. “Do you try to do something special for him or do you kind of account for within your team concept of things? You’re going to make adjustments for every situation, but the question is, do you turn yourself upside down to deal with Rob Pannell? … There’s a tendency to overlook the other parts of this, and that would be a big mistake.”

3) Diversifying the offense. Like Starsia, DeLuca is worried about his team’s offensive options beyond Pannell. Junior midfielders Roy Lang and Mitch McMichael rank 2-3 on Cornell in points with eight and seven, respectively, and nine other players have scored at least two goals. DeLuca said it will fall on Pannell, the quarterback of the offense, get his teammates involved. “He understands that we have good players around him,” DeLuca said. “It’s not just Robert down there. There’s a lot of other good players down there at the attack and at the midfield. … We know that Rob’s going to generate a lot of attention and that he’s going to be the focus of opposing teams’ defenses and rightfully so. But we’ve been working very hard to develop our offensive personnel to put a very balanced scoring attack on the field.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch

Syracuse vs. Georgetown: Three things to watch

Momentum is on Syracuse’s side as the top-ranked Orange are off to a 3-0 start after a confidence-inspiring win against No. 2 Virginia on March 4. The same can’t be said for No. 15 Georgetown, which has defeated Jacksonville and St. John’s but lost to No. 12 Maryland by 12 goals and dropped a one-goal decision to Harvard on Tuesday. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

1) Disrupting Syracuse’s transition. With speedsters like seniors Jovan Miller, Josh Amidon and Jeremy Thompson on the field, the Orange love to fly from defense to offense and create scoring opportunities before opponents can get settled on defense. The Hoyas must force Syracuse into slowing the tempo and sticking to their 6-on-6 schemes. “We’ve obviously got to try to control the pace of the game as best we can,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “They’re very capable of turning up the pace and scoring in bunches.”

2) Keeping the Hoyas’ scorers in check. The Orange is averaging 12 goals per game thus far, but the Hoyas are averaging 12.8 goals thus far. Georgetown scored 12 times in a three-goal loss to Syracuse last season, and that was the most surrendered by the Orange all year. So Syracuse coach John Desko is well aware of the Hoyas’ firepower. “I think the score was 15-12 last year where they scored as many goals as just about anybody did against us,” Desko recalled. “So we know they have good ability, we know they’re athletic, and we know they won’t back down to Syracuse. They’re going to come out and play hard, and it’s an opportunity for them to get one back from the Maryland game.”

3) Watching faceoffs. The Orange can usually count on at least one or three goals courtesy of faceoff wins from Thompson, who has won 20-of-30 draws (66.7 percent) this season. It will be up to senior Brian Tabb (43-of-76, 56.6 percent) to battle Thompson and try to bring down his average. “You have to win your share of faceoffs,” Urick said. “That’s going to be awfully important. … And whatever they get, you have to make sure that they don’t get it in transition.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch

March 11, 2011

Division I vs. Division III

With the exception of a Syracuse versus Virginia and maybe one or two others, I prefer watching a good Division III playoff game to watching a Division I game. When the Final Four is played each May, I always watch the Division III title game because it is faster and more exciting. The Division I games are over coached and extremely slow, especially with all the substitutions at midfield. The ball has to be passed around the horn, so everybody can get a touch and get into the flow of the game.

 That's silly.

 Once you get ball over the midfield line, every player's priority should be to score, and the first move should be going to the rack instead of working it to the back so an attackman can shoot the ball. When you watch a Stevenson versus Salisbury game, both teams just blow up and down the field. If you turn your head for a second, you could miss a lot of action. I think that's the way the game should be played. And it appears the players have the most fun playing it that way as well.


Posted by Mike Preston at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Duke still national champs to Loyola

No. 11 Duke may be 2-2 and have a surprising 7-3 loss to unranked Penn on the schedule, but the Blue Devils are still the reigning NCAA champions in the eyes of Loyola coach Charley Toomey.

“I said to our team in the locker room – and I don’t know if they liked hearing it or not – that I don’t care where they’re ranked, but people are thinking that Duke is probably going to beat Loyola Friday night,” Toomey said before the Greyhounds departed for Durham, N.C., on Tuesday. “This is a Loyola team against Duke. While we are one of the teams that have had success against Duke, they’re terrific. Going down there, it’s going to be a tough place to play. We’re going to play in our first night game, and that’s going to be exciting. I’m not going to put the title of 2011 champs on them yet because they’ve got some growing up just like we do. But it’s going to be a challenge for both of us and an exciting opportunity.”

Blue Devils coach John Danowski has consistently told anyone who will listen that this current squad shouldn’t be tagged with any label related to last year’s national crown because many of the players who contributed to capturing that title have graduated.

Loyola is 3-0 and ranked No. 8, but Duke looms as the Greyhounds’ toughest challenge of the season thus far. That’s why in some circles, the Blue Devils are considered the favorite to win Friday night.

Danowski contended that Duke may have its hands full with Loyola.

“They’re undefeated, so they’ve certainly got to be feeling confident,” Danowski said. “They’re used to winning faceoffs, playing great defense, and possessing the ball. When teams can win faceoffs and possess the ball, it can make your team antsy, and you’ve got to be prepared to play for 60 minutes and take advantage of what few opportunities they give you. They’re extremely well-coached. There are all different types of challenges on our schedule week after week, and this is certainly the next one.”

Toomey said he doesn’t care about being the underdog.

“If you’re asking me whether I’d rather be the hunted or the hunter, I’ve always enjoyed being the hunter,” he said. “Anytime you can draw a circle on your schedule and say, ‘We’re excited about these games,’ again, we’re a work in progress, and we have to improve on a daily basis, and Duke is the next team on our schedule. … It’s great opportunity for us. I think it’s been a terrific rivalry in both locker rooms.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola

Q&A with Cornell's Rob Pannell

Each week, The Sun has published a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to get you more acquainted with the player and his/her team. In honor of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday, here is a Q&A with Rob Pannell, a junior attackman for No. 13 Cornell and a leading candidate to win the Tewaaraton Award.

Question: Since you’re the only player on the Big Red to have reached double digits in points, do you feel that you have to shoulder the workload on offense?
Answer: I don’t really feel pressure at all. I’ve never been one to get uptight and feel pressure in big situations. I’ve always been the guy to handle the ball and be calm. I think the last two years, I kind of came into that role, and I’ve had guys like [former Cornell standouts] Max Seibald, John Glynn and Ryan Hurley to take a little bit of that pressure off me. But I still think that I can be that go-to guy. … I feel like I’ve accepted that role, and I love having the ball in my stick and setting up my teammates and doing whatever I can to help them. That still hasn’t changed.

Q: I imagine you see opponents’ best defensemen in every contest. Just once, don’t you wish you could be matched up against a short-stick defensive midfielder?
A: Not at all. I look forward to the challenge. Sometimes during the course of a game, I might get a short stick on me, but it doesn’t last very long. The slides come very early. You get used to that. While sometimes it does get very frustrating, you have to deal with it. I look forward to the challenge of going up against guys like [Princeton junior] Chad Wiedmaier, [Syracuse senior] John Lade, [Army senior] Bill Henderson. … Teams usually respect me, and I respect their best defensemen. I spend a great deal of preparation watching them and watching their team defense.

Q: Is there an opposing defenseman who posed a tough challenge for you?
A: I used to play against Ryan Flanagan from UNC in high school, and he’s a great defender and very tough to go against. But in high school [Smithtown HS West in Smithtown, N.Y.], a guy who challenged me every day in practice was a guy who is now the starting defenseman at the University of Vermont, Matt Jankow. He embodied the type of person I would have to go up against every day, and he helped make me the player that I am today. He was quick, and he was a lot like the defensemen today who give me trouble. He’s not necessarily going to take the ball away from me, but it was very tough to beat him, very tough to get by him. He was more of a positional defender. I’ve worked on how to beat those guys. As for the college game, I don’t think there’s any matchup I look more forward to than Princeton and Chad Wiedmaier. I think that’s a rivalry that’s become within a rivalry. He’s been covering me since my freshman year, and it’s the biggest game on our schedule. So I take that one-on-one battle very seriously.

Q: What gives you a better feeling: making the perfect pass or scoring the highlight-reel goal?
A: Absolutely making that perfect pass. People ask me all the time if that’s true, and I truly would rather make an awesome pass that makes people say, ‘How did he see that?’ than making a highlight goal that’s on ESPN’s Top 10. My thinking has been that the guy who makes the pass does a lot of the work. If I’m dodging and I’ve got a guy on me and I can see the slide coming and I can put the ball on the stick of the guy on the crease and all he has to do is push it into the cage, I take more pride in doing that. And I am better at that rather than being the guy on the crease. I’ve been working on my off-ball skills, but compared to other guys I’ve played with like Ryan Hurley and Steve Mock, those are guys who are naturals and find ways to get open. I’ve just developed that ability to be able to find them.

Q: How did it feel to be named the National Attackman of the Year by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association last June?
A: It’s great to be recognized for that stuff, and I loved it. But I’m only going to get recognized for individual honors depending on how my team does. I got asked earlier in the season to say what the Tewaaraton means to me. It’s a great individual honor, and a lot of great players have won it, and it’d be great to win it for my team and for Cornell as a tribute to their success. But as for myself, I’m all about my team’s success. I’m not happy without winning. If I won the Tewaaraton but my team lost in the first round of the playoffs, I would trade it in to go to that second round and get a chance to play for the national championship. … At the end of the day, team awards mean everything, and I’d trade anything I’ve ever been awarded for a national championship.

Q: How have things changed under head coach Ben DeLuca, who succeeded Jeff Tambroni?
A: It’s a lot of the same. Coach DeLuca has been here for 10 years, and he’s learned a lot from Coach [Dave] Pietramala and Coach Tambroni, and he played for Cornell as well. So he knows what it is that makes Cornell so successful and what we need to do every day that differentiates us from our opponents. That stays the same – the discipline, the blue-collar mentality, hard work. While it’s a little different shifting from an offensive head coach to a defensive head coach, Coach [Matt] Rewkowski [the team’s offensive coordinator] has certainly done a great job of coming in and handling the offense and picking up right where we left off. … A lot of the things that makes our program successful and has put us in the position that we’ve been in for the past two years is still here and they’re not going to go anywhere because we know what needs to be done. We know this is what needs to be done to be successful, and Coach DeLuca is right there alongside with us.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)

March 10, 2011

No Guy for Georgetown

No. 15 Georgetown will meet top-ranked Syracuse in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic this Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore without Zach Guy.

The sophomore attackman has not played since the Hoyas’ season opener against Jacksonville on Feb. 20 when he broke his thumb. Coach Dave Urick said that Guy will sit out his fourth consecutive game.

“He won’t be back this week,” Urick said Wednesday. “He did go back to the doctor and have it re-examined today. They got a new cast for it, and they liked what they saw, but he won’t be back this week. And I don’t know if he’ll be back the following week, but I think he’ll be back pretty soon.”

Georgetown has missed Guy, a decent feeder who can initiate action from behind the net or from the wings. The Hoyas have dropped two of the three games Guy has missed, including Tuesday’s 16-15 stunner to Harvard.

The team took part in a light practice late Wednesday afternoon before cranking up the intensity on Thursday and Friday. The short time of preparation would seem to be an advantage for the Orange, which hasn’t played since a 12-10 win against No. 2 Virginia last Friday.

Asked if the contest against the Crimson could hurt Georgetown’s health and conditioning, Urick replied, “That’s a good question. I’d rather have another day or two for our guys to prepare and get healed up, but you don’t have control over that. So you try not to dwell on it. When you take a step back and look at it from a coach’s viewpoint, you certainly would like a little more time if you could.”

Then Urick added, “I think players at this age would rather play than practice anyway.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)

Johns Hopkins happy to get past Manhattan

Not many gave Manhattan a serious chance of upending No. 14 Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field Wednesday night, but coach Dave Pietramala sounded delighted that the Blue Jays emerged with a 10-3 victory.

Pietramala cited the letdown factor after the team dropped an 8-3 decision to No. 6 Princeton last Saturday and is slated to meet local rival UMBC at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday.

“You hate games like last night because you worry about your guys coming in not prepared and they don’t approach it the appropriate way because it’s not a top-five or top-10 team,” Pietramala said. “But that doesn’t mean that they can’t beat you and do a good job. It’s there because it’s the only place where we could put it that was doable for them and for us. It’s one of those games as a coach where you say, ‘I hate these games,’ because you’re worried about how your kids are going to approach it mentally, emotionally. Are they looking back to Princeton or are they looking forward to UMBC when we’re young and can’t afford to be looking beyond the day that’s right in front of us?”

Johns Hopkins overcame a slow start and pulled away in the second half, outscoring the Jaspers, 6-2, collecting 15 more ground balls, and winning 9-of-10 faceoffs. Now the Blue Jays can turn their attention to the Retrievers.

“In the end, it’s not easy to get wins these days,” Pietramala said, noting that No. 2 Virginia enjoyed just a 6-4 halftime lead against Vermont Tuesday night and Hartford upended Brown, 8-6, on Wednesday. “We didn’t allow that to happen. We won a game by seven goals. We did a solid job defensively and didn’t give up many quality looks. So we accomplished what we needed to accomplish, and that was to get a win. And we got out healthy.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, UMBC

More work for Towson's Mezzanotte

Peter Mezzanotte’s plate got much bigger.

A starter as a short-stick defensive midfielder, the Towson senior has been adding offensive responsibilities to his workload.

Mezzanotte assisted on two goals in the Tigers’ 11-3 victory over Mount St. Mary’s last Saturday and has already achieved a career high this season with three assists, which leads the team.

Towson coach Tony Seaman said Mezzanotte has honed his physical condition and his game to become a more consistent part of the offense.

“He’s such a good athlete that we’ve got to keep his athleticism on the field,” Seaman said. “He’s not the most stick-skilled person in the world, but his eyes, his field sense, his athleticism make him one of our best players. So why should we have him on the bench instead of on the field?”

A member of the team’s man-up unit, Mezzanotte is also tied with senior goalkeeper Travis Love for the team lead in ground balls with nine. Mezzanotte, who has paced the Tigers in caused turnovers for each of the past two season, might be shouldering a heavy load, but Seaman said he has no concerns about his midfielder’s conditioning.

“He never leaves the field in practice,” Seaman said. “He’s conditioned pretty well, and he’s probably in the best shape of his life right now. And he’s usually pretty honest with me. He’ll tell me if he can’t go. We’ll see how much time he’s out there and we’ll get him out when we have to. But if there’s a choice, I’d rather keep him out on the field.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Towson

Injury could sideline UMBC's starting goalkeeper

UMBC could enter the annual showdown with Johns Hopkins without its starting goalie.

Junior Brian McCullough suffered a thumb injury in the Retrievers’ 13-9 loss to No. 17 North Carolina last Saturday. Coach Don Zimmerman called McCullough – who has posted an 11.60 goals-against average and a .431 save percentage in three starts this season – a “game-time decision” for Saturday’s contest against the No. 14 Blue Jays at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

“The good news is that Brian had a career game,” Zimmerman said, referring to McCullough’s career-high 14 saves against the Tar Heels. “The bad news is he took a shot to the thumb, and it’s tender, and we’ve got to pad it up. We’ll see how effective he is for this weekend.”

If McCullough is unavailable, UMBC will turn to sophomore Adam Cohen, who registered an 8.76 goals-against average and a .427 save percentage in nine games – eight of which were starts.

“He’s getting more reps this week,” Zimmerman said of Cohen. “I think the fact that Adam did have a bunch of starts for us last year, this isn’t going to be a case where all of a sudden we don’t have a kid who’s never started and he’s hopping into the net. He’s been there, and we’re pleased with our goalkeepers’ improvement that we’re seeing. So I think it certainly is a benefit that he has had experience as a starter.”

A corollary from the loss to North Carolina was the Retrievers’ near comeback. Trailing by seven goals with 9 minutes, 47 seconds left in the third quarter, UMBC mounted a rally and eventually trimmed the deficit to three with 7:09 remaining before losing steam.

Zimmerman said the team’s perseverance was nice to see after a 12-5 loss to Rutgers in the Retrievers’ home opener on Feb. 26.

“I think we showed on Saturday that we have the will to win, and now we need to build on that and focus on doing things to give us the chance to win the game,” he said. “… I think when a team goes down by seven goals, they have to make a decision: are they going to fold the tent and call it a day or are they going to fight and scrap and try to get it back? And we did the latter. And that’s the will to win.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, UMBC

Postscript from Detroit at Mount St. Mary's

Mount St. Mary’s may have banished some demons by capturing the team’s first win of the season with a 12-8 decision against visiting Detroit Wednesday afternoon at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmittsburg.

Perhaps just as significant is the momentum the Mountaineers (1-2) may have gained as they prepare to meet Jacksonville on Sunday.

Sophomore attackman Andrew Scalley conceded that although the team had been in a similar 0-2 hole last year, the pressure was rising to break the seal.

“We definitely came in, feeling like we had a monkey on our backs,” said Scalley, who leads the offense in goals (seven), assists (three) and points (10). “We were in the same situation last year, and so it definitely feels good to get the win. We got a lot of pressure from our coaches, but we came out and had a good week of practice, something we hadn’t been doing prior to the other games that we played this year. So coming out and getting the win really means a lot for us.”

Sunday’s opponent could present problems for Mount St. Mary’s. The Dolphins are 2-2 and only lost to No. 15 Georgetown by three on Feb. 20.

And then there’s the little matter of Jacksonville tagging the Mountaineers with a 14-7 setback that continues to resonate with the players.

“Jacksonville is a good team,” junior attackman Brett Schmidt said. “Last year, we lost to them, which is pretty bad. We’re ready for them.”

Other notes:

*One issue Mount St. Mary’s must address is the number of turnovers committed in the win against the Titans. The Mountaineers turned the ball over 26 times compared to Detroit’s 18, and some of them seemed to occur as the defense transitioned to offense. (The team was 10-of-15 on clears.) “It’s unacceptable,” coach Tom Gravante said of the team’s carelessness with the ball. “After getting the ball on a Detroit turnover and then turning it right back over, you’ve got to cash in on that. We really have to work on the personalities of some of these kids.”

*Gravante wouldn’t say whether he planned to revamp the starting lineup again, but Scalley said continuity shouldn’t be an issue because many players get plenty of reps in practice to develop a chemistry with their teammates. “It was something that was definitely on our minds, but we’ve played together as a whole in practice every day,” Scalley said. “As soon as one person starts clicking, it flows into the entire offense, and you could see that when we would go on our little runs. One person would make a play and then the team would rally.”

*After Scalley and senior goalkeeper T.C. DiBartolo, the team’s next most important player might be senior faceoff specialist Ben Trapp. The Timonium native and Dulaney graduate won 18-of-22 faceoffs on Wednesday and collected a game-high seven ground balls. “We asked that young man to dominate, and he did,” Gravante said. “He was 18-for-22, and I think he would have been better than that if he had just picked up the ball by himself. … That’s what we’re going to need from him on Sunday.” Trapp, who has won 42-of-63 faceoffs for a 66.7 percentage, could face a test in Jacksonville freshman William Vogt, who has won 38-of-65 draws for a 58.5 percentage.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Postscript

March 9, 2011

Detroit at Mount St. Mary's: Halftime thoughts

What good vibes Mount St. Mary’s generated in the first six minutes have evaporated as the Mountaineers are clinging to a 4-3 lead over visiting Detroit at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmittsburg.

Mount St. Mary’s scored the game’s first four goals in a span of 5 minutes, 49 seconds – quite a reversal from the team’s first two games of the season when Virginia and Towson raced out to early advantages of 7-0 and 4-0, respectively.

But the Mountaineers (0-2) have gone dry over the final 24:11 of the first half, opening the door for the Titans to chip into the lead. Detroit scored twice in a span of 26 seconds to end the first quarter and added a man-up goal to trail only by one at halftime.

Mount St. Mary’s has been careless with the ball, turning it over 13 times to only seven times by Detroit. Possession will be key in the second half.

Other notes:

*The team’s wholesale changes in the starting lineup have yielded some positive results. Junior Anthony Golden, who started on attack, leads the Mountaineers with two points on one goal and one assist. And sophomore Daniel Stranix, who started in the midfield, has also scored a goal. Junior midfielder Bryant Schmidt, who was demoted from the first line, has scored once.

*On the flipside, junior attackmen Cody Lehrer and Brett Schmidt, who were bumped from the starting lineup, have been quiet as reserves. Schmidt is 0-for-1 in shooting, has committed three turnovers, and was penalized once. Lehrer has not taken a shot or picked up a ground ball.

*The Mountaineers have to take advantage of the work being done by senior Ben Trapp and the faceoff unit. Those guys have helped the team win 8-of-9 faceoffs in the first half. Another avenue could be extra-man chances where the team is just 2-of-5, including 0-of-2 in the second quarter.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Mount St. Mary's

Mount St. Mary's makes wholesale changes in starting lineup

No one can accuse Mount St. Mary’s coach Tom Gravante of being too fearful to shake things up.

Four days after a closed-door, team meeting following an 11-3 loss to Towson on Saturday, the Mountaineers will feature a much different starting lineup against Detroit for a rare Wednesday matinee.

Senior Mark Stapor and junior Anthony Golden will join sophomore Andrew Scalley on attack. Stapor and Golden replace juniors Cody Lehrer and Brett Schmidt, who registered 48 goals and nine assists and 17 goals and 21 assists, respectively, last spring. This year, Lehrer has scored just once, and Schmidt has compiled just one goal and one assist.

Junior Christian Kellett and sophomore Connor Carey will team with junior Eric Ososki on the first midfield. Junior Jake Willertz re-aggravated a hamstring injury that kept him out of the season opener against Virginia, and junior Bryant Schmidt has been bumped down to the second line with junior Mike Adkins and sophomore Daniel Stranix.

Finally, senior Andrew Miller and junior Brendan Rooney have been promoted to join senior Justin Schmidt as starting defensemen. Miller and Rooney replace sophomore Kevin Downs and freshman Shane Pierce.

Gravante had hinted Tuesday that changes were afoot, saying, “There’s going to be changes, and I’m looking for these kids to respond.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:16 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's

Detroit at Mount St. Mary's: Three things to watch

The surprising aspect of this matchup is that the Titans are the only team with a victory. Detroit is 1-5, but has lost three games by four goals or less, including a one-goal setback to No. 16 Ohio State. The Mountaineers limp into the contest after a 0-2 start, but they defeated the Titans, 12-9, last April. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Wednesday’s contest at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmitsburg.

1) Avoiding a slow start. Mount St. Mary’s spent about 15 minutes following their 11-3 loss to Towson on Saturday in a closed-door team meeting, and one of the themes emphasized was playing faster and with more focus from the first whistle. Coach Tom Gravante said he’s been pleased with the tenor and pace in practice over the last three days. “I expect to field a different team that’s going to get off to a better start,” he said. “Our starts against UVA and Towson were the same. We basically made it easy for both of those teams to hit the cage and get to our star goalie. So we’ve made some adjustments, and we’re pretty confident as a staff that we’re going to get off to a much better start tomorrow on both sides of the field.”

2) Forcing the action on Detroit’s midfielders. The Titans’ top three scorers are attackmen. Freshman Shayne Adams (17 goals and zero assists), junior Scott Harris (4, 7) and freshman Alex Maini (6, 4) have accounted for 58.7 percent of the offense’s goals and 56.7 percent of the points, which is why the Mountaineers will try to funnel the action to Detroit’s midfielders. “We’re going to try to press out on those three young men and really get the ball into the hands of their midfielders,” Gravante said. “But we’re going to do some things a little bit differently.”

3) Utilizing Ben Trapp. One way for Mount St. Mary’s to get off to a quick start is to take advantage of senior faceoff specialist Ben Trapp. Trapp has won 24-of-41 draws (58.5 percent) and will face either Titans sophomore Brandon Davenport (38-of-90 for 42.2 percent) or sophomore Tyler Corcoran (6-of-17 for 35.3 percent). “We’re asking Ben Trapp, who had a great game against Towson, to dominate. He played well and went 50 percent against Towson, and in draws where he actually won but we lost the faceoff, we had him at 72 percent. We’re asking him to dominate for us, and that will help us get off to a good start.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Three things to watch

Defensive youth hasn't crippled Virginia -- yet

For all of the explosiveness Virginia boasted on offense, one issue that troubled coach Dom Starsia was the relative inexperience on the other side of the field.

Yes, the No. 2 Cavaliers are anchored by senior goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman, junior defenseman Matt Lovejoy and senior long-stick midfielder Bray Malphrus, but the starting defense also includes freshman defenseman Scott McWilliams and three more first-year starters in redshirt junior defenseman Chris Clements, sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Blake Riley and freshman short-stick defensive midfielder Bobby Hill.

That unit’s youth was exposed in Virginia’s 12-10 loss to No. 1 Syracuse, which outscored the Cavaliers, 5-2, in the second half on Friday night.

Starsia did not seem alarmed by the defense’s vulnerability.

“I think we just need the confidence and experience that comes with doing things,” he said Tuesday. “We play a schedule that you hope will help you grow up in the process. You just look at the two teams in comparison, and – this is not a criticism in any shape or form – they have three first-team All Americans in their defensive half, and I’ve got a midfielder playing defense in his first year and a freshman starting on close defense and two new short-stick D-middies. I can tell them everything I want, but they need to see it and live through it. Those are the most valuable lessons of all. And I think we will be better off because of this in the long haul. I don’t come away from the game discouraged at all. We simply made too many mistakes against a veteran offensive team in situations that I think if there’s another opportunity, we’ll be better at it.”

Virginia’s defense will be tested Saturday by No. 13 Cornell at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Both teams entertain mid-week games after enduring losses last weekend, setting the stage for what could be a significant game in both squads’ fortunes.

“I don’t think [a loss] will do irreparable harm to either program, but I think for both teams, our theme will be to get back on track between tonight and Saturday and hopefully, we’ll get back on a winning track,” Starsia said. “These are two teams with national aspirations, and these are the kind of games that you play and then you don’t think about them for a great deal until it kind of comes up in April and May when you’re looking at seeding the teams and determining playoff possibilities. I think this is a game that will have long-term playoff implications over the course of the season. We don’t have to dwell on that part of it. We just want to continue to improve and get better, but at the end of the day, I think it’s a meaningful test for both of these teams.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:30 AM | | Comments (0)

Syracuse looking to avoid letdown

As thrilling as top-ranked Syracuse’s 12-10 victory over No.2 Virginia on Friday night was – it was the Orange’s first regular-season win against the Cavaliers since 2004 and took place before a crowd of 14,340, which is the largest to watch a college lacrosse game thus far – coach John Desko wants to make sure that his players aren’t coasting into Saturday’s contest against No. 15 Georgetown at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

“I don’t know that we’re talking about letdowns as much as we’re talking about the big game we had with Virginia and what to take out of it and how to turn around and re-focus on a new opponent,” Desko said Tuesday. “As a coaching staff, we have to find incentives for our guys to do well against Georgetown. It’s our first Big East game with Georgetown being one of the better teams in the Big East. So I think that’s our job as coaches, to get them re-focused. We lost one game by one goal in the regular season last year [to Virginia], and I think the team had a very good mindset about going out and playing the next opponent. We really didn’t have that big breakdown last year. So we’re going to try to mimic what we did a year ago and keep the guys focused on the next opponent.”

The Orange is one of four teams in The Sun’s top 10 that is still unbeaten, but the team’s triumph seems to have widened the gap between Syracuse and the remaining teams in Division I.

That may be the case, but that’s not something that Desko is clinging to.

“We had some seniors that hadn’t beaten Virginia in the regular season, and we had throwback uniforms, a very large crowd in the Carrier Dome. So I think there was a lot of incentive to play well and try to win the game,” he said. “So I think from that point, it was important to us, but I think even [Cavaliers coach]Dom Starsia would tell you, it’s a game that’s fun to play and those kind of games show you where your team is at even if it’s early in the year. At the end, when it comes to strength of schedule and RPI, which is criteria for the playoffs, and wins in the top five and top 10 and so on, it could be helpful at the end of the year. Right now, it’s more of a barometer of where we’re at right now.”

Desko had the rare opportunity to watch his son Tim, whose career-high five goals proved instrumental in the Orange’s victory. The redshirt junior was selected as the Big East’s Offensive Player of the Week.

“It’s rewarding as a parent, but the game is kind of tense, and I think you look at each goal as a big goal and as another opportunity to help you win the game,” John Desko said. “So I think you tend to enjoy it more afterwards rather than during – as a parent. During the game, you’re treating it mostly as a coach. Watching the game afterwards, it becomes more enjoyable from that aspect.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Cornell planning on meeting Virginia without three starters

No. 13 Cornell’s bid to knock off No. 2 Virginia might get tougher.

As the Big Red prepare for meeting the Cavaliers at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday, the team may be forced to play without three starters in senior defenseman Max Feely, sophomore attackman Steve Mock and senior midfielder David Lau.

All three missed Saturday’s 11-9 loss to No. 10 Army with unspecified injuries that occurred “mid-week,” according to coach Ben DeLuca. DeLuca  sounded pessimistic about their availability against Virginia.

“Still up in the air right now,” he said. “Still undetermined at this point in time. I can’t really comment on that. That’s not my prerogative, to talk about those guys. I’m just waiting for our sports medicine people and trainers to tell us what to expect there. But at this point, we’re preparing to play without them.”

If that trio is sidelined again, sophomore Kyle Ewanouski is expected to replace Feely, junior Scott Austin could fill in for Mock, and freshman Michael O’Neil would step in for Lau.

“Kyle did a great job for us [against Army],” DeLuca said. “I was very proud of the way he came and stepped up to the plate. On the offensive end, Michael O’Neil, a freshman, replaced senior David Lau at the midfield. A young team got much younger with us replacing two seniors with a sophomore and a freshman. Scott Austin and Matt Taylor collectively worked into that third attackman spot for Steve Mock, and they did a good job. I think it was a great experience for our guys.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:30 AM | | Comments (0)

Maryland happy to put Duke loss in rearview mirror

In the NFL, a loss usually resonates for a week and sometimes can last as long as eight days. Fortunately for Maryland, the memory of Saturday’s 9-8 overtime setback to Duke came to merciful end Monday when the No. 12 Terps defeated visiting Bellarmine, 12-8.

“We felt like getting back on the field was the most important thing,” coach John Tillman said Tuesday. “Getting back out there, running around, being at Byrd [Stadium], everybody being back together because we could only travel with 32 guys, I think that got us back a little bit. We’ll never forget the outcome [on Saturday], but we can learn some lessons from that experience, and we can grow from it and come together because of it. But being out there was a good thing.”

The contests against the Knights may have been particularly emancipating for senior attackmen Ryan Young and Travis Reed, both of whom recorded three goals and one assist on Monday. Young had compiled five goals and four assists in three previous starts, while Reed had posted just two goals and three assists over the same span.

Tillman speculated that as seniors, Young and Reed may have been pressing themselves.

“They feel a strong responsibility to lead the team and do a lot of the team, and I think sometimes they put a lot of pressure on themselves to maybe do too much,” Tillman said. “That’s the fine line of what we call the Brett Favre mentality. You want to help the team, and those guys are selfless guys. So they sometimes think, ‘OK, I need to make a play because I’m older. So I’ve got the ball, and I think I can do something. It might not be necessarily a goal or an assist, but I’ll make a play,’ and sometimes it’s just not the right time or it’s not the best option. To me, it’s about managing the game. The shots will come, the opportunities will come, and if you do a good job, you’ll be creating opportunities for your teammates, and that’s just fine. They get that because they’re unselfish.”

Maryland (3-1) fell in many polls earlier in the week, and fans and critics have begun to question the Terps’ postseason credentials. Tillman sounded unfazed by the sudden lightness on the team’s bandwagon.

“That’s kind of the world we live in,” he said. “So it really doesn’t bother me. I get more concerned with the way our kids think and what’s going through their heads. But these are great lessons for our kids to consider and say, ‘Listen, we weren’t 12 goals better than Georgetown.’ I knew Duke would be tough. There were so many things going against us in that game. Every week is different, and every opponent is different. I was happy to get through yesterday with no injuries and get a W there.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland

March 8, 2011

Division III weekly honors announced

Salisbury swept the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week awards announced by the Capital Athletic Conference.

Junior attackman Erik Krum was named the Offensive Player of the Week after scoring a combined seven goals in two games. Krum registered three goals in the No. 3 Sea Gulls’ 8-2 victory over No. 12 Gettysburg on Saturday.

Senior goalkeeper Johnny Rodriguez earned the Defensive Player of the Week honor after turning away 18 shots in two contests. The Gambrills native and Mount St. Joseph graduate posted a season-high 16 saves in the win against the Bullets.

Washington College junior goalie Peter Stewart was selected as the Defensive Player of the Week by the Centennial Conference. The Annapolis native and St. Mary’s graduate made 17 saves, scooped up five ground balls, and caused two turnovers in the Shoremen’s 5-4 loss to Washington and Lee.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Salisbury, Washington

1-1 start "monumentally significant" for Hood

After absorbing a 19-goal loss to Stevenson, which is ranked No. 2 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, in the season opener, Hood rebounded with a 6-4 win against Randolph on Saturday.

The decision helped the Blazers record their second 1-1 start in the last three seasons – an accomplishment that did not escape coach Jeremy Mattoon’s attention.

“What we have to remember is, that was only our eighth win in seven years,” he said Monday. “So is it significant? It’s monumentally significant. Whether it’s our first game, second game or 16th game, any win we get is significant. It’s positive, and we feel good about it. And I think our boys felt really good after the win.”

Mattoon has been upfront about changing the program’s culture, which has led at times to a few strained moments between the players and coaches.

“We’ve had some hurdles,” Mattoon conceded. “I am by no means the easiest guy to play for, so it’s a learning process. But I think we’re in a really good place right now. Even though the [23-4] score against Stevenson doesn’t resemble it, I thought we never gave up. We played a tough game against the best team in the country.”

Hood’s next five contests are at home, but there’s some indecision about who will start at goalie. Sophomores William Lane and John Martin have split two starts, and Mattoon said he is planning to continue the rotation with Lane scheduled to start against Clark (Mass.) on Tuesday afternoon.

“At this point, we still don’t have a No. 1 goalie,” Mattoon said. “I think we have two No. 1s, and that was what we had planned going into the season. Going into Clark, Will is slated to start. Whether he will or not, a lot will depend on his health. He’s actually sick and missed practice today. But he is slated to start against Clark. And then Johnny’s slated to start the next game [against St. Joseph’s on Saturday].”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hood

Duke taking upset of Maryland in stride

One might figure that Duke’s 9-8 overtime defeat of then-No. 3 Maryland might be an occasion for coach John Danowski to gloat – or at least sound off on the folks who jumped off the bandwagon.

But that’s not Danowski’s style, and the coach of the No. 11 Blue Devils laughed at the idea of being content with Saturday’s win.

“We’re still young, and we’re 2-2,” he said Monday. “It was one game, one day. Who knows how you respond from this as a team? I’ve been around enough teams to know that over the long haul, by April 1, you know what kind of team you have – after you’ve played a bunch of games and have had a chance to be in a bunch of different situations. I just think it was one game – as much as [losing to] Penn was just one game and [losing to] Notre Dame was just one game. Where do you go from week-to-week? That’s the exciting part about coaching.”

A significant factor in Duke’s triumph was the job the defense did in limiting the Terps Big 3 of senior attackmen Grant Catalino, Ryan Young and Travis Reed. Danowski confirmed Inside Lacrosse’s account of the Blue Devils assigning senior Tom Montelli, a converted long-stick midfielder, on Catalino, freshman Chris Hipps on Young and sophomore Bill Conners on Reed.

Catalino did not score after taking just one shot and registered a lone assist, Young misfired on all five shots, and Reed went 0-for-4 with just one assist.

“They’re so terrific,” Danowski said. “They’re all seniors, they’ve played together, they have a chemistry between them, they’re kind of like the perfect parts. You’ve got a big, strong, right-handed shooter [in Catalino], a really dynamic left-handed scorer [in Reed], and then a feeder [in Young] to complement those two guys on either corner. So you just try to take a look at what they do and how they do it and match up your personnel and scheme them a little bit.”

Duke still has an arduous road ahead beginning with Friday night’s home contest against No. 8 Loyola. Danowski said he hopes Maryland don’t lose another game for the rest of the season.

“We’re going to root for Maryland for the rest of the year to win all their games,” he said. “We’ve become Maryland fans now. It’s a big game because it was an ACC game, and we hadn’t beaten Maryland in two years. But for this particular team at this particular time, it was just good to get a win.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland

Style points don't matter to Loyola

Loyola is one of six teams in The Sun’s Top 20 poll with an unblemished record. But of those teams, the Greyhounds have the lowest margin of victory, having outscored their three opponents, 21-16.

The only thing that matters to coach Charley Toomey is the 3-0 record.

Asked if he cares about style points, Toomey replied Monday, “No, I don’t, and I can say that because I’m on the [NCAA selection] committee. I’ve sat in that room and nobody has asked, ‘What was the score?’ We look at wins. I worry about how we’re playing within those wins. I want to make sure that we’re learning from each game. I do think we’ve left a couple of goals out there on the field, but I have to be excited about the way we’re defending and I have to excited about the way we’re limiting our opponents’ opportunities. I’ve said all year that we’re a team that’s going to build week-to-week. We’re not the team that we’re hopefully going to be in April. So just to get these wins at this time of the year, I think, is very important, and we’re looking forward to a great opportunity this weekend [against No. 11 Duke on Friday night].”

Loyola has been powered by its attack of seniors Matt Langan and D.J. Comer and sophomores Mike Sawyer and Patrick Fanshaw, who have combined for 18 goals and nine assists.

But the Greyhounds are struggling to find consistent production from their midfield – a source of concern for Toomey even in the preseason.

“Still a work in progress,” he said. “We feel like we’re not playing our best lacrosse yet. I don’t know whether or not it’s about the combinations right now. We feel like we’ve got guys on each midfield who can dodge and create offense. We feel like we’re capable of scoring goals if we get to spots on the field. Again, we just have to finish. We’re looking for us to play a 60-minute game better than what we’ve played. It’s there. There’s enough in locker room. We just have to come together.”

Loyola has also been buoyed by a defense that had entered the previous weekend tied for sixth in Division I after surrendering an average of five goals in two contests.

“I think those guys are starting to gel,” Toomey said. “I think we’re certainly the sum of our parts. [Senior defenseman] Steven Dircks has been terrific, [senior goalkeeper] Jake Hagelin leading that group has been very good. You know about [sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder] Josh Hawkins, and the guy that probably goes a little unheralded is Pat Laconi, who’s a freshman short stick for us. He’s out there and sees a lot of minutes for us. … We’ve got young guys like him that are fluxing into our game. You’re not seeing them because they don’t put tons of points on the board, but at the end of the game, what we look at is, ‘How did he do against his match-up? What types of slides and decisions did he make during the game?’”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola

March 7, 2011

Navy eager to end skid

Three consecutive losses before the first weekend of March might create panic around a lacrosse program. But not Navy.

“You don’t feel great when you’re 1-3,” coach Richie Meade conceded. “You don’t feel great when you feel like you were in the games and then you lost those games. You have the feeling like you’re working real hard and sometimes you can get discouraged because you’re not getting any payback for your hard work. That’s kind of the concept of determination and mental toughness, and teams go through that. We’ve gone through winning seven or eight games in a row. Well, this is the other side of that, and we’ve just got to fight through that as a group. We’ve got very good leadership, and the guys have done a wonderful job in practice. So we’ve got to be more focused on where we’re going than worry too much about what happened yesterday.”

Off to the program’s worst start since 2001, the Midshipmen have fallen to No. 11 Loyola, No. 16 North Carolina and Lehigh in a span of 11 days. In all three contests, Navy owned a lead in the third quarter before eventually running out of gas.

Meade said the source of the team’s problems has been an ineffective faceoff unit that is winning just 33.3 percent (32-of-96) of its draws, which leads to fewer possessions for the offense.

“In the four games, the opposition is getting 60-something more possessions than us,” Meade said. “So that makes it tough. That puts pressure on all the other areas. For instance, in Tuesday night’s game [a 14-10 loss], we took more shots than Lehigh and we had fewer turnovers, but our turnovers were magnified because we weren’t getting the ball back. We scored a couple goals, we didn’t get the ball back, and that gave them the opportunity to score. We’ve got to fix the faceoffs. If we win 50 percent of our faceoffs, we may have won the last three games. And if we’re playing less defense, we’re obviously going to play a little better.”

The Midshipmen get their first crack at changing their fortunes Monday night when they visit No. 20 Bucknell. Navy owns a 7-3 advantage against its Patriot League rival, but the Bison have beaten then-No. 19 Villanova and have won faceoffs at a 61.0 percent clip thus far.

“I certainly don’t look at this and think, ‘Oh God, everything’s bad. What’s going on?’ I think we’re doing a lot of things well,” Meade said. “I think our kids are working really hard. We just need to hang in there right now and hopefully, we can turn the faceoff part around and get better defensively and win a couple of games here.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalie Quint Kessenich covered top-ranked Syracuse’s 12-10 win against No. 2 Virginia on Friday night, watched No. 8 Princeton’s 8-3 demolition of No. 9 Johns Hopkins in person on Saturday afternoon, and will be part of the sports network’s coverage of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. Kessenich offered his perspective on the gap between Syracuse and the rest of the Division I, Saturday’s upsets, and the most impressive individual performance.

Question: You watched Syracuse’s win against Virginia in person. Is it fair to say those two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack?
Answer: I think the gap is between everybody and Syracuse. With Maryland’s loss to Duke, I think it’s fair to say that Syracuse is a step ahead. Virginia would be No. 2 and then I’ve got Notre Dame and Hofstra at [Nos.] 3 and 4. So it is fair to say that visually, it looks like Syracuse is No. 1. Virginia’s got to clean up some defensive issues. I put Virginia in the pack. Virginia played to 9-9 against Drexel late in their game. Virginia played an overtime game at Stony Brook. They have not shown to be dominant.

Q: What impressed you about the Orange?
A: Overall balance of their roster. Great defense and goaltending. A really strong faceoff and ground ball play. And then senior leadership. Having spent about a day-and-half around that program, I really got the sense that these seniors are absolutely committed.

Q: There whispers about nepotism when Syracuse coach John Desko put his son Tim on the team. Now that Tim scored a game- and career-high five goals in the win against the Cavaliers and leads the offense with 10 goals in three games, do you think he has proven his father’s decision was the correct one?
A: He’s gotten so much better. Last year, he only had 12 goals. The other day, he had five. He’s really improved. I think the kids on the team really like him a lot. He’s a no-nonsense, hard worker, and he’s shown that he belongs. It’s pretty obvious that he’s well-respected there.

Q: What was the biggest surprise of the weekend?
A: Princeton’s domination of Hopkins surprised me. I watched the game in person, and then I think Army beating Cornell and Duke beating Maryland were the three things that surprised me most.

Q: What did you notice in No. 9 Johns Hopkins’ 8-3 loss to No. 8 Princeton?
A: I was standing there along the fence. I was about 10 yards from the action, and it was apparent that Princeton was quicker to loose balls and tougher, and they were making all the plays. Hopkins looked a step slow in so many different situations. And they made bad decisions and took poor shots, and Princeton’s pretty good. Princeton played a very focused game for 60 minutes. It was 3-0 early in the game and right away, you knew it was going to be a long day because with [Tigers] junior goalkeeper Tyler] Fiorito in the goal, this was not a great start.

Q: So it was a case where Princeton was more aggressive than the Blue Jays?
A: For some reason, with all those contested, 50-50 ground balls, there were more black-and-orange jerseys around the ball, and they seemed to know where the ball was going while Hopkins was a step behind. It’s weird. I don’t that it’s speed. I just think they’re not a good ground ball team. They just don’t have good intuition, and when they get the ball in their sticks, they tend to lose it. There were four or five times where Hopkins had the ball in their sticks for a second and then it got checked out or they lost it or they panicked and threw it away. They don’t have great ground ball players, and right now, they’re losing the possession battle at a rate that they can’t overcome.

Q: What were your thoughts on No. 13 Army’s 11-9 upset of No. 6 Cornell?
A: It was a re-match of last year’s quarterfinals, a game where everything went Cornell’s way. This year, Army had a slow start where they lost to UMass, and now all of a sudden, Army’s legit. Army has great players. Preseason, I had Army as a top-10 team, and to me, they’re back in the top 10 this week. I’ve got them at No. 8 because their loss to UMass all of a sudden looks pretty good. And their loss to Syracuse looks pretty good, too.

Q: No. 3 Maryland had a 2-0 lead on No. 19 Duke before the Blue Devils escaped with a 9-8 decision in overtime. Did the Terps get too overconfident or was Duke more determined to erase last week’s 7-3 loss to unranked Penn?
A: I think it was a little of both. I think it was fool’s gold for Maryland to look at their win over Georgetown and think that was anything special. Georgetown was tremendously sloppy on defense. If you watched that tape – and I told this to [Terps coach] John Tillman – I thought Maryland’s defense didn’t look as buttoned up as it should’ve. And Coach Tillman said he was worried about this Duke game for the emotional challenge. Maryland was patting itself on the back, while Duke’s season was on the brink after losing to Penn. It was kind of the emotional paradox between the two teams created a very competitive game. If you had asked me how that game would’ve played out, I would’ve said that Duke would’ve gotten the early lead, and Maryland would’ve called timeout, settled down, and won.

Q: What individual impressed you with his performance this weekend?
A: To me, Desko’s five goals were pretty special. [Senior midfielder] Shamel Bratton, in defeat for Virginia, played a really fantastic individual game. [Senior attackman] Jamie Lincoln of Hofstra put up five [goals]. And then Tyler Fiorito.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

March 6, 2011

Postscript from Towson at Mount St. Mary's

For all the troubles Towson has endured on offense, the Tigers have been buoyed by the play of their defense.

That unit has surrendered just 16 goals in three games thus far – which averages out to 5.3 goals. Towson, which had been tied with Penn State for 13th in Division I with a 6.5 goals-per-game average, is bound to move up the rankings after allowing just three goals in an eight-goal victory over Mount St. Mary’s Saturday.

Junior defenseman Michael Landy said the players are working in conjunction with associate head coach and defensive coordinator Shawn Nadelen.

“Everybody has to be together and on the same page – whether we’re playing zone or man,” said Landy, who shut out Mountaineers junior attackman Cody Lehrer, who scored 48 goals last spring. “Coach Nadelen does a great job of getting us prepared and giving us the perfect game plan. We know what’s coming at us every single week, and it’s also a testament to what we’re going against from our [offensive] guys every day in practice. They work us to the bone. They know our tendencies, they know what we’re bad at, and then they go at it. They really work us.”

The Tigers (1-2) have been rotating between a man-to-man defense and a zone scheme, which Landy said is being used more frequently this year than in his first two seasons.

“This year, you can definitely tell that we’ve all come together and that we definitely understand it,” Landy said of the zone defense. “It’s really about understanding how to play it. … It’s one of those zones where if you run it right and stick by the rules, it’s tough to beat.”

Coach Tony Seaman said the defense has been the anchor for the team as the offense tries to resolve its issues.

“We’re doing a good job and we’re getting where we’re supposed to be,” he said.

Other notes:

*Towson may have re-discovered its scoring touch against Mount St. Mary’s, but sophomore attackman Matt Hughes wasn’t ready to crown the offense. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves yet,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, and we’ve still got to focus on the little things to become a better overall offense.” Hughes, who scored a game-high four points on three goals and one assist, said the players weren’t too worried about their inability to score. “We never had any doubt,” he said. “We just lacked confidence. Once we get that back, we know we can string some goals together and maybe string some wins together. Just got to keep plugging away.”

*Unlike last season when they used a 12-day layoff after a loss to Jacksonville to win five straight contests, the Mountaineers couldn’t take advantage of a 10-day break against the Tigers. Mount St. Mary’s looked sloppy on defense and lethargic on offense. Following the loss, the team held a closed-door meeting for about 15 minutes, and coach Tom Gravante said that the players didn’t follow the script. For instance, the players were told to avoid testing Towson senior goalie Travis Love with high shots, but Gravante estimated that the first four shots were above Love’s waist. “Right now, we can’t coach what isn’t coachable,” Gravante said. “It’s like giving the answers to the exam, but you don’t want to put them on paper. We can’t help you fix the problems.” A little later, however, Gravante said he thinks the team can turn things around. “We’ve got some work to do,” he said. “But I’m confident that these kids will respond and that they’ll trust in me and the staff to do them right.”

*The Mountaineers began last season with a 0-2 start, but rebounded to capture the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. There is no automatic qualifier with the Northeast Conference, which is Mount St. Mary’s new home, so every loss hurts. “It’s definitely a wake-up call,” said sophomore attackman Andrew Scalley, who scored two goals against the Tigers. “We need to get that first win and get some momentum. So we’re looking to rebound right away with a win on Wednesday against Detroit to get the ball rolling a little more.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Postscript, Towson

March 5, 2011

Towson at Mount St. Mary's: Halftime thoughts

Towson has exploded for six goals -- by their standards -- and leads host Mount St. Mary’s by four at the Waldron Family Stadium in Emmitsburg this Saturday afternoon.

It took the visiting Tigers just 2 minutes, 39 seconds to match their output in a 3-2 loss to No. 11 Loyola a week ago. And the six goals match a season high as Towson scored six in a four-goal setback to No. 9 Johns Hopkins in their season opener two weeks ago.

The offense has apparently rediscovered its rhythm and found scoring opportunities in front of Mountaineers senior goalie T.C. DiBartolo (three saves).

The second half will be the key. The Tigers have been outscored 8-3 in the third and fourth quarters this season.

Other notes:

*Mount St. Mary’s has had few answers for Towson sophomore attackman Matt Hughes, who has registered three goals and one assist already. Entering the game, Hughes had posted just one goal and one assist. Freshman midfielder Andrew Hodgson has recorded the first goal and assist of his young career.

*The Tigers defense has clamped down on the Mountaineer attackmen. Sophomore Andrew Scalley scored once, but senior defenseman Marc Ingerman and junior defenseman Michael Landy have shut out juniors Brett Schmidt and Cody Lehrer, respectively. Senior goalkeeper Travis Love has turned away five shots.

*Towson’s faceoff unit has battled Mount St. Mary’s to a draw in the first half, each splitting 10 draws. Sophomore Matt Thomas had won just 44 percent of his faceoffs prior to this contest. Meanwhile, Mountaineers senior Ben Trapp had won 55.1 percent.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Mount St. Mary's, Towson

Four Maryland players dot Tewaaraton Watch List

The Tewaaraton Watch List was released Friday, and four players from No. 3 Maryland are on the list.

Attackmen Grant Catalino and Ryan Young, defenseman Brett Schmidt and long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell – all seniors – are among the early hopefuls to claim the Tewaaraton, which is given annually to the top player in college lacrosse.

Among area schools, Johns Hopkins senior attackman Kyle Wharton, Towson senior short-stick defensive midfielder Peter Mezzanotte, Salisbury junior midfielder Sam Bradman and Stevenson senior attackman Jimmy Dailey are also on the list.

There are several players on the list who hail from the Baltimore area. They are Georgetown senior defenseman Barney Ehrmann (Baltimore/Gilman), Brown senior defenseman Peter Fallon (Baltimore/Gilman), Princeton junior goalie Tyler Fiorito (Phoenix/McDonogh), Georgetown junior defenseman Dan Hostetler (Ellicott City/River Hill) and Virginia junior attackman Steele Stanwick (Baltimore/Loyola).

No. 1 Syracuse leads all schools with six players on the watch list. Maryland and No. 5 Stony Brook are tied for second with four players each, and No. 2 Virginia, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 8 Princeton, No. 14 Georgetown, No. 16 North Carolina and No. 19 Duke are tied for fourth with three players each.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Towson

Towson at Mount St. Mary's: Three things to watch

Both teams are chasing a win in the hope that a victory will turn their seasons around. The visiting Tigers are trying to avoid their second consecutive 0-3 start, while the Mountaineers have had 10 days to rebound from a season-opening loss to No. 2 Virginia. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Saturday’s game at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmittsburg.

1) Mount St. Mary’s midfield. The Mountaineers’ starting midfield was kept off the scoreboard by the Cavaliers. The return of junior Jake Willertz (hamstring) to the first line with juniors Bryant Schmidt and Eric Ososki is expected to help, but coach Tom Gravante said the first line must avoid committing a unit-high six turnovers as it did against Virginia. “We’ve really preached ball possession and making smart decisions, which will cut down on turnovers,” Gravante said. “We got a pretty good look at Towson, and we know they’re going to do some things defensively that we’re going to try to counter. So we’re asking our offense to make smarter decisions and cut down on turnovers.”

2) Towson’s offense. The Tigers’ offensive woes are well-documented, and coach Tony Seaman said the players spend a lot of time in practice taking part in shooting drills. The objective of improving on the team’s 4.0 goals-per-game average, however, could get tougher against Mount St. Mary’s senior goalkeeper T.C. DiBartolo. The Bowie native and Archbishop Spalding graduate struggled against Virginia, but he stopped 60.6 percent of opponents’ shots last spring. “He’s terrific,” Seaman said of DiBartolo. “He makes some great saves. He’s very acrobatic and is a big leader on defense. He allows their defense to push out and be very, very aggressive because they know they’ve got that kid behind them and he’s going to make saves. So he just pulls them out of some deep holes when they do make mistakes.”

3) Mount St. Mary’s shooters. The Mountaineers return all six starters in the attack and midfield from an offense that averaged 10.6 goals per game last year. But they have to solve a Towson zone defense that has surrendered just 13 goals in two losses. And then there’s senior goalie Travis Love. The Westminster native and Winters Mill native has registered a 6.50 goals-against average and a .594 save percentage. “This young man is very good around his upper body,” Gravante said. “He will mirror your stick, and you’ve got to be a smart shooter around the cage. He fills the cage pretty well. He’s good at picking off passes if you float them around his area. So we really need to play smart lacrosse on Saturday, possess the ball, and take 10-yard shots and in.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Three things to watch, Towson

Princeton at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

The Tigers have won the last two meetings between these teams, but No. 8 Princeton is also 0-1 after dropping its season opener to No. 7 Hofstra a week ago. The No. 9 Blue Jays are 3-0 and outscoring their opponents by an average of nine goals, but they haven’t played against an opponent as talented as the Tigers. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Saturday’s contest at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

1) Eyeing Princeton’s two-man game. Johns Hopkins has limited opponents to 5.7 goals per game thus far, but that defense has yet to encounter the “pairs” offense that Princeton utilizes. That strategy preaches using on-ball pick and off-ball screens to create mismatches and scoring opportunities, and it will be up to a Blue Jays defense that starts two sophomores and one freshman at close defense and a sophomore goalie to decipher that Tigers offense. “We’re still young,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “[Freshman] Jack Reilly is still getting his feet wet. So it’s a group that has worked extremely hard in practice, so we’ve been pleased with their desire to improve. We feel like we’re improving, but we still have a long way to go there. … We’re also going to play an offense that’s very different. It’s a little more exotic than what we’ve seen. So now a young defense has to respond and play against an offense that we really don’t see much.”

2) Eyeing Johns Hopkins’ faceoffs. One reason why Princeton fell to Hofstra was a 6-of-22 showing on faceoffs. That doesn’t seem to bode well against a Blue Jays unit that is much improved from last year and winning faceoffs at a 58 percent clip (40-of-69). Tigers coach Chris Bates said his team’s success rate at faceoffs must improve to give the offense a chance to score or at least maintain possession. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re making good adjustments there, and part of it is at the X and part of it is at the wing play,” he said. “Both of those need to improve. Hopkins faces off well. They’ve got a couple kids that have high percentages, and they play a lot like Hofstra, in a lot of ways, on the offensive end. So that’s a critical area for us, and something that we’ve got to put under the microscope.”

3) Eyeing Princeton’s defense. Hofstra scored 11 goals against Princeton, but several of those came on transition opportunities. Junior goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito turned aside 15 shots, and the starting close defense of junior Chad Wiedmaier, senior Long Ellis and sophomore Rob Castelo and junior long-stick midfielder Jonathan Meyers is long and fundamentally-sound. “We’re going to have to find different ways to score goals,” Pietramala said. “If we think we’re just going to walk in there and score eight to 10 half-field goals against this defense, we’re sadly mistaken. That’s a very formidable group, so we’re going to have to find ways to score goals – get some extra-man goals or two off of transition or one off of our ride or one off of a faceoff. We’re going to have to find some diversification in our scoring against this team because they are so sound defensively.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch

March 4, 2011

5 Terps, 2 Hounds on women's Tewaaraton watch list

Five Maryland players and two from Loyola have been named to the 2011 Tewaaraton Award women's watch list as announced by the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.

Terrapins Brittany Dipper, Karri Ellen Johnson, Laura Merrifield, Sarah Mollison and Katie Schwarzmann along with Greyhounds Grace Gavin and Abby Rehfuss made the initial list of 48 women nominated for the 11th annual Tewaaraton Award, honoring the top women’s player in the college game.

The list includes three former Baltimore Sun All-Metro Players of the Year: Schwarzmann (Century), North Carolina’s Corey Donohoe (North Harford) and Vanderbilt’s Ally Carey (John Carroll). It will be whittled down three times during the year and a few players are sometimes added.

Last year’s winner, Caitlyn McFadden, was the second Terrapins player to take the women's award following Jen Adams, who won the first Tewaaraton in 2001.

The award will be presented, along with the men’s award and boys and girls high school Tewaaraton teams, on June 2 at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.

The rest of the women's nominees:

Casey Ancarrow, James Madison
Kelly Barnes, Georgetown
Shaylyn Blaney, Notre Dame
Sarah Bray, Hamilton
Erin Brennan, Penn
Sarah Bullard, Duke
Kat Collins, Dartmouth
Kitty Cullen, Florida
Jackie Doherty, Notre Dame
Liz Downs, Virginia
Maggie Dunbar, Penn State
Lauren Dykstra, Lehigh
Bergan Foley, Louisville
Alex Frank, Northwestern
Julie Gardner, Virginia
Giulia Giordano, Penn
Grace Golden, William & Mary
Katie Hertsch, Hofstra
Liz Hogan, Syracuse
Mia Hurrin, North Carolina
Kristin Igoe, Boston College
Alison Jaeger, College of New Jersey
Sarah Jonson, William & Mary
Christie Kaestner, Duke
Jordy Kirr, Georgetown
Tee Ladouceur, Syracuse
Mary Kate Lomady, James Madison
Logan McCraw, Georgetown
Greta Meyer, Dartmouth
Ashley Olen, C.W. Post
Claire Petersen, Adelphi
Lauren Schmidt, Stanford
Shannon Smith, Northwestern
Jessi Steinberg, Cornell
Kat Thomas, Duke
Taylor Thornton, Northwestern
Erin Tochihara, Princeton
Michelle Tumolo, Syracuse
Laura Zimmerman, North Carolina

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 6:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse

Penn proves it's no one-hit wonder

Upending reigning national champion Duke last Saturday was impressive, but the accomplishment would have lost some luster if Penn had dropped Tuesday night’s contest against Bucknell.

Well, consider the mission accomplished as the No. 12 Quakers defeated the No. 20 Bison, 8-6. Sophomore attackman Rob Fitzpatrick said the players were determined to prove that they aren’t just a flash in the pan.

“For all that anyone knew, that could have been a fluke,” the Towson native and Loyola graduate said. “We could have gotten Duke on an off day. Coach [Mike] Murphy always says that any team can be good on any day, but the great teams are consistent, and they find ways to win every game. That’s how we kind of approach everything. We knew we had to go into that game and play a really good Bucknell team that was undefeated. Luckily, we found a way to win.”

Penn is certainly one of the bigger surprises this season, but Fitzpatrick said the players and coaches aren’t content with their early start.

“Everyone’s feeling good, but we watched the film from both games, and we know we still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “Everyone is far from perfect. No one’s been playing stellar. … We have a lot to improve on, especially with the schedule that we have.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Mount St. Mary's hopes layoff provides benefits

The last time Mount St. Mary’s had extensive downtime between games, the Mountaineers used a 12-day break after a stunning loss to Jacksonville to embark on a five-game winning streak last season.

Coach Tom Gravante is hoping that a 10-day layoff between the team’s season-opening 22-6 loss to No. 2 Virginia on Feb. 22 and Saturday’s home opener against Towson will provide similar results.

“We had two weeks to prepare for a very good Robert Morris team, and we got these kids organized, and they played well. So I’m going to look at it as, yes, the 10 days off did us good as we needed to work on some things to really get ready for Towson,” he said. “That is our hope, that we really benefit from these 10 days to be ready for three games this week.”

Mount St. Mary’s has already gotten one benefit in the return of junior midfielder Jake Willertz. The Severn native and Mount St. Joseph graduate posted 21 goals and three assists last spring, but missed the season opener due to a hamstring injury.

Gravante said Willertz will return to the first midfield with junior Bryant Schmidt and Eric Ososki.

“The 10 days really worked out,” Gravante said. “He’s back in the starting lineup. He’s just about 100 percent.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Towson

Duke dumped "national champion" label a long time ago

Saddled with a two-game losing streak and entering Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener against No. 3 Maryland, Duke has been the target of criticism questioning whether the No. 19 Blue Devils will even qualify for the NCAA tournament, much less retain the NCAA title they captured last May.

Duke coach John Danowski has said to anyone who will listen that it’s unfair to compare this current team to last year’s squad and that the program dismissed the “defending national champion” label in the offseason.

“Certainly, nobody likes to lose, but teams are different,” he said after the Blue Devils fell to Penn, 7-3, last Saturday. “We’re playing a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores and playing guys in new positions. So while we did a lot of good things – facing off, team defense, clearing, and riding – [against the Quakers], offensively, we weren’t good, and that takes time.”

Danowski has preached patience with Duke’s youth, but he said solving the team’s problems will take time.

“I don’t think those questions get answered until the season is over,” he said. “The way we grade film, we were 1-for-24 in the box on offense against Penn, which is probably the worst performance since I’ve been here. So you hope that you’re better than that this week while maintaining the level of quality in the other aspects of your game. This week, it might be something different. … That’s the exciting thing about being a coach. Week to week, it’s brand new.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)

"Best goalie in the nation" label doesn't saddle Syracuse's Galloway

When pundits and analysts have been asked to list the top players in Division I, the first goalkeeper usually mentioned is Syracuse senior John Galloway.

Then again, Galloway is the only player in NCAA history to win national championships as a starter in his freshmen and sophomores years, and he became the school’s first representative to earn the Ensign C. Markland Kelly Jr. Award as the country’s best goalie.

But if you ask Galloway about earning that designation, he blocks the compliment as well as he stops shots from the alleys.

“You take pride in being able to help your team out,” he said. “Regardless of whether you’re trying to be the best clearing goalie or trying to improve your save percentage, I’ll do whatever it takes to help my team out. If it’s me saving 20 percent of my shots and we’re still winning games and they’re calling me the worst goalie in the country, if we win the national championship, that makes up for everything. My first two years here, I didn’t have the greatest numbers, but we won. And I would trade any label for a national championship.”

Statistically, Galloway enjoyed his best season last spring, registering career bests in goals-against average (7.16) and save percentage (.595) en route to propelling the Orange to a 13-2 record.

But Syracuse’s path to a potential third consecutive national title was cut short by a double-overtime loss to Army in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Although the Orange made amends by beating the Black Knights on Sunday and getting out to a 2-0 start, that setback has weighed heavily on Galloway.

“Last year was, statistically speaking, my best year, but I don’t think it was anywhere close where we wanted to be,” he said. “We saw a lot of mistakes on film, and we’re trying to make good adjustments as the years go by. Right now, we’re not very happy with the way things have been going. I could have made a lot more saves in the first two games, and this is just another chance against a great opponent in Virginia to get better.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Loyola grad Stanwick off to career start for Virginia

Steele Stanwick is off to a career start. In just four contests, the Baltimore native and Loyola graduate leads No. 2 Virginia in assists (12) and points (23) and is on pace to achieve career bests in goals (a projected 38), assists (42) and points (80).

But the junior attackman declined to say the 2011 campaign is shaping up as his best thus far.

“I think it’s a little early to say that,” he said. “Every season is different, and you can go on streaks where you score a lot, and you can definitely go on streaks where you’re not scoring a lot. I wouldn’t say that yet. But through these first four games, I’ve been pretty successful. That’s a testament to my teammates, and the offensive and defensive guys have done a great job of getting the ball back. So it’s too early to tell, but it’s definitely something that I’m happy with.”

Stanwick ranked 12th nationally in assists per game last season, but Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia said the coaches have asked Stanwick to be a little more selfish at times.

“People have an impact on the people around them, and he’s someone who is so completely selfless that I just think he makes all the people around him better,” Starsia said. “… He’s been getting a lot of points, and that’s why he’s been getting a lot of the attention, but it’s more about him elevating the people around him. We’ve actually had to impress on him to be a little more selfish as he has grown over the course of his career because his inclination isn’t necessarily to look for his own first, and the really good attackmen have got to be able to get to the edge and get their own sometimes. I think he’s come to understand that, and so he’s doing those things.”

Stanwick has been so impressive that he’s beginning to make analysts who projected that he would be in the discussion for finalists for the Tewaaraton Award look good. However, Stanwick said he hasn’t immersed himself in those conversations.

“You try not to think about that stuff, but it’s definitely awesome to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Tewaaraton,” he said. “I think it does add a little pressure, but you try not to think about that. It’s something you don’t want to think about and you want to take it one game at a time, but just to be mentioned in the same sentence as other great players in the country is an honor.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)

March 3, 2011

Bratton duo slated to suit up for Virginia vs. Syracuse

Barring an unforeseen setback, Shamel and Rhamel Bratton are expected to play for No. 2 Virginia Friday night against No. 1 Syracuse.

The senior midfielders sat out the Cavaliers’ 11-10 overtime win against No. 5 Stony Brook last Saturday for what Inside Lacrosse called a violation of team rules.

Coach Dom Starsia did not dispute that characterization, saying, “It was just that. Kids are kids, and the situation resolved itself, and they were back playing. They played Monday night against VMI, and they’re doing fine.”

The Bratton twins returned to their customary starting roles against the Keydets on Monday. Shamel Bratton recorded a goal and an assist, while Rhamel Bratton scooped up three ground balls in Virginia’s 22-6 throttling.

Starsia said the Brattons will play against the Orange. “They’re fine,” he said. “They’re ready to go.”

Syracuse senior goalie John Galloway said on Monday that the defense was game-planning for the Cavaliers with the Brattons.

“We’re preparing for them like they are,” Galloway said. “But if they don’t, they have a very talented attack and they have some midfielders, some young guys that are filling it up for them. But as of right now, we’re expecting both of them to be playing.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (2)

Palasek's slow start doesn't concern Syracuse

Tommy Palasek presumably transferred from Johns Hopkins to Syracuse for more and better opportunities.

So far, however, the junior attackman has yet to crack the starting lineup in the No. 1 Orange’s first two contests of the season. Palasek posted two assists in the team’s season-opening win against No. 18 Denver, but he was shut out in a victory over No. 13 Army on Sunday and has yet to score a goal after taking four shots.

Still, Syracuse coach John Desko said Palasek has been a valuable addition to the offense.

“He’s a pretty good dodger,” Desko said Tuesday. “Of all the attackmen, he has very good vision. He knows where other people are within the offense and on the field, which is pretty good considering that he’s only been with us for a couple months. Sometimes it takes not only getting to know the offense, but the characteristics of the other players. So I think that will even improve as the season goes on and once he becomes more and more comfortable in an orange uniform. He’s a pretty good dodger, and we can do different combinations when we put him out there with our other attackmen as far as bringing [sophomore attackman] JoJo [Marasco] to the midfield. He comes in and gives you another dodger and a good feeder. So I think people, depending on their defensive personnel, will have different thoughts if they have to switch one defenseman to a different attackman. We can invert with him and bring him in through the midfield and invert with him. He makes people come up with a game plan.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

Postscript from Gettysburg at Goucher

Life on the Goucher campus could be better, but there are two encouraging signs despite the Gophers’ 0-2 start.

The defense has surrendered just 13 goals in both losses, including just six in a two-goal loss to No. 12 Gettysburg on Wednesday at Beldon Field in Towson.

Senior Justin Dunn has been living up to his honorable-mention All-American status from a year ago, but the Gophers have been buoyed by the emergence of sophomore defensemen Bryce Carson and Paul Taylor and sophomore goalie Connor Mishaw.

Add freshman long-stick midfielder Ralph Bilotta and a pair of short-stick defensive midfielders in sophomore Tim Brashear and freshman Stephen Patterson, and it’s easy to see why coach Kyle Hannan is cautiously optimistic about that unit.

“I think our defense is playing really well right now,” he said. “Obviously, the numbers show that. And the good thing is that it’s still a very young defense. So there’s a lot of room to grow at that end of the field. We’re playing a sophomore goalie in his first year of starting, two sophomore defensemen, an all-freshmen defensive midfield. The youngest group on our team through two games has been the most successful group on the field. I’m excited about the way that they’re playing and if they continue to play like that and the offense picks it up, we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Goucher isn’t feeling so great about being mired in an 0-2 hole, but this program got off to the same start last season before ending the regular season on a 14-1 run.

“We were in this predicament last year,” junior attackman Rory Averett noted. “But it would be nice to have a win instead of being 0-2. We’ve just got to play well on Saturday [against Randolph-Macon] and hope for a win.”

Other notes:

*The Gophers got all four goals and one assist from their starting attack of juniors Kyle Boncaro and Averett and freshman George Skelos, but only a pair of assists from the starting midfield of juniors Matt Lynch and Pat Peddicord and sophomore Zach Fratella. Still, Hannan said the onus is on both the midfield and attack to work cooperatively to create scoring opportunities. “There were other times when I thought it was the other way around. The midfield was doing ok, and the attack wasn’t executing the way they should’ve,” he said. “So I don’t think you can really look at one or the other. They need to play together. There can’t be separation there. For us to win games against teams like Gettysburg, the midfield has to be on top of their game, and the attack has to be on top of their game.”

*Among the trio of Gettysburg’s top point producers is junior attackman Pat Sartory, an Ellicott City native and McDonogh graduate. Sartory, who recorded one goal and two assists in the Bullets’ win against Goucher said starting all 18 games last spring  -- a second in which he contributed 29 goals and nine assists – aided his development. “I think it’s what I expected,” Sartory said of joining senior midfielders Danno Lynch and J.C. Ward with seven points each. “The game slows down a little bit once you’ve been a starter for a year. I’ve just tried to step up and take more of a leadership role. But we have so many great guys on this team that’s it’s not really just about me.”

*The Bullets have advanced to the NCAA final three times since 2001 and are 2-1 thus far. Gettysburg gets a stiff test in No. 3 Salisbury on Saturday, but coach Hank Janczyk was encouraged by the team’s resolve in turning the 2-0 deficit against the Gophers into a 6-2 advantage. “This program has been doing pretty well for a long time, but we haven’t been playing good lacrosse yet,” Janczyk said. “… We just kept hanging in there. You’ve just got to keep believing. What do you do when things aren’t going your way? What do you do when you’re not scoring goals or you’re not playing the way you know you can play? You just keep believing, you just keep working hard, wait for things to pop, make a few changes, and then you hope for the best.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Goucher, Postscript

March 2, 2011

Maryland's Holmes, Navy's Jones, Boys' Latin grad Lyons get weekly honors

Maryland sophomore faceoff specialist Curtis Holmes was recognized by the Atlantic Coast Conference as the Defensive Player of the Week.

The Marriottsville native and McDonogh graduate won 20-of-31 faceoffs in the No. 3 Terps’ 18-5 rout of No. 14 Georgetown. Holmes, who also chipped in one goal and two assists, has won 37of-52 draws (.712) thus far.

Navy freshman attackman Sam Jones was named an honorable mention for the Patriot League’s Offensive Player of the Week award.

The Annapolis native and Severna Park graduate recorded two goals and two assists in the Midshipmen’s 10-8 loss to No. 16 North Carolina last Friday. Jones leads the team in goals with seven and is tied for the team lead in points with 10.

Alex Lyons, an Owings Mills native and Boys’ Latin graduate, earned the league’s Defensive Player of the Week honor.

The senior defenseman scooped up seven ground balls and forced three turnovers in Bucknell’s 10-8 upset of then-No. 19 Villanova on Saturday. Lyons leads the Bison in caused turnovers with five and ranks second in ground balls with nine.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Navy

Loyola-Towson game shows need for proper shooting

Towson and Loyola coaches tried to play up the Greyhounds' 3-2 win over the Tigers last Saturday as a defensive game, but it really was a snorefest because neither team could put together an offense.

 Loyola couldn't pitch and catch, and neither team could shoot. But shooting isn't just a problem for the two local teams. If you watch games around the country, the art of shooting has lost its way. The safest place for anybody is in the goal these days because most shots appear off the mark.

 Towson coach Tony Seaman has a theory that is popular among a lot of coaches, and I agree.

 "When kids today practice, they practice with their hands away from the body in shooting, because they are all trying for velocity rather than accuracy," Seaman said. "I think the way they string sticks, the bags in their sticks, prevent them from being really accurate, but they can have a lot more velocity, so they love it when the crowd goes ooooh.... They don't see what the coach is saying on the sideline.

 "It's a problem over the course of time."

Posted by Mike Preston at 11:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Towson

Gettysburg at Goucher: Three things to watch

Both teams enter the contest reeling from stunning season-opening losses. The visiting Bullets dropped six spots to No. 12 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll after falling to unranked Hampden-Sydney, 7-6. The Gophers also absorbed a 7-6 overtime setback to Washington College, a team that had won four games last season. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting.

1) The value of possessions. Goucher entered the fourth quarter against the Shoremen with a two-goal lead, but Washington collected six more ground balls in that final frame. Coach Kyle Hannan said the Gophers must protect the ball and be more opportunistic during 50-50 ground balls against Gettysburg. “I think we’re really going to have to value our possessions,” he said. “We’re going to have to be able to at least try to match possessions with Gettysburg. We can’t let them get a time-of-possession advantage on us. And I think we’re going to have to shoot the ball well to be able to score enough to stay with them, and I think our defense is going to have to play the way it did this past weekend. Very controlled, organized and well. If our goalie can save at 60 percent and we can shoot at 30 percent, we’ll be in this game.”

2) The value of faceoffs. One reason why the Bullets lost to Hampden-Sydney was that they won just 7-of-17 faceoffs. But Hannan is quick to point out that Goucher fared even worse against the Shoremen, winning just 4-of-16 faceoffs. “That’s an area where I knew going into the season, we were really going to have to work on and improve and develop a faceoff guy,” Hannan said. “I hope we do well. I do know Gettysburg’s faceoff guy [senior Matt Griffo], and we went against him last year, and I do think he’s solid. Hampden-Sydney’s just fortunate where they have a very strong faceoff specialist. I would love to do well, but we need to do a few other things to make up for the faceoff if we don’t.”

3) The value of experience. The Gophers have the luxury of depending on five returning offensive players from last year’s team that captured the Landmark Conference tournament and qualified for the NCAA tournament for first time in the program’s history. But Gettysburg returns seven starters who played significant minutes on the 2009 squad that advanced to the national title game. “Gettysburg will be back in the top five in the next few weeks,” Hannan said. “A loss early will do that. You can drop pretty quick. But one of their real positives is that they have a lot of seniors that play for them .their whole first midfield is seniors, and their starting defense is all seniors. They really have some seasoned players on the field, so they are really organized and confident as a group. That’s what makes them a very good lacrosse team.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Goucher, Three things to watch

Penn downplaying season-opening win vs. Duke

Penn certainly opened some eyes by upending reigning national champion Duke last Saturday, but Quakers coach Mike Murphy is making sure that the players and coaches are remaining grounded.

“It’s not like we set a season goal back in September to beat Duke,” Murphy said Tuesday before No. 12 Penn played host to No. 20 Bucknell that evening. “I think it gets them some recognition because of the season they [the Blue Devils] had last year and the type of institution they are. But I think the only value beyond us getting to 1-0 is we probably worked a little bit harder in the offseason and did some things differently and it probably validates some of the changes we made. But other than that, we haven’t made this into an end-all, be-all win or anything more significant than hopefully beating Bucknell tonight.”

Murphy added a little later, “It could [set the tone], but – I’m not trying to minimize it and Duke is a fantastic program – literally all it is, is we’re 1-0. If we end up winning 10 games, it’s one of 10. If we think that we’re great and we lose tonight and we lose a couple more in a row, then it hasn’t helped us at all really. It was one day in the season. It was a good game, we played pretty well, and we played very well in some areas. If we can correct the mistakes and build on some of the things we did well and be a better team, then I think it will have served as a very valuable steppingstone. And if we’re not mature enough to handle some success, then it will be a step backwards.”

The Quakers still have a schedule littered with potential landmines in No. 16 North Carolina (on March 8), No. 2 Virginia (April 30) and an Ivy League lineup that includes No. 8 Princeton (March 19) and No. 6 Cornell (March 26).

Curiously, Murphy said he has been inundated with questions about the team’s tough schedule.

“I don’t see any reason why, if given the opportunity, we wouldn’t play this schedule,” he said. “Everybody in our program is highly competitive, and you want to play the best teams. That’s going to be a better game than some other games for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated in November or December, but when your first game is against an established program like Duke, I think it’s a little bit easier. So that was clearly part of the thought process. And playing good teams raises the level of our expectations as a program. It helps in the recruiting, it helps in terms of the overall body of work at the end if we consider ourselves to be in pursuit of an NCAA tournament berth. There’s no reason not to play this. I don’t understand why I’ve had to answer this question, to be honest with you. Alums have been telling me, ‘Oh, brutal schedule.’ [I say,] ‘Well, hold on a second. It’s only brutal if you’re going to lose all these games.’ We don’t recruit or work in a manner that’s going to set us up for mediocrity. It just kind of fits in with everything that we’re doing.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)

Princeton could meet Johns Hopkins without McBride duo

Less than a week after No. 2 Virginia was forced to play against No. 5 Stony Brook without senior midfielders Shamel and Rhamel Bratton, Princeton could be in a similar pinch regarding Jack and Chris McBride.

The availability of the senior attackmen, who are cousins, for Saturday’s contest against No. 9 Johns Hopkins is unclear as both are nursing injuries. Chris McBride sat out the No. 8 Tigers’ 11-9 loss to No. 7 Hofstra last Saturday, and Jack McBride was forced to the sideline late in the game.

On Tuesday, coach Chris Bates characterized Chris McBride’s status as “to be determined.”

“He’s getting back out there,” continued Bates, who declined to elaborate on McBride’s injury. “We’re hopeful, but we just have to be cautiously optimistic. ... He is [back at practice], but it’s not full-go yet. So time will tell.”

Bates was similarly tight-lipped about Jack McBride’s injury, saying, “Not sure there either. That’s a little bit touch-and-go, and he’s to be determined as well. So I don’t know either way.”

Last season, Jack McBride (35 goals and 16 assists last spring), Rob Engelke (17, 21) and Chris McBride (16, 8) led the attack. With Engelke having graduated and Chris McBride out, Princeton started sophomores Forrest Sonnenfeldt and Luke Armour alongside Jack McBride, and junior Cliff Larkin got extended playing time, too.

Sonnenfeldt scored three goals, and Armour added two assists in the setback to the Pride, and Bates said the team is confident that that duo and Larkin could fill the void created by the McBrides’ absence.

“The three guys, Forrest, Luke and Cliff Larkin, have really had great falls and great preseason camps,” Bates said. “They’re learning by fire to some degree because now they’re being asked to play that many more minutes. I think that had an impact on the game. I think Forrest came out and played well early, and then in the second half, I don’t think we played as well or as experienced when we needed to in terms of our execution. Those guys have got to grow up quickly in order for us to be successful.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins

March 1, 2011

Loyola's Hagelin, Salisbury's Tokosch earn weekly honors

Loyola’s Jake Hagelin was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week Monday.

The senior goalkeeper surrendered just two goals in the No. 11 Greyhounds’ one-goal win against Towson last Saturday. The Havre de Grace native and Boys’ Latin graduate made six saves and was part of a defensive effort that gave up just eight shots on net and 21 overall. 

Salisbury’s Collin Tokosch was selected by the Capital Athletic Conference as that league’s Defensive Player of the Week.

The senior defenseman tied a career high with five caused turnovers and collected three ground balls in the No. 3 Sea Gulls’ 7-4 win against Washington & Lee last Wednesday. The Arnold native and Broadneck graduate has helped the defense allow an average of 3.7 goals per game thus far.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, Salisbury

Goucher not panicking yet

For a team that qualified for its first NCAA tournament last year, Saturday’s season-opening 7-6 overtime loss to Washington College was a less-than-ideal beginning for Goucher.

But before Gophers fans start hyperventilating, understand that Goucher lost to the Shoremen by the same score in the last February’s season opener.

“We’re definitely not pressing the panic button yet,” coach Kyle Hannan said confidently Monday. “There were some very good things that we got out of that Washington game, and we also saw some areas that we really have to focus on and get better. But I think there are a lot of teams in our position right now. When you’re playing games in February, there are going to be some things that you need to improve on, and I think we will. I’m still excited about our group. I think we’re going to win a lot of lacrosse games this year. It’s just a matter of getting that chemistry, finding an identity and understanding who we are. The more we play, I think we’re going to be in good shape.”

The Gophers’ task doesn’t get easier with No. 12 Gettysburg scheduled to visit Beldon Field on Wednesday. The Bullets – who have made three championship final appearances, including in 2009 – are reeling from a 7-6 upset by Hampden-Sydney last Saturday.

Hannan said he’s expecting a motivated Gettysburg team on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we’re catching them at a good time,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s the old saying, ‘Pull an angry tiger by the tail.’ Hampden-Sydney just pulled an angry tiger by the tail and made them more mad. I’m sure they realize that looking forward, they play [No. 3] Salisbury on Saturday, which is a very traditional game for them, and they’re certainly going to want to go into Salisbury with some momentum. So I think that them losing on Saturday just puts more of a priority of them playing well and trying to beat Goucher.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Goucher

Washington kicks off season in right direction

Washington College quickly distanced itself from a 2010 season of inner turmoil, injuries and unmet expectations with a 7-6 overtime win against Goucher in the season opener for both teams last Saturday.

For a team that went 4-10 last spring, the victory over an NCAA tournament participant last year was a significant step forward for the Shoremen.

“I think it’s a huge win for us,” coach Jeff Shirk said Monday. “I think it’s a big confidence builder. I think it’s huge in us taking the steps to get back on track. I know that going into the game and watching film, we had our concerns because Goucher is a talented team, and they returned most of their talent from last year. … So it was one of those things where we weren’t real sure going into it. And then we found out, ‘Hey, we can hang with a very good team.’ So I think it was a big win.”

Washington trailed by three goals with 3:47 left in the third quarter before tying the score with 9:59 left in the regulation. Senior midfielder Doug Herdegen’s goal 1:25 into overtime capped an emotional rally that brought out the team’s newly-instilled determination.

“I knew that they had it in them, and we’ve really kind of been shoving it down their throats, too,” Shirk said. “It’s more about how hard you work and work ethic and how you’re going to have to stick with it. We’ve been really pushing that, and so I know that they’ve gotten that a lot, but Saturday was when I saw it click. … We made our mistakes, and there are things that we did in that game that we need to correct if we’re going to win the next one. But the guys played hard, they stuck together, and they just kept at it. I think it was a good learning experience to where it validated what we had been talking about to them.”

The Shoremen still have a long road ahead of them. They have regular-season contests against Salisbury, ranked No. 3 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, and No. 17 Cabrini and a schedule against Centennial Conference foes that includes No. 8 Haverford, No. 12 Gettysburg and No. 16 Dickinson.

Still, Shirk is hopeful that team can use Saturday’s win as a springboard.

“No one plays a perfect game, but you can still come out on top if you stick to it and you stick to what you do well,” he said. “I do think this will help set the tone and get guys excited about our philosophy of playing hard and sticking together, and at the end of the day, that’s going to allow us to have a chance to win it.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Washington

Ford makes splash in debut for Stevenson

It took a little while, but Richie Ford finally got approval from the NCAA for a fifth year of eligibility. Demonstrating why the attackman for Stevenson is one of the offense’s top players took even less time.

Ford, who registered 57 goals and 35 assists last season, posted three goals and one assist in his debut in the No. 2 Mustangs’ 19-5 demolition of Kean last Saturday. His presence injected his teammates with a little adrenaline, coach Paul Cantabene said.

“We were pretty excited about Richie’s return,” Cantabene said Monday. “He’s been a big part of our program over the last couple of years, and they’re excited to have him back. It was good to get him out there and shake off the rust a little bit. Everybody’s got two games on him, so it took him a little while to get into the flow, but he got three goals and an assist, which is great. But it was good to have him. He’s such a good player that he just adds another weapon to the number of good players we have already.”

Ford notched all four of his points during an 11-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, overcoming a slow start.

“I think early on, he was out there and trying to do some things where his skills weren’t quite up to par just yet,” Cantabene said. “He hasn’t been practicing that much. But once he got going and once he got back into it a little bit, you could really see that he was getting back to his old self.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Stevenson
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