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April 30, 2011

Loyola at Johns Hopkins: Halftime thoughts

Johns Hopkins has seized control of what began as a tight contest, taking advantage of a 3-0 run to end the second quarter and take a 6-3 lead into halftime against Loyola at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday.

The No. 18 Greyhounds (8-3) took a 1-0 lead after senior attackman Chris Palmer scored 6 minutes, 46 seconds into the first quarter, and both sides traded goals until the score was 3-3 with 9:14 left in the second period.

But the No. 4 Blue Jays (10-2) got goals from sophomore midfielder John Ranagan, freshman midfielder Rob Guida and sophomore midfielder Lee Coppersmith over a span of 3:08 to take the three-goal advantage into intermission.

Johns Hopkins is virtually assured of a spot in the NCAA tournament. Loyola will be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament at Denver on Thursday night, but a win against the Blue Jays could strengthen the school’s candidacy for an at-large bid.

Other notes:

*Ranagan leads all scorers with two goals, and sophomore midfielder John Greeley has recorded two points on a goal and an assist. All six of Johns Hopkins’ goals have been scored by either sophomores or freshmen. Senior attackmen Chris Boland, the team leader in goals (26), and Kyle Wharton, second in goals (22), have been shut out by senior defenseman Steve Dircks and sophomore defenseman Reid Acton, respectively.

*Palmer, senior midfielder D.J. Comer and sophomore midfielder Davis Butts have scored the Greyhounds’ goals. But sophomore attackman Mike Sawyer, the team leader in both goals (26) and points (31), and senior attackman Matt Langan, the leader in assists (16) have been silenced by sophomore defenseman Tucker Durkin and freshman defenseman Jack Reilly, respectively.

*Johns Hopkins senior Matt Dolente has outdueled senior John Schiavone, winning 7-of-11 faceoffs. Blue Jays sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett has turned aside six shots, while Loyola senior Jake Hagelin has posted five saves.

*The Blue Jays lead in several key categories including ground balls (17-11) and shots (15-11). The Greyhounds have committed nine turnovers to Johns Hopkins’ six.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Johns Hopkins, Loyola
        

Loyola at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

The rivalry between these Charles Street programs resumes, but the scales have been severely in favor of Johns Hopkins, which is 45-3 in this series. No. 18 Loyola (8-3) is riding a five-game winning streak after enduring a three-game skid in an eight-day span in March. Meanwhile, the No. 4 Blue Jays (10-2) has also won five consecutive games after dropping a 5-4 double-overtime decision to then-No. 1 Syracuse on March 19. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Slowing down Dolente. Johns Hopkins has demonstrated a knack for turning a defensive stop or turnover or a faceoff win into a transition opportunity. That latter scenario has caught the attention of the Greyhounds, who hope that senior faceoff specialist John Schiavone (107-of-191 for ..560) can neutralize Blue Jays senior Matt Dolente (138-of-206 for .670). “I think you’ve got to have the ball, to start,” Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. “I’m not going to say that we’re going to slow the tempo of the game down because right now, we need to score goals when we have those opportunities, and if it dictates that we’ve got to play fast, then that’s what we need to do. I really believe that the difference for Johns Hopkins over the last two months has been that Dolente has really come on. He’s a real force at the X, and he’s giving them possessions. … We know we’ve got our hands full.”

2) Sleeping on Loyola’s transition. As Toomey said, the Greyhounds aren’t afraid to move quickly from defense to offense, and if the situation presents itself, they will press their advantage in the offensive end. A pair of sophomores in long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff and short-stick defensive midfielder Josh Hawkins are especially dangerous when collecting turnovers or outlet passes, which is why Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala is on high alert. “Do I think they’re a run-up-and-down team? No,” Pietramala said. “But when given the opportunity – whether it’s off of a save or a loose ball or a faceoff – they are a team that will look to push it. I think they’re tremendously dangerous in those areas.”

3) Getting production from Loyola’s midfield. The Greyhounds offense relies heavily on the attack of sophomore Mike Sawye (26 goals and five assists), senior Matt Langan (14, 16), senior Chris Palmer (9, 1) and sophomore Patrick Fanshaw (12, 3). But Loyola will need contributions from the midfield to pull off the upset. “We feel like we can share the ball at attack and get a couple points, but our challenge – still – is that we need our middies to step up, to draw a slide,” Toomey said. “And if they don’t draw a slide, to finish the ball.” Pietramala said he’s not overlooking Loyola’s starting midfield of senior Chris Basler (4, 12), sophomore Davis Butts (7, 3) and senior Stephen Murray (7, 1). “While people statistically may not look at the middies as they do at the attack, the middies do a lot of legwork for this team,” Pietramala said. “They’re very good between the boxes. They’re good in the big-little pick game. They’re good at drawing a slide. I do think they do more for the offense than meets the eye.”

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

Coaches at Johns Hopkins and Loyola praise the Dwan brothers

Friday’s edition of The Sun included a feature on the relationship between Bill and Matt Dwan, who are the respective defensive coordinators for Johns Hopkins and Loyola.

Bill Dwan has been by coach Dave Pietramala’s side since 2001, and Pietramala said there’s a reason why Dwan is the associate head coach.

“I think Bill Dwan is a guy that’s very, very underappreciated,” Pietramala said. “I say that because he is a guy that has no desire to get credit. He is a guy that thrives on being in the background. He is a guy that will make a tremendous head coach when that time comes. But he means more to this program than anybody has any clue.”

Pietramala said one of Dwan’s essential qualities is his ability to gauge Pietramala’s demeanor and take the opposite approach. That would seem to be beneficial considering that Pietramala is not shy about sharing his thoughts with the players when mistakes are made.

Pietramala also said that while the team is getting ready for the next opponent, Dwan is in charge of scouting the opponent after that. That worked well in 2007 when the Blue Jays limited Delaware faceoff specialist Alex Smith, NCAA record holder in several categories, to just 7-of-15 wins in an NCAA tournament semifinal.

“It was interesting to see how his percentages varied when he faced a higher-quality opponent,” Pietramala said of Smith. “His percentages were good – don’t get me wrong – but they weren’t as strong, which allowed us to decide that instead of conceding or trying to be defensive against Alex Smith, we decided to challenge him. So many other teams that played against him knew he was so talented that they just decided to say, ‘You know what? We’re going to try to avoid giving him a fastbreak. So we’ll get back in and play defense.’ Bill’s breakdown of those stats was critical to the decision that our staff made in regards to facing off.”

Similarly, the Greyhounds have valued the presence of Matt Dwan, who has spent eight seasons on the same sideline as coach Charley Toomey. Toomey said Dwan has a knack for connecting with the players, who frequent his office nearly as often as they visit the dining hall.

“Matt is a guy who has got great rapport with our locker room, and the guys enjoy being around him,” Toomey said. “He’s a wonderful person. He’s a great mentor to the athletes in our locker room. He’s a confidante. He’s a guy who you know is going to give you an honest answer every time you go into his office. It’s very rare that a guy who was such a terrific player can explain to others and really educate to the kids in our locker room how to do the things that we’re asking them to do.”

Dwan’s expertise proved valuable in Loyola’s 7-6 overtime win against Fairfield on April 9. Despite Toomey’s wish to assign sophomore long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff to shadow Sam Snow, Dwan convinced Toomey to have Ratliff mark Brent Adams, who posed a bigger threat as a feeder. (Adams registered just one point in that game.)

“When we get together, very rarely are we differing on an opinion,” Toomey said. “But when we do, nine times out of 10, I’m going with what Matt says because it tends to make more sense than what my opinion was.”

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

April 29, 2011

S.Bratton dismissed from Virginia program

Shocking news out of Charlottesville, Va.: senior midfielder Shamel Bratton has been dismissed from the Virginia lacrosse program.

In a three-paragraph release posted on the school’s website, Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia announced that Bratton had been asked to leave for a violation of team policies.

“I want to wish Shamel the very best in his future endeavors,” Starsia said in the release. “He has made many contributions to the program. At the same time, there are standards of behavior within the framework of the team that we expect to be met by all of our student-athletes. Failure to do so on a consistent basis has resulted in the loss of the privilege of being a member of this team.”

Bratton will finish his career at Virginia as the program’s all-time leading midfielder in points with 129. This season, he ranked fourth on the team in goals with 20 and points with 28.

Additionally, The Daily Progress in Charlottesville is reporting that Bratton’s twin brother has been suspended indefinitely. Rhamel Bratton currently ranks fifth in goals with 17 and points with 22.

The Bratton twins joined the Cavaliers prior to the 2008 season as perhaps two of the most celebrated midfielders in recent memory due to their athleticism and prowess in the sport. Shamel Bratton is a two-time first-team All American, while Rhamel Bratton was a second-team All American.

But Virginia hasn’t won a national championship since 2006. And the Brattons have had a rocky season. They were suspended for the team’s third game of the season against Stony Brook on Feb. 26 for a violation of team policies, and Shamel Bratton was suspended for the same reason and did not play against Maryland on April 2.

Starsia did not return a request for comment.

The Cavaliers (8-5) are ranked ninth according to The Sun, but has lost four of its last five contests. They play host to No. 16 Penn on Saturday before turning their attention to the NCAA tournament. The field for the tournament will be announced on May 8.

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:11 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Area players contributing to Lehigh's first Patriot League tournament in five years

Lehigh will make its first appearance since 2006 in the Patriot League tournament, which begins Friday. The fourth-seeded Mountain Hawks, who will face top-seeded Bucknell, have been buoyed by the play of several players with ties to the area.

Junior attackman Adam Johnston, a Street native and St. Paul’s graduate, ranks second on the team in goals (25) and fourth in points (27).

Senior midfielder Jonathan Stumpf, an Ellicott City native and Centennial graduate, is fourth in assists (10) and fifth in points (25).

Sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Brian Hess, an Owings Mills native and McDonogh graduate, ranks fifth on the team in ground balls (28) and has registered three goals and one assist. Freshman defenseman Sam Cunard, an Edgewater native and South River graduate, has played in nine game, including one start.

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

UMBC has another reason for taking care of business on Saturday

UMBC owns a 5-2 advantage in its series with America East foe Hartford, but snapping a two-game losing skid to the Hawks isn’t the only driving force for the Retrievers at Al-Marzook Field in Connecticut on Saturday.

If Hartford wins, the Hawks (8-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference) would earn the No. 2 seed, while UMBC (6-5, 3-1) would get the No. 3 seed due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. That would mean Hartford would serve as host in an America East tournament semifinal on Wednesday night against – surprise – the Retrievers.

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman acknowledged that avoiding a return trip to Connecticut in a span of four days should serve as inspiration this weekend.

“I think first and foremost, we want to go up there and play our best lacrosse,” he said Thursday. “Obviously, any team wants to play at home versus on the road. So I’m sure there are some motivational factors there.”

If the Retrievers win, they get the No. 2 seed and would welcome Binghamton to UMBC Stadium on Wednesday night with a potential rematch with top-seeded Stony Brook in the tournament final on Saturday. But Zimmerman said the team can’t afford to get caught up in possible scenarios.

“To tell you the truth, I’m not getting too wrapped up in it,” he said. “We’ve been doing this all year, and we’ve been taking it one at a time. So our focus is we have to be ready to go up and play Hartford at their home. It’s their Senior Night, and I know they’re putting a lot into this game. Certainly, they’re going to give us everything we can handle. So that’s where our focus is.”

The Hawks have lost three of their last four contests, but with Saturday being the regular-season finale, possibly the last home game of the season, and the night to honor the team’s seniors, Hartford figures to be chomping at the bit to play.

Zimmerman said he and the coaching staff will make sure to remind the UMBC players of what they could be facing on Saturday night.

“We’ll tell our guys that we have to be ready to go up and play in front of an enthusiastic Hartford crowd,” he said. “It’s a night game, so we have to be able to handle our schedule on Saturday and stay focused throughout the day. And we have to be able to go up there and play with poise and discipline and make our best effort in playing our best lacrosse and give it our best shot. That’s what you’re going to have to do.”

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

Maryland looking forward to brief respite

No. 6 Maryland will have 13 days between capturing its first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament crown since 2005 last Sunday and wrapping up the regular-season finale against Colgate on May 7.

Normally, that kind of layoff would concern coach John Tillman, but he said the time off could benefit the Terps.

“We hate to get out of rhythm,” he acknowledged Wednesday. “You kind of get into a routine, you kind of get into a rhythm, I think the kids have some confidence, and maybe we can continue going on that. But I think given how hard we’ve been going and the fact that we had two games [last weekend], Ryan’s situation and that we’re hitting exams in a week-and-a-half, we kind of feel like this is coming at the right time for us. This allows us to take a little bit of a deep breath and step away a little bit. … We’re going to rest up a little bit, get our legs back and kind of get mentally refreshed and recharged, and I think we need that right now.”

Maryland began the week by traveling to New York to attend the funeral of Maria Young, the mother of senior attackman Ryan Young who died on April 17 after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. The entire coaching staff wore purple shirts during the team’s 11-9 win against No. 7 Duke in the tournament final to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer, and almost every Terps fan and parent also wore purple to honor the memory of Maria Young.

“Sunday was kind of whirlwind with getting back sometime after midnight and then making sure that everybody was dressed and ready to go at 7 a.m.,” Tillman said. “It was a fast turnaround, and I think everybody was pretty tired. But everybody wanted to be there to support Ryan and his family, and nobody thought twice about it. … The Young family did an excellent job, and I think that’s what Maria Young wanted, to make sure that it was a celebration of Maria’s life. The whole experience was very positive. I think we were able to acknowledge what an incredible person she was and the sacrifices that she had made and the courage she had shown. I think she had inspired every single person that was there.”

Despite the Terps’ victorious run through the ACC tournament, a projected bracket (or two) for the NCAA tournament has suggested that the team might not get one of the top eight seeds, which guarantees a first-round game at home. But Tillman shrugged off that possibility.

“I kind of learned a long time ago that the committee is going to be really qualified and that they will take all of the information and make the best decision possible with that information,” he said. “We had an opportunity to win every single game on our schedule, and we didn’t. I’m very pleased that we won the last two, and I think our kids deserve the credit for that. Whatever the committee gives us, we’re going to do. Any time that we spend trying to figure all that stuff out is time that can be spent making our team better. That’s sounds like a real generic, politically correct answer, but no one has any idea what’s going to happen. We feel like there’s a strong chance that we’re going to be in it, and if you get in it and you can win four games, you can do something incredibly special. So as long as we get in there, whatever happens, happens.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland
        

April 28, 2011

Stevenson's Dailey named CAC Player of the Year

Attackman Jimmy Dailey headlined a group of seven Stevenson players to be named to the Capital Athletic Conference first and second teams, the league announced Wednesday.

Dailey, a senior from Westminster who graduated from Winters Mill, is the first Mustang to capture the Player of the Year honors, breaking Salisbury’s 16-year stranglehold on the award. Dailey, who leads Division III in points per game (5.9) and total assists (51), is a four-time first-team selection and a former Rookie of the Year in 2007.

Freshman long-stick midfielder Ryan Rubenstein shares the Rookie of the Year award with Frostburg State attackman Ryan Serio. Hood coach Jeremy Mattoon shares Coach of the Year honors with Mary Washington’s Kurt Glaeser. Mattoon guided the Blazers to their first berth in the CAC tournament.

Joining Dailey on the first team are senior attackman Neal Barthelme, senior midfielder Kyle Moffitt, senior defenseman Evan Douglass and senior faceoff specialist Ray Witte.

Salisbury, which defeated Stevenson for the Capital Athletic Conference tournament championship on Saturday, put six players on the first team. They are: junior midfielder Sam Bradman, junior attackman Matt Cannone, senior midfielder Shawn Zordani, senior defensemen Nick Mooney and Collin Tokosch and senior goalkeeper Johnny Rodriguez.

St. Mary’s is represented on the first team by senior attackman Dennis Rosson and junior long-stick midfielder Peter Windsor.

The Sea Gulls placed four players in junior attackmen Erik Krum and Tony Mendes, junior long-stick midfielder Andrew Sellers and sophomore faceoff specialist Tyler Granelli on the second team.

Those Salisbury players were joined by Mustangs senior defenseman Kyle Menendez and freshman midfielder Tony Rossi and Seahawks junior defenseman Eric Heisner.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hood, Salisbury, St. Mary's, Stevenson
        

Potential dilemma awaits Syracuse

No. 3 Syracuse seems to have survived a minor hiccup, winning three consecutive games after falling, 11-6, to No. 2 Cornell on April 12, and the Orange (12-1) has done so by relying on Tom Palasek.

The junior attackman, who transferred from Johns Hopkins in the offseason, has totaled seven goals and five assists in four starts. Palasek’s three-goal, three-assist performance in the team’s 12-2 victory over Rutgers on Saturday earned him Big East honors as the Offensive Player of the Week.

Palasek has been starting because redshirt junior Tim Desko.had an infection in his knee and had to have the knee drained. Coach John Desko said his son could return in a week or two.

Until then, Palasek will join senior Stephen Keogh and sophomore JoJo Marasco as starters, but Desko wouldn’t commit to Palasek when Tim Desko is healthy enough to play.

“I’ll just kind of wing it,” John Desko said. “Where it has hurt us is, when we had Tommy coming in, he wasn’t coming in for Tim or Keogh. He was coming in for Marasco, and we were bumping Marasco into the midfield. So with Tim being out, that really hurt our depth in the midfield, and we’ve really been searching for that second group in the midfield.”

Senior defenseman and Tewaaraton Award candidate John Lade returned after missing just two starts with a high left ankle sprain, and Desko estimated that Lade’s ankle is about 95 percent healthy.

“It was good that we got him back against Hobart to run two or three quarters and get him out for that one,” Desko said. “So he’s pretty close to being 100 percent.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (2)
        

Mount St. Mary's gets perfect performance from Trapp

En route to going a perfect 21-for-21 on faceoffs last Saturday, Mount St. Mary’s senior Ben Trapp didn’t treat his performance the way a pitcher might in the midst of throwing a no-hitter. In fact, Trapp said he was well aware of what he was on the cusp of achieving.

“We kind of keep track throughout the game,” he said Wednesday. “It’s kind of been one of our goals this year to win 55 percent. So we keep close track of statistics. … People on the sidelines will ask. They’ll be up-to-date on what’s going on. It’s not like I’m going to be jinxed or anything like that.”

The Timonium native and Dulaney graduate’s showing in the team’s 22-5 rout of Wagner edged the previous school record of 20 faceoffs wins shared by Kyle Daddio in 2007 and Steve Kelly in 2003. It also tied the second-best mark in NCAA history set by Delaware’s Alex Smith in 2006. (The NCAA record of 25-of-25 was set by Sacred Heart’s Zach Smith in 2007.)

While he was aware of his performance that day, Trapp said he didn’t know about the school or NCAA records until after the contest.

“I honestly didn’t know what the record was, but I wanted to win every single one,” he said. “I had never had a game where I had gone 100 percent. That’s really what I was going for. I didn’t know if I was going to break a record, but my first goal was to get 100 percent.”

Trapp, who ranks 13th in Division I with a career-high 59.4 success rate (171-of-288), credited his success this season to daily battles with his teammates in practice.

“Our goal is to push each other every day,” he said. “Guys have their own specialties, and they bring those to the table so that we can get prepared for whoever we go against. I owe a lot of my success to the backups. They push me really hard.”

Trapp said Saturday’s performance gives him confidence, but he also understands that a tougher opponent waits this Saturday when fifth-year senior Trever Sipperly and Bryant visit Waldron Family Stadium. Sipperly ranks 12th in the country with a 59.9 faceoff percentage (166-of-277).

“He’ll be a good opponent, and I’m always excited to go against good faceoff guys,” Trapp said. “I’m confident, but it doesn’t make me practice less.”

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

Unproductive stretch never worried Maryland's Catalino

Grant Catalino broke out of what some might consider a mini-slump at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last weekend, but the Maryland senior attackman said he never considered that he was mired in a slump.

“Not at all,” he said. “The way our team is playing right now, anybody can have a big game. We’re not a one player-dominated team. I don’t necessarily have to score four goals in a game or have five points for our team to win. Players like [junior midfielder] Joe Cummings and [senior attackman] Ryan Young have been playing pretty big, and they’ve taken the pressure off of me to have a huge game in every game for us to win.”

Catalino scored the game-winning goal in the No. 6 Terps’ 7-6 win against No. 8 North Carolina on Friday and three goals in an 11-9 victory over No. 7 Duke on Sunday. He is now tied with Cummings for the team lead in goals (24) and ranks second in points (32).

Prior to the ACC tournament, Catalino had totaled just two goals and one assist in three contests. Opposing defenses have taken great pains to monitor Catalino, the team’s leading scorer in each of the three previous seasons.

“Some games, they shut me off or make it hard for me to get the ball or make it hard for me to get my hands free for a shot,” he said. “It’s not as easy as it was in the beginning of the year.”

Catalino said he’s not frustrated by that strategy, saying, “It’s not like it’s the first time it’s ever happened. You’ve just got to be patient. You know your shots will come, and when you get them, you’ve got to can them.”

Maryland coach John Tillman, who defended Catalino last week, said the attackman has learned not to press.

“During the course of a game, he’s going to get his opportunities,” Tillman said. “I think what Grant has learned over the years is to let the game come to him a little bit more and then maximize his opportunities when he gets them. He’s really matured in that way, and he’s a very selfless guy. He’s doesn’t define himself by how many points he gets. He just feels that he has a responsibility to help us win, and by being an offensive player who can score some goals, that’s really going to help the team. But he also realizes that if he can put his teammates in a better position and they can score, he’s just as happy for them and for our team.”

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

April 27, 2011

Familiar territory within reach for Goucher

Goucher is on the cusp of cementing its third consecutive year as the top seed with home-field advantage in the Landmark Conference tournament. It’s all part of a master plan laid out by the players and coach Kyle Hannan.

“I think the big thing is, that’s a goal that we’ve set,” Hannan said Tuesday. “At the beginning of the year, we said that we wanted to win 10 games, and Saturday [vs. Drew] would be our 10th win. We want to be the No. 1 seed in the Landmark playoffs, and we can accomplish that goal on Saturday. And then we want to win the Landmark championship. That’s a little bit further down the road if we’re able to win on Saturday.”

The Gophers, who are 9-5 overall, have the same 3-1 mark in the Landmark as Catholic, but Goucher own the tiebreaker after edging the Cardinals, 11-9, on April 17. The Gophers could have clinched top seed and home-field advantage last Saturday, but they were surprised by Scranton in a 9-8 decision in overtime.

The loss was a setback, but Hannan said he wasn’t concerned that it could carry over into this Saturday.

“You never want to lose games, especially when you work as hard as our guys do and prepare the way that they do,” he said. But once the loss happens and the sting wears off and you’re able to think through it logically, it was a loss, but I think – in the long run – it could end up being a loss that can push us forward. Yesterday’s practice was much more focused and intense than it’s been in three weeks because we had won for three straight weeks. Sometimes athletes can know where they are and get a little complacent, and that could’ve been happening with our group. To see the way they came out and responded yesterday with the energy that they had and the focus, in a way, it could’ve been a blessing in terms of getting the guys back on top and understanding what they need to do to be able to win games in the Landmark.”

The Gophers won’t get an easy opponent in the Rangers (8-5, 2-2), who are vying with Susquehanna (9-5, 2-2) and Scranton (6-7, 2-2) for two berths in the conference tournament.

“We’re 19-3 against Landmark opponents since the Landmark was formed [for the 2008 season],” Hannan said. “The only two teams that have beaten us are Scranton – in overtime twice – and Drew. So Drew does have a win against us, and they’re capable of beating Goucher. They’ve proven that, and they have the talent this year to do it. So we just have to make sure that we’re ready to play.”

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

Out for rest of 2011, Loyola's Lusby to seek redshirt for 2012

Senior Eric Lusby will sit out the rest of this season and seek a medical waiver to retain a year of eligibility for next season, Loyola coach Charley Toomey confirmed Tuesday.

Lusby registered 20 goals and five assists as a junior, but he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the team’s 11-10 triple overtime loss to Cornell in the first round of the NCAA tournament last May.

“They say it’s a year[-long] injury,” Toomey said. “Everybody has told me that to be at full strength, it takes a year. Some kids are able to come back and rehab it and come back a little sooner, but Eric’s been dealing with some things.”

A Severna Park native who also graduated from Severna Park, Lusby was moved from the midfield to attack to reduce stress on the surgically-repaired knee, but he could only play in two games.

“We’re anticipating that he’s going to redshirt,” Toomey said. “He’s still working out with the trainers. He’s obviously a shot that we’ve missed all season long. But he goes out and jogs on a daily basis and is being looked at.”

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

Mount St. Mary's to host Northeast Conference tournament

Mount St. Mary’s season-long mission to capture the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the Northeast Conference tournament was accomplished last Saturday – and a measure of thanks goes to Bryant.

The Mountaineers’ 22-5 rout of Wagner coupled with the Bulldogs’ 16-15 loss to Robert Morris helped Mount St. Mary’s (7-5 overall and 4-0 in the NEC) clinch the top seed and home-field advantage in the conference tournament. Sports information director Mark Vandergrift informed the players and coach Tom Gravante of the development moments after the victory over Wagner.

“We thank them for that,” Gravante said Tuesday. “… That’s the first time in my career that something like that has ever happened. Usually, in the MAAC [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference], it always went down to the final game. … It was wonderful to hear, and I just hope we keep their heads grounded as well as their feet because we still have a job to do.”

The Mountaineers will be able to express their gratitude to Bryant personally when the Bulldogs visit Waldron Family Stadium in Emmittsburg this Saturday. Bryant (7-8, 2-2) can cement a spot in the four-team NEC tournament with a win against Mount St. Mary’s or a loss by Sacred Heart (4-8, 1-3) to Robert Morris (8-5, 2-2) on Saturday.

The Bulldogs can finish no higher than the No. 3 seed. If they are the No. 4 seed, they would meet the Mountaineers again in the tournament semifinal round next Friday.

“We may have to play Bryant back-to-back,” Gravante noted. “So I think this is a real key game to put the monkey on their backs.”

Gravante said he intends to keep the heat on the players to prevent them from easing up on the Bulldogs.

“I want to make them angry,” he said. “I want them to be angry on Senior Day and to also play with poise and swagger, but to really focus on beating this team down because we want to put their backs against the wall and make sure they know who’s in charge here.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's
        

April 26, 2011

Navy's Hull named Patriot League Rookie of the Year

Navy may have had a lackluster season, but at least the program can boast an individual honor.

Freshman attackman Tucker Hull was voted as the Patriot League’s Rookie of the Year. Hull tied classmate Sam Jones for the team lead in goals (23), assists (15) and points (38) this season. Hull’s 2.92 points per game tied for seventh in the conference.

The Midshipmen placed two players – senior midfielder Andy Warner and senior defenseman Michael Hirsch – on the league’s first team.

Warner, who was named to the second team last spring, finished the season first in assists (21) and third in points (33), and his 1.8 assists per game ranked third in the Patriot League.

Hirsch, a repeat first-team selection, led Navy in caused turnovers (17) as he also collected 21 ground balls.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy
        

Towson looking to avoid history

Towson is on pace for a few firsts this season – and none of the feel-good variety.

Saturday’s 13-9 loss to Drexel saddled the Tigers with their 10th loss of the year, which is the most under coach Tony Seaman in the regular season (Colonial Athletic Association and NCAA tournaments not included).

The six-game losing skid is the program’s longest since 1982, and a setback to St. Joseph’s on Saturday night in the regular season finale at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson would match the longest losing streak in school history set in 1975 when that squad went 6-11.

The Tigers have never finished with a sub-.500 record in the CAA nor have they ever gone winless in the conference – an outcome that weighs heavily on Seaman.

“I’ve never had a team that’s been under .500 in the CAA, so yeah, that’s something that we’ve emphasized for sure,” he said Monday. “Every year we’ve gone into this, we’ve emphasized how vital each game was.”

To that end, Seaman said Towson will field its full team against the Hawks. Junior attackman Matt Lamon, who was replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt sophomore Dan Kramer against Drexel, is slated to return, and senior goalkeeper Travis Love is expected to play a majority of the contest.

“We’re going all-out to win the game on Saturday against St. Joseph’s,” Seaman said. “We’re going to play the best players on our team.”

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

A desperate time called for desperate measure by Salisbury

Salisbury hasn’t captured eight NCAA Division III titles by sitting around and being complacent.

The Sea Gulls have embodied the bold, risk-taking nature of their coach in Jim Berkman and have taken the necessary measures to be one of the more consistent and successful programs in Division III lacrosse.

Still, Berkman conceded that the coaches’ decision to pull senior goalkeeper Johnny Rodriguez – who had won 15 of 16 games this season – with senior Tim Swinburn for the final 37 minutes of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament final against then-No. 1 Stevenson on Saturday was the only move the team had left after finding itself in a 10-5 hole midway through the second quarter.

“Let’s put it this way: if things kept going the way they were going, we weren’t going anywhere anyway,” Berkman recalled Monday of his thought process. “So at that point, I don’t think it mattered whether it was a calculated risk or not because the way we were playing, we needed to make some changes. We kind of went with Timmy. He’s a fifth-year senior, he’s a solid goalie who was a high school All American, and he seized the moment just as [goalie] Nick Fiorentino did a few years ago for us when he stepped in for the semifinal and the championship game and played outstanding, beating Gettysburg and Cortland back-to-back [in 2008]. That’s kind of what your bench is for, to be ready when you need them and be able to step in. that’s what Timmy did, and we’re extremely proud of what he did on Saturday.”

That move paid huge dividends as Swinburn registered a career-best 12 saves and allowed just four goals to anchor Salisbury’s come-from-behind 16-14 win. But Berkman said that the plan is to re-insert Rodriguez – who has entered Saturday’s game ranked fifth in goals-against average (5.25) – as the starter when the team travels to Washington College on May 7 for their annual “War on the Shore” contest.

“We’re 16-1, and Johnny’s been the goalie the whole time,” Berkman said. “So unless he doesn’t practice very well, he’ll be the goalie the rest of the way. I mean, if Ben Roethlisberger has a bad game, you’re not going to start Ben Roethlisberger? I think your goalie is a lot like your quarterback. If you’ve got a guy, you’ve got to believe in him and you’ve got to give him the confidence that he needs.”

Saturday’s victory propelled the Sea Gulls to the top of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, vaulting them over No. 2 Rochester Institute of Technology (13-0). Reigning national champion Tufts (11-1) moved from No. 4 to No. 3, and Stevenson (16-2) fell to No. 4.

Just as significant is some much-needed time to help several players get healthy, according to Berkman.

“Right now, it’s critical for us because [junior midfielder] Sam Bradman was only playing at about 80 percent even though he played a nice game. He couldn’t run as many shifts as he normally does because of his ankle,” Berkman said. “[Junior] Dean Rossi, who is our monster D-middie who ended up covering [Mustangs senior attackman Neal] Barthelme in the second half, is still at only 80 percent with his sprained ankle. And then we’ve got a couple other guys that are a little banged up, too, that just need some rest and to get healthy so that when we start the playoffs, we’ll be at full strength.”

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

April 24, 2011

Postscript from Navy at Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins has traditionally been known for its stifling defense. But the offense is beginning to make some noise.

The Blue Jays (10-2) have reached double digits in goals in every game this season but two, and both of those turned out to be losses (to Princeton and Syracuse). Over the last six quarters and one overtime period, the offense has lit up No. 8 Maryland and Navy for 24 goals.

“I think we’ve done a good job being patient, and when we’re in a groove and distributing the ball and everyone’s getting touches, I think we’re clicking pretty well,” said senior attackman Chris Boland, who recorded two goals and two assists in Johns Hopkins’ 14-5 pasting of the Midshipmen at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday night. “… That first half against Maryland [when the team trailed, 7-2, at halftime], we kind of weren’t doing the little things. We weren’t being disciplined, and we weren’t dodging hard to get to goal, drawing slides. I think we did a good job of that today for 60 minutes for probably the first time since Delaware. So we know we’re capable of it, and it was good to be able to put it together at this time.”

The Blue Jays’ usually conservative scheme appears to have been tweaked by offensive coordinator Bobby Benson, who has been trusting playmakers like Boland, sophomore attackman Zach Palmer and sophomore midfielder John Ranagan to be more creative and aggressive with the ball.

“I think we’re having a lot of fun playing this year,” Palmer acknowledged. “Not to say anything bad about our team last year, but this feels a lot more fun this year, and everyone’s kind of clicking well together and obviously playing well to this point. We’ve got to keep going with that.”

Still, coach Dave Pietramala wasn’t entirely pleased with the offensive output, noting that Navy outscored Johns Hopkins, 5-4, in the second half.

“The first two quarters were great,” he said. “We were unselfish. And we’re a young team, and we talked them right at the end that we have to show some more maturity. We can’t come out and say, ‘OK, I’m going to get my goals.’ We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re supposed to do. So we’ve still got some growing up to do, but I’m happy with the offense, and Bobby’s done a really great job with those guys.”

Other notes:

*The Blue Jays are in the midst of a five-game winning streak, and each positive outcome has had a similarly positive effect on the players, according to Boland. “I think we’re really confident as a group,” he said. “That certainly helps with a young team. I’ve said this all year that when you have confidence in such a young team, it’s going to help. And as long as we’re getting better every week, that’s all you can ask for. So it’s a positive step each week.”

*The Midshipmen’s frustrating season reached new lows. The five-game losing skid is the longest streak to end a campaign in school history. Navy finished the year with the most losses in a single season under coach Richie Meade since he took over the program prior to the 1995 campaign. “It’s very disappointing,” he said. “The whole thing is, I feel like we’re a better team than the record shows. This game notwithstanding, I thought Hopkins played great. We’ve been watching all of their film, and that’s the best I’ve seen them play offensively except for the [first] half against Maryland. But we couldn’t do anything at the faceoff X, and I thought that was key.”

*The plight of the Midshipmen might entice some to wonder if the program needs a change in leadership. Don’t count Pietramala as one of those with that question. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Pietramala said of Meade. “I think he’s an outstanding coach. I don’t think you’re going to find a guy better suited for the United States Naval Academy. I consider him a friend. It’s my pleasure to have played against him and to now be on the sideline with a guy like him, it makes me want to stay in this profession when I see guys like that on the sideline.”

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

April 23, 2011

Navy at Johns Hopkins: Halftime thoughts

Johns Hopkins is continuing its dominance over area rivals, taking a 10-0 advantage into halftime against visiting Navy at Homewood Field in Baltimore Saturday night.

The No. 4 Blue Jays, who have won four consecutive games, scored two goals in the first 51 seconds of the contest – both within a six-second span – and scored three goals on its first four shots.

Johns Hopkins (9-2) converted 2-of-4 man-up chances in the first quarter and 3-of-5 in the first half, has taken 27 shots, and collected 11 more ground balls.

Under coach Dave Pietramala, the Blue Jays are 51-4 against their in-state rivals, including 10-1 against the Midshipmen. Navy’s lone win in the series occurred last season when the Midshipmen snapped a 36-game skid to Johns Hopkins.

Navy (4-8), which has dropped four straight contests, is in danger of compiling the most losses in a single season under coach Richie Meade since he took over the program prior to the 1995 season.

Other notes:

*The Blue Jays’ efficiency on offense has been in sharp contrast to the Midshipmen’s futility on that side of the ball. Navy has taken just seven shots and didn’t get one on net until there was 4:27 left in the second quarter. One play that symbolized Navy’s frustration occurred late in the first quarter when senior midfielder Kevin Doyle ran down the right alley and skipped a pass to freshman attackman Harrison Chaires, who was alone by the left post. But Chaires’ one-timer was pushed wide left, and Johns Hopkins sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett corralled the ball and started a successful clear.

*Sophomore attackman Zach Palmer leads all scorers with four points on one goal and three assists. Senior attackman Chris Boland registered two goals and one assist. His first goal just 45 seconds into the game marked the seventh time this season that the Blue Jays scored on their first shot of the contest. Senior Matt Dolente has won all 10 of the game’s faceoffs.

*There might be a mutual respect between these rivals, but that doesn’t mean that they have to like each other. Both sides engaged in a pre-game scrum at midfield when some Johns Hopkins players took issue with a few Midshipmen straying over the line. Coaches from both teams quickly moved to squash the shoving, but several players – most notably, Dolente and Navy junior Logan West – continued to jaw at each other during pre-game warm-ups.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Johns Hopkins, Navy
        

Navy at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Navy (4-8) limps into this annual contest on a four-game losing skid and in danger of absorbing the most losses in a single season under coach Richie Meade. On the flipside, Johns Hopkins (9-2) is enjoying a four-game winning streak and will likely be eager to avenge last year’s 9-8 overtime loss to the Midshipmen that snapped a 36-game losing streak to the Blue Jays. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Track the ball. Senior attackman Chris Boland is generally regarded as the quarterback of the Blue Jays offense, but several players on that side can initiate the action. Sophomore attackman Zach Palmer leads the team in assists (16), sophomore midfielder John Ranagan and Boland each have more than 10 helpers, and sophomore midfielder John Greeley (9) and senior attackman Kyle Ranagan (6) aren’t too far behind. “One of the other things that impresses me is they all play from different places,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “You can’t say this guy is always on the crease or this guy is always behind. They do a good job of interchanging. … They’re pretty scripted, and they have certain things they like to do. But after that, they’re pretty good at finding each other and using their skills. So I don’t think you can say that you have to focus on Boland. He might be considered the quarterback, but you’ve got to be able to defend the rest of them.”

2) Prepare for the unknown. With seemingly little left to play for, the Midshipmen could throw caution to the wind and revamp its personnel and schemes. Although Meade said the objective is to win the game, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said he is gearing for a different Navy squad. “We have to prepare for a lot of different things,” he said. “Because there’s no postseason, will they play some different people? Will they play some different combinations? Will they play a little bit differently? Will they be aggressive or will they hold the ball? The fact that they’re playing young guys, I would think that they would want to continue to develop those young guys. But you’re just not certain about what you’re going to get in terms of schemes. So you have to prepare for a little bit of the unknown, but I do know we’re going to get a motivated group.”

3) Keep chopping. The Midshipmen had some decent success against Army senior Tom Palesky, the 6-foot-4, 199-pound goalkeeper who surrendered seven goals in the first half. Navy not only must replicate their effort against the Blue Jays’ 6-3, 205-pound Pierce Bassett, but the offense have to be efficient throughout the game. “We certainly got enough shots to score more goals,” Meade said of the loss to the Black Knights. “That’s an encouraging thing. … We’ve got to take our time, and we’ve got to shoot a little bit better. Hopkins’ guy is very similar to Palesky. He’s a big guy and takes up the cage. So we’ve got to do a better job shooting.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Navy, Three things to watch
        

Salisbury at Stevenson: Three things to watch

The back-and-forth between these Capital Athletic Conference rivals resumes once again as No. 3 Salisbury (15-1) visits top-ranked Stevenson (16-1) for the right to be the conference tournament champion. In the previous two seasons, the winner of the regular-season meeting could not repeat that outcome in the CAC tournament final, and the visiting team captured the title. Will history repeat itself and usher in the Sea Gulls as this year’s tournament champion? Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Saturday.

1) Tokosch vs. Dailey. In last Saturday’s 16-12 victory, the Mustangs got three goals from leading scorer Jimmy Dailey, including two in a span of 106 seconds during a 5-0 run to begin the contest. According to Salisbury coach Jim Berkman, the defense countered by assigning senior Collin Tokosch, who limited the senior attackman to just one goal for the remainder of the game. “He obviously knows he’s going to be a big part of Saturday, and hopefully, we can keep Dailey in check or he can neutralize him a little bit to make him earn his goals,” Berkman said of Tokosch, who has caused 15 turnovers and collected 28 ground balls. “The two goals that he had at the beginning of the game, he flat-out burned [senior] Nick Mooney, and it was so quick that we couldn’t even help out on him. So we’re hoping that by switching Collin on him, that won’t happen, especially in the beginning of the game.”

2) Douglass vs. Bradman. Junior Sam Bradman, the reigning National Midfielder of the Year, registered one goal and three assists last Saturday, but his contributions were limited a 6-minute span stretching over the second and third quarters. The rest of the time, Bradman was guarded by Stevenson senior defenseman Evan Douglass. “It’s two of the best players in the country, and if we can control Sam and not give him too many great opportunities, I think that really helps our team,” Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said. “But I thought Sam had a really good day the other day with some really good assists and drawing some fouls. It’s a good matchup with two great players going at each other.”

3) Granelli vs. Witte. Stevenson’s opportunity to jump out to a 5-0 advantage was aided by the play of senior Ray Witte, who won three of the first five faceoffs. For the game, he finished with 18-of-29 faceoffs. Sea Gulls sophomore Tyler Granelli did not play in the team’s 15-5 win against Mary Washington in a tournament semifinal on Wednesday, but Berkman said Granelli, who won just 8-of-25 draws, and freshman Chris Turner (3-of-5) must do a better job of keeping Witte in check. “We’ve got to neutralize Witte a little bit,” Berkman said. “… We’ve got to take the offense out of their faceoffs.”

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

April 22, 2011

Towson playing for pride, not spoiler role

On the heels of a five-game losing streak and with the postseason no longer a consideration, Towson has just one motivation when visiting Colonial Athletic Association rival Drexel on Saturday.

Ending the season on a high note.

“I think it’s about pride and character,” said coach Tony Seaman, whose Tigers are 2-9 overall and 0-4 in the CAA and haven’t won since upsetting then-No. 4 Stony Brook, 9-8, on March 19. “This is probably what somebody says when they have a losing record – thank God I haven’t had many of them – but the wins and losses are a number. I don’t think it defines the kids or a team. I think there’s a lot more than that. There’s a lot to be said about a team that goes out for seven straight weeks and plays one-goal games and has the ability to beat – at that time – the fourth-ranked team in the country and beat the champion of the Northeast Conference. There just hasn’t been a game where we’ve been run out of the ballpark. … So yeah, it’s tough. It would be awesome right now if we had beaten Penn State on Saturday night and we were playing Drexel to decide who goes to the playoffs. But that’s not going to happen for us. We’ve just got to go out there and play hard and see how it goes and see if we can cut this string of losses.”

The Dragons (6-6 overall and 2-3 in the CAA) still have an outside shot at qualifying for the four-team conference tournament, but must defeat Towson for that opportunity. The Tigers could embrace the role of spoiler, but Seaman said that’s not the team’s primary motivation.

“We talked about things like pride and character and about going out and stopping this losing streak and ending the season with two wins,” he said. “I don’t think we can get them motivated to beat Drexel just so they can’t get to the tournament. We’re saying, ‘Let’s go up and win a game for ourselves.’ So I think we’ve looked at it that way more than, ‘Let’s keep Drexel out of the playoffs.’ ”

One slight wrinkle to Saturday’s contest will involve the goalkeepers. Seaman said senior Travis Love will start, but the plan is to insert redshirt sophomore Andrew Wascavage for the second half.

Seaman was non-committal about who would start in the season finale against St. Joseph’s on April 30 at Johnny Unitas Stadium. “We’ll play that one by ear, and see how this one goes,” Seaman said.

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

Stevenson, Salisbury hope they got the sluggishness out

Salisbury and Stevenson survived closer-than-anticipated contests on Wednesday to advance to the Capital Athletic Conference tournament final on Saturday at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills.

The No. 3 Sea Gulls (15-1) didn’t score their first goal against Mary Washington until more than 11 minutes had elapsed in the first quarter. Salisbury eventually won, 15-5, after routing the Eagles by 16 goals on March 26.

“I think there was a logical letdown because it was such an emotional day on Saturday,” coach Jim Berkman said, referring to Salisbury’s 16-12 loss to the Mustangs. “The stands were packed, and it was a chippy game, real physical. It was a battle for 60 minutes and not only physically, but mentally. So I think there was a logical letdown in that regard, especially when both teams had beaten their opponents handedly a couple of weeks ago. … But both teams got done what they needed to get done.”

Top-ranked Stevenson (16-1) didn’t wait nearly as long in beating St. Mary’s, but the 16-7 final score wasn’t nearly as convincing as the 13-goal thumping the Mustangs had applied on April 9.

“I think it was good to get it out of us,” coach Paul Cantabene said. “We needed to play again before we play those guys and get some things out of us because if we had to play them back-to-back, the intensity for both teams would have been kind of tough. So now we’re able to regroup, get a little rested, and gear up for Saturday.”

There's a lot at stake in Saturday's contest. Salisbury had won 16 consecutive conference tournament crowns until last season when Stevenson won its first.

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

Maryland's Catalino in a little bit of a rut

This season, No. 8 Maryland has demonstrated a diversified offense capable of milking goals from a multitude of players.

But over the last three contests, the Terps’ biggest weapon – both literally and figuratively – has largely been silent.

Senior attackman Grant Catalino has registered just two goals and one assist in his last three games. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Catalino, who has led the team in scoring in each of the previous three years, still ranks second among Maryland players in points with 28, but his quiet outings have been noticeable, especially in last Saturday’s 12-11 overtime loss to No. 4 Johns Hopkins where he was limited to a single goal by sophomore defenseman Chris Lightner.

Terps coach John Tillman, however, asserted that Catalino is playing within the team’s offensive system and contributing in ways that may not show up in the final statistics.

“If our offense is running the right way, every game, it should tweak a little bit in terms of who’s getting the goals and assists,” Tillman said. “We’ve kind of evolved as the season has come around. … People have keyed on him, but because they’ve keyed on him, it’s opened up so much more for everybody else, and that’s not lost on our coaching staff. And credit goes to Grant because Grant just wants to win. He doesn’t care if he scores or not. He wants to help the team, and he’ll do whatever is necessary for us to be successful. If that means scoring goals, he’ll be glad to do that. If that means distributing the ball or occupying a couple guys to open up something for somebody else, he’s happy doing that, too.”

One of Catalino’s linemates, senior Ryan Young, is a question mark for Friday’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament opener against No. 7 North Carolina after the passing of his mother on Sunday night.

If Young, the team’s leader in both assists (17) and points (31), isn’t available, Tillman said senior Travis Reed could be ready to start after suffering a left shoulder injury on March 12.

“We’d probably do it by committee, but I’d probably give Travis the first go,” Tillman said. “That just makes the most sense to me. The hard thing with Ryan is, where is he going to emotionally? Only Ryan knows that and he might not know that.”

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

Leftovers from Q&A with Loyola's Chris Palmer

Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Loyola fifth-year senior attackman Chris Palmer. Due to space constraints, here are some more answers that didn’t make the cut.

When was the last time you played attack?
Senior year in high school. [The Lovett School in Atlanta, Ga.] I showed up at Bucknell in my freshman year and played for about two weeks as an attackman, and then they thought I was more of a middie than an attackman. But I guess over the last four years, I’ve somehow molded myself back into becoming an attackman.

Why do you think you’ve had more success this season at attack rather than midfield?
The first four games, I didn’t have any goals, and other than the Navy game which I played awful, I thought I was playing well, but I wasn’t scoring. I don’t know. I’m playing well. It’s my last year. So maybe I’m a little more excited than I have been in the past. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.

Because of your ability to dodge, do you think you’re catching opposing defensemen off guard?
Most offenses these days want to initiate the offense through the midfielders where they can dodge the short sticks. Coach Chemotti has been preaching that we should be dodging the long poles. We’re not scared of dodging the long poles. That’s kind of the mindset that we have, and I do believe that catches some teams off guard, having three attackmen who can all dodge and get to the goal.

Do you think about your former team, No. 12 Bucknell, is playing for the Patriot League regular-season title this season?
I follow them all the time. I’m on the Bucknell website to see how they’re doing, talking to them, and wishing them the best. They’ve got a big game this weekend against [No. 14] Colgate [for the title and the top seed and home-field advantage in the Patriot League tournament]. So Bucknell’s still fresh in my mind. I wear my Bucknell tie sometimes to some of our catered events at Loyola, and the kids here give me a hard time. But I graduated from there. I’m an alumni. I have the right to wear this. It’s not like I’m a freshman or sophomore who just transferred in.

Who is Bucknell’s biggest rival in the Patriot League?
A Bucknell student would think Lehigh or Lafayette. But on the lacrosse field, it’s definitely Navy. Those games in the past have been the ones that drew the biggest fans.

How conflicted would you feel if Loyola and Bucknell happened to meet in the NCAA tournament?
Actually, we had a scrimmage lined up between Loyola and Bucknell in the fall. I knew this as I was coming into Loyola, and I was calling both of the coaches and trying to make sure that we could set this up because that was going to be a dream come true. But that fell through. I’ve still been thinking about that. I actually brought it up in the locker room like, “Man, can you imagine if Bucknell makes it and so do we and we get to play each other?” I think that would probably be the most fun I’ve ever had on a lacrosse field.

What’s your favorite movie and why?
Easy. Stepbrothers. I was going to say Lord of the Rings because that’s probably one of the best movies ever, but my personal favorite is Stepbrothers.

Is it Will Ferrell or John C. Reilly that you like in that movie?
It’s Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Both of them are hysterical. I’m a comedy guy, and I only buy comedy DVDs. It’s a recent one, but I’ve probably seen that close to 20 times.

If you could have a superhero power, what would it be?
I would say the ability to fly. There have been a couple times in my lacrosse career where I love getting the chance to jump around the crease to make an incredible goal. I think I’ve done that about 10 times. The ability to fly would only make that easier.

What’s your go-to meal?
Chik-fil-a. Maybe not before gametime, but Chik-fil-a is my go-to meal. I’m from Atlanta, and that’s the home of Chik-fil-a. During the summers, I think I have Chik-fil-a once a day for breakfast, lunch or dinner – whether I buy it or my mom gets it for me after she’s dropping my brother off for work. It’s kind of a family thing.

What’s your worst habit?
Eating candy. I’ve had my fair share of cavities. I have to explain to my dentist and my parents, “Look, I brush my teeth all the time.” I think it’s just a matter of eating too much candy. But I’ve actually cut back here because I live on my own now, and I don’t have as much candy lying around the house. So I’ve actually been breaking that habit.

Is it the hard candy or chocolate that tempts you?
It’s gummy candy, which has got to be the worst for you.

Who is the funniest teammate you’ve played with?
I think [junior long-stick midfielder] Kevin Moriarty is one of the funniest teammates I’ve ever had. He’s an all-around nice kid, but he’s also funny in so many different ways.

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

April 21, 2011

Tewaaraton whittled down to 25

The Tewaaraton watch list was whittled down to 25 players earlier in the week and three Maryland players are among the nominees for the aaward given annually to the top collegiate player.

Senior attackmen Grant Catalino and Ryan Young and long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell represent the Terps on that list.

Maryland is tied with Notre Dame, which is represented by senior midfielders Zach Brenneman and David Earl and senior defenseman Kevin Ridgway, for the second-most players among the nominees.

Syracuse leads all schools with four players – senior goalkeeper John Galloway, senior attackman Stephen Keogh, senior defenseman John Lade and senior long-stick midfielder Joel White – on the list. Army, Duke and Stony Brook have two nominees each.

Johns Hopkins has just one player on the list in sophomore midfielder John Ranagan. Virginia’s lone representative is junior attackman Steele Stanwick, a Baltimore native and Loyola graduate.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland
        

All-ACC team announced

Three Maryland players are among the honorees on the all-conference team, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Thursday morning.

Senior defenseman Brett Schmidt, junior midfielder Joe Cummings and redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato represented the Terps on the team.

Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia each boasted three players on the All-ACC team. Duke, which won the regular-season title, had just two players on the team.

Virginia junior attackman Steele Stanwick, a Baltimore native and Loyola graduate, was named the Player of the Year. North Carolina attackman Nicky Galasso won Rookie of the Year, and Duke’s John Danowski was selected as the Coach of the Year.

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland
        

Navy doesn't have to look far for motivation

With no Patriot League tournament on the horizon for the first time since the school joined the conference for the 2004 campaign, Navy has centered all of its attention on a singular focus.

“We can beat Johns Hopkins,” coach Richie Meade said Wednesday of the team’s regular-season finale on Saturday night. “When the press looks at a game, they look at all the implications of that game. When we look at the game, we’re trying to play as well as we possibly can, trying to do things better than we did last week, and trying to take a step forward. We’ve got a great group of seniors playing in their last game in a Navy uniform, and we’ve got a bunch of freshmen and sophomores that have never played at Homewood Field, and this is a great challenge for them. And we’ve got a bunch of juniors that are going to be leaders of our team next year. So we want to play well. We want to rebound from what was a very disheartening loss [to Army on Saturday].”

Rather than wallow in despair, the players have taken out some of their frustrations in practice and in the weight room. Meade said the players had a tougher-than-usual practice on Monday at a time when the coaching staff would usually go lighter to preserve the players for making a run at the postseason.

“The guys have responded,” he said. “It’s very difficult to be in this situation. It’s tough, but the Midshipmen at the Naval Academy have to deal with much tougher things than this. So we look forward to the challenge, and I’m really looking forward to watching us play on Saturday and seeing what we’ve got.”

Meade said that junior goalkeeper R.J. Wickham will start after making just one save and getting yanked in favor of senior Mike Haas in the loss to Army.

“R.J., playing against Georgetown and North Carolina, looked like the best goalie in the country,” Meade said. “Why he didn’t play that way on Saturday, I have no idea, and I don’t think he does either. But we know what his capabilities are, and he’s our guy. Mikey Haas did a great job going in, but R.J. is our goalie. It’s going to be a very tough environment at Homewood Field, and R.J.’s going to have to stick his nose in there and play tough.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Navy
        

Johns Hopkins' Greeley unfazed by outside expectations

Less than two years ago, John Greeley entered the Johns Hopkins program as the No. 1 recruit, according to Inside Lacrosse. Depending on whom you talk to, the results haven’t lived up to those lofty expectations.

Midway through his second season as a starter, the sophomore midfielder ranks fourth among the Blue Jays in assists (9) and fifth in points (17). Those numbers are a significant improvement from his freshman year when he registered just eight points on six goals and two assists.

Greeley conceded that his progression hasn’t been as smooth as anticipated.

“I’ve had some troubles developing a little bit,” he said. “I’ve talked to Coach [Dave Pietramala] quite a bit about it. You’re never going to meet everybody’s expectations. You can go two [goals] and two [assists] in a game, and you’re still not going to meet people’s expectations. As long as you go out and you work hard and initiate the offense, you might not get the goal or the assist, but you’re initiating the offense and doing what you can to help the offense. So I’m just doing my part right now. I don’t really listen to what anyone says. I just listen to what the coaches have to say and worry about getting better and helping the team win.”

Pietramala isn’t fond of the scrutiny over Greeley. Pietramala questioned ranking high school players and making assumptions about them before they’ve stepped foot on their respective campuses.

“We’re not disappointed in John Greeley,” Pietramala said. “John Greeley is a very, very talented player. He’s been running on our first midfield for two years at what I think is the most challenging position. Everybody develops at a different rate, but John Greeley is an important contributor. When you look at what the expectations are – and this is not directed at John, but it’s directed at a lot of these kids coming out of high school – those kids can’t possibly live up to these expectations that they’re supposed to. There are guys that come out that are supposed to be four-time first-team All Americans. And then there are these other kids that come out, but no one wants to talk about them and yet they turn out to be All Americans. For us, it’s not about what other people think John should do. It’s about what we think John should do. … You have to be careful about how you measure success. From our standpoint, John’s been very successful here and is just scratching the surface.”

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

Postscript from St. Mary's at Stevenson

As impressive as Stevenson’s potent offense and stingy defense have been this season, one oft-overlooked factor in the team’s success this season has been the performance of senior faceoff specialist Ray Witte.

The Annapolis native and St. Peter and Paul graduate has won 194-of-295 draws, including 18-of-25 in the top-ranked Mustangs’ 16-7 victory over visiting St. Mary’s in a Capital Athletic Conference tournament semifinal at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Wednesday.

Witte also scored a pair of goals with both goals following tallies by teammates and extending Stevenson’s runs.

“He’s pretty unique in that he also has the talent to put the ball in the net,” coach Paul Cantabene said of Witte, who has surpassed his career-high of eight goals by one this season. “He could run on one of our offensive midfield lines if we needed him to, but we just need him to settle it down. And he’s really been a catalyst for us. He’s a lot better than people think. Just because he doesn’t have the greatest percentage, some people think he’s not one of the best. But when it comes to the big games, there’s nobody better.”

Witte said he didn’t feel comfortable taking a shot after winning a faceoff until last season when he succeeded Greg Furshman as the primary faceoff specialist.

“My shot has kind of developed as my season has progressed,” Witte said. “… First, we like to get it to the offense and let them work it around fastbreak-style. But if I see that it’s something that I can get done, I’m going.”

But Witte has his priorities in order, saying that scoring goals is a nice bonus but not his mission.

“If we have the ball, we can score,” he said. “If we don’t have the ball, we can’t score. It’s that simple. So I want to keep winning them.”

Other notes:

*Neal Barthelme may lead Division III in goals, but that doesn’t mean that he can skate on that accomplishment. The senior attackman tied Richie Ford’s school record of 59 goals in 2008, but he drew the ire of Cantabene when he collected his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in as many games. “Neal’s had a great season for us,” Cantabene said. “… I just think he’s got to keep his head a little bit more. But he’s done a great job of stepping in and having an outstanding season.” After the game, the coach and player met in the office, and Barthelme said their relationship hadn’t changed. “We love each other,” Barthelme said. “It’s just intense out there. I respect him so much, and I know he’s an intense coach, and I’m an intense player. Sometimes that comes across to other people and third parties as something that’s not good, but it’s kind of routine for us. And it’s mostly my fault. He’s a good guy.”

*The Mustangs play so fast and so long on the defensive end of the field that at times it appears that they are playing with an extra defender. That full-field pressure leads to fastbreaks and unsettled opportunities, and the vaunted attack of senior Jimmy Dailey, Barthelme, Ford and sophomore Tyler Reid are usually the beneficiaries. Barthelme, for one, credited some of his school-record goals to the defense. “Our middies and our defense, it’s mostly them,” Barthelme said. “I don’t think there’s another team in the country that gets as many transition opportunities as we do because we have such a good defense and a good goalie and a good faceoff guy in Ray. They just give us a better chance.”

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

April 20, 2011

St. Mary's at Stevenson: Halftime thoughts

St. Mary’s bid to upset top-ranked Stevenson doesn’t look promising as the host Mustangs own a commanding 10-3 advantage at halftime in a Capital Athletic Conference tournament semifinal at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Wednesday.

Making their third consecutive appearance in the tournament semifinals, the Seahawks (6-8) have sunk their own cause by committing 15 turnovers and picking up eight fewer ground balls. That has contributed to Stevenson taking a 27-16 lead in shots.

The Mustangs (15-1) scored the first five goals of the contest before St. Mary’s scored two times in a span of 60 seconds.

But just 12 seconds after senior attackman Dennis Rosson’s goal for the Seahawks with 12:57 left in the second quarter, senior midfielder Jake Stocksdale scored and Stevenson was never seriously threatened after that.

Other notes:

*Mustangs senior faceoff specialist Ray Witte has been a dual threat. Not only did he win 9-of-15 draws, but he scored twice off of those wins. He opened the second quarter with a faceoff win and goal and followed a goal by senior midfielder Kyle Moffitt with a faceoff win and goal with 62 seconds remaining before halftime.

*Senior attackman Richie Ford leads all scorers with three points on two goals and one assist, and freshman midfielder Tony Rossi has scored twice for Stevenson. Senior midfielder Neal Barthelme scored his 57th goal of the season and is just two shy of the school record set by Ford, who scored 59 times in 2008. Senior attackman Jimmy Dailey scored once and reached his 99th point of the season.

*St. Mary’s got one goal apiece from senior attackman Dennis Rosson, junior attackman J.P. Lennon and freshman midfielder Ben Love. Redshirt sophomore goalie Stu Wheeler made eight saves in the first half.

Posted by Edward Lee at 5:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts
        

6 Terps named to All-ACC women's team

Six Maryland players were named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference women's lacrosse team announced today.

Karri Ellen Johnson, Sarah Mollison, Laura Merrifield, Katie Schwarzmann, Katie Gallagher and Brittany Dipper earned honors as 15-0 and No. 1 Maryland heads into this weekend's ACC Tournament in Cary, N.C., as the top seed and two-time defending champ. Schwarzmann, a sophomore, was the only underclassman on this year's team.

Johnson, a Broadneck graduate, and Schwarzmann, a Century graduate, were joined on the team by three other local women -- North Carolina's Corey Donohoe (North Harford), Virginia's Julie Gardner (Severna Park) and Virginia Tech's Allie Emala (Bryn Mawr).

Following is the entire team:

Brittany Dipper, Junior, Goal, Maryland
Katie Gallagher, Senior, Defense, Maryland
Karri Ellen Johnson, Junior, Attack, Maryland
Laura Merrifield, Senior, Midfield, Maryland
Sarah Mollison, Senior, Attack, Maryland
Katie Schwarzmann, Sophomore, Midfield, Maryland
Kristin Igoe , Senior, Midfield, Boston College
Brittany Wilton, Junior, Attack, Boston College
Emma Hamm, Junior, Attack, Duke
Christie Kaestner, Senior, Attack, Duke
Kat Thomas, Junior, Midfield, Duke
Kim Wenger, Junior, Midfield, Duke
Corey Donohoe, Senior, Attack, North Carolina
Mia Hurrin, Senior, Defense, North Carolina
Laura Zimmerman, Junior, Attack, North Carolina
Liz Downs, Senior, Defense, Virginia
Julie Gardner, Junior, Attack, Virginia
Allie Emala, Senior, Attack, Virginia Tech

Awards for player, coach and freshman of the year will be announced next month.

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 3:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Women's lacrosse
        

Loyola, UMBC, Stevenson, St. Mary's earn weekly awards

Players from Loyola, UMBC, Stevenson and St. Mary’s were recipients of weekly honors from their respective conferences.

Senior goalkeeper Jake Hagelin was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week after he made a career-best 18 saves in No. 19 Loyola’s 6-5 four-overtime win against Georgetown on Sunday. The Havre de Grace native and Boys’ Latin graduate made six of his stops in the extra session and also collected four ground balls.

Sophomore attackman Scott Jones was cited by the America East as its Player of the Week for his five-goal performance in UMBC’s 13-9 victory over Albany on Saturday night. Four of those five goals occurred in the fourth quarter, and Jones currently leads the Retrievers with 17.

Stevenson and St. Mary’s shared the Capital Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week award.

Mustangs senior midfielder Kyle Moffitt recorded six goals and one assist in two wins last week, including a season-high five points (four goals and one assist) in the top-ranked team’s 16-12 victory over No. 3 Salisbury on Saturday.

Seahawks senior attackman Dennis Rosson, a Severna Park native and Severn graduate, totaled 15 points on 12 goals and three assists in three wins, including five goals and one assist in a 14-9 victory against York in the first round of the CAC tournament on Sunday.

St. Mary’s also took the Defensive Player of the Week honor. Junior defenseman Eric Heisner collected 11 ground balls, forced five caused turnovers, and limited his three defensive assignments to a total of four goals on 12 shots.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola, St. Mary's, Stevenson, UMBC
        

St. Mary's at Stevenson: Three things to watch

St. Mary’s is making its third straight appearance in the semifinals of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, but the Seahawks (6-8 overall and 4-4 in the CAC) have not beaten Stevenson since April 20, 2007. The newly-anointed No. 1 Mustangs (15-1, 8-0) have lost just one game at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills since the beginning of the 2010 season. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome on Wednesday.

1) Settle the unsettled. Stevenson is most dangerous when given the opportunity to control the tempo of games and then run amok. Having a faceoff specialist like senior Ray Witte (176-of-270 for .652 percentage) helps either igniting the fastbreak or simply giving possession to the offense. St. Mary’s coach Chris Hasbrouck said slowing down the Mustangs in unsettled situations is the biggest challenge. “They’re tough between the lines,” he said. “They do a great job in their unsettled offense. They just move the ball extremely well, they’ve got a couple kids who have been playing together for a long time at attack, and they finish very, very well. Their midfielders can push the pace. So we’ve got to defend. The ground balls in the middle of the field are going to be huge, and we’ve got to execute.”

2) Get out fast. Stevenson’s last win occurred on Saturday as the offense scored six of the game’s first seven goals in a 16-12 victory over No. 3 Salisbury. Mustangs coach coach Paul Cantabene said quick beginnings tend to force opponents to play at the rate that Stevenson enjoys. “It’s nice to get an early lead because it kinds of makes teams play differently,” Cantabene said. “It takes them out of their game plan a little bit. They’ve got to try to force some things. I think getting out to that early lead really gave our guys confidence that they could do some things, and then it gives you that comfort level where you don’t have to panic.”

3) Finish it. If St. Mary’s has any hope of pulling off the upset, the offense must execute when it has the ball. It’s not likely that the Mustangs will leave their offense in the locker room. So it is vital that the Seahawks take advantage when they have the ball on the offensive end of the field, Hasbrouck said. “I think from our end, we’ve got to cash in on our opportunities,” he said. “I think with their style of play, we’re going to have the ball in our sticks, and at that point, it’s just our execution on the offensive end because if you don’t finish your opportunities against them, you’re in trouble. They’re definitely going to score goals. This game is not going to be 5-4. So when we get the ball, we have to execute on the offensive end. I don’t really think that trying to slow it down is going to work. They’re just an up-tempo team, and they’re extremely aggressive. So I think we’re going to get some chances, so at that point, we’ve got to execute on the offensive end.”

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

Boland to return to Johns Hopkins for 2012

Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala confirmed Wednesday morning that leading scorer Chris Boland has another year of eligibility and will be back for the 2012 season.

Boland, an attackman who is listed as a senior on the team’s website and media guide, spent his first season in 2007 as a reserve. He withdrew from school in 2008 before returning to lead the Blue Jays in scoring the following year. And the 2010 campaign was cut short after two games due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Pietramala, who jokingly referred to the Columbia native and Boys’ Latin graduate as a “23rd-year senior,” said Boland’s presence next year should help guide a youthful squad that could graduate as many as nine seniors, including attackman Kyle Wharton, faceoff specialist Matt Dolente, short-stick defensive midfielder Tim Donovan and long-stick midfielders Ben Smith and Orry Michael.

“It’s important because I think Chris is learning to be a good leader and you can’t measure how important a guy like he is,” Pietramala said. “The impact those kids have on a program is immeasurable. So he’ll be back and then you’ve got this soon-to-be junior group that has hopefully been taught the right way to do things. 

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins
        

Loyola's Toomey: team showed physical and mental determination

It’s not a stretch to say that No. 19 Loyola deserved Monday off after outlasting host Georgetown in a 6-5 thriller on Sunday that took 60 minutes of regulation and four four-minute overtime periods to complete.

The Greyhounds’ perseverance actually began the day before when the game – originally scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Saturday – was moved to 3 p.m. due to concern over inclement weather. The contest was then shifted again to Sunday at 3 p.m. as thunderstorms rolled into the Washington, D.C. area on Saturday afternoon.

Loyola coach Charley Toomey said the players absorbed the multiple changes to their schedule in stride.

“Emotionally, it was a draining weekend,” he said Tuesday. “But give the guys credit. They responded when they needed to. I don’t want to say that there was a sense of relief, but there was definitely a different mood than some of the other bus rides we’ve taken before.”

As a reward, the Greyhounds get a shortened week to prepare for Eastern College Athletic Conference rival Hobart’s visit to Ridley Athletic Complex on Saturday. Loyola (7-3 overall and 3-2 in the ECAC) is in sole possession of second place, but Ohio State (7-6, 2-2), Fairfield (6-6, 2-2) and Hobart (5-6, 2-2) aren’t far behind.

Toomey said he didn’t think the abbreviated week would impact the team’s preparations.

“Usually, Mondays are about watching the game film from Saturday and recognizing some of your mistakes and working on those,” he said. “Your actual preparation for your opponent starts on Tuesday – at least for us. So in terms of knowing Hobart, I don’t think anything will change. And luckily for us, we don’t really have to correct an awful lot from Sunday. I felt like the guys executed, and their goalie stood on his head.”

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

Virginia offense stuck in neutral without Stanwick

It took Virginia just 90 seconds to grab a lead against Duke on Saturday on junior midfielder Colin Briggs’ 17th goal of the season.

But that was the last time the Cavaliers owned an advantage as the Blue Devils cruised to a 13-11 win.

One factor in the offensive futility was the absence of junior attackman Steele Stanwick, who was sidelined by injuries to his calf and foot. Coach Dom Starsia conceded that the offense struggled without Stanwick.

“I think it impacted us more in this game than in some others simply because Duke is pretty athletic on defense and likes to chase people around,” Starsia said Tuesday. “We were very young on the attack on Saturday, and so it wound up that we needed to provide outlets for our attackmen. So we never really got into a flow on offense. We had to kind of pour in consistently from the midfield to kind of get something started, and it was hard for our attackmen to get any kind of traction. So that sorts of affects everyone. We never really had any flow because we could never really attack effectively from below the goal-line extended, and therefore, we wound up sort of stretching ourselves out to make sure that the attackmen had somebody they could throw the ball to rather than bearing in and being able to cut without it and move meaningfully without the ball in our sticks.”

Without Stanwick – the team’s leading scorer with 44 points on 23 goals and 21 assists – No. 9 Virginia started junior Chris Bocklet, sophomore Nick O’Reilly and freshman Mark Cockerton on attack against the Blue Devils. Bocklet registered two goals and one assist, O’Reilly finished with a goal and an assist, and Cockerton went pointless.

Starsia said a full week of practice with that trio could help the attack enhance their effectiveness.

“I think those attackmen learned something from what happened and can make a little progress,” Starsia said. “Maybe we can change up the tires a little bit. At both ends of the field, I feel like we’re close. We’ve just got to be a little bit sharper on the offensive end and defensive end. Close is not going to cut it in games like this. We’ve got to close that gap. So I do think we can be more efficient and more effective on the offensive end of the field.” 

Senior midfielder Shamel Bratton has not started in the team’s last two contests since returning from a one-game suspension against Maryland on April 2. Bratton has recorded two goals and one assist against North Carolina and Duke.

The starting midfield has fared well with Briggs compiling eight goals and two assists in the Cavaliers’ last three contests, senior Rhamel Bratton posting five goals and two assists, and senior John Haldy adding one goal and two assists.

But Starsia said the decision to have Shamel Bratton come off the bench is not based on disciplinary reasons.

“The other guys have been playing well, and we’ve been getting good play out of that first group,” Starsia said. “Rhamel’s been playing very well, and Haldy, and Briggs is playing his best lacrosse. I wouldn’t read too much into it. I think he wound up playing a lot of lacrosse, but this is just the way we’ve sort of patterned ourselves starting out.”

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

Syracuse's Desko responds to scrutiny

Seemingly all season, critics have besieged Syracuse, questioning why a team that boasts seven All-American seniors has won seven games by two goals or less.

The chorus grew in volume after the Orange got walloped by Cornell, 11-6, on April 12 – a result that dropped the team from No.  1 to No. 3 in The Sun’s rankings.

Even with top defenseman John Lade (high left ankle sprain) ending a three-game absence by starting in the team's 13-7 dismantling of Hobart on Tuesday night to improve to 11-1, doubters are beginning to suggest that Syracuse might not enjoy a long stay in the NCAA tournament.

But coach John Desko said the Orange – which has the top-rated strength of schedule and RPI according to Laxpower.com – has nothing to apologize for.

“It’s not like we’ve been a secret this year,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve come in as the preseason No. 1 and maybe No. 2 in another poll, and then beating UVA early, we stayed at that No. 1 spot for several weeks. I’ve watched a lot of game film on our opponents, and most times, I see a different team when we play them than what I see on film. I think people have raised their level of play when they come to play us. As far as how I’m used to seeing the game played, we haven’t been in very many games like that until this year in that everybody has come in with either a good faceoff guy or has played zone defense for most of the game or stalled the ball. When teams like Hopkins come in here and hold the ball for five, six minutes at a time, I’m not sure it’s a lot of fun to watch or to play. But we’ve been able to roll up our sleeves and beat all these good opponents. I think we’ve played nine of the top 11 teams in the country at one point, and it’s not like we’re going up against Joe Smith the Ragman. We’ve played a lot of good games and come out ahead. I think that speaks to the character of the group.”

No one likes to lose, but Syracuse will at least avoid talk of going undefeated. And Desko said the setback could serve as a rallying point for the players.

“I look back to last year’s group, and everybody said what a disappointing season it was because we lost in the first round of the playoffs,” he said, referring to the 9-8 double-overtime loss to Army in the NCAA tournament. “But during the regular season, we only lost one game by one goal, and that was to UVA early in the year. We kind of wondered after the Army game that if we had experienced a loss before that game, would that have made us a better group in some ways or helped us to refocus? I’m hoping that’s what Cornell has done to us. I hope we know that if we don’t bring our A game to every game, then we certainly can lose. So I think it helps us get refocused, and hopefully, that will help us come playoff time.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
        

April 19, 2011

Syracuse's Lade dealing with high ankle sprain

No. 3 Syracuse is preparing to suit up for its fourth consecutive game without top defenseman John Lade.

The senior is nursing a high ankle sprain originally injured in the Orange’s 13-11 win against Duke at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on April 3.

Since then, Lade has not played, and coach John Desko said on Tuesday that he doesn’t expect Lade to play against Hobart on Tuesday night.

“We just thought that he had twisted his ankle,” Desko said. “There was some swelling, and we thought that we would be back in, maybe, a week. He went out to practice, and there was a little more swelling, and it kind of nagged him. We were a little surprised he wasn’t able to go, so we got an MRI done and found out he had a high ankle sprain. They take a little longer. I don’t know if you’ll see him tonight, and I’d be a little surprised if you saw him this weekend.”

Syracuse wraps up its regular season with three opponents from the Big East in Rutgers on Saturday, No. 1 Notre Dame on April 30 and St. John’s on May 7. Desko said the timetable for Lade’s return is still in flux, but he said there was no consideration at this point to keeping Lade out until the NCAA tournament.

“I doubt it would be that long,” Desko said. “Even with that type of injury, they can nag you, but we haven’t asked him in any way to push it. It’s been strictly his decision. He knows his body and how he feels, and we rely on the trainers. If he’s at a point where he can’t re-injure it from use, then we’d say, ‘Go ahead.’ But the team’s been functioning. We gave up three goals to Providence [last Saturday]. So we’re not going to push it in any way. I’d be very doubtful if it was all the way to the playoffs. That seems way too long.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:54 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Virginia's Stanwick day-to-day for ACC tournament

Virginia junior Steele Stanwick is a question mark for the team’s semifinal against No. 6 Duke in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal on Friday in Durham, N.C.

Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia said the attackman, who hails from Baltimore and graduated from Loyola, is dealing with injuries to his foot and calf – both of which sidelined him for the team’s 13-11 loss to the Blue Devils last Saturday.

Starsia said a North Carolina defender kneed Stanwick in the calf as he scored the game-winning goal in the team’s 11-10 overtime win against the Tar Heels on April 9. And Stanwick has been playing despite a foot injury.

“We sort of thought we could get him back [against Duke], but he just couldn’t go on Saturday,” Starsia said Tuesday morning. “He felt a little better yesterday, but he’s still not practicing. I would call his status day-to-day, and I’m hopeful that there’s a chance that he’ll play this coming weekend, but I probably won’t know until maybe tomorrow. He probably won’t practice today, but we’ll see if he can do anything tomorrow.”

Without Stanwick – the team’s leading scorer with 44 points on 23 goals and 21 assists – the No. 9 Cavaliers started junior Chris Bocklet, sophomore Nick O’Reilly and freshman Mark Cockerton against the Blue Devils. Bocklet registered two goals and one assist, O’Reilly finished with a goal and an assist, and Cockerton went pointless.

Starsia said Stanwick could play in the re-match against Duke even without practicing this week.

“That’s what he’s been doing the last three or four weeks,” Starsia said. “He hasn’t really practiced because of the foot, and he’s still effective. That’s the way it happens at this level with athletes like this. Sometimes they get an injury, but they can play on gameday. If you’re not going to make them worse, then you give the kid a chance to work through it. It would be great if he could practice because when the quarterback of our offense isn’t there, it kind of changes the chemistry of things a little bit. But if you told me that I could just have him on gameday, I’d still be thankful for that.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:53 AM | | Comments (0)
        

CORRECTION: St. Mary's rounding into health -- and maybe form

St. Mary’s three-game winning streak is not necessarily a coincidence, according to coach Chris Hasbrouck.

The injury-plagued Saints Seahawks are getting healthy and just in time for Wednesday’s Capital Athletic Conference tournament semifinal at newly anointed No. 1 Stevenson.

“Without a doubt, we’re playing our best lacrosse of the year now,” Hasbrouck said. “We had a few injuries earlier in the year that we’ve overcome, and we’re excited to be here right now. There’s only four Capital Athletic Conference teams playing, and we’re one of them. So that’s a good thing.”

Freshman midfielder Gordy Long missed six games while nursing a high ankle sprain, and starting short-stick defensive midfielders Colin Gload and Tim Fortner have missed a few games in the middle of the season with unspecified injuries.

St. Mary’s, however, will not have the services of senior defenseman Sean Hatley, who tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the team’s 12-4 loss to Salisbury on April 2, according to Hasbrouck. Hatley, who has been replaced by senior John Windsor, will sit out the remainder of the season.

“For him, it’s a tough break with him being a senior and it happening late in the year,” Hasbrouck said. “We’ve tried to see if we could do some aggressive rehab, but I don’t foresee that he’s going to make it back. It becomes a quality-of-life thing. You’ve got to put future health and graduation above potentially playing in one or two more lacrosse games. It was a tough break, but he’s the one guy we don’t foresee making it back.”

Having reached the CAC tournament for the third consecutive year, the Saints Seahawks get the unenviable task of trying to knock off the Mustangs, the top seed in the tournament who throttled St. Mary’s, 17-4, on April 9.

Hasbrouck said the team is unfazed at the task ahead.

“It’s a long season, and we knew early that there was a lot of lacrosse left, and we wanted to get healthy and get back to full strength, and that’s what has happened,” he said. “We’ve got an opportunity to play the top team in the country in the conference semifinals. For us, this is the one spot we definitely had anticipated being in at the beginning of the year.”

CORRECTION: I erred in calling St. Mary's mascot, the Saints. The school's mascot is the Seahawks. Kudos to reader "MDcomments" for noticing the mistake.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Salisbury, St. Mary's, Stevenson
        

On the rebound, Salisbury eager to overcome uncharacteristic errors

Salisbury has made a habit out of befuddling opponents and forcing them into making mistakes they usually aren’t prone to make.

That trend was reversed on Saturday as the Sea Gulls dropped a 16-12 decision to Stevenson on Saturday.

Salisbury, which fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in Monday’s United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, misfired on six clears, committed 22 turnovers, and collected 11 fewer ground balls than the Mustangs (15-1), who vaulted to the top of the USILA poll from No. 3 on Monday.

“We dug ourselves a hole too early, and we were constantly fighting from behind,” said Berkman, whose team fell behind, 6-1, 3 minutes, 40 seconds into the second quarter. “We ended up shooting ourselves in the foot a million times with a couple bad clears, turning the ball over too much, too many penalties. We dug ourselves a hole at 8-2, but then we fought all the way back and got it to 8-6 40 seconds into the third quarter. But every time we got it to two or three in the second half, that next possession, we would shoot ourselves in the foot before giving ourselves a chance to cut it to two or one. So we’ve got to play a lot better than we played as far as not making the foolish mistakes.”

The setback won’t have much of an impact on the Sea Gulls’ postseason hopes as they are almost assured of at least an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. But the loss prevented Salisbury from capturing the Capital Athletic Conference regular-season title and gave Stevenson the crown, the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the conference tournament.

Berkman said the loss also provided the team with another lesson, saying, “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes so that we can play better. Hopefully, we can take care of business on Wednesday to get another opportunity at them on Saturday.  So we definitely have to play better, and we’re very, very capable of doing that than we did on Saturday.”

Before the Sea Gulls can look ahead to a potential re-match with the Mustangs in the tournament final on Saturday, they must get past Mary Washington (11-5 overall and 6-2 in the CAC), which has won six consecutive games since getting thumped, 18-2, by Salisbury on March 26.

“I think we’ll be ready to play on Wednesday,” Berkman said. “We know that we didn’t play very well on Saturday and that we’ve got to play better than that and that we’ve got to do a little bit better on a couple of fundamental things that we didn’t do. So I’m sure we’ll be anxious to get back on the field.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson
        

UMBC re-asserting itself in America East

Teams in the America East might not like hearing this, but UMBC is making a run in the conference. 

With Saturday’s 13-9 victory over Albany, the Retrievers have won three consecutive games and four of their last five, and they are currently tied with Hartford for second place in the America East. UMBC, which is 5-5 overall and 2-1 in the conference, is immersing itself in something it hasn’t felt in a while: a boost in team morale.

“I think our confidence is growing, and I think our confidence is growing with our experience,” coach Don Zimmerman said Monday. “We’re deeper into the season, and I just see us growing and developing and with that comes the confidence. To be able to go up to Albany and play them at home and come away with a win is going to add to your confidence. But we also realize that we can play better. We’re putting some runs together, but we haven’t played a 60-minute game yet, and that’s what we’re striving for. So I think our confidence is growing, but they certainly realize that we still can be better, and that’s what makes it fun and exciting to get back out there today and get back to work.”

The Retrievers snapped a 9-9 tie in the fourth quarter with four unanswered goals. Three of those tallies came from sophomore Scott Jones, who has blossomed since moving from midfield to attack in the team’s 15-6 loss to Maryland on March 18.

“I think putting him back at his natural position helped,” Zimmerman said of Jones, who has registered nine of his 17 goals and three of his six assists over that span. “He is an attackman. And I think our attack unit now, we’re kind of rotating a four-man group of Jones, [sophomore Joe] Lusgarten, [junior Rob] Grimm and [freshman Ryan] Johnston, and they’re getting used to playing with one another. And Scott has stepped up. He’s stepped up and took charge of the game on the offensive end. We had guys get him the ball, which is key, but he finished the plays, and that’s something we work on all the time.”

Speaking of Grimm, he is still coming off the bench after starting in the team’s first seven games. He has posted three goals and three assists in his last three contests, but Zimmerman was non-committal about whether that would continue Saturday when Vermont visits UMBC Stadium in Catonsville.

“We’ve done that, but that may change for this Saturday,” Zimmerman said. “But there’s the old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ We’ve been successful with Grimm coming off the bench, and I think he’s handled it well. He has played very well in our last three games. So we’re going to have to make that call of whether he starts or not. But really, the whole key is that we’re trying to promote unselfish play and team chemistry. I know for the kids, it means a lot to start, but when you’re involved in a four-man rotation and you’re going to play a lot, then you’ve kind of sacrificed the ‘me’ for the ‘we,’ and when it’s your chance to get out there and prove yourself, you do the best job you can.”

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

Mount St. Mary's enjoying the view from the top

Saturday’s 16-10 victory over host Quinnipiac vaulted Mount St. Mary’s to the top of the Northeast Conference, and the Mountaineers (6-5 overall and 3-0 in the conference) are enjoying sole possession of first place in the league.

“It’s a great, great feeling,” coach Tom Gravante said Monday. “I know that outside of the program, the alumni and parents are very, very happy, but again, the pressure is still on to maintain our status, to stay focused and stay humble.”

The Bobcats had entered Saturday’s contest with an unblemished 2-0 record in the Northeast Conference, but Mount St. Mary’s scored the first five goals en route to a 10-2 advantage at halftime.

Quinnipiac opened the second half on a 4-1 run, but the Mountaineers maintained a large enough lead to win comfortably. Still, Gravante said he would have preferred that the team maintain its dominance without the third-quarter hiccup.

“It was great to smash them as we did,” Gravante said. “But as a coach, I was worried that we wouldn’t keep that momentum, that we would sit back and say. ‘This is a piece of cake.’ And we kind of did. We lost a little bit of our mojo. … We lost that sense of urgency, that killer instinct. It happens, unfortunately, often. … It’s a tough thing for coaches to implement and keep with their kids, that killer instinct to not give up. 10-2 was great, but I was thinking, ‘Boy, I hope we haven’t peaked too early.’ It kind of happened. The momentum kind of changed hands in the third quarter, but we got the momentum back and stayed toe-to-toe with them. But you could tell that Quinnipiac was on the move. They were angry, they were playing with more confidence, and we really just needed to match feet with them and put them away.”

Mount St. Mary’s has two games remaining against conference foes Wagner at home on Saturday and Bryant in Rhode Island on April 30. The goal is to sweep those contests and serve as hosts for the Northeast Conference tournament on May 6 and 8.

“That would seal the deal and bring us one step closer to hosting the tournament,” Gravante said of defeating Wagner. “I think the pressure is off of making the tournament, but I think it’s on for hosting the tournament. And I think the kids really like that. They want to play at home, and that comes with a price, which we will continue to drive home. It’s all about how focused we are, especially on that practice field.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's
        

CORRECTION: In Barthelme, Stevenson has found another power source for offense

With Steve Kazimer departing through graduation and Richie Ford hampered by eligibility issues and then a pulled hamstring, the question around Stevenson was which player would pair with senior Jimmy Dailey to power the attack.

The top-ranked Mustangs (15-1) found their answer a long time ago in senior Neal Barthleme Barthelme, who leads the team in goals with 56 and ranks second in points with 71. Barthleme, a Towson native and Dulaney graduate, scored 34 times and assisted on nine others as a midfielder last season.

“Neal’s had a great year,” coach Paul Cantabene said Monday. “He had a great year for us last year, coming off the bench. This year, he’s just made the most of his opportunities. He leads the country in goals scored, and he’s second in the country in points. He’s really made the most of his opportunities, and we really needed someone to step up after the graduation of Kazimer last year, and Neal’s been able to step into that role.”

Barthleme Barthelme, who registered four points on three goals and one assist in the team’s 16-12 victory over No. 3 Salisbury on Saturday, is just three goals shy of the school record set by Ford, who scored 59 times in 2008.

“We knew that he could score,” Cantabene said. “We knew that if we got him to the right spots, he could put the ball away. He has better eyes than most people think, and he’s a better dodger than most people think. I think he got Salisbury one or two times while showing his dodging abilities. So we thought that he could have a big year, and he’s really lived up to what we thought he could do this year.”

Speaking of the aforementioned Kazimer, he lost one school record on Saturday when Dailey scored three goals against the Sea Gulls. Dailey, a Westminster native and Winters Mill graduate, now has 98 points this season, passing the old mark of 96 set by Kazimer.

Senior faceoff specialist Ray Witte, an Annapolis native and St. Peter and Paul graduate who collected 11 ground balls on Saturday, has scooped up 301 ground balls, which is 44 shy of Matt Smoot’s school record.

CORRECTION: I misspelled Neal's last name because I used an incorrect spelling found in the team's media guide. Thanks to Marty Barthelme, Neal's uncle, for pointing out the error. My apologies to Neal, his family and Stevenson.

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

April 18, 2011

Tragedy hits home for Maryland's Young

The mother of Maryland senior attackman Ryan Young has passed away after a long battle against pancreatic cancer, according to a tweet by MDTerpsLacrosse on Monday.

Maria Young was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the winter of 2008, which was her son’s freshman year. This season, Ryan Young has worn his helmet with the word “MOM” etched on a piece of paper taped on the bottom part, near his left jawline.

After the team’s overtime loss to Duke on March 5, Young returned to his family’s home in Manhasset, N.Y., because the family had feared that his mother’s health had taken a turn for the worse.

It’s unclear whether Young, who leads the No. 7 Terps (8-3) in both assists (17) and points (31), will play in the team’s contest against No. 6 North Carolina Friday in a semifinal of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Durham, N.C.

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:04 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland
        

Stevenson anointed new No. 1 in Division III

Two days after knocking off No. 2 Salisbury, 16-12, and with top-ranked Tufts dropping a 9-8 decision to No. 18 Endicott on Tuesday, Stevenson vaulted to the top of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll on Monday.

The Mustangs, who improved to 15-1 overall, received eight of 18 first-place votes with No. 2 Rochester Institute of Technology getting six and Salisbury receiving four.

Coach Paul Cantabene said the team welcomes the No. 1 ranking – with a caveat.

“It’s a long season, and it’s a nice honor to be ranked No. 1 again, but we really can’t worry about that too much,” he said Monday morning. “We still have a lot of games to play, and the first thing we’ve got to worry about is our [Capital Athletic Conference tournament] semifinal game against St. Mary’s on Wednesday. And if we get by that, we’re probably going to have to see Salisbury again, and that’s a pretty short window to play each other two times. So we can’t really worry about the No. 1 ranking. It’s great to have, but at the same time, we’re looking forward to the future here.”

With an 8-0 record in the CAC, Stevenson captured the top seed in the conference tournament and will have homefield advantage for the entire tournament. But Cantabene said the coaching staff will remind the players that they cannot afford to overlook the Saints (6-8, 4-4), who visit Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

“It’s something we’re definitely looking at and making our guys understand that they’ve got to play these games one at a time,” Cantabene said. “We can’t look forward to the future, and at the same time, we’ve got to make sure that we come out of them as healthy as possible.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Stevenson
        

Under the radar, Villanova positioning for higher aspirations

With much of the preseason focus centered on Big East foes Syracuse and Notre Dame, Villanova didn’t get nearly as much publicity despite returning eight of 10 starters from a team that finished 10-5 and barely missed out on an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats are currently 8-3 and No. 13 in The Sun’s rankings with wins against No. 15 Delaware, No. 17 Drexel and No. 18 Penn and losses to No. 1 Syracuse, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 12 Bucknell – all by a combined seven goals.

Asked if the players used the lack of attention as motivation, coach Michael Corrado replied, “I guess to some extent. Last year, we beat Notre Dame, and then they got to the championship game, which, I think, gave our guys confidence that they could compete with everybody in the league. My senior class had played against Syracuse as freshmen and juniors, and they got outscored 41-12. So I think this year, playing them the way that we did with it being a tied game with under a minute to go and losing [5-4 on March 26] in the last couple of seconds, I think that was a big confidence boost for our team. We had kind of taken that next step to be able to compete with some of the top teams.”

Villanova’s defense has been the team’s foundation, entering last weekend ranked 13th in Division I by allowing 7.8 goals per game. Senior long-stick midfielder Brian Karalunas leads the country in caused turnovers per game (4.7) and sophomore goalkeeper Billy Hurley ranks 13th in goals-against average (7.8).

But the team has benefitted from the emergence of junior attackman Kevin Cunningham and freshman faceoff specialist Thomas Croonquist (43-of-71 for a .606 percentage), who has given the Wildcats a 1-2 punch with junior Nolan Vihlen (81-of-144, .562).

Cunningham has been especially impressive as he leads the offense in both assists (16) and points (37).

“Kevin Cunningham might be a little bit of a surprise from the standpoint of how many goals he’s scored,” Corrado said Sunday. “Last year, he was more of an assists guy, and this year, he’s increased his goal scoring. … He’s developed more range on his shots. He plays mostly from behind the cage, so most of the time, he’s coming around to the front and his shots aren’t from very far away. But now, he’s more of a threat from 10-to-12 yards whereas he was about 8-to-10 the year before. And when he’s coming around the cage, he’s shooting with a much higher percentage this year.”

Several analysts feel confident that barring any upsets, Villanova should be the third Big East representative to cement an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament when the field is announced on May 8. Corrado chuckled when informed of that view.

“I would not agree with that,” he said. “To be in the conversation at this point in the season as a potential at-large bid is great. We’re very excited about that, but we realize we have four games left. So we have a lot of work to do before we can get to the point where we’ll be considered. It’s great to be in the conversation, but it’s still very, very early to be talking about that.”

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

Q&A with CBS Sports Network's Steve Panarelli

CBS Sports Network analyst and former Syracuse All-American defenseman Steve Panarelli will provide commentary on Saturday’s Patriot League showdown between No. 12 Bucknell and No. 14 Colgate. On Sunday, he discussed his choice to replace Syracuse as the country’s No. 1 team, Johns Hopkins’ odds to win the national title and his favorite to win the Tewaaraton Award.

Were you surprised that top-ranked Syracuse was upset by No. 9 Cornell, 11-6, on Tuesday night?
A little bit surprised. I was fortunate to see Cornell play against Harvard that previous Saturday, and they looked good. Harvard did some stuff to lock up Pannell, and it kind of kept them in the game. But I knew Syracuse wouldn’t do. they weren’t going to lock up someone because they’ve got too much pride on defensive end to do that. And when [senior] John Lade went out of the game, that’s a match-up problem for anybody when you lose your best defenseman. And Syracuse has played in a lot of close games, but they haven’t really taken that next step, especially offensively, to where they put people away. So did it surprise me? No. I still thought they would’ve won at home, but Cornell’s definitely a good team, and Syracuse has been kind of up and down, wining some close games, but not being as oimpressive as they should have been by now.

If Lade, who did not play in Saturday's 13-3 win against Providence, is out for an extended period of time, how will his absence impact the Orange?
I think that would be huge for them because right now, they’re not dominating the faceoffs. So they’re playing a little more defense than usual, and they’re not putting up the goals that Syracuse is accustomed to. I think if they’re going to make a run and win it this year, they’re going to do it from the defensive end, which is kind of different for them in years past. They used to ride their offense and win close games, 16-15, or something like that. So if he’s out for an extended period, I think that’s going to have a huge impact, especially when they play these teams that have a dominant attackman. That’s when he needs to be playing.

So with Syracuse losing, who is the No. 1 team in the country in your opinion?
I think you have to go with Notre Dame. At the same time, I think it’s a tough call because right now, there are at least eight or nine teams that you could make an argument for that can make a run and win the whole thing. I don’t think there’s been a clear-cut No. 1 where one team is 100 times better than everybody. The parity this year has been unbelievable. I was talking about this with somebody recently, but I think the quarterfinals [of the NCAA tournament] are going to be the best we’ve ever seen because there are eight or nine teams that can legitimately win the whole thing. So when you get down to the quarterfinals, you’re looking at Final Four-type match-ups in that round, which is going to be interesting.

Should it matter that No. 2 Notre Dame isn’t winning with style or by wide margins?
They’re undefeated. A win’s a win, and you take it any way you can get it. I’ve had a chance to see them play a few times, and their defense is unbelievable. They play such a great, fundamental system, and everybody’s on the same page. Do they blow you away with their offense and score a lot of goals? Not really, but that’s not their style. That’s not their game. They’re a defensive team, and they play pretty good defense. So if it’s a tight game and a big game and you know your defense is going to be there and is going to hold it down, you always have an opportunity to win. So for them going down the stretch, they’ve got a chance in every game they play – no matter who they play. And if one or two guys get hot towards the end, they might be the favorite.
 
With the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning on Friday, is No. 5 Duke – as the tournament’s top seed – the best team in the ACC?
That’s a tough call. It will be very interesting to see what goes on down there [in Durham, N.C.]. They’ve been inconsistent at times where they’ve looked great and then you look at them and think, “Who is that team?” I think you could make the same argument for Virginia, and then Maryland and North Carolina. All four of them have been up and down. So it’ll be very interesting to see who plays well in that tournament and comes out on top. I think Virginia has been dealing with a lot of distractions. They don’t want to talk about the court case [involving George Huguely, who is charged with murdering Virginia women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love] that’s going on. It might not directly affect them to where they’re getting asked about it, but don’t think that the guys aren’t talking about that stuff in the locker room or in the cafeteria. That’s on their minds. So I think that’s had a huge effect on them. The Brattons have been suspended, and that’s another distraction. I think they’ve had a lot of stuff to go through as a team, and I think they need to really get focused. But if they can make a run, hats off to Coach [Dom] Starsia because I think there are lot of things going on in that locker room that he’s dealing with right now and he’s got to get them focused on lacrosse. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top among those teams.

With No. 3 Johns Hopkins starting eight sophomores and freshmen, are the Blue Jays too young to contend for a national title this season?
No. I was talking with somebody about this, too, and the Hop’s back. [Coach Dave Pietramala] has got them believing, and hats off to Coach Pietramala, who has done a great job with these guys. I had an opportunity to see them play against Syracuse in The [Carrier] Dome, and I thought they were unbelievable. They looked like they might have been – if not the best defense – at least one of the top two or three defensive teams in the country. When they win faceoffs and can control the ball, they’re tough to beat. I think they can make a run. Coach Pietramala has been there before, and sometimes when you’re young and you get into those moments, you don’t even realize what you’re doing and you just go with it and play well. Sometimes when you’re older, you begin to think, “This is my last opportunity, my last chance,” and there’s a little more pressure. I think those guys go into games with a lot of confidence, they feel good about what they’re doing, and I don’t think they even realize what’s going on. They’re just going to play and do what they do. they keep following the plan every week, and if they keep doing that, they have as much of a chance as anyone.

Is there one team lurking as a potential upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament?
Depending on what goes on in the Patriot League tournament and who gets in, I think the team that comes out of there is the team you don’t want to see. Colgate’s played very well, Bucknell, and Army’s been there and done that with last year’s upset of Syracuse. If they can win that tournament, they’re another group of guys that you don’t want to see. I think anyone from that Patriot League is a team you kind of want to stay away from.

Who is your leading candidate to win the Tewaaraton Award?
It’s [Cornell junior attackman] Rob Pannell. I just think he’s so dynamic. If you look at his goals-to-assists ratio, it’s unbelievable. If you slide to him, he finds the open guy. If you don’t slide to him, he sticks it in the corner. His ability to dodge and make his teammates around him better makes him – by far – the best player in the country. When the game’s on the line, give him the ball and he can make a play.

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

April 17, 2011

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Maryland

Maryland did it again, squandering an early sizable lead and falling to a longtime rival.

But unlike that 11-6 loss to North Carolina on March 26, the No. 7 Terps said the 12-11 overtime setback to No. 3 Johns Hopkins at Byrd Stadium in College Park felt differently Saturday night.

“We kind of just put that game in the past,” senior attackman Ryan Young said of the loss to the Tar Heels, who roared back from a 4-0 deficit in the first quarter. “It’s not like we completely collapsed – like we were scared to make plays. It’s Hopkins-Maryland, and today was a completely different game, a completely different atmosphere. We went on our run, they went on their run.”

The Terps (8-3) owned a 7-2 advantage at halftime, but looked helpless as the Blue Jays (9-2) went on a 9-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Maryland coach John Tillman pointed out that rather than wilting, the team scored two goals in a 62-second span to send the contest into overtime.

“They could’ve packed it in,” he said. “The other team had the momentum, and it shows a lot about our guys. When things went poorly, I was very impressed with just the body language, the attitude, the calmness, the poise, the leadership that we had on the sideline. We get back in it, we have a chance to win it late in regulation and overtime. … I think what we showed is we’re making progress. A lot is going to happen in the next six weeks, and hopefully, we can continue to improve and grow and work on some things so that we can poise ourselves for a big run here.”

The first step is the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament where the Terps will face – guess who? – North Carolina (8-4) in the first semifinal on Friday at 5 p.m. in Durham, N.C.

“We’re just going to come back on Monday fired up like we always are and get ready for our first ACC game,” Young said. “Our goal is ACC championship. We’re not dwelling on this game.”

Other notes:

*With Johns Hopkins trailing by five at halftime, coach Dave Pietramala didn’t exactly mince his words in his halftime talk with the players. “We went into halftime and we told our guys we didn’t think they were playing with any heart,” he said. “And we came out after halftime and played with the heart that this team is capable of playing with. This wasn’t a game of X’s and O’s. When a track gets like this and rain makes it sloppy, it’s really about playing hard, and I thought those were two teams that battled, played extremely hard, and it could’ve gone either way.” Fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland said he did not disagree with Pietramala’s halftime speech. “We just had to settle down and get on the same page in all areas of the field, and that’s credit to their defense and the way they were playing,” said Boland, who scored all five of his goals in the second half. “But I think we built some confidence at halftime, and we just wanted to settle down and all be on the same page as a team. I think we did a good job of doing that, and we were patient, and things kind of fell into place.”

*With fellow classmates Jack Reilly, Rob Guida and Phil Castronova playing so well, freshman midfielder Eric Ruhl has been overlooked. But Ruhl, who is the first rookie midfielder to score a goal in each of his first three games under Pietramala, showed what he’s capable of with his two-goal, one-assist performance against Maryland. “This is pretty much my first game back,” said Ruhl, who sat out three consecutive games with an unspecified injury. “I got a few runs in against Albany [on April 8], and I pretty much just wanted to come out and play as hard as I could. I knew this was a huge rivalry, and we practiced hard all week, and I guess things just fell in place.”

*Pietramala was pleased with the team’s comeback, but he conceded that there’s little time to enjoy the victory. “We’re happy,” he said. “But now, we’ve got a greater challenge ahead of us. We’ve got to kind of put our feet back on the ground. We’ve got Navy coming in [on Saturday night], and I’m certain we’ll get everything that they have. So we’re going to treat this like every other game. We’re going to enjoy it tonight and then we’ll get ready for the next one.” Sidenote: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, an avowed lacrosse fan and a friend of Pietramala's, visited the team's locker room after the win. 

*An inch separated Maryland from being the happy team Saturday night. In the first minute of overtime, Young and junior midfielder Joe Cummings worked a pick play perfectly with Young finding Cummings alone in front of Blue Jays sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett (eight saves). But Cummings bounced a shot off the left post, and Bassett stopped a backhanded attempt by junior midfielder Jake Bernhardt from point-blank range to set up senior attackman Kyle Wharton’s game-winning goal. “I got open, and Ryan made an awesome feed like he does all the time,” said Cummings, who paced the Terps with four goals. “I just hit the pipe. That happens. We didn’t get the next one, and they made a good play in overtime to score the goal, and they got the win. That’s sometimes how it happens, but we’re going to respond and come back as a team. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We’re a family. So we’re going to take this one, move on, and keep going.”

*Two of Johns Hopkins’ goals occurred as a result of poor outlet passes by Maryland redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato. A lazy floater in the second quarter was intercepted by sophomore attackman Zach Palmer, who skipped a 35-yard shot into the net. After stopping a blast by sophomore midfielder John Ranagan, Amato’s attempted clear was blocked and intercepted by Boland, who put the ball in the open net. Tillman declined to place any blame on Amato. “Niko, I think, he made some big saves for us,” Tillman said. “He’s had a terrific year for us. Like any young goalie and anybody on our team – whether it’s coaches or players – we’re going to make some mistakes, but we’re going to make some good plays, too. Again, he’s learning as he goes. There’s some things he can improve upon just like myself and the two guys here. We’ll keep fixing it and working at it.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Postscript
        

April 16, 2011

Johns Hopkins at Maryland: Halftime thoughts

No. 7 Maryland has jumped out to a 7-2 advantage at halftime over No. 3 Johns Hopkins at Byrd Stadium in College Park, and the Terps have done so in stunning fashion on Saturday night.

None of the seven of the team’s goals have come from the vaunted attack of seniors Ryan Young and Grant Catalino and sophomore Owen Blye. Midfielders have scored six times, and sophomore long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt got the other tally.

That’s not to suggest that the attack’s impact has been minimal. Young has been a non-stop dervish behind the net, and he has assisted on two of junior Joe Cummings’ three goals. Catalino hasn’t put a shot on net, but he has drawn sophomore defenseman Tucker Durkin Chris Lightner out of the middle of the box.

But if Maryland (8-2) is having this kind of success without goals from its attack, it could be a long evening for the Blue Jays (8-2).

Other notes:

*The Terps should actually lead by six goals, but redshirt freshman goalkeeper Niko Amato lazily floated an outlet pass that was intercepted by Zach Palmer at almost midfield. From 35 yards out, the Johns Hopkins sophomore attackman skipped the ball past a diving Maryland defenseman and Amato to make the score 4-2 with 10:16 left in the second quarter. But the Terps scored three times in a span of 4 minutes, 58 seconds to enjoy their largest lead of the contest.

*Cummings leads all scorers with three goals – his fourth hat trick of the season and second in his last three games. Junior midfielders Jake Bernhardt and Drew Snider have scored one each. Sophomore midfielder Landon Carr caused a brief delay with 10:26 left in the first quarter when his blast from the left point ripped a hole in the netting. It was reminiscent of a shot by Blue Jays attackman Kyle Wharton, who did the same against Towson last year.

*Palmer leads Johns Hopkins with a goal and an assist, but senior attackman Chris Boland and Wharton have been silenced by Maryland senior defensemen Brett Schmidt and Ryder Bohlander, respectively. Similarly, Blue Jays sophomore midfielder John Ranagan has been handcuffed by senior long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell and Jesse Bernhardt.

*The Terps are winning the battle of the faceoffs, taking 7-of-11 attempts. Sophomore Curtis Holmes, who entered the contest ranked 11th in Division I with a 61.8 percentage (118-of-191), has been outdueling Johns Hopkins senior Matt Dolente, who leads the nation with a 70.2 success rate (113-of-161). Maryland has taken 15 shots to the Blue Jays’ 11, but Johns Hopkins has a slight edge in ground balls, 16-15.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:07 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Johns Hopkins, Maryland
        

Johns Hopkins-Maryland to start as planned

A Maryland spokesman just announced that Saturday’s showdown between No. 3 Johns Hopkins and No. 7 Maryland at Byrd Stadium in College Park will begin at 8:03 p.m.

Halftime will be trimmed from 12 to 10 minutes, but the game should start as scheduled – barring any unexpected hiccups.

The matchups and times of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament were announced. The Terps and No. 6 North Carolina will meet on Friday at 5 p.m. No. 5 Duke, the tournament’s host, will face No. 8 Virginia at 7:30 p.m.

Maryland dropped an 11-6 decision to the Tar Heels on March 26. The Blue Devils beat the Cavaliers, 13-11, earlier on Saturday.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland
        

Loyola-Georgetown moved to Sunday

Due to forecasts of severe weather, Saturday's contest between No. 20 Loyola and Georgetown in Washington, D.C., has been rescheduled to Sunday at 3 p.m.

The game is still scheduled to take place at Multi-Sport Field on Georgetown's campus.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola
        

Johns Hopkins at Maryland: Three things to watch

Bragging rights aren’t the only thing at stake when No. 3 Johns Hopkins visits No. 7 Maryland in a series that spans 116 years. The Blue Jays (8-2) have avenged last year’s losses to Virginia and North Carolina and would love to do the same against the Terps. Maryland (8-2) has won six of its last seven contests and is aiming for its first winning streak against Johns Hopkins since the 1995-96 campaigns. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Saturday.

1) Durkin and Reilly vs. Catalino and Young. Talk of the Terps offense usually begins with senior attackmen Grant Catalino and Ryan Young, each of whom recorded three points in Maryland’s 10-9 win in this rivalry last season. Young is pacing the Terps in both assists (15) and points (28) and Catalino is second in both goals (19) and points (27). That duo, which could get marked by freshman defenseman Jack Reilly and sophomore defenseman Tucker Durkin, respectively, certainly got the attention of Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala. “There’s not a better guy in transition than Grant Catalino,” Pietramala said. “He can score from 16-plus. He’s a threat. People don’t recognize that he’s a big, strong, physical kid, and I’m watching him dodge people for some goals. So he’s extremely dangerous and difficult to match up with at times because of his size. Then you go to Ryan, and Ryan’s a different player. He’s a quarterback who is a tremendous feeder. He’s great in their big-little pick game. He can create slides, which makes things easier for Grant Catalino because now you have a defense that’s rotating and that frees his hands.”

2) Dolente vs. Holmes. Johns Hopkins’ success this season can be linked to the improvement on faceoffs, where senior Matt Dolente leads Division I with a 70.2 success rate (113-of-161). Dolente’s quickness should be a test for Maryland sophomore Curtis Holmes, who ranks 11th with a 61.8 percentage (118-of-191). Terps coach John Tillman said he has confidence in Holmes, who outdueled North Carolina freshman R.G. Keenan on March 26. “Curtis just needs to do what he needs to do,” Tillman said. “What we’ve got to do is, we’ve got to make sure that we don’t get away from what’s made Curtis so successful because I think Curtis has had a very good year. He’s a guy that was under the radar and anytime you go into a game plan, you want to game plan for your opponent, and you want to know their strengths and weaknesses. We will scout and prepare and have a game plan not only for our wings, but also for Curtis. But just like when we played against Keenan from North Carolina, we’ve got to trust that Curtis is going to have a good day and do his thing.”

3) Ranagan vs. Farrell and Bernhardt. Teams fortunate to have one capable long-stick midfielder are usually envied. Maryland, however, has two in fifth-year senior Brian Farrell and sophomore Jesse Bernhardt. Farrell is the bruiser, while Bernhardt is speedster. Both players will likely target Blue Jays sophomore midfielder John Ranagan, who ranks third on the team in points (22) and has registered five goals and one assists in his last two games. Pietramala said he thinks Ranagan is prepared for the challenge. “Having played against the Joel Whites, Bray Malphruses and John Cunninghams, it only prepares you for these kind of match-ups,” Pietramala said. “And it’s what we expect every week. The teams we play have talented players, and we assume that John’s going to see a quality pole each time he steps out onto the field. Those are important match-ups. That’s not the only one, but we certainly have a lot of respect for the two guys that Maryland has.”

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

Army at Navy: Three things to watch

Much has already been said about how vitally important this contest is for Navy (4-7 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League), which would be eliminated from the conference tournament – and consideration for the NCAA tournament – with a loss to Army. But the No. 16 Black Knights (7-4, 2-2) need a victory nearly as much to stay in the hunt for the spot in the four-team conference tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Saturday.

1) Targeting Army’s defense. The Black Knights have surrendered double-digit goals just twice this season, but the defense has been playing at less than full strength. Top defenseman Bill Henderson, a senior, has played in the last two games after missing the previous five with a case of mononucleosis. Senior defenseman Matt Marasco underwent shoulder surgery and is not expected to return until later this month at the earliest. But Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the changes in personnel haven’t dramatically changed the way Army’s defense has played. “I think they’re about the same,” Meade said. “I think they’re sliding a lot more than they have in the past. When you look at their season last year, they did a phenomenal job of winning one-goal games. … Defensively, they’ve got a great goalie [senior Tom Palesky] and when he plays great, they’ve got a great defense. That’s the same with us. Almost everybody is in the same type of situation. So the only thing I can say after watching film is, they slide to the ball a little bit more than they have in the past.” One thing to keep an eye on: the Black Knights surrendered a combined seven goals in 12 man-down situations to No. 12 Bucknell and No. 14 Colgate in the past two weekends.

2) Targeting Army’s midfield. An attack spearheaded by senior Jeremy Boltus and sophomore Garrett Thul has been playing exceptionally well, but the same can’t be said for the midfield. Aside from junior Devin Lynch (11 goals and 5 assists), no other midfielder has scored more than six goals. But Meade said the midfielders are integral in the Black Knights’ offensive game plan. “They kind of do one of two things,” he said. “They’re either going to start the ball with Boltus or Thul and let them dodge. They [set screens] behind the cage and try to get a switch-and-dodge. And the other thing that they do is they try to initiate from up top and try to make you hedge or slide to one of the D-middies and then bang the ball up to Garrett up top and then just let him go. … They’re very opportunistic guys, and they’re scoring enough goals to win games. They’ve got enough firepower, so they can still hurt you.”

3) Targeting possession. Navy’s offense is averaging 9.5 goals per game, but the unit has struggled lately due to an inability to maintain possession for extended periods of time. Holding onto the ball could be critical on Saturday as the Midshipmen would be able to wear down Army’s defense and keep the ball from the potent attack. “Possession is basically ground balls, faceoffs and clearing,” Meade said. “We’ve got to win the ground balls, we’ve got to win the faceoff battle, and we’ve got to be able to clear the ball.”

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

Stevenson at Salisbury: Three things to watch

There are plenty of storylines as No. 3 Stevenson visits No. 2 Salisbury. At stake is first place in the Capital Athletic Conference and the top seed in the conference tournament, which also entails home-field advantage throughout the tournament. There’s also firing the first salvo that in what could be a three-meeting series this season between these rivals. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury on Saturday.

1) Minding the midfield. While the Mustangs boast the fourth-most prolific offense in Division III, the Sea Gulls (14-0) aren’t exactly wallflowers as they were ninth with a 15.0 goals-per-game average as of Tuesday. Salisbury has relied on a starting midfield powered by reigning National Midfielder of the Year Sam Bradman, but coach Jim Berkman said the team has benefited from the development of a second line composed of junior Jeff McGuire (10 goals and four assists), sophomore Ryan Clarke (6, 8) and senior Spencer Smith (8, 4). “We’re seeing an emergence of some of the second line middies that are getting better,” Berkman said. “… They have given us a little bit more firepower. That’s always a plus because if they can get in the field and not turn the ball over and get you a couple goals a game, that’s a big advantage.”

2) Factoring faceoffs. Stevenson’s offense has excelled due to the presence of senior Ray Witte, who has won 64.4 percent (145-of-225) of his faceoffs. Even better is Sea Gulls sophomore Tyler Granelli, who has won 78.2 percent (133-of-170) of his draws. The leader on faceoffs could translate into more possessions – and potentially more goals – on Saturday. “It’s going to be huge because both offenses are pretty good,” Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said. “…Ray Witte is having a great season for us, and one of the things he can do is score off of the faceoff. He’s done a great job of putting pressure on teams and starting breaks. Salisbury has been doing a great job, getting faceoffs at about 70 percent and getting more possessions than other teams. Faceoff play is going to be key.”

3) Observing the surroundings. Stevenson has to make the three-hour trip from Owings Mills to Salisbury, but playing at Sea Gull Stadium is not an intimidating proposition for the Mustangs, who are 2-1 in their last three visits. That’s why Berkman didn’t put too much weight into having the home-field advantage. “Both teams have played on the road against big opponents and have beaten them on the road,” he said. “We both have beaten each other on each other’s field the last two years. So I don’t think there’s any huge advantage. Obviously, Sea Gull Stadium is a pretty neat place to play in, and it definitely gives you a little bit of a crowd advantage, but I know they’ll have a good crowd there, too – as we would if we were playing up there. But I don’t think that’s going to determine the outcome of the game. You’ve got two great teams, a lot of good players at each position, and at the end of the day, I think whoever has the goalie will determine the outcome of the game.”

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

April 15, 2011

No time change for Johns Hopkins-Maryland showdown

Despite forecasts predicting some turbulent weather for Saturday, the annual contest between No. 3 Johns Hopkins and No. 7 Maryland at Byrd Stadium in College Park will begin at 8 p.m. as originally scheduled, according to a Maryland spokesman.

However, two games have been moved in a pre-emptive strike. The Atlantic Coast Conference showdown between No. 8 Virginia and No. 5 Duke in Durham, N.C., has been moved up one hour to 11 a.m. And the game between No. 20 Loyola and Georgetown in Washington, D.C., has been shifted from its 7 p.m. start to 3:15 p.m.

Forecasts are predicting thunderstorms and wind on Saturday with the heaviest rains projected to fall between 4 and 8 p.m.

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:09 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland
        

Towson prepares for "must-win" scenario

There’s no dancing or tip-toeing around the significance of Towson’s visit to Penn State on Saturday night.

Win, and the Tigers (2-8 overall and 0-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association) remain alive in the hunt for a spot in the four-team CAA tournament. Lose, and Towson’s season is essentially over.

Adding to the atmosphere is that Saturday’s contest is the home finale and Senior Night for the Nittany Lions. And the football program’s Blue & White Event will take place earlier in the day.

“It’s huge,” Tigers coach Tony Seaman said. “It’s up there, which makes it tougher, and it’s part of their ‘Blue & White’ football weekend. They’ve got everything in the world going for them. It’s up to us. It’s in our hands. We’ve got to win all three games, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Towson’s “do or die” mentality would been shelved had the Tigers held on for an 8-7 win against Massachusetts last Saturday. But the Minutemen tied the score with less than one second left in the fourth quarter and then proceeded to get the game-winner in overtime.

Prior to the game-tying goal, Towson had possession of the ball, but was whistled for a 10-second violation that turned the ball over to Massachusetts with nine seconds left. Seaman and the rest of the team vehemently argued that the 10-second count was too fast, and Seaman said he received a letter of apology from the officials’ association admitting that the 10-second count was actually just eight seconds.

“It’s the first time I can honestly say that a call took the game away from us,” said Seaman, who joked that he hadn’t slept in four nights. “It has certainly influenced games over the years, but never just took a game away from us, but it did.”

But Seaman stressed that what’s done is done, and the players have moved on, setting their sights on making a comeback in the next three CAA games.

“They came right in [on Monday] and said, ‘Coach, we’ve got a chance. If we can win all three and Penn State loses one more game after that, then we’re in,’” Seaman said. “So it gave them something to be excited about because they were so destroyed.”

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

Hood enjoying fruits of its labor

Hood’s reversal from doormat to contender in the Capital Athletic Conference required an investment from both the players and coach Jeremy Mattoon.

Mattoon, who left Hussoon after guiding that program to a 14-7 record in two seasons, is an energetic, relentless mentor who had no trepidation about changing the culture surrounding the Blazers, who had never defeated a CAC opponent since joining the conference prior to the 2007 season.

Mattoon scheduled morning practices that were no longer glorified walkthroughs for the the players. He publicized his expectations to the players and expected them to feel just as committed to reaching those goals.

For the players, Mattoon took some getting used to.

“We had to make adjustments because the coaches before him weren’t as intense or didn’t give you the drive to do things that you hadn’t done before,” acknowledged senior attackman Domonique Shorter, a Baltimore native and Lansdowne graduate. “It was a transition for me because he’s a hard-nosed coach, and I never had a coach like that. A lot of people on the team never had a coach like him. So it was hard to get the vibe down and get the relationship between player and coach. It was up and down, but I like it. I think it’s awesome, and I think it’s good for the program.”

Senior long-stick midfielder Dan Rocker said the players also had to adapt to the change in the tenor and pace of morning practices.

“The one thing we’ve adjusted to is working hard,” the Sykesville native and Century graduate said. “Before, we might’ve had morning practices, but they weren’t like they are now. We work hard. We do stickwork, ground balls. The first thing we do is run, and that’s something that’s completely different from the previous years here when we didn’t run much at all. That’s not very characteristic of a lacrosse team. We’re willing to put in the effort to work hard now, and that’s something that has helped us adjust exponentially.”

Comments like those are enormously gratifying to Mattoon, who conceded that there were times when he questioned whether his approach was the right one for Hood.

“I think to a point, the success we’ve had this year does validate some of the sleepless nights I’ve had, those nights when I just trying to figure out if I was doing the right thing,” he said. “But it’s all about the players. If they believe what you’re trying to teach them, success will come.”

So what’s next for the Blazers (7-7 overall and 3-5 in the CAC)? As the No. 6 seed, they face No. 3 seed Mary Washington, which handed them a 20-3 defeat on April 6. To Shorter, reaching the tournament doesn’t have to be the team’s final stop.

“I’m going to stress that there’s no reason for us to stop trying to continue to do things that we haven’t done,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any reason for us to be satisfied with where we’re at. If you’re getting somewhere, why not succeed more? We’re in the CAC playoffs, and we had never done that before, but why not win our first game in the CAC playoffs? And after that, why not continue to try to do win? Anything is possible.”

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

Mount St. Mary's looking to occupy penthouse in Northeast Conference

Less than a season removed from capturing the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, Mount St. Mary’s finds itself in a similar position in the Northeast Conference.

With a 2-0 record in the league, the Mountaineers are locked in a first-place tie with Quinnipiac, and the Bobcats (2-0) play host to Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday.

Saturday’s winner will assume sole possession of first place and earn the inside track on hosting the four-team Northeast Conference tournament.

“This is the battle of the undefeated and it could strategically put you in a place to host the tournament,” Mountaineers coach Tom Gravante said Thursday. “It really puts the momentum in your team’s hands. And we always tell our guys, ‘Look, you’ve got to handle the pressure. Teams that handle the pressure play well, and they win.’ It’s almost like being in a playoff game because it’s going to dictate who’s going to host the tournament.”

Quinnipiac’s overall record of 4-5 is slightly behind Mount St. Mary’s 5-5 mark, but one advantage the Bobcats may have is the AstroTurf at the Quinnipiac Field Hockey & Lacrosse Turf Field in Hamden, Conn.

To get acclimated to the nuances of AstroTurf, the Mountaineers, who last played on that surface in a 14-12 win against Lafayette on April 3, 2010, left their campus in Emmittsburg on Thursday and will practice Friday morning on Quinnipiac’s field.

 “It won’t be cold turkey on Saturday,” Gravante said. “We’re going to let them take a good run on it tomorrow and let them get their feet wet.”

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

Navy still chafing at last year's sweep by Army

Losing to Army is disappointing for Navy’s players, coaches, supporters and alumni. Getting swept by the Black Knights can be downright torturous.

“That’s definitely motivation,” senior short-stick defensive midfielder Marty Gallagher said of the Midshipmen’s regular-season and Patriot League tournament setbacks to Army last year. “That could be one reason why this year is pretty special. We don’t really let things like that get to us, but it is positive energy to do our best.”

Navy will have a chance to rectify last season's results with a showdown against the Black Knights on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Army has not won in Annapolis since 1997.

Midshipmen coach Richie Meade recalled his four-year stint as an assistant coach for Army when the team had won back-to-back regular-season meetings in 1991 and 1992.

“When I was at West Point, Army had won two years in a row, and that put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win, and we played poorly,” Meade said. “So I don’t know. Really, all I know is that this is this game for this year. That’s the way we’ve always approached it. The team that we’re going to face is the team that they’re going to put on the field on Saturday. We have a pretty good idea of who those guys are going to be, and they’ve got a pretty good idea of who our guys on the field are going to be. Nothing that is said before this game and nothing that is said after this game is going to have to do with what happens on Saturday. That’s the reality of this.”

Similarly, Black Knights coach Joe Alberici downplayed the idea of a psychological edge gained from last year’s sweep.

“I think each game takes on a new life, and it really is dependent on what you’re doing at that moment,” he said. “I don’t think our guys are sitting back and saying, ‘Well, we did this last year, so it’s going to happen again this year.’ I think as we get more into Navy, they’re going to see a team that in every area of the field has played very well at certain times. I think they’ve been on the tough side of a few real hard losses, particularly early on with a young team. Bu you’ve watched them hold teams to four and three and six goals, and I think the defense and [junior goalkeeper] R.J. Wickham are playing very, very well. On offense, they’ve shown some good offensive stuff. They’ve scored 13 goals, 14 goals against common opponents against whom we didn’t score half that many goals. We’ve got a lot of respect for them, and we know we’re going to get their greatest game. We know it’s up to us to put forth our greatest game.”

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

April 14, 2011

Johns Hopkins avoids repeat of 2010

With last Friday’s 11-6 victory over Albany, Johns Hopkins insured itself of finishing with at least a winning record.

That’s quite a contradiction from last season when the Blue Jays went 7-8, marking their first sub-.500 campaign since 1971.

Senior short-stick defensive midfielder Tim Donovan said the team – led by senior captains Chris Boland, Matt Dolente and Kyle Wharton – put itself through the grind to avoid repeating 2010.

“Last year was rough,” said Donovan, a Parkton native and Loyola graduate. “The senior class – with the captains in Matt, Kyle and Chris – has tried to set a precedent. Obviously, last year was not what we had expected. Really, our mantra the whole year has been that we were going to be a really hard-working team, and I think that for the most part, we’ve done that.”

The reversal of record would seem to validate the offseason changes that the team had made. But the mission isn’t complete yet.

“We were extremely disappointed with what took place a year ago,” coach Dave Pietramala said. “I’m very proud that our guys have not allowed that to happen. But that doesn’t assure us of anything as we move forward. We’re guaranteed of a winning record, and that’s great, but our goal isn’t just to have a winning record here. That’s never been the goal. It’s been to be competitive at the highest level, it’s been to get to the Final Four, and it’s been to compete for national championships. “

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

Maryland's Reed may (or may not) start Saturday

Slowly, Travis Reed has been the recipient of more playing time, but there’s no consensus on whether the senior attackman (left shoulder) will start Saturday night when No. 7 Maryland plays host to No. 3 Johns Hopkins.

“We’re still looking,” coach John Tillman said Wednesday. “He’s definitely going to play. He’s getting better and better. I’m not sure who will start on Saturday night, but Travis will play. He’ll be an important part of our game plan, and we’re excited about getting him healthy.”

The Terps can afford to be patient with Reed due to the emergence of sophomore Owen Blye, who has recorded 14 points on eight goals and six assists in his last four starts.

“Yeah, it’s a little bit of everything,” Tillman acknowledged. “I think Owen has done a good job, and we’re comfortable with what he’s doing, but we also like the fact that Travis gives us a different dynamic and that he’s experienced and smart and he’s a deadly shooter and a high-energy guy. So it’s a little bit of both. We’d like to play them both at the same time if they let us.”

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

Prize still within reach for UMBC

After dropping four of its first five contests, UMBC has won three of its last four. With a 1-1 record in the America East, the team remains in the hunt for a berth in the four-team conference tournament.

“We’re always trying to play for the conference championship, and in order to do that, you have to make the posteason tournament, which means you have to be one of the top four teams,” coach Don Zimmerman said Wednesday. “We just feel like our confidence is very, very tight. We’ve always felt that conference games are very important, but maybe even more so this year.”

With a 4-5 overall mark, the Retrievers’ best path to the NCAA tournament likely will entail qualifying for the America East tournament and then finding a way to upend No. 11 Stony Brook, which throttled UMBC, 16-5, on April 1.

The team gets to face another league rival this Saturday when UMBC pays a visit to Albany (4-7). The Great Danes’ hot start, which included consecutive wins against Delaware, Massachusetts and Ohio State, has cooled off considerably as they have dropped six of their last seven games, including losses to America East foes Hartford and Vermont.

Zimmerman said he anticipates a motivated Albany squad on Saturday.

“Albany’s a good team, and they’ve proven that,” he said. “They’ve got some quality wins under their belt. What’s happened is they’ve gotten off to a tough start in the conference, and they’re in a position where I would think they might think they’ve got to win. But again, we’re all in that position. They’re always tough at home, and I think this year will be no different.”

Zimmerman said the Retrievers won’t underestimate the Great Danes, but he did concede that team morale is high after this recent stretch of positive outcomes.

“After the tough stretch we went through and the consecutive losses, to come back and get some wins has really helped our confidence,” Zimmerman said. “That translates into enthusiasm and just the energy that we have. It’s a lot different being in a winning locker room than a losing locker room. I’m just happy for the guys. We’ve worked hard, we’ve stayed positive through the adverse stretch, and now I think the hard work is starting to pay off.”

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

Johns Hopkins' Bassett, Maryland's Amato buoy respective defenses

Among the plethora of storylines seeping from Saturday’s showdown between No. 3 Johns Hopkins and No. 7 Maryland is the play of their respective goalkeepers.

Blue Jays sophomore Pierce Bassett ranks third in Division I in save percentage (.622) and fourth in goals-against average (6.16), making him one of three goalies ranked in the top five in both categories. (Notre Dame sophomore John Kemp and Hofstra junior Andrew Gvozden are the others.)

Terps redshirt freshman Niko Amato isn’t far behind, ranking second in goals-against average (6.12) and seventh in save percentage (.599). Fifth-year senior long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell said Amato has meshed easily with a defense that starts five seniors in close defensemen Brett and Max Schmidt (no relation) and Ryder Bohlander, short-stick defensive midfielder Dan Burns and Farrell himself.

“Niko has been awesome,” said Farrell, a Towson native and Boys' Latin graduate. “He’s the backbone. With a veteran defense like that and you start a guy who’s a freshman, he’s playing really well. I think we had a tight battle in the fall, and he worked his way into the starting position, and guys are starting to become really comfortable around him. If we give him a 12-yard shot, we feel comfortable that he’ll save it.”

Bassett overtook Michael Gvozden last season, making the final seven starts of the year. Senior short-stick defensive midfielder Tim Donovan said Bassett’s development has barely paused.

“He’s worked extremely hard, and he was just as good last year as he is this year,” said Donovan, a Parkton native and Loyola graduate. “But I think this year, he has the confidence that he knows he can play well and compete. As a defense in general, we talk about this defense not being a six-man group, but a seven-man group. He’s a part of our defense, and he’s talking to us the whole game and helping us decipher what’s going on defensively.”

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

April 13, 2011

Syracuse falls, Cornell rises

In case you missed it, top-ranked Syracuse was knocked from the dwindling club of undefeated teams Tuesday night by No. 9 Cornell, which secured an 11-6 victory at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

The Big Red (9-2) jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 6-1 and enjoyed a 7-2 advantage at halftime. The Orange (9-1) scored two goals to open the third quarter, but Cornell answered with three consecutive goals to put the game out of reach.

Junior attackman Rob Pannell further cemented his status as the front-runner for the Tewaaraton Award with a masterful performance: three goals, three assists and four ground balls. According to an in-game blog on Inside Lacrosse, senior defenseman Max Feely limited Syracuse sophomore attackman JoJo Marasco to a single assist, senior attackman Stephen Keogh did not score a goal on two shots, and sophomore defensemen Thomas Keith and Jason Noble finished with four caused turnovers each.

Depending on your perspective, the Orange either had this loss coming or couldn’t will itself to another tight victory. Syracuse had won its previous four games by a combined six goals.

In another harbinger, senior defenseman John Lade returned after injuring his left ankle in a 13-11 win against Duke on April 3, but left early in the first quarter and did not come back. And sophomore defenseman Brian Megill left before the fourth quarter and did not return.

The win further cements Cornell’s berth in the NCAA tournament. Even if the Big Red happens to fall in the Ivy League tournament, the team should get one of the at-large bids.

The Orange shouldn’t be worried either. But if Lade and Megill are out for an extended time, Syracuse’s defense could suddenly become an issue. Notre Dame (8-0) is now the only team with an unblemished record in Division I.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:39 AM | | Comments (0)
        

Maryland's Tillman to see a familiar face on Johns Hopkins sideline

Turns out that coaches haven’t monopolized the market on leaving one program for another.

Maryland’s success at wooing coach John Tillman away from Harvard dominated college lacrosse news in the offseason. A couple of Crimson players soon followed Tillman out the door.

Attackman Jesse Fehr is completing his redshirt senior year for No. 5 Duke, and long-stick midfielder Ben Smith is using his final year of eligibility at No. 3 Johns Hopkins.

Tillman, who has guided the Terps to an 8-2 record and the No. 6 spot in The Sun’s rankings, spoke of seeing Fehr and Smith in unfamiliar colors prior to Maryland’s 9-8 overtime loss to the Blue Devils on March 5.

“Obviously, if you had to choose, you’d rather not play against him,” Tillman said. “But also that’s one person and this is one game, and this is his future and something that can help him for a long time down the road. We’re going to go through the same thing with Ben Smith, who’s now at Hopkins. He’s a tremendous kid, too. I just want those kids to be happy and to be successful.”

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

College recruiting starting earlier than ever

Recruiting is often a touchy subject in the sport of lacrosse. Because the sport is played in the spring, players used to be recruited in their junior seasons, but now some are being courted by colleges in their sophomore and even freshman years.

Duke coach John Danowski won the NCAA Division I lacrosse title last season, and was recently asked if that had an impact on the Blue Devils' recruiting.

 "I don't know," said Danowski, laughing. "We're recruiting seventh graders now, and if they like your shorts, they'll come to your school."

Posted by Mike Preston at 9:57 AM | | Comments (0)
        

History lesson for Salisbury, Stevenson

If history is any indicator of the future, Saturday’s rivalry game between No. 2 Salisbury and No. 3 Stevenson figures to have significant ramifications for both teams in the NCAA tournament.

In the past two seasons, the winner of the regular-season contest has lost in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament final but bounced back to prevail in the NCAA tournament.

That’s what happened in 2009 with the Mustangs winning in the regular season, losing in the CAC final, and ousting the Sea Gulls in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Following year, Salisbury won the first meeting, dropped the CAC title, and advanced to the national championship game by edging Stevenson in overtime in the semifinals.

Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman wasn’t sure what to make of the pattern.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s momentum,” he said. “Maybe one team has a little bit more momentum or is a little more fired up because they lost the last game. I’m not quite sure what it was.”

Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said he thinks that the trend is suggestive of each side’s ability to adapt in preparation for the next meeting.

“Each time one team loses, that team makes changes for the next game,” he said. “I think that’s a benefit for each team. But I would throw out the records when it comes to this game. This game is going to be won by whoever is the toughest team that gets the most ground balls. It’s not going to be a huge X’s and O’s game. I think it’s going to be about whoever makes more plays.”

So Saturday’s game is significant, but as Berkman pointed out, it won’t likely be the final chapter in this series this spring.

“It’s a big game, but the reality of the situation is that somebody’s going to have to do this more than once,” he said. “Whatever happens on Saturday, it would be a feather in the cap for that team because they’ll get to be the host for the next game that will probably happen in another week or so, and obviously, that’s an advantage. And that would be an advantage down the road in the seeding for the playoffs. So in that regard, it’s a huge game. But the reality of the situation is, it’s not all and done for either team on Saturday.”

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

Duke grateful for Monday night game after Saturday setback

Duke had just two days to contemplate its second two-game losing skid of the season, but that was just fine for the Blue Devils, who rebounded from Saturday’s 12-9 loss to No. 4 Denver with a 18-6 pasting of Presbyterian on Monday night.

Coach John Danowski said the lack of down time prevented the players from wallowing in despair or pity.

“We loved the quick turnaround,” he said. “It was great. It was just what we needed. Thirty-eight guys got into the game, and 15 different players scored goals. We played the right way and unselfishly. It was good to get out again and get back on the field.”

No. 5 Duke (9-4) has played its last two contests with junior midfielder Justin Turri, who has been sidelined by a sprained ankle. Danowski said he is holding out hope that Turri, who has started 10 of the 11 games he’s played, can return for Saturday’s home game against No. 8 Virginia, but it doesn’t look good.

“It’s the old ‘one day at a time’ approach,” Danowski said. “But I think in the long run, we would say no. Why play this week when he can be 100 percent the week after?”

Turri, who ranks fourth on the team in points (18), has been replaced by sophomore David Lawson, who has recorded two goals and one assist in Turri’s absence. Danowski said he has no worries about a first midfield composed of junior Robert Rotanz, sophomore Jake Tripucka and Lawson.

“We don’t think it impacts us at all,” Danowski said of Turri’s absence. “We had 42 shots against Denver the other day, and we scored nine goals and their goalie made 16 saves. We were 1-for-3 on man-up [chances]. So in terms of production, maybe some guys bore down and accepted their roles. We certainly never want to lose a player of Justin’s experience and ability, but the next guy’s got to step up and we thought the guys did that the other day.”

The Blue Devils would get the top seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a victory over the Cavaliers (8-3), who have lost junior defenseman Matt Lovejoy to shoulder surgery. Danowski said Duke will have to prepare for a re-tooled Virginia, which displayed a zone defense in Saturday’s 11-10 overtime win against No. 6 North Carolina.

“So that’s the big question: will they play zone against us?” Danowski asked rhetorically. “So we’ve got to prepare for both. We’ve got to prepare for zone, we’ve got to prepare for man, and I think that’s a challenge for us. While a lot of teams have played a little bit of zone this year and we have played a zone offense against teams like Dartmouth and Georgetown, if we were to see a steady diet [from Virginia], that would certainly be a different look than we’re used to.”

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

April 12, 2011

UPDATED: Salisbury, Stevenson to be fully loaded for Saturday's showdown

When No. 2 Salisbury and No. 3 Stevenson meet on Saturday in a critical Capital Athletic Conference at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury, both teams are expected to have their full complement of players.

The Mustangs (13-1 overall and 6-0 in the CAC) is anticipating the return of fifth-year senior attackman Richie Ford, who has been shelved since pulling his hamstring in the second quarter of the team’s 14-13 loss to No. 1 Tufts on March 23.

“We hope he’s going to be ready,” coach Paul Cantabene said Tuesday. “We’re preparing like he is.”

Ford, who led Stevenson in goals last season with 57, had posted 16 goals and seven assists in seven games before his injury. He has been replaced in starting lineup by sophomore Tyler Reid, who has recorded 10 goals and five assists in those five games.

Cantabene said if Ford isn’t available for Saturday, the fourth-most prolific offense in Division III should roll along.

“It doesn’t do anything to our offense,” Cantabene said of Ford’s absence. “When Richie couldn’t play earlier in the season [due to a delay over his eligibility], we’re attacking the same way. I think we just do what we do – a lot of motion offense, a lot of different formations. I think that causes a lot of confusion for defenses. So it doesn’t really change the way we’ve attacked all season. It just means that we’ll have different personnel in the game, guys that can do different things.”

In a similar vein, the Sea Gulls will welcome back junior Sam Bradman, the reigning National Midfielder of the Year who has sat out the last three contests due to an unspecified injury. Bradman, who ranks second on the team in goals (30) and third in points (40), is expected to suit up against Marymount on Tuesday night, according to coach Jim Berkman.

“He had an injury, but he’s back,” Berkman said. “… He should be fine. He’s going full-go tonight.”

UPDATE: I neglected to include Salisbury's record, which is 14-0 overall and 7-0 in the CAC. Thanks to reader Mike Greenhill for pointing out the omission.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson
        

Army's season complicated by injuries, underperforming midfield

With Army and Navy scheduled to resume one of sport’s greatest rivalries on Saturday, here’s a brief look at the Black Knights.

After last season which included a Patriot League regular-season and tournament championship and an upset of then-reigning NCAA titlist Syracuse in the first round, many experts had jumped onto Army’s bandwagon.

Unfortunately, this year has featured more valleys than peaks. The No. 16 Black Knights (7-4) have a strong win against No. 9 Cornell, but they dropped contests against Masschusetts, No. 14 Colgate and No. 12 Bucknell – the latter two occurring over the past two Saturdays.

Injuries have impacted Army, especially on the defensive end. Senior Bill Henderson missed five games due to an illness, while senior Matt Marasco underwent shoulder surgery and is not expected to return until later this month at the earliest.

Coach Joe Alberici conceded that the spate of injuries has kept the team off balance.

“But the only thing I would caution you is that we’re not making excuses for ourselves around here,” he said Monday. “We fully understand that every team goes through that stuff. I’ve actually been impressed with how our guys have handled it and how the guys we have asked to step up have really done that. It’s part of the game, and it’s something that we’re currently dealing with. We’ve just got to do a better job of dealing with it.”

The Black Knights have also failed to find consistent output from their midfield. Aside from junior Devin Lynch (11 goals and 5 assists), no other midfielder has scored more than six goals. Alberici said he has not been disappointed with the midfield’s production.

“I think they’re making a lot of plays that have made things easier for Jeremy and Garrett – whether that’s off-ball, picks or whatever that might be,” Alberici said. “They’re doing what’s asked of them. When you do look at the stat sheet and see such a disparity between those top two scorers and everybody else, you might say they’re not producing, but for us, it’s really and always has been about moving the scoreboard. I’m indifferent about who’s doing that. If that burden happens to fall to two guys, then so be it. But as long as the scoreboard keeps moving, that’s fine. And we know that when the ball goes through that hoop, it wasn’t just the one guy or the two guys, but rather all the other things that led up to it. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our first group and our second group is showing some good signs also. So I think that they’re both in a good place and hopefully, their best lacrosse is ahead of them still.”

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

Virginia's Starsia admits team needed win vs. North Carolina

With three consecutive Final Four appearances and recruiting classes that are annually among the top-5 in the nation, Virginia is rarely lacking in confidence.

But coach Dom Starsia conceded that morale had dipped after back-to-back setbacks to No. 3 Johns Hopkins and No. 7 Maryland prior to Saturday’s 11-10 overtime decision against No. 6 North Carolina.

“I don’t think it was an overwhelming thing, but it was just a little crack there,” he said Monday. “These guys were experiencing things for the first time, and there was a little sense of, ‘What’s going on here?’ For a little seed of doubt to creep in, I’m not completely surprised, but at the same time, you’re trying to quell it and say, ‘Look, everybody just calm down.’ In 2003, the year that we won the national championship, we lost to Hopkins and Maryland in back-to-back games in the middle of the season. I don’t remember back specifically about 2003, but I’m sure there was that same kind of anxiety when you were in the middle of that. It probably helped get our attention for practice last week. With us losing [defenseman Matt] Lovejoy, we needed to have a good week of practice, and I think guys were really zeroed on what we needed to do as we prepared for North Carolina.”

The absence of Lovejoy, a redshirt junior who had started every game since the beginning of last season, forced the Cavaliers (8-3) to unveil a zone defense, which they rarely use. Starsia said the defense fared well without Lovejoy.

“Matt Lovejoy was our best and our most experienced defender, and on a young group, that was a big hit for us to take,” he said. “We had to sort of re-tool there. So there was a lot being required of guys. But I thought the guys were really focused in. We played some zone defense, which we’re not a team that generally shows that. But we just thought we needed to eliminate some of the variables from North Carolina, just simplifying the task but not making it any easier. I thought we did a very good job overall, especially on the defensive end of the field.”

Offsetting the loss of Lovejoy was the return of Shamel Bratton from a one-game suspension for violating an unspecified team policy. The senior midfielder did not start and scored just one goal on six shots, but Starsia said Bratton’s value wasn’t limited to the stat sheet.

“In general, players of his caliber, the guys that can draw teams out, open the field for other guys,” Starsia said. “[Junior midfielder] Colin Briggs had a big day with three [goals] and two [assists]. Some of that is because Shamel was out there at times. He didn’t start, he might have played more of a limited role than he might have otherwise, but he still opens the field for the other guys, and it was constructive for us to be at full strength.”

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

Denver trying to temper sudden expectations

Denver’s 12-9 victory over then-No. 3 Duke on Saturday has vaulted the Pioneers to No. 3 in The Sun’s rankings and suddenly raised the bar for the reigning Eastern College Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champions.

That’s where Bill Tierney comes in. The coach, in his 24th year but only second in Denver, half-jokingly said that it was his task to temper the level of excitement that has gained steam around the program.

“It depends on what we do over the next five games,” he said Monday. “We’ve still got Ohio State and Fairfield and then our [conference] tournament. As I told my team, you can take this win and enjoy it, but if you take it and act like it’s the end-all and play poorly for the rest of the year, it can mean nothing.”

Still, it’s difficult to undersell what the Pioneers have done thus far. The only two blemishes on their 8-2 record is a pair of losses to Syracuse and Notre Dame, which happen to be the top two teams in the country. And Sunday’s win against the Blue Devils, who are currently first in the Atlantic Coast Conference, polishes that team’s resume.

Tierney conceded that the victory has instilled more confidence in the players.

“We’ve been talking about how Denver has made the playoffs three times now – in 2006, 2008 and 2010 – and has never won a playoff game,” he said. “So I think what has happened to the guys a lot of times, they’ve had some signature victories, but this one with this coaching staff and the kids who are currently here, it certainly allows them to believe that their hard work is paying off and to believe in us.”

What’s been surprising to some is that the Pioneers have relied on a potent offense that currently ranks third in Division I in scoring with a 13.0-goals-per-game average. That’s stunning to some because Tierney’s Princeton teams were regarded as squads content to slow the pace and keep the score in single digits.

But Tierney pointed out that of the Tigers’ six national championships, five of them were won with the team scoring double-digit goals.

“To be honest, it’s uncomfortable for me to know that we’re averaging 13 goals per game because usually when you score more, you give up more,” Tierney said. “I’d certainly rather give up less. But all that being said, I think you’ve got to go with the talent you have, and you can’t force people into being something that they’re not. Right now, we’re a good offensive group and we’re trying to become a better defensive group.”

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

April 11, 2011

Denver perseveres despite loss of two starting midfielders

Denver has vaulted towards the top of the national rankings and cemented its grip on the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings despite the loss of a pair of starting midfielders.

Junior Patrick Rogers broke his foot in 10-9 loss to No. 2 Notre Dame on March 12, and senior Andrew Lay broke his jaw while absorbing a shot in practice prior to a 15-11 victory over Hobart on April 2. While there is some hope that both players could return if the No. 12 Pioneers (8-2 overall and 3-0 in the ECAC) reach the NCAA tournament, coach Bill Tierney said the team has had to adapt.

“I learned a long time ago that you can’t complain about injuries,” he said Monday morning. “Everybody has them. … Everybody has to adjust, so we’ve learned to do that. In our offensive system, the midfielders have to be very smart and very unselfish. We pay them to do certain things and we pay the attack to score. And that’s what happens. So far, so good.”

Sophomore Cameron Flint has been a mainstay on the first line, registering eight goals and two assists since Rogers’ injury. He has been helped by sophomores Chase Carraro (nine goals and zero assists) and Eric Law (6, 1), and freshman Jeremy Noble (4, 6) and sophomore Hayden Schuette (2, 1) have also chipped in.

“It’s been kind of an experiment,” Tierney acknowledged. “… The other day, our top midfields included three freshmen and four sophomores. We’re a little young there without Andrew and without Patrick, but again, guys are just doing their jobs. That’s how we try to coach them.”

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

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder Paul Carcaterra witnessed top-ranked Syracuse’s 7-5 decision against Princeton on Saturday. Carcaterra, who will help provide commentary when No. 4 Johns Hopkins visits No. 6 Maryland on Saturday night, offered his perspective on Syracuse’s Achilles heel, a league outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference that could send three teams to the NCAA tournament, and a surprising destination for a first-round game in the NCAA tournament.

Barring an upset, No. 1 Syracuse (9-0) and No. 2 Notre Dame (8-0) are on pace to meet on April 30 in a battle of the unbeatens. Which team will remain that way?
It’s tough to say because Syracuse defensively and in the goal has been so strong. Defensively, I think they’re so sound, and they can win multiple ways. They can win by putting up some big numbers, but they can also win a low-scoring game when you think about their wins over Hopkins and Villanova, scoring five goals, which is not typical Syracuse fashion. The one thing that I think is still a question mark for Syracuse is their offensive consistency. They haven’t put up big numbers on a consistent basis, and I think they’re really lacking an offensive identity in terms of who they are. You have tremendous crease attackman in [senior] Stephen Keogh, who has the potential to score 60 goals if the offense is clicking properly. But he’s not getting as many opportunities as you’d like to see if you’re a Syracuse fan because of the way they’re lacking a dodging presence. I think that hurts Keogh’s touches, and it hurts some of these outside shooters who really aren’t getting their shots. Look at a guy like [senior midfielder] Josh Amidon who is a great lefty outside shooter, and how many outside lefty shots has he taken? Not many because the defense isn’t breaking down and giving him those opportunities. So that’s the big question mark with Syracuse, and unless they start clicking offensively, Notre Dame can certainly go to the Dome and beat them. I look at Notre Dame as a team that you questioned in the beginning of the year because of their attack, but their attack is actually playing quite well. They have a freshman in Westy Hopkins who has been playing outstanding and has given them a dodging presence. They’re a stronger offensive group this year. They were a lockdown defensive group last year, and they still have that. And they’re so well-coached and trained that now you have to score goals to beat them. In the past, you didn’t have to score a ton of goals to beat Notre Dame, but you have to score 10 goals to beat them now.

Critics have questioned Syracuse’s performance in those 5-4 wins against Johns Hopkins and Villanova and in the 7-5 victory over Princeton on Saturday. Is that a case of the Orange playing down to the level of its opponents or having the will to persevere?
I think it’s a situation where they stay calm, relaxed and poised because of their senior leadership. They have seven senior, returning All Americans and they’re kids who have won two national titles and been in tight games., so they stay the course during these games, and I think they do persevere and are able to find seams and flaws late in the games and exploit them. With that said, I don’t think you can consistently play like this week in and week out without stubbing your toe. I think things have to change on the offensive end to continue to stay unbeaten and win a national title. And they certainly have the potential to do that. It’s just that you can’t win like that week after week after week. You can have a few of those games, but when you have five or six or eight of these games, someone’s going to catch you.

Do you buy into a theory that it’s better to lose in the regular season now rather than carry the burden of trying to complete a perfect season in the NCAA tournament?
No, not at all. I’m not one to ever say that a loss is a good thing. You play to win the game, so if you lose, that’s not a good thing. There have been many situations where teams have run the table and gone undefeated to win a national title. And there are teams that lose and grow from those losses and stay hungry, but I think with the Syracuse situation, the motivation to continue to win is certainly there. They have the leadership. This was a team that was upset in the playoffs last year, so that has stayed in their minds. So I don’t think losing a game ever benefits. You don’t become a better team by losing a game. You might get motivated or learn from them, but you can learn from wins as well.

Do you think the Big East will get three at-large bids?
I do. You look at Syracuse and Notre Dame and they’re pretty much locks to go into the tournament. And now you have an upstart Villanova team that can play with anybody in the country. And Georgetown is the best team with a bad record in the country. They really can play with anyone. If you look at some of their opponents, they played Syracuse, Duke and Notre Dame so tight. I don’t think their season is over yet. They’ve got a lot of lacrosse to play. But I definitely think that the Big East is going to get three.

What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
Denver-Duke. Duke looked great for about five weeks in March and early April. They really pulled things together. I thought they had so many holes when I watched them down in Florida in late February and from that point on, they clicked. After the Penn loss, they found themselves offensively. They have freshmen – guys like Jordan Wolf and Christian Walsh – playing like upperclassmen and just clicking on all cylinders and had a defense that was fast and great in transition. I wasn’t impressed with the way they played against Syracuse last week. I thought they were completely outplayed. The score didn’t really indicate the type of game it was. It was a six- or seven-goal difference late in the second half. So I was looking for them to rebound and get back to old form, but it looked like they struggled against Denver.

What does the win say about Denver?
They have two losses – to Syracuse and Notre Dame, the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country. I think Bill Tierney has had these kids buy into their defensive system. Offensively, I look at them as a different team from those of his Princeton years. They play differently. They play a little bit more transition, a little more freelance on offense. This is a team that can really sneak up on a squad, sand I look at them as a team that you really don’t want to play in the first round of the playoffs. Denver is a squad that has two outstanding attackmen in [juniors Alex] Demopoulos and [Mark] Matthews, and their defense is tight, and they’re getting great goaltending from the freshman, Jamie Faus. He’s outstanding. So this is a team that is built for now and the future because they are young.

If Denver repeats as the Eastern College Athletic Conference champion, will the Pioneers play host to a first-round game in the NCAA tournament?
I think they’ll get a home game, and I think that’ll be great for lacrosse. Denver’s a huge lacrosse town now, so it’d be good for Denver to get a home game. Depending on how Duke fares in the ACC tournament, Denver has a legitimate chance at being – at the bare minimum – a No. 5 seed. Beating a Duke team that could have some solid wins down the stretch, that could be interesting.

No. 7 Virginia’s 11-10 overtime decision against No. 5 North Carolina will have more of an impact for which side?
I thought it was a bigger game for Virginia because I felt like to a certain extent that the wheels were falling off of the bus for the Cavaliers. Getting that ACC win against a really good North Carolina team probably gave that team a sense of being back and being able to compete. They had a lead diminish down the stretch. They were up 10-7 and then North Carolina fought back. It could have been catastrophic for the Cavaliers if they had lost that game based on the way that fourth quarter played out. Winning that game was huge for that program because I think from a morale standpoint, things weren’t great for the Cavaliers. North Carolina’s young and talented and still trying to find an identity where they can kind of bounce back from that loss more than Virginia.

With No. 8 Cornell two games ahead of its opponents in the Ivy League, would it be fair to say that the conference’s automatic qualifier runs through the Big Red?
I do because they’ve beaten some of the up-and-coming teams like Yale and Penn. Those are two teams that people were really starting to eyeball as title contenders. With that said, I think they’ll have a tough time in their conference tournament, but this is only the second year of the conference tournament. I think they’ll be tested, but they’ll go into that weekend as a strong favorite.

Is there a favorite to emerge from the Colonial Athletic Association?
This conference is without a doubt the toughest to get a feel for in terms of the top two or three teams. This is the cloudiest picture with regard to all of the conferences. You know what you’re getting in the Ivy. I think people think that Hofstra is the best team on paper, but they have some question marks. Coming into the season, people thought this was a team that could make a Final Four run, which they still can, but they’ve been very inconsistent. I think people thought they would have an offense that is great, but they lost to Delaware in a game where they put up six goals and they beat St. John’s by putting up eight. To me, Hofstra’s probably the best team, but I can’t call them the clear-cut favorite in that conference.

What about the Patriot League?
One team I’m really impressed with from the Patriot League is Colgate. Colgate’s a team where I didn’t think they would be good at all this year. But they’ve out together some nice wins. They’re 8-3. They’re the quietest 8-3 team in the country. They beat Army last week by two goals, which I thought was a huge W for them. It’s a team that continues to surprise people. They have a kid who is the biggest under-the-radar player in the country, [sophomore midfielder] Peter Baum. I saw him two years ago play at the Under Armour All-American Game, and he was the best player on the field. He is a top-flight offensive player, and he’s doing it with serious defensive pressure, too. When you play Colgate, you’re saying, ‘Stop Peter Baum,’ and he still has 29 goals right now.

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

April 10, 2011

Postscript from Fairfield at Loyola

The number three has become a theme for Loyola.

The Greyhounds began the season with three victories, then dropped three straight regular-season contests under coach Charley Toomey for the first time, and now has won three consecutive games, including Saturday’s 7-6 overtime decision against visiting Fairfield at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.

It’s been a somewhat dramatic reversal for a program that was once in danger of missing the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament and – with a 3-2 league record – is now in second place in the conference.

Loyola (6-3 overall) won’t be able to overtake No. 12 Denver for the top spot in the conference unless the Pioneers drop their last three league contests. But the team’s focus is more short-term, Toomey said.

“We’re one game at a time,” he said Saturday. “So right now for us, it’s Georgetown [on Saturday]. It’s an opportunity outside of the conference to maybe put something on your resume for May. We’ll start preparing for them tonight, and that’s it. The week after that, we have our last conference game at home, and we’ll be excited to play Hobart at home. But I do think that this team plays the right way. I think the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about discipline an awful lot in our locker room, and I think that this team is ready for the stretch run. I think they expect to be in the conference tournament, and I think we expect to be playing our best lacrosse in the conference tournament. And that’s our focus and that’s really our marching orders right now.”

The Greyhounds would appear to have the tools to make a bid for the NCAA postseason. Senior John Schiavone is among the top-20 leaders in Division I in faceoff percentage, the attack unit appears to have found its starting lineup with graduate student Chris Palmer shifting from the midfield to join senior Matt Langan and sophomore Mike Sawyer, and the defense anchored by senior goalkeeper Jake Hagelin and senior defenseman Steve Dircks is one of the stingiest in the country.

“We’re really getting back to the right path,” Schiavone said. “We were down a little hole, and I’ve been here for five years, and I’ve seen a lot of different stuff. It’s tough to see a team like that, and it’s even harder to bring a team out of the hole we put ourselves in. … Now we’re coming out, we’re flying from the beginning, we’re excited to play, everyone’s on each other’s shoulders, everybody’s ready to go. It’s a good thing to see.”

Other notes:

*The Greyhounds didn’t score any goals in transition, but it’s easy to see how much better they are in that department. When Hagelin can make a save and launch a deep outlet pass to either short-stick defensive midfielder in sophomore Josh Hawkins or freshman Pat Laconi or sophomore long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff, their speed allows them to carry the ball into the offensive zone and force opposing defenses to account for them. Hawkins and Ratliff combined for three shots, one of which was stopped by Fairfield junior goalie Charlie Cipriano. “We are a team that definitely wants to run,” Toomey said. “We are better when we are running. When Josh Hawkins has the ball in the middle of the field or Scott Ratliff has the ball in the middle of the field, we’re going to be a pretty good team.”

*This won’t reach the same level of mass hysteria that Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s admission generated in March, but Stags coach Andrew Copelan admitted that several of his players were emotional after the team’s setback to Loyola. “There were a lot of teary eyes in that locker room,” Copelan said. “Our seniors have not beaten Loyola in four years. So right now, we’re just kind of looking ahead to the next one. We’ve just got to put ourselves in a position to make the conference tournament out in Denver, and if you can do that, really anything can happen. I just feel for our seniors.” Added Cipriano, who was composed during the post-game conference: “This is a tough one. We were almost there. Hopefully, we get the next one.”

*Once on solid footing to qualify for the ECAC tournament, Fairfield has tough road ahead. After non-league contests against Hartford and No. 9 Hofstra, the Stags have back-to-back road games against Ohio State and No. 12 Denver. That’s not an unenviable task, which Copelan seemed to have recognized. “We have some work to do,” he conceded. “… We’re playing out at Ohio State in The Horseshoe before their spring football game. So that’s going to be an emotional contest. We’re going to have to find a way to get a W on the road there or a W on the road at Denver, which is going to be their Senior Day, and you’ll be playing at a different altitude. So right now, we’re looking uphill a little bit, but we’re going to try to embrace the challenge and put our best foot forward.”

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

April 9, 2011

Fairfield at Loyola: Halftime thoughts

Defense has taken center stage as No. 20 Loyola leads visiting Fairfield, 3-2, at halftime of a critical Eastern College Athletic Conference meeting at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore on Saturday.

Greyhounds senior goalie Jake Hagelin has made four saves, but he has been outdueled thus far by junior Charlie Cipriano, who has turned away seven shots.

The Stags (5-4 overall and 2-1 in the ECAC) have committed nine turnovers to Loyola’s seven. The Greyhounds have collected 15 ground balls to Fairfield’s eight.

Loyola (5-3, 2-2), which scored the first three goals in last week’s 12-9 victory over Ohio State, appeared destined to take a similar path when sophomore midfielder Davis Butts and sophomore attackman Mike Sawyer scored in the first 2 minutes, 25 seconds of the first quarter.

Junior attackman John Snellman cut the deficit in half with a score with 11.7 seconds left in the period.

Senior attackman Matt Langan gave the Greyhounds another two-goal cushion with 10:12 remaining in the second quarter, but Stags junior midfielder Brent Adams answered with a goal 57 seconds later.

Other notes:

*Loyola senior John Schiavone ranks 17th in Division I with a 57.6 success rate, but the team has won just 4-of-7 faceoffs in the first half.

*Both sides have fared well in clearing the ball. They are both 8-of-10 in clears.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Loyola
        

Fairfield at Loyola: Three things to watch

There’s a lot at stake when Fairfield and Loyola meet in a showdown between Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals. The visiting Stags are 5-4 overall, but more importantly, they are 2-1 in the conference, which is good enough for second place behind No. 12 Denver. The No. 20 Greyhounds have a better overall record at 5-3, but they are 2-2 in the ECAC – a half-game behind Fairfield. A win would give either side more footing in the race for the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore on Saturday.

1) Midfield production. Loyola’s attack has fueled the offense, but the midfield has been underwhelming. Graduate student Chris Palmer is listed as a midfielder, but he scored five goals in last Saturday’s 12-9 victory over Ohio State as an attackman. In fact, according to Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey, no offensive midfielder scored against the Buckeyes. “So we’re looking at our middies this week and challenging them to step up their games,” Toomey said. “That’s going to be the motive all week, to get these guys prepared. But we don’t care where the goals come from. We’re going to look at the scoreboard at the end of the day, and for the last two weeks, we’ve been able to get that 10-plus mark, and that’s always a goal whenever we step on the field.”

2) Early start. Prior to last Saturday, Loyola had trailed at halftime six times and been tied once. Toomey is hopeful that a 3-0 start against Ohio State can lead to similar beginnings for the remainder of the season. “I think the last two weeks, we have,” Toomey said in response to whether the team has overcome its spate of slow starts. “We’ve come out of the locker room, and I think we scored three goals in the first five minutes of the game [last Saturday]. And then we came out in the second half and off the first faceoff, we go down and have a great look at the cage and score. Whether or not we’ve figured out how to come out of the locker room, our challenge again now is to play the full 60 minutes and to a man, I think our guys recognize that.”

3) Historical significance. The Greyhounds are 10-1 against Fairfield, which has claimed just one win in this series (2006). But the Stags boast the eighth stingiest defense in Division I (7.2 goals per game) and a solid midfield anchored by sophomore Sam Snow, the team’s leading scorer at 19 points who moved from attack, gets even better with the return of junior Brent Adams (six goals and four assists). “With Brent Adams coming back, I think their first midfield is very dangerous,” Toomey said. “They moved Snow to midfield, and looking at them on attack, two of the three guys [senior Doug Kuring and junior John Snellman] have played together for just about two years now. They’re capable of hurting you. They play like a team that’s got juniors and seniors all over the field.”

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

Postscript from Maryland at Navy

In retrospect, maybe that loss to North Carolina two weeks ago wasn’t such a bad thing after all. 

Since that setback – which entailed Maryland failing to protect a 4-0 advantage in the first quarter en route to an 11-6 decision on March 26 – the Terps have beaten No. 7 Virginia and Navy by respective scores of 12-7 and 10-6.

No. 6 Maryland, which improved to 8-2 after thrashing the Midshipmen Friday night, has looked sharper and crisper in those two victories, and sophomore attackman Owen Blye said the team has used the loss to the Tar Heels as a sort of rallying point.

“Everything that happens in the season has to be taken as a learning experience – whether it’s positive or negative,” said Blye, who has registered four goals and three assists since the North Carolina contest. “A lot of times, you can learn more from negative things that happen to you throughout the year, and you have to look at it that way. Obviously, we’re disappointed with what happened in the Carolina game. Nobody ever wants to go up four goals and lose the game, but after it happens, you have to use it as a learning experience and not let it happen to you again.”

Terps coach John Tillman seemed to suggest that several players took the Tar Heels for granted.

“There were a lot of guys that had to look at themselves in the mirror,” he said. “I’ve told a number of guys this: there’s no handbook to deal with expectations for a season. These guys, not a lot was expected of them the last three or four years and then with so many experienced guys coming back, everybody was telling them – it was either family members or friends or alums or media – ‘You’re going to be great, you’re going to be great, you’re going to be great.’ I think some of the greatest kids on our team – when we met after Carolina – were like, ‘Well, we just of thought it would happen.’ As new guys, we would tell them all the time that it’s the little details. It’s your approach, it’s your attitude, and I think they listened, but they were kind of like,’ Yeah, but we were good last year, and we have all these guys back.’ And what they didn’t realize was that Carolina was bringing in the best freshman class in the country, and those kids were talented and ready to play. Just because they were freshman doesn’t mean they can’t hurt you.

“I think it was a little bit of a wake-up call,” Tillman continued. “I don’t think there was any arrogance. I don’t think there were guys that didn’t care, that thought they were above anything. I think they had to step back and go, ‘Wow, what we’re doing is not good enough. Maybe we need to be a little more critical of ourselves.’ And that’s really helped us because we’re not doing a ton different, but we are doing better.”

The loss to the Tar Heels served as a reminder for Maryland against Navy. After taking a commanding 6-1 advantage after the first quarter, the Terps players revived memories of their inability to protect the 4-0 lead.

“I think we were talking about the Carolina game when they were able to come back on us,” senior long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell said. “We were like, ‘Hey, let’s stay mentally focused and keep this going.’ I think we did a good job of doing that.”

Other notes:

*Maryland’s defense limited a Virginia offense that had been averaging 14.1 goals to seven tallies. Six days later, the unit held the Midshipmen to six goals below their season average. Tillman credited the defense’s resurgence to a de-emphasis on individual match-ups. “The Carolina game, we got a little too caught up with the personnel,” he said. “People look and go, ‘Well, [senior defenseman] Brett Schmidt was covering [Tar Heels senior attackman] Billy Bitter, and Billy Bitter didn’t score any goals.’ The problem was, they scored a lot of goals, and I think at times, we got a little too worried about our guy and not what’s the scheme, what are we doing collectively. And there were some creases because we were worried about match-ups. We’ve really de-emphasized match-ups and worried more about how we’re laying collectively, how we’re doing as a scheme. The system will take care of itself on offense and defense if you just focus on the system, focus on the team. If everybody’s doing the little things, the big things will work out, and I think that was really a big learning lesson for us.”

*This was Tillman’s first visit to Annapolis for a regular-season contest against his former employer, and he didn’t sound that happy about it. Tillman, who had spent 12 seasons with the Midshipmen as the offensive coordinator and head assistant coach, said he hadn’t thought much about his return until the bus ride to Annapolis. “When you’re here that long and you care so much about this school and what it means and you have so many great relationships, you don’t want to see them lose,” Tillman said. “You want to see them succeed. I always get on the internet every weekend and check to see how they did and usually text Coach [Richie] Meade or some of the guys and say, ‘Congrats. Good job.’ Or on a loss, ‘Keep it going. Good luck.’ Because this place was so good to me. I wouldn’t be here or the person I am or in this position without Coach Meade and everybody here.”

*With the loss, Navy fell to 4-7, thereby sealing their postseason fate to qualifying for the four-team Patriot League tournament and capturing that championship to advance to the NCAA tournament. The first step towards that goal is knocking off No. 15 Army on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but Meade said he won’t call Saturday’s contest a must-win proposition due to playoff concerns. “I’m not going to diminish the importance of the Army-Navy game or the men who have played in it for both teams to break it down to whether or not it’s a playoff spot,” he said. “It’s got nothing to do with the Patriot League playoffs – to me. If you guys want to write about that, you can. To me, it’s the Army-Navy game, and it’s the most important game that we play. It’s our greatest rival, and that by itself makes it an important game. The other stuff, I don’t care about. I really don’t. We’ve got two games left on our schedule. We’ve got to play those two games. We’re going to play to win, we’re going to play hard. This team has worked as hard as any team I’ve ever had, and I’m disappointed for them.”

*The Midshipmen sounded like their coach, being matter-of-fact about their mindset for the remainder of the season. “Beat Army,” junior goalkeeper R.J. Wickham said. “That’s the only thing. We’ve got to win the next game. That’s all we need to worry about.” Senior short-stick defensive midfielder Marty Gallagher said the players’ approach won’t change. “We come out Monday the same – either way,” he said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, we have to win this game.’ We have to win this game anyway – regardless of what has happened. So we’ll come out on Monday, ready to go.”

*With Republicans and Democrats agreeing to a temporary continuance to reaching a budget deal, a federal shutdown has been delayed until next week. So the Bucknell-Army game on Saturday will continue as planned. But there’s no guarantee that the Army-Navy contest will do the same. It should make for another nerve-wracking week of preparations.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland, Navy, Postscript
        

April 8, 2011

Maryland at Navy: Halftime thoughts

Torrential downpours and a hostile environment haven’t slowed Maryland as the Terps have taken a commanding 7-2 advantage over Navy into halftime at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Friday night.

Maryland (7-2), which entered the contest ranked sixth in Division I in scoring with a 12.0 goals-per-game average, scored the first two goals of the game in a 63-second span, added a second pair in a 48-second stretch, and then notched a third pair in a 12-second span – all in the first quarter. It’s the first time this season that the Terps scored six goals in the opening frame.

Meanwhile, the Midshipmen have not possessed the ball long enough to attempt to stage a comeback – a problem that plagued them in a 9-8 loss to Georgetown a week ago. Navy has cleared the ball just 8-of-13 times and has taken just eight shots to Maryland’s 21.

Other notes:

*Maryland junior midfielder Jake Bernhardt leads all scorers with two goals, and senior attackman Grant Catalino has added a goal and an assist. Catalino, who has scored 107 goals in his career, needs three more goals to pass Mark Douglas for eighth on the school’s all-time career goals list.

*Two of the Terps’ goals have occurred in unsettled situations. Junior midfielder Drew Snider scored in transition with 10:55 left in the first quarter, and senior long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell converted a feed from sophomore Curtis Holmes off of a faceoff win with 6:18 left in the second period.

*Holmes, who entered the game ranked 10th in Division I with a 62.4 success rate, has been just as solid against the Midshipmen. He has outdueled junior Logan West, who had won 54.9 percent of his faceoffs, and sophomore Evan McGoogan to the tune of 8-of-11 wins.

*Sophomore midfielder Jay Mann and freshman attackman Sam Jones have scored Navy’s goals. Junior goalkeeper R.J. Wickham has made a game-high six saves.

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Maryland, Navy
        

Potential federal shutdown could shut down Navy, Army, Air Force

A federal shutdown that could close agencies, delay income tax refunds, and close national parks and museums could also impact the men’s lacrosse programs at Navy, Army and Air Force.

According to an article on Army’s official athletics website, varsity athletic contests involving the Midshipmen, Black Knights and Falcons would be suspended if Republicans and Democrats are unable to reach a budget deal by midnight on Friday. Games would not be resumed until the shutdown ends.

Navy sports information director Scott Starsemeier confirmed that development, but could not comment on the situation. He referred any inquiry to an article on the academy’s website, which essentially included the same material on Army’s website.

A shutdown would have an immediate impact in the Patriot League, where No. 15 Army is prepared to play host to No. 13 Bucknell on Saturday. Navy, however, will be allowed to complete its game against No. 6 Maryland on Friday night because it will conclude before the budget’s midnight deadline.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy
        

Albany at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Albany (4-5) snapped a four-game skid with a 12-11 win against then-No. 20 Harvard last Saturday. On the flipside, No. 4 Johns Hopkins (7-2) is chugging right along after back-to-back decisions against a pair of top-five opponents in Virginia and North Carolina. The Blue Jays have won eight of the nine meetings between these teams, but the Great Danes did shock Johns Hopkins in the 2007 season opener. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Friday night.

1) Don’t fall into the trap. On paper, the Blue Jays would seem to be heavy favorites. But Albany, which has been plagued by a spate of injuries, appears to be fully healthy with the return of its first midfield of seniors Brian Caufield and Derek Kreuzer and junior Rocky Bonitatibus. That midfield missed the Great Danes’ contest against top-ranked Syracuse last month, but still found a way to score 13 goals en route to a five-goal loss. “What we hope is exactly what we heard in the huddle on Monday, that this is the next game, that the most important game of the season is the next game,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “We need to continue to improve, we need to continue to grow and develop, we need to prepare for every game as if it was our last. I know that’s all coach-speak and a cliché, but we can’t afford to be any different. This young team can’t afford to look beyond this week’s game.”

2) Repeat the pattern. Over the last six quarters, the offense has scored a goal in the first minute of four of those periods. Those goals have injected the team with a healthy dose of confidence and adrenaline, and continuing that trend would really help against Albany. Pietramala credited offensive coordinator Bobby Benson and the players with taking advantage of the short intermissions between quarters to draw up successful plays. “At the start of a new quarter, you have a chance to meet, you have a chance to talk and discuss any subtle little changes you might want to make, a specific play you might want to run based on matchups,” Pietramala said. “So you have that opportunity.”

3) Target the freshman. Opponents are averaging 11.2 goals against the Great Danes, but Pietramala said Albany’s defense is often overlooked because of the focus on the offense. And freshman goalkeeper Edmund Cathers ranks seventh in Division I in saves per game (11.8) and 22nd in save percentage (.552). “I think they’ve kind of found their roles and niche,” Pietramala said. “They are a solid group that’s somewhat aggressive. They’ll do a couple of different things, but they’ve also got a kid in the goal who – at any time – made 20 saves in a game and can get really hot. So the hope is that you’re maybe able to get some transition or extra-man goals instead of having to constantly settle into a six-on-six set against them.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch
        

Maryland at Navy: Three things to watch

While Navy and No. 6 Maryland appear to be heading in opposing directions, this contest is critical for both teams. The Midshipmen (4-6) may have just one road to the NCAA tournament in capturing the Patriot League tournament, but a victory over the Terps would propel Navy through the remainder of the regular season. Maryland (7-2) is coming off of a decisive 12-7 win against No. 7 Virginia, but a loss to the Midshipmen would likely take the wind out of the Terps’ sails. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Friday night.

1) Stop the run. Echoing the sentiment of many opposing coaches, Navy coach Richie Meade stressed the need to handcuff – or at least slow down – Maryland’s transition game. The Terps scored four in transition in the team’s decision against the Cavaliers. For the Midshipmen, it’s a strategy that they are familiar with. “It was the same theme against Georgetown, it’ll be the same theme against Army, the same theme against Hopkins,” Meade said. “To be honest with you, the best way to stop that is when you shoot the ball, it needs to go in. I think he [redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato] does a very good job of stopping the ball and then getting it out. I think you’ve got to be aware of [senior long-stick midfielder] Brian Farrell and you’ve got to be aware of [sophomore long-stick midfielder] Jesse Bernhardt. They get out very, very well, and you’ve just got to protect your backcourt and make sure that the off-side guy away from the ball is going to get back deep. The other thing you’ve got to do is get in the goalie’s face and hope that he throws it to the side and not a straight outlet pass.”

2) Keep an eye on the freshmen. Attackman Tucker Hull leads Navy in points (33), while linemate Sam Jones is pacing the team in goals (21). The pair of precocious rookies have contributed to the offense averaging 10.0 goals this season. That’s why Maryland coach John Tillman is paying a good deal of attention to the freshman duo. “I think those kids play with a lot of poise,” Tillman said. “They’re very dangerous because they move very well without the ball. They don’t try to do too much. They share the ball, they’re very unselfish. They’re good finishers. They’re sophomores essentially after that year at NAPS [Naval Academy Preparatory School]. So I look at them as a year older than some other people do.”

3) Youth vs. experience. Terps sophomore faceoff specialist Curtis Holmes garnered a good deal of publicity for beating North Carolina freshman R.G. Keenan, and Holmes ranks 10th in Division I with a 62.4 success rate. His opponent on Friday night, Logan West, isn’t exactly a slouch. The junior has won 54.9 percent of his faceoffs, which ranks 25th. Handcuffing Holmes is a priority, according to Meade. “I think what Maryland has been very good at is getting goals off the faceoff,” he said. “That’s something that we’ve focused on. What we have to do is try to prevent them from scoring goals – either by Curtis popping it out in front of himself and going and getting it or Farrell or one of the other guys coming off the wing and creating an unsettled opportunity. So that’s really the focus.”

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

Remaining undefeated not a top priority for Notre Dame

Notre Dame and Syracuse – the top two teams in The Sun’s latest rankings – are the only two teams left in Division I without a loss.

Ordinarily, that might be something to crow about, but Fighting Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said being undefeated is not something that weighs on his mind.

“We’re just in the middle of it all and fighting day to day to try to stay on top of what we have to do today and what we have to do to be ready for the next one,” he said. “So to be honest with you, it doesn’t feel any different than anybody else at this time of the year. We’re certainly gratified to be undefeated, but you’re so busy trying to prepare for the next one and get your guys ready that it’s not the time to sit back and take a look at what your record is.”

Notre Dame (7-0) has defeated ranked opponents in Duke, Denver, Villanova and Drexel with upcoming showdowns with the Orange and North Carolina. It’s a far cry from 2009 when the team went 15-0 in the regular season despite criticism from observers about a weak schedule.

The Fighting Irish’s success this season would seem to refute doubters who wondered whether last year’s run to the NCAA tournament final was a result of fortunate circumstances. But Corrigan pointed out that the program had gone 13-2 in 2008 and 15-0 in 2009.

“So while last year was clearly a breakthrough in the tournament, I didn’t think it was the first time we had been competing at a pretty high level,” he said. “I’d like to think that for our guys, this is what they expect and this is why they’re coming to Notre Dame, to be a part of competitive teams like this.”

Even more remarkable is that the team has persevered despite a spate of injuries that have shelved senior midfielder Zach Brenneman (ribs), senior defenseman Kevin Ridgway (unspecified) and senior long-stick midfielder Andrew Irving (calf) for various stretches of the season.

“I think this team has shown a lot of resiliency and has done a great job so far of staying focused on the task at hand and worrying about who’s there to help out on that day,” Corrigan said. “No question, that’s a good trait to have in a team, and I think we’ve shown that in spades.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (3)
        

Leftovers from Q&A with Johns Hopkins' Kyle Wharton

Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Johns Hopkins’ senior attackman Kyle Wharton. Due to space constraints, here are some more answers that didn’t make the cut.

Question: After experiencing last year’s disappointing campaign, how gratifying is it for the team to be 7-2 at this point of the season?
Answer: It certainly is better to be winning games. I think that’s a tribute to the team and the coaching staff and really getting out there during practice. But we’re taking it one game at a time, and we definitely want to keep on rolling here.

Q: You and fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland are the only seniors among the 10 starters. Do you feel like the wise veteran with the younger guys?
A: Well, Chris is like 10 years older than I am. Technically, I would say that there are three seniors because Matt [Dolente] takes most of the faceoffs. But it feels good to be out there and it’s remarkable to really see the younger guys grow up right in front of you. It’s amazing to see.

Q: What’s your go-to meal?
A: Anything involving breakfast. I love pancakes, some eggs, some homefries. Especially from Pete’s Grill down the street. I’ll usually go with a couple of my roommates on Friday mornings.

Q: If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?
A: I’d want to fly. I think that would be cool.

Q: What’s your favorite activity when you have free time?
A: Getting in a round of golf.

Q: What’s your best score and what’s the best course you’ve played at?
A: I don’t like to keep score. Keeping score and practice swings take away from the game. My girlfriend belongs to Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania. That will be the site of the U.S. Open in 2013.

Q: What’s your favorite movie and why?
A: The Big Lebowski. I just love the attitude of “The Dude” (played by Jeff Bridges). My best friend from high school, John Haldy who plays for Virginia, we used to watch that movie all the time.

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

April 7, 2011

UPDATED: A pair of UMBC starters nursing injuries -- and an apology

Prior to UMBC’s 10-9 win against visiting Towson on Wednesday night, I posted a blog noting that a few usual starters had been replaced. For redshirt freshman attackman Matt Gregoire and sophomore midfielder Scott Hopmann, there was a good reason.

Both Gregoire and Hopmann are dealing with injuries, according to a team spokesman. Gregoire suffered an eye injury when a teammate’s stick accidentally poked through the grill of his helmet during practice on Monday. Hopmann injured his hamstring in the team’s 16-5 loss to No. 10 Stony Brook last Friday night.

Of the two, Hopmann’s is considered the less serious, and he is considered questionable for Saturday’s home contest against Binghamton.

In an email to me Thursday morning, Michael Gregoire, the father of Matt Gregoire, wrote that his son “may have permanent damage to his vision as a result of the injury.” Gregoire questioned my choice of words in saying that his son had been “benched.”

He’s right. I should’ve used better judgment in light of the lack of disclosure about these injuries. My apologies to the Gregoire and Hopmann families.

UPDATE: Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman said the school’s medical staff is closely monitoring Gregoire’s eye. Zimmerman said he was uncertain whether the injury was of the season-ending variety.

“Like I said, they’re taking it day by day,” he said. “I think he’s had some swelling back there, and that’s certainly something that we have to be very, very conservative with.”

Zimmerman, who said the team is also preparing as if Hopmann won’t be available for Saturday, said the program won’t try to accelerate their return.

“We’re never going to rush kids back,” Zimmerman said. “So what you do is you prepare as if they can’t play, and if they can, that’s a bonus.”

Unlike Gregoire and Hopmann, junior attackman Rob Grimm was not removed from the starting lineup due to injury. Zimmerman said Grimm had been struggling with turnovers and the coaches wanted to impress upon him the importance of protecting the ball.

“We’ve been emphasizing that we’ve got to take care of the ball,” Zimmerman said. “I just felt that [freshman] Ryan Johnston has been coming on and playing well and just felt like it would be a good opportunity to give Ryan a look and hold Rob. Rob played a lot for us and had a good game. Sometimes to sit a kid and have him come off the bench the way Rob did is beneficial, and I think last night, it worked pretty well.”

Zimmerman praised Grimm for accepting the demotion without complaint.

“Rob received a game ball not only for his performance, but also for his attitude,” Zimmerman said. “Here’s a kid who had been starting and all of sudden, didn’t start. He handled it very, very well. He didn’t complain. He was out there and supporting the guys that were starting. … That’s what it’s all about – attitude. Attitude is everything, and I thought Rob handled that situation both on the field as well as personally.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: UMBC
        

Navy pulling for one Patriot League rival over another

Navy’s rivalry with Army is well-documented, but there’s another reason why the Midshipmen have a rooting interest against the Black Knights: postseason positioning.

With a 2-3 record in the Patriot League, Navy trails No. 13 Bucknell (3-0 in the conference), No. 14 Colgate (3-0), No. 15 Army (2-1) and Lehigh (2-1) in the race to qualify for the four-team Patriot League tournament.

If the Black Knights lose to Bucknell on Saturday, the Midshipmen would be one game closer to possibly catching Army for one of those four coveted berths.

“Obviously, we need Bucknell to beat Army for us to have a chance,” said Navy coach Richie Meade, who plans on driving to West Point, N.Y., to watch the contest. “I’m not a mathematician, but I know that. I think we’re rooting for Bucknell, but nobody has told me anything. I’m just trying to figure this out.”

The Patriot League tournament represents the Midshipmen’s best chance of advancing to the NCAA tournament as Navy’s 4-6 overall record – even with upsets of No. 6 Maryland on Friday night, the Black Knights on April 16 and No. 4 Johns Hopkins on April 23 – isn’t likely to sway the selection committee.

Still, Meade said there’s no dwindling of confidence in the locker room.

“The mood’s fine,” he said. “It was just like how I described it after the game. We feel like we’ve played well enough to win a lot of these games, but we just haven’t won them for a variety of different reasons. So we’re excited to play Maryland. I’m sure they’re going to be excited to play us. I feel like we’re playing well in a lot of areas. We just have to go out and compete. I think that’s the mood of the team.”

One sign of optimism is the likely return of senior midfielder Andy Warner, who sat out the team’s 9-8 loss to Georgetown last Friday due to a concussion. Meade said barring any unforeseen setbacks, Warner will return to the starting midfield with junior Nikk Davis and sophomore Jay Mann.

“He’s going to be fine,” Meade said. “He’s been practicing. He probably was ok to play Friday against Georgetown, but we held him out because he was still within the parameters of where he still might not have been cleared. His symptoms were gone and everything. But he’ll be fine.”

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

Maryland feeling better after win vs. Virginia

Maryland coach John Tillman is conceding what he couldn’t say last week: Saturday’s 12-7 victory over No. 7 Virginia was quite significant.

“Knowing that we were 0-2 in the [Atlantic Coast Conference], that became an even more important league game just so we could win one,” Tillman said Wednesday. “I think it was important for us to try and play our best game of the year, and I thought it was a little bit of character game for us because everybody was so critical of us after the loss [to North Carolina on March 26]. Listen, we gave plenty of ammo, but we just wanted to get back to playing more like Maryland and play tough, play hard, and play together. I felt like we got closer to doing that.”

The atmosphere has changed considerably around the team’s practice facility, too.

“I think their body language is certainly better,” Tillman said. “I think having some success can give you confidence, and we want our kids to always be confident. But we also want our kids to recognize who we are and how we have to play. … Instead of getting into a lull, we had our hardest practice of the season on Monday to remind the guys that it’s time to move on. We know what we’re dealing with Friday night. It’s going to be a really, really tough and hostile environment, and our guys have to be ready for it.”

Tillman was referring to the No. 6 Terps’ visit to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Friday night to tangle with host Navy (4-6). Maryland’s bid to improve to 8-2 could be strengthened by extended playing time for senior attackman Travis Reed, who played sparingly against the Cavaliers after missing the three previous contests with a left shoulder injury.

“I would think that we’d try to get him in there a little bit more,” Tillman said. “He wanted to come back, but we weren’t going to rush him and put him in a vulnerable position. He was ready to roll, and the doctor said it wouldn’t hurt him. We tried to put him in spots and use his skillset. So it was nice just to see him out there. He’s a guy who is a leader for us, a guy who brings a lot of energy to the table. So his enthusiasm and passion go a long way for us.”

Tillman will return to Annapolis for his first regular-season contest since leaving Navy for the head coaching gig at Harvard after the 2007 season. Tillman chuckled when asked if he anticipated any applause from Midshipmen supporters who remembered his tenure at the academy.

“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” he said. “Listen, I’m on the other sideline, so I get it. People are very passionate. I know I gave everything I possibly could to that place for 12 years, and it wasn’t always perfect, but I know that I did it with a lot of energy and passion. And I know that as much as I gave, I got back that and more from the people I met and that place. So I was the big winner there.”

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

Different year, different atmosphere surrounding Johns Hopkins

The smiles hovering around Homewood Field are a drastic departure from last year’s glum expressions.

After barely qualifying for the NCAA tournament, getting bounced quickly by Duke in the first round, and compiling the program’s first losing record since 1971, Johns Hopkins is in the midst of a remarkable revival, winning seven of nine games this season and ranking fourth in The Sun’s rankings.

The reversal would seem to validate the offseason improvements that coach Dave Pietramala and his staff made, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“I think ultimately, it’s not about validation,” Pietramala said Wednesday. “It’s about us as a staff and our players doing what we’re here to do, and what we’re here to do is compete at the highest level of Division I lacrosse. Whenever you have a down year like we had, a disappointing year, your hope is that you can recognize the areas that need improvement and you’re able to do that. So I don’t think we feel validated. I think we feel that what we’re doing is what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re working hard, focused on specific areas, and we feel the areas we’re focused on are having an impact on our success.”

At this point last season, the Blue Jays were 4-5 and had dropped four straight to Hofstra, Syracuse, Virginia and North Carolina. Hofstra is no longer on the schedule, but Johns Hopkins edged both the Cavaliers and the Tar Heels and extended the Orange to double overtime before losing, 5-4.

The team has answered the doubters, but Pietramala said the players and coaches were more intent on satisfying a different group of analysts.

“The only critics we had to silence was ourselves,” he said. “We were the most critical of ourselves. You can’t imagine how long of a summer that was. I’m here to do a job, and our staff is here to do a job, and we take that job very seriously. When we don’t meet or achieve our goals, it’s very disappointing for our staff. And our kids care a lot. So I’m happy for our kids. I’m happy that the hard work they’re putting in is paying off. We still have a long way to go, and I’ll keep saying that because the season is not over. There’s still a lot of lacrosse left, and we still have a lot of developing and growing to do. So we’re certainly not satisfied, but we’re happy. It’s good for the kids to see that. It’s hard when you work hard and you don’t see the benefits of that.”

There are areas to address. Pietramala wants the team to collect more ground balls and do a better job of protecting leads. The Blue Jays jumped out to 4-0 advantages against both Virginia and North Carolina before prevailing by a goal in each contest.

“We’ve got to find a way to play with those leads better,” Pietramala said. “Part of that is we’ve played against some pretty talented teams. When you play against North Carolina, when you play against Virginia, you’re not going to hold them at bay that long. They’re going to get their opportunities. The issue is, we’ve got to do a better job as a group – both the coaches and players – that when we build that lead, we need to continue to build on that lead and not taking a breath and relaxing and saying we’re settled in and then letting in two or three goals and allowing a team to creep back into it.”

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

UPDATED: Navy, Maryland to honor fallen lacrosse player

Prior to Navy’s home game against No. 6 Maryland, there will be a brief ceremony honoring the memory of Brendan Looney.

Looney, a Silver Spring native who played midfield for the Midshipmen, was one of nine U.S. military personnel killed in a helicopter crash in September in southern Afghanistan. He was a lieutenant in the Navy SEALs and a 2004 Naval Academy graduate.

Looney’s alma mater, DeMatha Catholic, will meet La Salle College High, the alma mater of Looney’s academy roommate Travis Manion, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis at 3 p.m. Then before the scheduled 7 p.m. start of the contest between Navy and the Terps, the Navy SEAL Foundation will present the American flag to the Looney family.

“Brendan sacrificed his life in defense of our country,” Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said Wednesday. “He was an unbelievable kid, a great man, and he had a great future in front of him. We can all remember him and honor him by the way we live our lives. That’s what I think about when I think of Brendan Looney.”

Maryland coach John Tillman, who spent 12 seasons at the academy and grew close to the Looney family, said witnessing the ceremony will be emotional.

“It is very well deserved, but emotionally, knowing that he’s gone, that will require a lot of mental toughness and discipline to stay composed because he is a hero,” said Tillman, who said he has yet to take up an offer from the Looneys to spend thanksgiving with the family. “He was one of the finest young people I ever had the chance to be around, and it’ll bring up some great memories or being around him. Seeing his family is always a treasured time for me. They’re just awesome, awesome people. I’m still very tight with [younger brothers] Billy and Stephen. … Certainly, we’re happy to be a part of it. Anything we can do to honor a hero like Brendan, we’ll go above and beyond.”

UPDATE: It should be noted that Manion was killed by a sniper in 2007 while serving in Iraq. DeMatha and La Salle will take part in the inaugural Travis Manion-Brendan Looney Memorial Lacrosse Game. Thanks to Matt for pointing out those omissions.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland, Navy
        

Postscript from Towson at UMBC

No one is proclaiming that UMBC will suddenly transform into a national title contender after the Retrievers held off visiting Towson, 10-9, at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville on Wednesday night.

But there’s no denying that the win was a much-needed salve for a team wounded by personnel upheaval, inexperience issues and execution problems.

UMBC fell to No. 10 Stony Brook last Friday night in a game that wasn’t even a contest after the first quarter. The Retrievers took just one shot, won just one faceoff, and collected just six ground balls in the first half en route to an 11-0 deficit at intermission.

But the team can still take aim at a berth in the NCAA tournament y grabbing one of our coveted spots in the America East tournament. UMBC will wrap up the regular season with four contests against conference foes – beginning with Saturday’s home clash with Binghamton.

That’s why coach Don Zimmerman, while visibly relieved by the victory, wasn’t jumping out of his seat just yet.

“It’s great to win,” he said. “We got a good win tonight. We’re going to enjoy tonight. … But tomorrow, we’ve got to get right back to work. We’ve got Binghamton coming in here on Saturday, and they’re always a tough team. We want to continue to move forward, and that’s going to be the approach.”

Other notes:

*The Retrievers have scored the first goal in a game twice – and won both games. They did it in a 9-7 decision against Quinnipiac on March 26 and then against the Tigers. The offense, which sprinted out to a 3-0 lead and a 4-1 advantage after the first quarter, was buoyed by the fast start. “That was huge for us,” said junior attackman Rob Grimm, who tied a career high with five points on three goals and two assists. “We haven’t started many games this year scoring the first goal or even being up in the first quarter. I think coming out strong really gave us some momentum for the rest of the game. Obviously, that last loss was heartbreaking and embarrassing. So we really wanted to come out strong from the beginning and I think we accomplished that.”

*Jamie Kimbles’ season-high output of two goals against Towson is partly a result of his return to the midfield. The senior started two games at attack as the team tried to protect a hamstring injury. But he has started at midfield in his last three outings, compiling three goals and one assist. “I’m definitely more comfortable in the midfield,” he said. “I’m able to see the field from up top. It’s a lot easier to be a leader up there, too, in a position that I’m more comfortable in. So it’s definitely better for me.”

*The Tigers got an unexpected poor showing from senior goalkeeper Travis Love, who surrendered three goals in the first 5:56 of the first quarter without making a save. Coach Tony Seaman didn’t know whether the transition from twilight to night had an effect on Love. “From the looks of things, I didn’t think Travis could see the ball very well,” he said. “We figured we needed a spark, and so we put Andrew in, and Andrew did a pretty good job the rest of the night.” Sophomore Andrew Wascavage made four saves in relief. “I was prepared for it,” he said. “Coach always tells me to be ready. So I know the defense and everything. So it wasn’t that big of a surprise.”

*Like UMBC, Towson’s focus is on securing a berth in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. The Tigers are 2-7 overall and 0-2 in the conference. “We’ve got four games coming up in the league, and we can be 4-2,” Seaman said. “We’re 0-2 right now, and we can be 4-2. That’s got to be our goal starting Saturday against Massachusetts. That’s the nice part about being in a league, and the three teams that we’re vying with for the playoffs are all teams that we have got to play here. So that’s our advantage.”

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

April 6, 2011

Towson at UMBC: Halftime thoughts

In a meeting between 2-5 teams, host UMBC has taken the first step to getting that third victory by sprinting out to a 6-3 advantage over Towson at halftime at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville Wednesday night.

The Retrievers, which has scored five goals in the first half of their last three contests, scored the first three goals of the first quarter, chasing out senior goalkeeper Travis Love who did not register a save.

The Tigers have not gotten closer than two goals as UMBC has continued to maintain a comfortable distance. The Retrievers’ largest lead of the game was four when junior attackman Rob Grimm converted a pass from sophomore attackman Scott Jones on a man-up chance to give the team a 6-2 lead with 4:17 remaining in the second quarter.

Other notes:

*Grimm did not start, but he leads all scorers with three points on two goals and one assist. Senior attackman Tim Stratton is pacing Towson with a goal and an assist.

*The Tigers are doing a much better job with their shooting accuracy, putting 6-of-8 shots on net. Unfortunately, UMBC has taken 14 shots.

*Retrievers junior goalie Brian McCullough has made three saves. Sophomore Andrew Wascavage has turned away two shots in relief of Love.

*UMBC is winning the battle of ground balls (13-6) and faceoffs (6-of-10).

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Towson, UMBC
        

UMBC makes changes to starting lineup

UMBC is shaking things up for its annual rivalry with Towson.

The Retrievers have benched junior attackman Rob Grimm and redshirt freshman attackman Matt Gregoire in favor of sophomore Joe Lustgarten and freshman Ryan Johnston.

Grimm is the team leader in both assists (11) and points (18), while Gregoire has registered four goals and two assists. Johnston scored the first two goals of his career in UMBC’s 16-5 loss to No. 10 Stony Brook last Friday night, while Lustgarten scored once.

Sophomore midfielder Scott Hopmann, who ranks second in goals (9), is also taking a seat. Freshman Zach Linkous, who posted one goal and two assists on Friday, will start.

Finally, junior defenseman Tim Shaeffer is being demoted in favor of sophomore Sam McKelvey.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:30 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Towson, UMBC
        

Maryland's Young plays on despite personal turmoil

With six points on two goals and four assists in Saturday’s 12-7 victory over No. 7 Virginia, Ryan Young leads No. 6 Maryland in both assists (15) and points (27) this season.

And he’s thriving despite turmoil in his personal life.

The senior attackman’s mother, Maria, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the winter of 2008, his freshman year. This season, the Manhasset, N.Y., native wears his helmet with the word “MOM” etched on a piece of paper taped on the bottom part, near his left jawline.

Young told The Diamondback, the campus newspaper, that his mother is never far from his thoughts. “I wear this little thing on my helmet,” Young told the paper's Jacob Engelke in an article published in Wednesday's editions. “I think about her every time before I go out there. It motivates me and helps me play my hardest.”

Terps coach John Tillman said the situation has been rough for Young, who returned home immediately after the team’s 9-8 overtime loss to Duke on March 5 due to concerns that Maria Young had taken a turn for the worse.

“He had to go home after the Duke game to be there because we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Tillman said Wednesday. “His immediate family felt like it was important for him to get up there. So he did leave for a few days that week. We supported him 100 percent and told him to come back when he felt like he needed to. … He came back three days later, and it seemed like she was moving in a positive direction. I think she’s had some ups and downs, and we’re hopeful that she continues the ups and stays strong.”

As a show of support, Young’s teammates have attached purple ribbons to their helmets, and Tillman wears a black Under Armour hat with a purple insignia during games. Young has partnered with The Lusgarten Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to raising awareness about pancreatic cancer.

While few players would have the strength to perform in practices and in games, Tillman said Young has borne the strain of his family’s pain without complaint.

“You don’t meet a lot of guys like him,” Tillman said. “He’s so passionate and so energetic and he’s a very caring guy, a family-first guy. He puts his heart and soul into everything that he does. He cares so much about his mom. It’s been tough on him because he wants to help in every way possible and be there to help support her. … His teammates have done a great job of rallying around him and being there to help him support he and his family. He’s done just an outstanding job of being able to juggle all of it.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:59 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland
        

Maryland, Navy players earn weekly honors

Maryland swept the Atlantic Coast Conference weekly honors as junior midfielder Joe Cummings and senior defenseman Brett Schmidt were named the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively.

Cummings scored four goals in the No. 6 Terps’ 12-7 victory over No. 7 Virginia last Saturday. All four of the Towson native and Loyola graduate’s goal occurred during Maryland’s 7-0 run that helped turn a 5-3 deficit into a 10-5 advantage.

A week after shutting out North Carolina senior attackman Billy Bitter, Schmidt limited Cavaliers junior attackman Steele Stanwick to a single goal on three shots. Schmidt and the rest of the defense held Virginia, which had entered the contest with the most prolific offense in Division I, to a season-low seven goals.

Navy boasted a pair of winners in junior R.J. Wickham and freshman Tucker Hall, who were named the Goalkeeper of the Week and the Rookie of the Week, respectively, by the Patriot League.

Wickham produced a career-best 20 saves in the Midshipmen’s 9-8 loss to Georgetown on Friday night. It was the first time a Navy goalie had turned aside 20 shots since Seth DiNola stopped 21 shots by Penn State in 2003. With 326 career saves, Wickham needs just eight more to pass Steve Nims for 10th place on the school’s all-time saves list.

Hull registered three goals and one assist against the Hoyas, upping his season total to 33 points on 19 goals and 14 assists. The attackman’s 33 points are the most by a freshman since Nick Mirabito compiled 33 points in 2005. Hull’s 14 assists are the most since Ian Dingman posted 17 in 2003.

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

DiBartolo climbs into Mount St. Mary's record books

Mount St. Mary’s dropped a 13-7 decision to Georgetown at home Tuesday night, but there was one bright spot.

Senior goalkeeper T.C. DiBartolo overtook Sean Elder to become the school’s all-time leader in saves. With 11 stops, DiBartolo now has 661 career saves, which is six more than Elder’s total.

DiBartolo, a Bowie native and Archbishop Spalding graduate, entered the contest ranked third all-time with a 9.82 goals-against average and 10th with a .571 save percentage.

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

Towson at UMBC: Three things to watch

Towson and UMBC enter this cross-town rivalry with identical 2-5 records. The Tigers have upset then-No. 4 Stony Brook, but will likely need to capture the Colonial Athletic Association tournament for a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Retrievers must follow a similar path by claiming the America East tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville on Wednesday night.

1) Waiting for good shots. Perhaps more than any other season, Towson has been plagued by shooting woes. For the season, the offense has scored just 55 times on 245 shots. The team’s shooting percentage of .224 can’t even crack the top 50 in that category in Division I. That would seem to play into UMBC’s favor, but coach Don Zimmerman said the numbers can be deceiving. “I think a lot of teams’ shooting percentage is down,” he said. “I don’t think it’s just Towson. We hold them in the highest regards as far as their ability to shoot the ball.”

2) Making the midfields work. Both teams feature young midfields that tend to fade into the background. The Retrievers’ unit is especially inexperienced with a pair of sophomores in Dave Brown and Scott Hopmann and senior Jamie Kimbles, who was bothered by a hamstring injury in the preseason. Tigers coach Tony Seaman said he doesn’t plan on underestimating UMBC’s midfield. “They’ll come at you from everywhere,” Seaman said. “They’ll pick on the shorts a lot. They want to rotate your defense, move the ball quickly, and find the open guy for a decent shot, that’s always been a trademark of Zim’s teams. They’re fundamentally sound – stick work and passing-wise – and they do those things very well. We have to take whatever they give us.”

3) Fighting for faceoffs. Both teams have struggled on faceoffs. The Retrievers have won 45.3 percent (77-of-170), while Towson is slightly lower at 41.3 percent (62-of-150). Four Tigers have taken at least 12 faceoffs this season, and Zimmerman said the coaches and players will spend some time analyzing each of their strengths. “It just gives them more people to watch on film and to study,” he said. “But faceoff guys have to do their moves and have a counter to their opponents’ moves. Yeah, there’s extra work involved, but our faceoff men are very diligent about that and watch film and get a good feel. We have a couple guys as well, and they have a couple guys.”

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

Princeton limping, but not lamenting, through tumultuous season

Pardon Chris Bates if he’s eager to hear some good news. This spring, the Princeton coach has been overwhelmed by waves of bad news.

The program lost its fifth player – and third starter – to a season-ending injury when it announced last Friday that senior attackman Jack McBride would be shelved after playing in just two games due to a groin injury.

Bates could only chuckle at the spate of injuries that has contributed to the Tigers posting a 2-5 overall record and a 1-2 mark in the Ivy League.

“Nothing close to it – and nothing as significant,” Bates said Tuesday in response to whether he had ever encountered a string of such injuries. “There’s always the potential that guys go down and are out, but if you had told us at the beginning of the fall that we’d be without who we’re without, I would’ve said you’re crazy. … This is new ground in terms of the number of guys completely out and the talent level and experience that they’ve got.”

Not that Bates is begging for sympathy. He knows that opponents are taking advantage of Princeton’s sudden vulnerability and that top-ranked Syracuse, which visits the Tigers on Saturday, won’t be in a giving mood.

“You can’t control it, so I can’t dwell on it,” he said. “The focus is on getting guys ready. Nobody else cares. Internally, we’re pulling our hair out, but you’ve got a game on Saturday, so you better get guys ready. Syracuse doesn’t care who’s hurt. They just want to win the game on Saturday. Everybody’s got to deal with injuries, so we don’t feel sorry for ourselves and we haven’t let our guys use that as an excuse. It is what it is.”

McBride joins a pair of fellow starters in sophomore defenseman Rob Castelo (torn knee ligaments) and sophomore midfielder Mike Chanenchuk (broken collarbone) and a pair of short-stick defensive midfielders in junior Oscar Loynaz (shoulder) and freshman Nick Fernandez (broken arm) on the sidelines.

Because McBride played in just two games, Princeton won’t have to make any drastic changes to the starting attack of senior Chris McBride (six goals and two assists), sophomore Forest Sonnenfeldt (10, 0) and junior Cliff Larkin (3, 4), ensuring that the group can continue developing a chemistry.

“We’re looking for the right mix of guys, and we’re trying to carve up the pie of minutes to put us in the best position to be successful,” Bates said. “That’s an ongoing process. I wish it were as easy as saying, ‘One in, one out.’ But we’re inexperienced with some guys getting a lot of minutes and with that comes a little bit of a roller coaster, and we’re just trying to constantly stay on the right side of it.”

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

April 5, 2011

Towson taking page from NFL playbook to improve shooting

In the NFL, defensive players who drop potential interceptions usually punish themselves by knocking out some push-ups.

Towson is implementing a similar policy for those players who miss the net with their shots.

“Anybody who missed the cage in any drill yesterday did five pushups,” Tigers coach Tony Seaman said. “And that will continue until we start to hit the cage.”

Towson placed only 13 of 30 shots on goal in Saturday’s 12-5 loss to then-No. 10 Hofstra. For the season, the offense has scored just 55 times on 245 shots. The team’s shooting percentage of .224 can’t even crack the top 50 in that category in Division I.

Seaman understands that there’s a fine line between putting shots on net and allowing opposing goalkeepers easy saves. He compared that situation to encouraging players to passing to teammates in the middle of the defense.

“I’m not saying hit the guy,” Seaman said. “But in as many games I’ve coached and in as many games I’ve played and seen and scouted, I never saw a ball shot off-cage go into the goal. Just haven’t seen that happen. So why do it? … We’ve hit 31 pipes in eight games. It seems we do that better than anybody. If that counted, we would be undefeated. So right now, I’m just trying to get them to be on-cage. If 75 percent of our shots are on-cage, then I could say, ‘OK, now let’s start trying to be a little more particular.’ Right now, that’s the biggest thing I want to see happen because if the goalie does make a mistake and the shot is on-cage, it’s going to go in. but if he makes a mistake and it’s off-cage, it’s not going anywhere except out of bounds. So it doesn’t do you any good at all. Right now, we need to get it on-cage. That’s our emphasis this week.”

So did the push-ups drill work on Monday?

“We had some really strong kids by the end of practice yesterday,” Seaman deadpanned.

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

No quit in UMBC

The 2011 season has been a humbling campaign for UMBC, which is coming off the heels of a 16-5 rout at the hands of America East rival and No. 10 Stony Brook on Friday night.

The Retrievers, which once dominated the conference to the tune of three championships in four years, is now 2-5 overall and 0-1 in the America East. But coach Don Zimmerman said he has sensed no quit among the players.

“Absolutely not,” he said Monday. “I think they’re good kids, and they’re hard workers, and they realize that we are young, and it’s going to take time to develop. We’re staying positive, and to their credit, they’re coming out and despite losing a tough game on Friday night, they came out on Sunday [for practice] and had a good go. I think it’s a testament to their character and attitude.”

Losing to the Seawolves, once a popular candidate to make the Final Four next month, isn’t too shabby, but UMBC faltered badly, taking just one shot, winning just one faceoff, and collecting just six ground balls in the first half en route to an 11-0 deficit at intermission.

The manner in which the Retrievers lost surprised Zimmerman.

“We’re disappointed in the outcome of Friday’s game,” he said. “I thought we had a good week of practice. We went up there, and Stony Brook was just a very, very good lacrosse team that night. Now we’re back, and we don’t have a whole lot of time to prepare for Towson [on Wednesday night]. Guys came out [Sunday] night and had a good practice, which is good. Now we’re getting ready for the Tigers.”

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

Mount St. Mary's opens conference play with "huge win"

Despite capturing the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and qualifying for the NCAA tournament last season, Mount St. Mary’s was tabbed to finish third in the newly configured Northeast Conference – behind preseason favorite Robert Morris and No. 2 Bryant.

That’s why the Mountaineers’ 12-11 decision over Robert Morris on Saturday was what coach Tom Gravante called a “huge win.”

“I think we were confident going into that game,” Gravante said Monday. “I don’t think we played our best game, but we managed to persevere. … Overall, a step in the right direction with our athletic confidence, and certainly there’s more room to grow.”

The victory is especially important in determining the composition of the season-ending four-team NEC tournament. With the Colonials and Bryant both losing (Quinnipiac edged the Bulldogs, 13-12, on Friday), Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart each have a one-game lead on Robert Morris, Bryant and Wagner.

“Because there’s only six teams in this conference, every game is a playoff game,” Gravante said. “You’ve got to handle the pressure and you’ve got to play well if you want to get to that four-team tournament at the end of May. It really has shaken up some things. So now the pressure may be off of some teams and on others. What scares me is, we don’t stay full-steam ahead. Instead, we sit on our heels because we knocked off the No. 1 team. We as a staff, we’re going to try to keep the pressure on them so that we can keep them going in the right direction.”

The Mountaineers (4-4 overall and 1-0 in the conference) have been buoyed by the play of junior attackman Brett Schmidt, who has overcome a four-game demotion to record 10 goals and four assists in his last three games.

“He’s playing the way he’s practicing,” Gravante said of Schmidt, who has started the last two contests. “… It doesn’t surprise me about his production because that’s what we’re getting out of him in practice. We’re continuing to encourage him and commend him because he’s a hard worker. And we’re trying to get the kids to take a page out of his book. Success is earned. It’s not something that happens because you’re lucky. You’ve got to earn it, and he certainly earns it.”

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

Loyola gently applies brakes during modest run

After a turbulent eight-day stretch during which Loyola absorbed setbacks to No. 3 Duke, No. 12 Denver and Air Force, the Greyhounds have rebounded with back-to-back wins against Mount St. Mary’s and Ohio State.

But before supporters get too giddy, coach Charley Toomey acknowledged that Loyola (5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference), which broke into The Sun's top-20 rankings at No. 20, is still a work in progress.

“We’re still figuring our team out as coaches, trying to put guys in the right spots and give our guys the best chance to compete on Saturdays,” Toomey said Monday. “Some days, it might be Pat Fanshaw, and some days, it might be Chris Palmer or it might be Brian Smalley, who’s getting some opportunities. We’ve actually gotten a good combination of guys the last couple weeks, and they’ve put the ball in the net a few more times.”

Toomey was referring to the team’s rotation at the No. 3 attackman spot. Fanshaw, a sophomore, started the first six games before giving way to Smalley, a sophomore, against the Mountaineers, and then Palmer, a Bucknell transfer getting his graduate degree, against the Buckeyes.

Palmer exploded last Saturday, scoring a career-high five goals in the team’s 12-9 victory over Ohio State. Palmer, who sat out the losses to Denver and Air Force due to concussion-like symptoms, offers another dimension as an initiator for the Greyhounds, according to Toomey.

“I think what you’re seeing is a young man who’s really going to help us because he adds a dodging presence from another side of the field,” Toomey said. “He takes a little bit of pressure off of [senior attackman] Matt Langan to carry the ball, and that’s something we greatly need.”

Loyola likely won’t catch the Pioneers for first place in the ECAC, but the Greyhounds can overtake Fairfield (5-4, 2-1) for the second spot by beating the Stags on Saturday at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore. Toomey said he likes what he has seen from the players thus far.

“I think the guys are in a good spot right now,” he said. “But it’s back to the next game. … We need to be focused on the next opponent because that’s the most important thing.”

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

April 4, 2011

Tillman gives edge to ACC over Ivy League

Maryland coach John Tillman has spent time in the Ivy League as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference, but when it comes to rivalries, Tillman says the ACC is much more intense than the Ivy League.

 "I would say the ACC is definitely more intense because everything happens so much faster," Tillman said. "In the Ivy League, every player is recruited by the same schools. They know you and you know them. They scheme because they have really smart kids, and they take away a lot of your strengths. You're always trying to adjust and everyone is well prepared. Here, so many plays are spontaneous plays. When the ball is on the ground, you never know what is going to happen because the players and the game are so much faster."

Posted by Mike Preston at 9:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland
        

Maryland's Travis Reed to see more time vs. Navy

Maryland attackman Travis Reed is expected to see more playing time this week against Navy.

Reed, recovering from an injured shoulder, has played sparingly the past two weeks in extra-man situations after missing the previous three games.

Terps coach John Tillman thought about using Reed more against Virginia on Saturday, but decided not to risk it. The Terps had always circled the Navy game as the date for Reed's return.

Posted by Mike Preston at 9:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland
        

Postscript from Syracuse vs. Duke

After back-to-back five-goal outputs in one-goal wins against Johns Hopkins and Villanova, Syracuse needed to remind the lacrosse community that, well, they’re Syracuse.

The top-ranked Orange got that message across on Sunday night, scoring nine goals in the first half en route to a 13-11 victory over No. 4 Duke at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Syracuse (8-0) scored the game’s first four goals and eight of the first nine to put the Blue Devils in a deep hole. Although Duke responded and nearly caught up at the end of the game, the explosion on offense was a welcomed sight for the Orange players.

“I think we were patient offensively,” said senior attackman Stephen Keogh, who paced the team with three goals and one assist. “I think we worked for the better shot instead of taking the no-angle [shots] or the shots from 15 yards out. I think we played less selfish tonight, and it actually started this week in practice. Practice this week was probably the hardest I’ve seen this team work, and they were very focused right from Monday.”

Syracuse sophomore A JoJo Marasco said the team never had any doubts about its ability to score.

“We had a lot of faith in ourselves,” said Marasco, who chipped in two goals and two assists. “Those two weeks were pretty frustrating against teams that gave us their best games. But we worked real hard, like Steve said, in practice. Coach [John] Desko always gives us the opportunity to have a great offense, and it showed out there today. Just to break out is a great feeling, and we had a lot of help from the defense giving us the ball again.”

Other notes:

*Nine different players scored those nine goals in the first half – a testament to the multitude of weapons the Orange boast. Desko said being multi-dimensional is key. “We like to be like that,” he said. “It makes you harder to cover. If you play with the philosophy that one guy’s going to get it done for you and you run into that one game where somebody stops him, then everything stops. So it’s great that we share the ball like we do and everybody takes turns getting it done for us.”

*Syracuse senior goalie John Galloway collected his 52nd career win, setting a new NCAA Division I record for goalkeepers. Galloway, however, chastised himself for surrendering some late goals and allowing the Blue Devils to gain a flicker of hope. And the record didn’t sound very important to him. “Right now, it’s win No. 8 for us. Right now, it’s all about this season,” Galloway said. “Maybe in years to come, we’ll be able to kick back and look at that record as a team and cherish the moments we had here. But right now, we’re focused on the next win, and that’s Princeton. That’s going to be the biggest game for us just like this game was this weekend.”

*It wasn’t all rosy for the Orange, who lost senior defenseman John Lade to an ankle injury during the game. Desko did not have an update on Lade’s status after the game. “I don’t know,” Desko said of the team’s top defenseman. “I haven’t talked to the trainer. I talked to him when he first got hurt. I think he should be fine, but we’ll see. I think he just twisted his ankle.”

*Faceoffs are also becoming an issue. With Sunday night’s 7-of-27 performance, Syracuse has won just 16-of-54 draws in its last three games. The Orange used five different players on faceoffs with freshman Chris Daddio going 5-of-10. Senior Jeremy Thompson, the team’s primary faceoff specialist, was 0-of-8. “I always think it’s kind of a matchup issue, but we’re disappointed there,” Desko said. “I think a few that we did get out, we lost in ground ball situations. We’ve got to get better at that.”

*Duke (8-3) may have had its seven-game winning streak come to an end, but coach John Danowski said he was buoyed by the team’s comeback attempt in the second half during which the Blue Devils outscored Syracuse, 9-4. “We can take a lot of positives,” he said. “One of the themes at halftime was, if you can admit that you’re really scared and that you’re scared of making a mistake, then we’re going to be OK. But if you won’t admit that, then we’re not going to push forward, and we’re not going to move on. I think that a lot of the guys, we didn’t communicate well. We didn’t do things that we had practiced during the week or things that we had done before. Partly Syracuse’s effort and partly, I think it was a bit of stage fright. The first part, we can do nothing about – Syracuse – but the second part, hopefully, we can be a better team as a result of this.”

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

Postscript from Johns Hopkins vs. North Carolina

For the second time in as many weekends, Lee Coppersmith helped propel John Hopkins to a nerve-wracking win against an elite opponent. And for the second time in as many weekends, the sophomore midfielder dodged the question of whether he deserved playing time with the first line.

“I can’t say that,” Coppersmith said after his goal with 1:52 remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the No. 6 Blue Jays to a 10-9 decision against No. 5 North Carolina at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. “All I can say is I’m going to work as hard as I can to do what I can do and be the best that I can be. I can only control what I can control and let the chips fall where they may.”

There was some speculation that Coppersmith might start against the Tar Heels after sophomore midfielder John Greeley absorbed a hard hit and missed part of the second quarter and all of the second half of the team’s 12-11 win against then-No. 2 Virginia last Saturday.

But Greeley got the nod, and Coppersmith, who scored his first career hat trick against the Cavaliers, ran on the second line.

While coach Dave Pietramala said Coppersmith’s showings haven’t altered his stance on the team’s first midfield, he said he was happy for Coppersmith, who has just as many goals (seven) as Greeley does this season.

“It’s just thrilling to see a kid kind of come of age right in front of your eyes,” Pietramala said. “He gets three against Virginia and now he gets the game-winning goal. That’s a guy who has all the ability in the world, but just hasn’t put it all together. It’s really been a lot of fun for all of us to watch.”

Coppersmith, who scored two goals last season, said his development is ongoing.

“I definitely feel like I’m growing, but I’ve got to continue to work hard in practice,” he said. “That’s where it starts and ends. Saturdays and Sundays are what determine losses, but practice is where you’ve got to impress the coaches the most.”

Other notes:

*A defensive assignment nearly cost Johns Hopkins on Sunday. Initially, freshman defenseman Jack Reilly got the plum assignment of shadowing Tar Heels senior attackman Billy Bitter. Not a terrible idea considering that Reilly had fared well against Syracuse sophomore atttackman JoJo Marasco (one assist) and Virginia senior midfielder Shamel Bratton (two goals but none against Reilly). But Bitter scored three straight goals in the first quarter against Reilly, and Pietramala replaced Reilly with sophomore defenseman Tucker Durkin. Bitter scored just once in the second half. “I made a mistake with the matchups,” Pietramala acknowledged. “I thought we had the right matchups. We adjusted them midway through the first quarter and did a much better job there.

*Senior Matt Dolente registered a career high with 16 faceoff wins out of 22 attempts. But his career day almost didn’t unfold. Pietramala said the coaches considered starting the game with three long poles on faceoffs against North Carolina freshman R.G. Keenan and seeing how that facet of the game developed from there. “We thought we might be able to send them a message and make it a very physical game, that we might be able to go after Keenan,” Pietramala said. “When we brought that to Matt’s attention, if looks could kill … So we felt like we needed to provide our senior captain with an opportunity.” Dolente, who entered the game ranked second in the country with a 68.1 faceoff percentage (81-of-119), improved to 68.8 percent (97-of-141). “It’s just the hard work he puts in and the preparation,” Pietramala said of Dolente. “I don’t think it’s lucky that he’s having a very good year. I think he’s put a lot of time and effort and energy into it and takes a lot of pride in it.”

*After the game, Pietramala revealed that a case of stomach flu had infected several players. Sophomore goalkeeper Pierce Bassett made seven saves despite not practicing for three days, sophomore midfielder John Ranagan missed some practice time, and junior midfielder Marshall Burkhart and senior long-stick midfielder Orry Michael were sick at halftime. “I’m really proud that the guys battled back physically and mentally,” Pietramala said. “I think it says a lot for them.”

*The win helped the Blue Jays snap a four-game losing skid to North Carolina. It was Johns Hopkins’ first victory in the series since 2006.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Postscript
        

April 3, 2011

Johns Hopkins vs. North Carolina: Halftime thoughts

Johns Hopkins did not leave its offense behind in Baltimore as the No. 6 Blue Jays enjoy an 8-5 advantage over No. 5 North Carolina at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.

Johns Hopkins, which entered the contest ranked 11th in Division I in scoring with an 11.1 goals-per-game average, scored the game’s first four goals with senior attackman Kyle Wharton bookending the run with a pair of goals.

But the Tar Heels (7-2) roared back courtesy of senior attackman Billy Bitter, who beat freshman defenseman Jack Reilly and scored three straight at the 8:37, 6:43 and 1:38 marks of the first quarter. After his third goal, the Blue Jays finally replaced Reilly with sophomore Tucker Durkin.

North Carolina knotted the score at five by scoring two of the first three goals of the second frame, but Johns Hopkins rallied back with three goals in a span of 39 seconds.

Sophomore midfielder John Ranagan scored from the left alley with 2:08 before halftime, then he fed sophomore attackman Zach Palmer for a one-time with 1:47 remaining, and senior attackman Chris Boland scored from point-blank range with 1:29 left.

Other notes:

*A pair of players who were questionable for the contest are active. Blue Jays sophomore midfielder John Greeley started after absorbing a hard hit and missing part of the second quarter and all of the second half of the team’s 12-11 win against then-No. 2 Virginia last Saturday. For the Tar Heels, freshman faceoff specialist R.G. Keenan was at his customary spot after he also took a hard hit in the team’s 11-6 victory over then-No. 6 Maryland last Saturday.

*Speaking of Keenan, he hasn’t fared too well against Johns Hopkins senior Matt Dolente as the Blue Jays have won 11-of-15 faceoffs in the first half. Dolente entered the game ranked second in the country in faceoff percentage (.681).

*Speaking of Keenan, he hasn’t fared too well against Johns Hopkins senior Matt Dolente as the Blue Jays have won 11-of-15 faceoffs in the first half. Dolente entered the game ranked second in the country in faceoff percentage (.681).

*Wharton leads Johns Hopkins with three goals, and Ranagan has three points on two goals and one assist. Bitter is pacing Noreth Carolina with three goals and junior midfielder Jimmy Dunster has a goal and an assist.

*Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala should be slightly pleased as his team is winning the ground balls battle, 11-10. But Johns Hopkins has also turned the ball over seven times, while the Tar Heels have committed just two giveaways. That’s the kind of statistic that will make any head coach grind his teeth.

Posted by Edward Lee at 5:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Johns Hopkins
        

Johns Hopkins vs. North Carolina: Three things to watch

Both Johns Hopkins and North Carolina have been buoyed by fairly important victories last Saturday. The No. 6 Blue Jays (6-2) snapped a six-game losing skid to then-No. 2 Virginia with a 12-11 decision, while the No. 5 Tar Heels (7-2) scored a decisive 11-6 win against No. 9 Maryland. Johns Hopkins has dropped the last four meetings in this series. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.

1) Balance on defense. The first priority of many opponents is to try to take North Carolina senior attackman Billy Bitter out of the equation. But there’s a risk as the Terps learned last Saturday when Bitter were shut out, but the Tar Heels’ freshmen class accounted for seven goals and seven assists. That’s why Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala is cautious about focusing too much attention on Bitter. “If you want to take away Billy Bitter, then you’re going to have to deal with [freshman attackman and leading scorer] Nicky Galasso,” Pietramala said. “If you want to take away Nicky Galasso, then you’re going to have to deal with Billy Bitter. [Junior attackman] Thomas Wood did not play, and when he gets back into the fold, that’s a pretty talented group that seems to be playing very well. So do you want the freshmen to be the ones to beat you? You’ve got to pick your poison, and you’ve got to decide how you’re going to defend them and what you want to try to take away. In doing so, you’re going to give up something elsewhere, and the question is, what’s the right thing to take away and what’s the right thing to give up. Up until this point, they haven’t lost many times, and they’ve seen two poles, they’ve seen a bunch of zones. They’re playing very, very well offensively, and we’re going to have to do a very good job of being careful.”

2) Opportunities in unsettled situations. Johns Hopkins is blessed – or cursed – with a reputation for managing the tempo of games and slowing them down to almost a glacial pace. But the Blue Jays jumped on chances to run with the Cavaliers, and at least two goals occurred in unsettled situations. Pietramala said the team will pounce on those opportunities. “While I know that the perception is we play slow, I don’t think we played slow against Virginia,” he said. “I thought we were willing to go up and down with them when those opportunities arose. Carolina is a very senior-laden group defensively. … So you can’t go into this game and think you’re just going to square off six-on-six and win the game from the restraining line to the endline. You’re going to have to find other ways to score.”

3) Strategy against the zone. One factor in the Tar Heels’ win against Maryland was the unveiling of a zone defense that shut off the interior and dared the Terps shooters to score from the perimeter. Pietramala confirmed that Johns Hopkins has been studying North Carolina’s defense, which is not limited to just one type of zone, he said. “Carolina doesn’t play just one zone. They play two or three different zones, and then they play a defense where they go to a zone and then back to man,” he said. “So they do some different things, and [Coach] Joe Breschi’s been notorious for trying to mix things up defensively and not give you a steady diet of any one thing.”

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

Postscript from Hofstra at Towson

Towson sounded a familiar refrain in the aftermath of Saturday’s 12-5 setback to No. 10 and Colonial Athletic Association rival Hofstra at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Saturday.

Missed opportunities.

To be more specific, inaccurate shots that miss the cage and don’t test the opposing goalkeeper at all. Only 13 of the 30 attempts the Tigers (2-6 overall and 0-2 in the conference) took Saturday tested Pride junior goalie Andrew Gvozden, who was forced to make just saves in the third quarter and none in the fourth.

“Once again, we’re back to that same old thing I’ve been saying all year,” Towson coach Tony Seaman said. “In the first half, we have 20 shots and 11 are off the cage. Those 11 shots are never going in. They never had a chance to go in because they’re not on the goal. That’s such a huge factor.”

For the season, the offense has scored just 55 times on 245 shots. The team’s shot percentage of .224 can’t even crack the top 50 in that category in Division I.

Part of the Tigers’ problem against Hofstra was a lethargic showing in the third quarter. Once the Pride (8-1, 2-1) scored the first few goals of that period and put Towson in a deficit, the players began to feel harried and make poor decisions.

“I think it was impatience,” said junior attackman Matt Lamon, who scored a team-high two goals. “We were trying to rush it. We got down by a few goals, and the kids were trying to make a play, trying to push the ball on fastbreaks too much. We needed to settle down. We were right in the game, too, in the third quarter.”

If the Tigers harbor any hope of qualifying for the four-team CAA tournament, they must improve their accuracy and their shot selection.

Other notes:

*Hofstra’s 12-goal output would seem to be a mark against the Towson defense, but the unit didn’t fare badly. The defense caused 14 turnovers to the Pride’s nine. But the problem was that the Tigers would give the ball right back. “We were making plays in the second half, but we weren’t finishing them,” senior goalkeeper Travis Love said. “We’d knock the ball down, and they’d come up with it. We played the game plan, but we didn’t finish our plays.”

*Hofstra seems to have found its comfort zone with a revamped starting midfield of juniors Kevin Ford and Brad Loizeaux and sophomore Ian Braddish. Loizeaux and Braddish replaced senior Steve Serling (lacerated spleen) and sophomore Drew Coholan (shoulder), both of whom are out for the remainder of the season. Ford and Loizeaux didn’t post a goal or an assist, but Braddish registered one goal and two assists against Towson. “We knew we had to take some of the pressure off,” said Braddish, a transfer from North Carolina. “Losing Steve and Drew was huge. They’re real good players, and it’s easy to play with the guys. You can mix anyone in because anyone can play in the system. You just need to be able to catch and throw and listen to Coach T [Seth Tierney] and do whatever he says, and we’ll win.”

*With the win, the Pride improved to 2-1 in the CAA and appears to be lining up for a spot in the conference tournament. That would represent a remarkable reversal from last season when Hofstra missed the CAA tournament and had to sweat out Selection Sunday to find out it had received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. “You’re talking to a guy that wasn’t in the CAA tournament last year,” Tierney said when asked if Saturday’s contest had “must-win” proportions attached to it. “We’re just looking to get in there and make some things happen. So it was a must win, I think, either way at this point.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Postscript, Towson
        

April 2, 2011

Hofstra at Towson: Halftime thoughts

Towson has hung tough with No. 10 Hofstra, extending the visiting Pride to a 3-3 tie at halftime.

There have been three ties and two lead changes as the Tigers (2-5) seek to even their record in the Colonial Athletic Association at 1-1. Meanwhile, Hofstra (7-1) is still a game behind in the loss column of No. 12 Delaware and Penn State.

Junior attackman Matt Lamon gave Towson a 1-0 lead with 12:32 left in the first quarter, but senior attackman Jamie Lincoln responded with back-to-back goals at the 12:16 and 2:41 marks of that period.

Senior short-stick defensive midfielder Peter Mezzanotte and Lamon scored the first two goals of the second quarter, but the Pride needed just 10 seconds after Lamon’s tally to tie the score at three on a goal by senior short-stick defensive midfielder Steven DeNapoli.

Towson has outshot the Pride, 20-14, but Hofstra has collected 16 ground balls to the Tigers’ 10.

Other notes:

*If there’s one glaring department that Towson must improve on, it’s faceoffs. The Tigers have won just 2-of-8 draws and must get to 50 percent on faceoffs to remain competitive and potentially pull off an upset.

*Both goalkeepers have been solid. Senior Travis Love has made six saves for Towson, while junior Andrew Gvozden has also turned back six attempts.

*Tigers redshirt freshman defenseman John Fennessy has shut out senior attackman Jay Card, the Pride’s leading scorer with 26 points. On the flipside, Hofstra sophomore defenseman Cody Solaja has silenced sophomore attackman Matt Hughes, Towson’s leading scorer with 16 points.

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Towson
        

Hofstra at Towson: Three things to watch

This is a crucial contest in the Colonial Athletic Association for both No. 10 Hofstra and Towson. The visiting Pride (7-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference) needs a victory to keep pace with No. 12 Delaware and Penn State, which share identical 2-0 league records. The Tigers (2-5) need a win to even their conference mark at .500 and stay in the hunt for the four-team CAA tournament. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday.

1) Don’t overlook the midfielders. Much has been made about the season-ending injuries to Hofstra midfielders Steve Serling (lacerated spleen) and Drew Coholan (shoulder), but their absence 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). And one of their objectives is feeding the talented attack trio of seniors Jay Card (15 goals and 11 assists), Jamie Lincoln (14, 6) and Stephen Bentz (14, 6). “They have middies that can initiate the play and then initiate the dodge and then they’re looking for these guys to finish the ball, and there’s nobody better doing that,” Towson coach Tony Seaman said.

2) Stonewall the faceoffs. The Pride’s attack has flourished because of extra possessions courtesy of its prowess on faceoffs. The team ranks seventh in Division I with a 63.2 success rate on draws, and sophomore John Antoniades is tied for fifth with a 65.4 percentage (89-of-136). Antoniades won 15-of-21 faceoffs in Hofstra’s 11-6 victory over No. 18 Drexel last Saturday. “If you give a team like that – who doesn’t make mistakes and has finishers like Card and Lincoln and Bentz – and you keep giving them the ball, then you’re in trouble,” Seaman said. “So we’re going to have to keep that around 50-50 if we expect to be in the game.”

3) Avoid fouling. The Pride ranks fourth in the country in man-up offense with a 50 percent success rate (13-of-26). Conversely, the Tigers are one of the least-penalized teams in the nation, incurring just 23 fouls and allowing just 18 man-down chances. Staying disciplined will be key, Seaman said. “Their man-up average is one of the best percentages in the country, so you can’t afford fouls,” Seaman said. “That’s very important, and that’s something that we’ve done a very good job of. … We really need to stay there.”

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

Maryland at Virginia: Three things to watch

Both Maryland and Virginia enter this Atlantic Coast Conference showdown looking to bounce back from disappointing setbacks. The No. 9 Terps (6-2) dropped an 11-6 decision to No. 5 North Carolina despite owning a 4-1 lead after the first quarter. The No. 7 Cavaliers (7-2) overcame a four-goal deficit in the third quarter before losing, 12-11, to No. 6 Johns Hopkins. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.

1) Patrol the “paint.” The area in front of the cage is called the “paint” by Maryland coaches and players, and that patch of territory was exposed by the Tar Heels, who frequently converted easy goals from there. It was quite a surprise considering that the Terps’ starting three defensemen and long-stick midfielder are seniors. Maryland coach John Tillman said the team went back to stressing fundamentals this week. “We always want to protect the paint,” he said. “Sometimes when you try to focus on the better players, there are some other opportunities that presented themselves. It was a good, teachable moment for us, just to remember that we want to make sure that we take away some of the better players, but we can’t compromise the integrity of our defense. We’ve got to play our team defense regardless of the people out there. With a lot of the talented players that Virginia has, we’ve got to use that lesson and use it wisely.”

2) Run with a purpose. Virginia’s reputation as a team that likes to run and gun is well-deserved, but the Cavaliers showed that they are just as vulnerable in unsettled situations. Johns Hopkins scored at least once off of transition and another off of a faceoff in Saturday’s outcome. That would seem to be an invitation for Maryland, which can fly, but Tillman applied the brakes to that train of thoughts. “I think we want to pick our spots,” he said. “If there’s a really good opportunity, we certainly want to take advantage of it. If we feel like it’s not a great opportunity, we have to recognize which are the best opportunities and don’t get caught up in being rushed or hurried into making a bad decision. We’ve got to maintain our poise within the flow of the game. So even if it’s a chaotic game and maybe there’s an odd-man rush, if they defend it well, then we’ve got to be very judicious and pull it out if there’s nothing there and play our regular, settled offense. But we’ve got to be opportunistic and efficient and not get caught up in the flow.”

3) Withstand the pressure. Virginia ranks ninth in Division I in caused turnovers per game (9.8) courtesy of a defense that is young but aggressive. If the Terps can turn back that pressure, they might be able to find opportunities in the interior or behind the net. Tillman said the key is counter-attacking at the right time. “If you attack it, it can look great, and other times, it can look not so good,” he said. “But pressure usually creates opportunities, and we’ve got to maximize those opportunities. … It’s like a blitz. You may have to take a sack, but if you can withstand it, you might be able to find a real big opening. So we’ve got to do a real good job of moving our feet, protecting our sticks, staying spread and sensing when’s the right time to go and when is not the right time to go.”

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

Postscript from Navy at Georgetown

Navy coach Richie Meade has used the term “emotional Alamo” to describe certain contests that can alter or determine a season’s path.

With Friday night’s 9-8 loss to Georgetown, the Midshipmen (4-6) are now two games below .500 with three regular-season contests remaining against No. 9 Maryland, No. 3 Army and No. 6 Johns Hopkins.

But if you think Navy is ready to throw in the towel, think again.

“There’s no relief,” Meade said. “You’ve got to shake it off, get back to work on Monday, get ready to play the University of Maryland [on Friday], and then do the best we can. And I’m looking forward to it. I’m not despondent, disillusioned. I’m not happy we lost by one goal. I’m not satisfied. I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of the way we’re playing. We’ve just got to not make the mistakes that we’re making at critical times.”

The Midshipmen have lost four games by one goal and could just as easily be 8-2 instead of 4-6. But there’s not glossing over their record, and the school must upend Army in two weeks to earn an opportunity to qualify for the four-team Patriot League tournament.

Freshman attackman Tucker Hull said the players are intent on turning the season around.

“We’ve lost another extremely close game that we shouldn’t have lost, and honestly, everyone’s getting pretty worked up,” he said. “These next teams better be looking out because we’ll be coming at them.”

Meade said he has witnessed no hint of quitting among the players or coaches.

“You can get your ass kicked and show no heart,” he said. “That’s not the case here. Every time we’ve been punched in the face, we’ve responded. And I’m confident we’ll respond again.”

Other notes:

*Friday’s loss was especially poignant for Navy junior goalie R.J. Wickham, who lost Amber Hopkins, a classmate from Penn Yan Academy in Penn Yan, N.Y., who died last week after a bout with brain cancer. “Today was a pretty emotional day for me,” said Wickham, who dedicated his 20-save performance to Hopkins’ memory. “I lost my friend from high school, and it kind of sucks. So I was kind of dedicating this game to her. It was a tough loss for me, but yeah, it was a tough game.” Wickham’s showing included the most saves by a Navy player since Seth DiNola registered 21 saves against Penn State in 2003.

*Senior midfielder Andy Warner, the team’s top playmaker, sat out the game due to a concussion suffered in last week’s 5-4 loss to Colgate, but Meade didn’t seem to think that Warner’s absence had much impact on the offense. “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. I thought the two guys that played are both plebes [Pat Durkin and Michael Jones], and they both did fine. They’re not Andy Warner yet. I don’t think that has anything to do with this. We went 2-for-4 on extra man [against Georgetown], we went 0-for-4 with Andy [against Colgate]. So maybe he’s done. … If Andy’s out there, who knows what happens? I don’t know. We scored eight goals. If Andy’s out there, maybe we score 20 or maybe we score two. Last week, he was out there, and we scored four.”

*One factor in the Hoyas’ win was the decision to move senior Barney Ehrmann to the top of the box and play essentially a long-stick midfield role. The Baltimore native and Gilman graduate achieved game highs in both ground balls (9) and caused turnovers (4). “I was really happy to be back up there on the faceoff wings for the chance to get some GBs, which is kind of like my specialty,” said the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Ehrmann, who was sidelined last season by an ankle injury. “So it was definitely good to be back up top, to change things around and maybe gives us a spark.” Coach Dave Urick said he could’ve kicked himself for not moving Ehrmann earlier. “He is a force up there,” Urick said. “He’s a difference-maker when he’s up top. Getting that up off the ground, coming off the wing on a faceoff, being able to take the ball away. I’ve seen Barney play a lot of good games, but I don’t know if he’s played a better one than he played tonight.”

*With the win, the Hoyas evened their record at 4-4. While the team still trails Syracuse, Notre Dame and Villanova in terms of representing the Big East, any victory could enhance Georgetown’s resume for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. “It certainly doesn’t hurt,” Urick said. “I think both teams kind of had their backs against the wall a little bit. we’ve got some games ahead of us that will allow us to play our way into the discussion, and other teams are going to have to play some games as well, and we’ll see how that works out. It’s more important for us to try to continue to get better and play a whole game.”

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

April 1, 2011

Navy at Georgetown: Halftime thoughts

The offensive futility that plagued Navy in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Colgate last Saturday seems to have followed the Midshipmen to Washington, D.C., as they trail Georgetown, 5-2 at halftime at Multi-Sport Field on Friday night.

Navy at least scored three goals and took 9 shots in the first half against the Red Raiders. Against the Hoyas’ pressure defense, however, the offense has been stymied, taking just nine shots to Georgetown’s 24.

The absence of senior midfielder Andy Warner (concussion) has had an impact, but the Midshipmen have also failed to protect the ball. Their first six possessions of the game ended in turnovers. For the contest, Navy has committed 12 turnovers to the Hoyas’ six.

The Midshipmen must re-discover their rhythm – and fast.

Other notes:

*Navy has also been guilty of committing too many fouls. Georgetown has gotten four extra-man chances, and even though the Hoyas have only converted one, any momentum the Midshipmen might have hoped to gain gets squandered.

*Navy appeared to be in big trouble when junior goalkeeper R.J. Wickham appeared to get injured after Georgetown’s scored to take a 3-1 lead with 7:56 left in the second quarter. Senior Mike Haas filled in for Wickham, but after surrendering a goal after a faceoff, Haas was pulled, and Wickham returned to the net.

*Attackman Sam Jones scored his 20th goal of the season, becoming the first freshman to score 20 since Nick Mirabito did so in 2005. Sophomore midfielder Jay Mann has the Midshipmen’s other goal. Sophomore attackman Travis Comeau has paced the Hoyas with three goals.

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Halftime thoughts, Navy
        

Navy's Warner out vs. Georgetown

Navy will have to dispose of Georgetown Friday night without its top playmaker.

Senior midfielder Andy Warner will not play for the Midshipmen due to a concussion that he suffered in the team's 5-4 loss to Colgate last Saturday. Warner leads Navy in assists with 17 and is tied for the team lead in points with 29.

Freshman Pat Durkin, who has not posted a point in five games, will start in Warner's place with junior Nikk Davis and sophomore Jay Mann. The Midshipmen are 4-5, while the Hoyas are 4-5.

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy
        

Navy at Georgetown: Three things to watch

Navy and Georgetown would seem to be heading in different directions with the visiting Midshipmen (4-5) having won three of their last four games, while the Hoyas (3-4) have dropped three of their last four. But both teams need a non-conference victory like this to enhance their resumes for the NCAA tournament selection committee. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Multi-Spot Field in Washington, D.C., on Friday night.

1) Kick-start the offense. Through their first eight contests, the Midshipmen had averaged a healthy 11 goals per game. Then they ran into Colgate, which allowed just four goals on Saturday. According to a report by Inside Lacrosse, the Red Raiders gave up outside shots, but blanketed Navy’s dodges from behind the net and down the alleys. Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the offense missed some opportunities that it can’t afford to repeat against Georgetown. “We had a lot of people open that we did not find,” Meade said. “So it was disappointing because everything that they did, we had prepared for, but our execution fell short.”

2) Attack the defense. Despite the troubles on offense last Saturday, Navy may have one bit of good news in that the Hoyas are surrendering an average of 12.1 goals this season. A unit headed by senior defenseman Barney Ehrmann and junior defenseman Dan Hostetler is rangy and aggressive, but the defense is also disciplined enough to play zone, which took top-ranked Syracuse to overtime at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic on March 12. “That’s part of our preparation, to be prepared to play against a zone,” Meade said. “But I don’t think that’s going to be their approach. I think they’re going to play their defense and attack our offense, and I think they’re going to play us all over the field. But if they play a zone, we’ll play against it.”

3) Keeping pace with Georgetown. In that 9-8 overtime loss to the Orange, the Hoyas demonstrated a willingness to run and gun with Syracuse, which usually thrives at that tempo. Meade said the Midshipmen must be careful to avoid turnovers in the midfield and sprint back to defense to defend against transition chances. “Everything that they do lends itself to try to create unsettled situations that they can take advantage of, and I don’t see this team being any different on the field,” Meade said. “They’re very big and very rangy on the defensive end of the field. They handle the ball extremely well, they run the ball through the midfield very, very well. So I don’t see them as wanting to get into a six-on-six. I think they’re trying to create a tempo and they’re really trying to push transition.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy, Three things to watch
        

Towson developing faceoff specialists

Sophomore Matt Thomas has taken the brunt of Towson’s faceoffs, and redshirt sophomore Ian Mills went 8-of-17 in the Tigers’ 9-8 upset of then-No. 4 Stony Brook on March 19.

The team may have unearthed another faceoff specialist in sophomore Warren Kalkstein, who battled junior Dan Cooney in Towson’s 8-7 loss to No. 12 Delaware last Saturday.

Kalkstein won just 5-of-14 draws in the first half, but according to Tigers coach Tony Seaman, Kalkstein’s physical style wore down Cooney, who has won 55.3 percent of his faceoffs (99-of-179) this season.

“Warren’s a physical guy who might lose the faceoff, but he’s going to beat you up a little bit every time,” Seaman said of the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Kalkstein. “I think he took a toll on them, and then Thomas did a great job for us in the second half.”

Faceoffs will be a crucial element this Saturday when No. 10 Hofstra visits Johnny Unitas Stadium. Sophomore John Antoniades is tied for fifth in Division I with a 65.4 success rate (89-of-136), and Seaman said he is mulling over the trio of Thomas, Mills and Kalkstein.

“We’ll start one of them,” Seaman said. “I’m not sure which one we’ll start, but we’ll see how he does against Antoniades and we’ll go from there.”

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

More from ESPN's Mark Dixon on Navy's postseason chances

Friday’s edition of The Sun included an article on the state of Navy’s program. With the team currently sitting at 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League, there’s some concern that the Midshipmen will stay home instead of partaking in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year.

Navy isn’t even guaranteed a spot in the four-team Patriot League tournament, which the school has qualified for every season since joining the conference for the 2004 campaign.

ESPN analyst Mark Dixon said one factor in rivals catching up – and surpassing – the Midshipmen is the emphasis on lacrosse as a year-round sport.

“Navy used to have the advantage in the early part of the season, particularly in February and early March because the Navy guys are always in shape. That’s just the way of life in Annapolis,” Dixon said. “But now with more emphasis on physical fitness and year-round training regimen, they lose that advantage. So maybe that’s a reason why they’re not sitting at 6-2 or 5-3.”

Still, the season isn’t over yet for the Midshipmen, who have upcoming contests against Georgetown on Friday night, No. 9 Maryland, No. 3 Army and No. 6 Johns Hopkins in successive weekends before the start of the Patriot League tournament.

Dixon said it would be a mistake for opponents to count Navy out.

“They’ve got a great opportunity this Friday when they play Georgetown, which is a great game for them,” he said. “But they’ll have an opportunity to make it in to the tournament. We just have to see how the other teams do. And it’s a disappointing year for Navy. They’re 2-3 in the Patriot, but they still have Army left to play. That’s a huge game. And they can beat the Black Knights. This isn’t a situation where you can say, ‘Well, they’re just going to roll Navy.’ I think they can beat Army, and if they get that win, they’ll be in the semifinals of the Patriot League. So we’re going to have to see what happens with Navy.”

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

Maryland still confident after disappointing loss

Maryland is still 6-2 and, barring an unforeseen collapse, is still considered a favorite to earn an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.

But could an 11-6 loss to No. 5 North Carolina last Saturday during which the Terps squandered a 4-1 lead after the first quarter haunt the team?

“Confidence is kind of a tricky thing,” coach John Tillman said Thursday. “Giving up a lead was disappointing and how we did it was disappointing, but like any season, you’re going to go through ups and downs and you’re going to have to deal with that.”

Maryland played well in some areas (faceoffs, shots, ground balls), but also had its fair share of faults (a porous interior defense and turnovers). Tillman said he thinks the team has addressed its vulnerabilities in practice this week.

“When you deal with young people, there are a lot of teachable moments and a lot of things that can happen,” he said. “I think you have to get back to stressing the things that are important and learn from those mistakes and grow. We kind of have no choice right now. The clock’s ticking for these guys and the season’s moving on. Because of that, we’ve got to make sure we empower our kids and focus on these things to help make a difference. We don’t expect our guys to be perfect, but we expect them to have a positive attitude and at least try to do the right things. And I think these guys will respond.”

Tillman will see the fruits of the team’s labor on Saturday when the No. 9 Terps visit No. 7 Virginia (7-2). Like Maryland, the Cavaliers are also seeking to rebound from a disappointing loss, a 12-11 setback to No. 6 Johns Hopkins.

“It’s a league game, so I know they’ll be excited to play after losing,” Tillman said. “It makes you look in the mirror a little bit as an opportunity to improve and grow. So my expectation is that they’ll come back and be ready and they’ll be excited. I think we need to do the same.”

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland
        
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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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