Battle for long-stick supremacy looms for Maryland's Farrell, Syracuse's White
There are so many tantalizing storylines peppered in Sunday’s NCAA tournament quarterfinal between top-seeded Syracuse and Maryland. One of those plotlines will center on the first-ever meeting between Terps senior long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell and Orange senior long-stick midfielder Joel White.
Widely regarded as two of the best to ever play the position, Farrell and White have never suited up against each other as Farrell missed the quarterfinal game between these teams in 2009 due to a cracked rib and punctured muscle near his lung.
Their strengths as defenders vary as much as their physical frames. Farrell, who stands at 6 feet, 5 inches and 240 pounds, is more offensive-minded, having recorded 28 goals and 20 assists in his career. The 6-1, 186-pound White is a vacuum for ground balls, collecting 278 and twice being named a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, which is given to the nation’s top collegiate player.
Farrell, a Baltimore native and Boys’ Latin graduate, said he is looking forward to Sunday’s contest.
“Anytime you play a great player like Joel, it’s always a challenge, and you want to match up well against him,” Farrell said Wednesday morning. “… Actually, Joel is a good friend of mine. We really haven’t talked about the game yet, but he’s a good kid. We’ve always talked about how we wanted to play against each other because it was such a bummer that I didn’t get to play against him in 2009, but I would never want that to be the storyline. Joel is a great player, but we also have [sophomore] Jesse [Bernhardt], who I think is and is going to be one of the best long poles in the country.”
By the way, Farrell said he hopes he will not longer be asked about the hidden-ball trick with senior attackman Grant Catalino that led to junior midfielder Drew Snider’s goal late in the third quarter of Maryland’s 13-6 victory over No. 8 seed North Carolina in the first round on Sunday.
Farrell, who was a guest on ESPN’s First Take on Monday morning to talk about the play, said he is dismayed that the play has overshadowed the overall team effort against the Tar Heels.
“That was a neat experience, but the thing that’s a bummer about the whole thing is that it overlooks how well the whole team played,” he said. “People who don’t understand lacrosse see that and think, ‘Oh, that’s the reason why Maryland won,’ when that’s not the case at all. ‘Trickery Terps’ or ‘Terps trick UNC to win’ – that’s not it at all. That was a classic case of our team wanting it more than UNC and I think the score showed that.”