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.”
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