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May 31, 2011

Postscript from Maryland vs. Virginia

Maryland’s defense – a unit brimming with experience and relied on as the team’s strength – picked the wrong time to post perhaps its worst outing of the season.

The unseeded Terps (13-5) allowed seventh-seeded Virginia (13-5) to score nine goals – including five in the second quarter – en route to a two-goal victory in the NCAA tournament final at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Monday.

Maryland, or more specifically senior defenseman Brett Schmidt, limited Cavaliers junior attackman and Tewaaraton Award finalist Steele Stanwick to zero goals and only one assist. But the defense failed to account for redshirt sophomore midfielder Colin Briggs (five goals) and sophomore attackmen Nick O’Reilly (one goal and four assists) and Matt White (three goals).

“We let in nine goals. We’ve been playing better than that lately,” a morose Schmidt said in the Terps’ locker room after the loss. “We did some uncharacteristic things today. It sucks. They had some good looks, and they finished their shots. So we’ve got to give the credit to them. [Redshirt freshman goalie] Niko [Amato] has been great for us through the playoffs, and he’s one of the best goalies in the country. He did all he could today, but we gave him shots that he couldn’t save, and that’s not on him. That’s our fault. We gave up 10-yard shots wide open from in front of the cage. You can’t blame Niko. That was all on the team defense. We just didn’t communicate well, and Virginia canned their shots.”

Amato sparkled early, making five saves in the first quarter including several from point-blank range. But he made just one stop in the second quarter, two in the third and zero in the fourth.

Asked if being asked to maintain that play over the final three quarters proved to be too much, Amato said he didn’t know.

“I just went out there each quarter and tried to do the best that I could do,” he said. “I knew the defense was going to do a great job. I just tried to make some plays to get the offense the ball back.”

The Terps (13-5) had leads of 1-0 and 3-2 in the first and second quarters, respectively, but the Cavaliers (13-5) ended the half with three goals over a span of 2 minutes, 25 seconds to enjoy a 5-3 advantage at halftime.

“You don’t want to let a team like that get on runs,” Maryland coach John Tillman acknowledged. “Give credit where credit is due. And to Virginia’s credit, they had some pretty good looks early. I felt like we were a little slow off the bus, and again, that young guy in the cage did a darn good job. We’re up 1-0 at the end of the first quarter, but Niko’s got five saves. So they’re a very talented group. They played very fast.”

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May 30, 2011

Postscript from Salisbury vs. Tufts

Salisbury’s reputation as an offensive-minded team was re-emphasized Sunday night when the offense exploded for 19 goals in a 12-goal rout of Tufts in the NCAA Division III tournament final. The output was the third most by a team in the title game.

But the Sea Gulls, ranked No. 1 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, deserve credit for a defensive strategy that held the No. 5 Jumbos to their third-worst production of the season.

In fact, Salisbury (21-1) has been a top-5 defense all season, and that’s not a coincidence, according to senior defenseman Nick Mooney.

“All year, we were just really focused on defense,” he said. “Pressuring hard, coming out hard, coming out from the beginning and stopping everyone. We wanted to be a dominant defense. All year, we wanted to be the best defense in the nation, and we are. Hands down, we’re the best defense in the nation. We wanted to be physical, and we wanted to basically scare the opponent. We wanted to scare them off the field. That was our goal.”

The Sea Gulls were especially suffocating in the postseason. Their four opponents in the tournament – Endicott, Dickinson, Roanoke and Tufts – combined for an average of 13.9 goals prior to meeting Salisbury. Those four teams combined for an average of 6.5 goals against the Sea Gulls.

“They’re just very athletic, a tough defense,” said Jumbos senior attackman D.J. Hessler, whose offense had averaged 12.9 goals prior to Sunday night. “Our guys up top weren’t really able to dodge on them. All credit goes to them.”

Salisbury junior defenseman Chad Surman admitted that the defense  gets to hone its game by practicing against the team’s potent offense on a daily basis.

“We play against the best offense in the country every day,” Surman said. “So we know that when we go against another team, we’re not facing players who are nearly as good as the ones we see at practice every day.”

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May 29, 2011

Postscript from Maryland vs. Duke

Maryland is poised to accomplish something it hasn’t done since 1975: capturing the national championship. But history has not been kind to the Terps, who are 0-5 in the title game since defeating Navy, 20-13, 36 years ago.

However, coach John Tillman said the team isn’t burdened by its unsuccessful past.

“We’ve tried to focus on the moment and just the process and the journey,” Tillman said minutes after unseeded Maryland defeated fifth-seeded Duke, 9-4, in Saturday night’s NCAA tournament semifinal at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. “Stepping back now and kind of looking at things, instead of looking at that whole thing as a burden like what we haven’t done, we kind of look at what we have going for us. The tradition that we have, the alumni that we have, a state that loves lacrosse so much – we look at it as a source of strength for us. It would mean so much to everybody that it makes us play harder and work harder because we could make so many people happy. It would be so great for the people in this state to have a championship – in any sport. But for the sport of lacrosse, when almost every high school plays, it would be amazing, we run out behind that flag and not many teams do that. So we do play for more than ourselves.”

Terps senior attackman Grant Catalino said the players have embraced the school’s tradition.

“It’s kind of a feeling that you’re playing for the teams that played here in the past 30 years,” he said. “It’s not every year that a senior class gets the opportunity to play on Memorial Day weekend for the championship. There’s a lot of guys that wish they could be in our spot, but they’re out in the stands cheering us on. They’re supporting us, and they’ve supported us all year. It’d be awesome to go out as a senior and win it, and it would kind of be a tribute to the players that played here before us.”

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May 23, 2011

Postscript from Roanoke at Salisbury

Many people deserve a second chance. Tony Mendes is enjoying his third chance, and that’s why the Salisbury junior attackman sounded grateful after the Sea Gulls overwhelmed Roanoke for the right to play in the NCAA Division III tournament final.

“I hadn’t played in two years, and to come here and have a real good opportunity to get to the national championship, it feels awesome,” Mendes said. “I’m glad I got the opportunity from Coach [Jim] Berkman.”

Mendes’ journey to this stage is a long, complicated road. As a freshman at Maryland in 2008, he played in 16 games, including one start and compiled five goals and two assists.

After leaving the program and enrolling at Syracuse in the fall of 2009, Mendes pulled out of school and decided to join the Sea Gulls. He was required by the NCAA to sit out the 2010 season.

Mendes’ decision was a fortuitous one for Salisbury, which has witnessed Mendes rank fourth on the team in goals (44) and points (60) this season. Junior attackman Matt Cannone is one teammate who said he is thankful that Mendes, who registered three goals and one assist on Sunday, joined the program.

“I’m the happiest person that it happened,” Cannone said. “We became best friends and being best friends out there, you look for each other. You see him on the backside, you want to get him the ball. He’s an amazing player. He can shoot it from anywhere. It’s just the greatest thing. I love it.”

Mendes said life at schools like Maryland and Syracuse isn’t vastly different from that with the Sea Gulls.

“It’s the same intensity at practice,” he said. “I have to work just as hard., I just feel that Division I, it was more of a business to me. I had a lot of fun when I was playing at Maryland, but once I came down here, I’m having a lot more fun. I’m just enjoying myself a lot more. I’ve got the best teammates in the world right here, and they have my back no matter what. So I can’t complain. I’m having the time of my life.”

Mendes said he still keeps in touch with a few of his former Terps teammates including roommate and junior midfielder Drew Snider and senior attackman Ryan Young. Mendes said he’s been watching Maryland’s progress in the Division I tournament with great interest.

“I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to watch,” Mendes said of the Terps’ 6-5 overtime win against top-seeded Syracuse in the NCAA quarterfinals on Sunday. “My brother told me the score. So that’s awesome. I’ll get to see all of my friends in Baltimore.”

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May 22, 2011

Postscript from Denver vs. Johns Hopkins

By the numbers, Johns Hopkins, not Denver, should have advanced to the Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday.

As coach Dave Pietramala correctly noted, the Blue Jays were superiors in areas like shots (36-29), ground balls (31-23) and faceoffs (16-of-27). So why did No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins fall, 14-9, to the No. 6 seed Pioneers in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday?

“I don’t think our team gave them the level of respect they deserved,” Pietramala said. “Why that is, I don’t know. I’ve seen us play other teams, and you come out of the locker room and you get a feel for your team. You watch your team practice, you watch your team warm up, and I just don’t think that we as a group gave them the respect that they deserved. And that’s a shame because we allowed an opportunity to slip by us.”

Asked to elaborate on that lack of respect, Pietramala began his answer by asking the reporter if he had any children.

“I can tell you from experience, kids understand certain things,” said Pietramala, the father of seven-year-old twin boys. “They understand Syracuse. They understand Virginia. They understand Carolina. They understand Maryland. Teams that have won championships. This was a new team for us. I’m telling you that when we got on the plane [after scouting Denver’s 13-10 victory over Villanova in the first round on May 15], we walked away like, ‘Wow.’ [Coach Bill Tierney] inherited a very talented team, but what I would say is, what a magnificent job they’ve done as a staff of actually making them a team. … Listen, I know my team. I know the feel of our locker room. There are no excuses. We got beat, and we should’ve prepared better. Shoot, if you want to blame anybody, blame me. I’m the head coach. That’s the way it goes. But I didn’t feel like we had that little extra something that we’ve had in some other games. I can’t attribute it to our guys not caring. They do care. If you know the things we’ve dealt with this year and the way they’ve done things, I can’t say they did not care. I just don’t think we played with the level of respect that maybe we should have, and that’s our fault.”

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May 5, 2011

Postscript from Susquehanna at Goucher

A decent portion of Goucher’s success has stemmed from an opportunistic offense led by the three-headed monster of junior attackman Rory Averett and Kyle Boncaro and junior midfielder Matt Lynch.

But the Gophers have also been buoyed lately by the play of sophomore goalkeeper Connor Mishaw, who has posted double-digit saves in each of the team’s last seven contests en route to a 6.92 goals-against average and a .618 save percentage. He registered 19 saves in Goucher’s 11-3 rout of Susquehanna in a Landmark Conference tournament semifinal at Gopher Stadium in Towson on Wednesday.

Mishaw, who succeeded Chris Stricklin as the starter, said he found his comfort zone prior to a game against Christopher Newport on March 26.

“Before the Christopher Newport game, I just started to relax and our defense really came together,” Mishaw recalled. “I felt like we were working together, and that benefited me. They know what I can save and what I can’t.”

Mishaw has turned aside 115 shots in his last seven games, averaging more than 16 stops. While that could be perceived as Mishaw playing behind a porous defense, Mishaw asserted that those saves are the result of the defensive game plan.

“The majority of those saves, my defense is forcing shots that I like to see,” he said. “So it’s repetition. And the defense has been playing great lately.”

Coach Kyle Hannan said Mishaw has been phenomenal, especially in the latter half of the season.

“I think he was feeling everything out through the first half of the season and then the light went on,” Hannan said. “… He’s kept us in close games. And even today, we won by a lot of goals, but his play was a big part of us winning the way that we did. I think his confidence is high right now, and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him, which helps the entire defense.”

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May 1, 2011

Postscript from Loyola at Johns Hopkins

In less than a year, Johns Hopkins has already reversed a troubling trend.

A season removed from absorbing three one-goal losses en route to the program’s first sub-.500 campaign, the No. 4 Blue Jays have won four one-goal contests this spring.

Johns Hopkins (11-2) added to that string on Saturday by holding off No. 18 Loyola, 8-7, at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

The Blue Jays, who have edged No. 6 Maryland, No. 8 North Carolina and No. 9 Virginia by one goal each, are 40-15 under coach Dave Pietramala in one-goal games.

After last season’s 7-8 record, Pietramala joked that he’s happy with any victory, but he conceded that he’s enjoyed witnessing the character this current squad has shown.

“I like that we found a way to win,” he said. “I like that we got the stop we needed to get. I like that when we needed to extend that lead by one more goal, we got it. I thought [sophomore midfielder] Lee Coppersmith’s goal [at the end of the second quarter] was a big one. I like that we feel good about putting our faceoff guy out there and knowing that we’ve got a pretty darn good chance of coming up with the ball. I like that.”

Just as he did in the 10-9 decision against North Carolina on April 3, senior faceoff specialist Matt Dolente won Saturday’s final draw. Although the offense would later cough up the ball, Dolente said he doesn’t mind bearing the burden of winning that key faceoff.

“We’ve been in that situation a few times this year where you need to come up with a faceoff late, and we’ve had good results and bad results,” he said. “But I think we feel comfortable in that situation. We’ve been in that situation before, and I was confident that we could come away with a win there.”

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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.”

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April 21, 2011

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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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April 9, 2011

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.”

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April 7, 2011

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.”

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April 4, 2011

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.”

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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.”

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April 3, 2011

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.

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April 2, 2011

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.”

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March 27, 2011

Postscript from Virginia at Johns Hopkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 24, 2011

Postscript from Tufts at Stevenson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 20, 2011

Postscript from Stony Brook at Towson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 19, 2011

Postscript from UMBC at Maryland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 17, 2011

Postscript from Denver at Loyola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 16, 2011

Postscript from Towson at Navy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 13, 2011

Postscript from Johns Hopkins vs. UMBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Postscript from Syracuse vs. Georgetown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 10, 2011

Postscript from Detroit at Mount St. Mary's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 6, 2011

Postscript from Towson at Mount St. Mary's

For all the troubles Towson has endured on offense, the Tigers have been buoyed by the play of their defense.

That unit has surrendered just 16 goals in three games thus far – which averages out to 5.3 goals. Towson, which had been tied with Penn State for 13th in Division I with a 6.5 goals-per-game average, is bound to move up the rankings after allowing just three goals in an eight-goal victory over Mount St. Mary’s Saturday.

Junior defenseman Michael Landy said the players are working in conjunction with associate head coach and defensive coordinator Shawn Nadelen.

“Everybody has to be together and on the same page – whether we’re playing zone or man,” said Landy, who shut out Mountaineers junior attackman Cody Lehrer, who scored 48 goals last spring. “Coach Nadelen does a great job of getting us prepared and giving us the perfect game plan. We know what’s coming at us every single week, and it’s also a testament to what we’re going against from our [offensive] guys every day in practice. They work us to the bone. They know our tendencies, they know what we’re bad at, and then they go at it. They really work us.”

The Tigers (1-2) have been rotating between a man-to-man defense and a zone scheme, which Landy said is being used more frequently this year than in his first two seasons.

“This year, you can definitely tell that we’ve all come together and that we definitely understand it,” Landy said of the zone defense. “It’s really about understanding how to play it. … It’s one of those zones where if you run it right and stick by the rules, it’s tough to beat.”

Coach Tony Seaman said the defense has been the anchor for the team as the offense tries to resolve its issues.

“We’re doing a good job and we’re getting where we’re supposed to be,” he said.

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March 3, 2011

Postscript from Gettysburg at Goucher

Life on the Goucher campus could be better, but there are two encouraging signs despite the Gophers’ 0-2 start.

The defense has surrendered just 13 goals in both losses, including just six in a two-goal loss to No. 12 Gettysburg on Wednesday at Beldon Field in Towson.

Senior Justin Dunn has been living up to his honorable-mention All-American status from a year ago, but the Gophers have been buoyed by the emergence of sophomore defensemen Bryce Carson and Paul Taylor and sophomore goalie Connor Mishaw.

Add freshman long-stick midfielder Ralph Bilotta and a pair of short-stick defensive midfielders in sophomore Tim Brashear and freshman Stephen Patterson, and it’s easy to see why coach Kyle Hannan is cautiously optimistic about that unit.

“I think our defense is playing really well right now,” he said. “Obviously, the numbers show that. And the good thing is that it’s still a very young defense. So there’s a lot of room to grow at that end of the field. We’re playing a sophomore goalie in his first year of starting, two sophomore defensemen, an all-freshmen defensive midfield. The youngest group on our team through two games has been the most successful group on the field. I’m excited about the way that they’re playing and if they continue to play like that and the offense picks it up, we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Goucher isn’t feeling so great about being mired in an 0-2 hole, but this program got off to the same start last season before ending the regular season on a 14-1 run.

“We were in this predicament last year,” junior attackman Rory Averett noted. “But it would be nice to have a win instead of being 0-2. We’ve just got to play well on Saturday [against Randolph-Macon] and hope for a win.”

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February 26, 2011

Postscript from Georgetown at Maryland

With six seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup, Maryland is a veteran-laden team well-equipped to handle adversity and avoid getting too high about wins.

Still, senior attackman Grant Catalino called the No. 3 Terps’ 20-8 throttling of No. 14 Georgetown at Byrd Stadium in College Park Saturday afternoon “awesome.”

“This starts our long road of playing top-25 teams,” Catalino said. “So coming off of a win is huge. It gives us a lot of confidence, but we’ll stay hungry. We’re not going to be overconfident. Going into playing Duke, we’re going to be hungry.”

Maryland has upcoming contests against ranked opponents in No. 10 Duke (on Saturday), No. 16 North Carolina (March 26), No. 2 Virginia (April 2) and No. 9 Johns Hopkins (April 16), and that doesn’t include the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in late April.

Maybe that’s why coach John Tillman, who was unaware of the Blue Devils’ stunning 7-3 loss to Penn after the Terps’ win, was somewhat more reserved than his team’s leading scorer.

“It’s hard to tell,” he said. “It’s so early in the season. I think it will definitely help our guys’ confidence, but I think our guys realize it’s a long season, and there are a lot of good teams out there. We have to go down next week, it’s our first road trip as a group, we can only take a certain number of guys. Duke is a very talented team. I don’t care what you say. They are the defending national champions. We have a lot of respect for them. I saw them play last week. Notre Dame’s terrific, but Duke’s not too far behind them. We can’t let up and think that we’re any better than we are. We’re just a work in progress. Today, for about two-and-a-half quarters, I thought we did a nice job, but we’ve really got to learn to play 60 minutes and learn to do that consistently in practice.”

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February 23, 2011

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Delaware

The final box score from Tuesday night’s game will show that once again, the starting attack of seniors Chris Boland and Kyle Wharton and sophomore Zach Palmer led the way in both goals and points in No. 9 Johns’ Hopkins’ 18-5 demolition of No. 20 Delaware.

But their performance should not overshadow the encouraging play of the team’s youthful midfielders.

That’s because while the Blue Hens defense sought to contain the attack, sophomore John Ranagan and freshmen Rob Guida and Eric Ruhl sparked the offense in the first two quarters.
Guida scored the first two goals of the game, Ranagan assisted on the next two, and Ruhl capped the scoring in the first half.

Coach Dave Pietramala said he wasn’t surprised by Delaware’s defensive game plan after the attack unit combined for seven goals and four assists in the Blue Jays’ 10-6 victory over Towson in the season opener last Saturday.

“I would imagine after the last game when you watched how we played, John and [sophomore] John [Greeley] and Robert were not great, and our attack carried the majority of the workload and had the majority of the points,” Pietramala said. “In this game, if I’m a coach, I’m looking at Hopkins and saying, ‘OK, well, the attack had a lot of the points. We’ve got to be very aware of them.’ I was really pleased to see Robert Guida get off and get a couple early. I thought both Johns played well. I thought the first line got some production, and we got some production from the second line and Eric Ruhl. In the last game, I didn’t feel like we got enough out of our middies, and that was something that we talked about that day and in practice over the last two days. So it was a focal point.”

Ranagan said he understands that the offense will continue to be scrutinized until the midfield produces on a consistent basis. But he expressed a confidence that he said stems from his teammates.

“We have our teammates’ support, so it’s not too bad,” Ranagan said. “We have two great captains at attack, and we’re all playing together. John and I played half a season together last year, and this is all new for us. So it’s nice to have three guys who are going through it together.”

Other notes:

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February 20, 2011

Postscript from Navy at Loyola

Through the first two quarters of Saturday’s contest against No. 13 Loyola, Navy had split 12 faceoffs – a remarkable showing against Greyhounds senior John Schiavone, who ranked sixth in Division I with a .599 percentage last spring.

But that all changed in the third quarter as Loyola won all five faceoffs, which led to four goals and the score being knotted at seven.

Schiavone was credited with winning 14-of-21 faceoffs, but Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the Greyhounds’ wing players were the key.

“It wasn’t that we were struggling with the faceoffs at the X,” Meade said after Navy’s 9-8 loss. “Their wings just out-winged us. Their two guys on the wings did a very good job of just getting possession of the ball, and I thought that led to them just chipping away at the lead.”

Schiavone got the best of junior Logan West, who a week ago had outplayed Virginia Military Institute junior Stephen Robarge who had ranked fourth in the country last season. But Schiavone shared the credit with sophomore midfielder Josh Hawkins and sophomore long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff.

“He’s a good faceoff guy,” Schiavone said of West. “He was able to tie me up and let stuff turn into scrums with the wings. That’s not what I want. I’d rather win it to myself every time and be able to go. I’m lucky that I have Hawk and Ratliff on my team because no one’s going to outrun Hawk. He’s a fast guy, a ground ball machine. And same with Ratty. He’s a great when the ball’s on the ground, and they helped me lot. I think I got only two or three ground balls in the second half. They had the rest. Those were their wins.”

Other notes:

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June 1, 2010

Postscript from Notre Dame vs. Duke

Duke’s first national championship may have been historic in that it just might have lifted the burden of guilt weighing down on the program.

Even though charges of rape filed against three Blue Devils players in 2006 were dropped and the team was permitted to resume playing after that season had been canceled, the program almost seemed to wear a scarlet letter for that transgression.

When Duke, as the No. 1 seed, had advanced to the 2008 NCAA Tournament semifinals, I had written an article on the growing sentiment among lacrosse fans against the Blue Devils. The granting of fifth years of eligibility only served to inflame their opponents even more.

But minutes after the team’s 6-5 overtime victory over Notre Dame on Monday, it seemed that the statute of limitations for rehashing 2006 and fifth years had run out.

"I hope so," coach John Danowski said when asked if the media should drop that matter. "I will."

Monday’s win was shared by former players Matt Danowski, Zack Greer and Tony McDevitt, among others – all of whom shed tears over the program’s watershed moment.

"That meant so much to them, and for me, same thing," Danowski said. "It’s been a very emotional time and a very cool time. This is what we do and this is why we do what we do. There was so much emotion those first two years. People have no idea. These are young men trying to act like everything was OK, but they were hurting. And for them to go up on that field today and feel good – even when you’re not here and you leave a place, sometimes you don’t want that team to do well because you think, ‘They can’t do it without me.’ There’s not a bone in those guys’ bodies that feels that way."

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May 30, 2010

Postscript from Duke vs. Virginia

In a fitting and unsurprising way, Duke advanced to the NCAA Tournament final courtesy of the connection between attackmen Ned Crotty and Max Quinzani.

Quinzani’s fourth goal of the game off of a pass from Crotty with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter propelled the No. 5 seed Blue Devils to a 14-13 victory over top-seeded Virginia Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Thanks to almost two full seasons of playing together, Crotty, a fifth-year senior, and Quinzani, a senior, have developed an instinct on finding each other and parlaying opportunities into goals.

A good majority of Crotty’s nation-leading 62 assists have found their way into Quinzani’s stick, and a significant portion of Quinzani’s 68 goals – also tops in the country – have come from Crotty’s pinpoint passing.

"We give each other leeway," Quinzani said of his relationship with Crotty. "Coach [John Danowski] definitely lets Ned throw it throught the defense to me. It doesn’t connect all the time, but I have all the confidence in him and we let him do it. I tell him all the time, ‘If you throw it, at least you know I’m going to catch it. It might not go in, but I’m going to catch it and something good’s going to happen.’"

Added Crotty: "Obviously, we’re kind of different. I’m feeding and he finishes. But we’re both just players. Playing him the last couple of years on the same attack line, we’ve just kind of developed that chemistry and it’s something that definitely works well for us."

That Duke is playing for a chance to capture the school’s first NCAA title on Monday because of Crotty and Quinzani was not lost on Danowski.

"Tonight might have been a little more storybook," he said. "We certainly didn’t design for Ned to throw it to Max. We would have been delighted for anybody to catch it at that point and for anybody to throw it in. The way it worked out today was epcial because those kids have worked so hard."

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May 24, 2010

Postscript from Stony Brook vs. Virginia

Quietly, Adam Ghitelman has been putting together one of the best seasons of his career.

The junior goalkeeper was instrumental in top-seeded Virginia’s 10-9 victory over No. 8 seed Stony Brook in a NCAA Tournament quarterfinal at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Ghitelman has registered double-digit saves in 11 of the Cavaliers’ 17 contests. His 13-save performance against the Seawolves was his seventh in a row.

Ghitelman’s showing was reminiscent of his 16-save display in Virginia’s 10-6 victory over Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament final.

"I’ve built up a lot of experience in my career," he said. "I just try to stay calm out there and keep it 0-0 in my mind at all times. … It was a tough game, and I’m glad we were able to hold it down in the end."

Ghitelman will have to play just as well against No. 5 seed Duke in Saturday’s national semifinals if the Cavaliers hope to reach their first national title game since 2006. Coach Dom Starsia sounded confident that Ghitelman will continue his ways.

"Clearly, as we move forward in this season, you need your goalie to have big moments and I think Adam was one of the bright spots for us today," Starsia said. "There were times with Stony Brook, I’m sure they thought they had it, and Adam would get a big stop for us, and we’d get an opportunity going the other way."

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Postscript from Army vs. Cornell

Even though No. 7 seed Cornell enjoyed an 8-3 advantage at halftime over Army in a NCAA Tournament quarterfinal, the Big Red wasn’t exactly relaxed.

That’s because in the three previous contests, Cornell had surrendered significant leads, dropping the Ivy League Tournament championship to Princeton in overtime.

And when Black Knights senior midfielder Tyler Oates converted a pass from senior attackman Tyler Seymour to open the third quarter, there was a little rumbling among Army fans.

But the Big Red scored six unanswered goals en route to an eventual 14-5 victory. Senior attackman Ryan Hurley acknowledged getting queasy about trying to protect a large lead in the second half.

"We had some trouble with that in the past couple of games, and that’s something we had been working on all week," said Hurley, who recorded four goals and one assist. "To come out especially in the third quarter and score those goals early, we really felt good."

Army could not string together two consecutive goals, which coach Joe Alberici noted.

"When we got to 8-4, they made it 9-4," he said. "Any time that we were able to get one, they answered right back, and that’s a credit to them."

Other notes:

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May 20, 2010

Postscript from Haverford at Salisbury

With a trip to the national semifinals at stake, Salisbury put the ball in the hands of their eighth-leading goal scorer.

That’s not a dig at senior face-off specialist Ryan Finch, but a realization of the hot hand that he had against No. 4 seed and visiting Haverford (12-6) in a NCAA Tournament quarterfinal at Sea Gull Stadium Wednesday night.

Finch, a Finksburg native and Westminster graduate who had scored five goals entering Wednesday’s contest, scored twice including the game-winner after winning the face-off just 12 seconds into overtime to catapult top-seeded Salisbury (20-1) to a 12-11 decision and a semifinal meeting with No. 2 seed Stevenson.

Finch, who had dominated the face-off X to the tune of 18 wins in 24 attempts, popped the ball forward, scooped up the loose ball, and sprinted down to the box. Recognizing that no Fords player was sliding, Finch took the shot and scored.

"They hadn’t been sliding all night on the fast breaks because they didn’t want our attack to score on fast breaks," Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman said. "He threw a little fake like he was going to throw it to the point, which froze them even more. … He came right off the face-off on a fast break, they held on the attackmen, and before you knew it, he was already to about six or seven yards from the goal, and he just ripped it high and hard to the corner."

Salisbury trailed, 11-9, after Haverford senior midfielder Andrew Kim scored with 7:07 left in regulation. But sophomore midfielder Sam Bradman scored his first goal of the game with 5:56 remaining, and junior midfielder Shawn Zordani tied it up with 33 seconds left.

Despite the late deficit, Berkman said he never sensed any anxiety on the part of his players.

"I was really happy with the way our kids kept their composure and stayed the course and kept running the things that we do and kept playing solid defense," he said. "They didn’t panic or take a penalty that would’ve been really critical to us in terms of maybe not coming back. … There was a good sign of confidence on the sideline."

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May 17, 2010

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Duke

Johns Hopkins’ regular-season finish with two victories earned the school its 39th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but it couldn’t mask the team’s deficiences against a top-tier opponent.

The Blue Jays got pounded by No. 5 seed Duke, 18-5, in the first round on Saturday, absorbing the program’s worst loss in the postseason. And Johns Hopkins’ weaknesses were on full display as the Blue Devils won almost every major statistical category.

"The things that we struggled with throughout the year came back to haunt us, and when you get to the playoffs, you’re playing against very good teams no matter what seed you have or they have," coach Dave Pietramala said. "When you get to this point in the season, teams are capable of exploiting your weaknesses, and the things that we struggled with were exploited in that game. We struggled between the boxes this year. We had difficulty off the ground, off face-offs, off the wings, and all three of those places were detrimental to us in that game."

Pietramala said the team had pointed to five areas for success against Duke: winning face-offs, collecting groundballs, limiting attackmen Ned Crotty, Max Quinzani and Zach Howell, preventing transition, and clearing the ball.

The Blue Devils won 18-of-27 face-offs, scooped up 20 more groundballs, scored goals off transition, and got a combined eight goals and eight assists from Crotty (2, 6), Quinzani (4, 1) and Howell (2, 1). The only area that Johns Hopkins thrived in was clears, where the team succeeded on 19-of-20 attempts.

Pietramala said the re-emegence of the Blue Jays’ flaws was disheartening.

"The outcome is a result of the play, so I’m disappointed by our play," he said. "Early on, I felt like we were hanging around, and I felt like that’s what we needed to do against this team. It was 6-3, and then bang, bang, we gave up two to make 8-4 at the end of the [second] quarter, and then it’s 9-4, 10-4 at the start of the third quarter. I’m disappointed that we kind of reverted back to many of the mistakes that we made throughout the year rather than what we did in the last two games."

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Postscript from Mount St. Mary's at Virginia

Remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books where you, as the reader, would make choices for the main character and determine his/her outcome? Tom Gravante wishes he had had that option Saturday night when his Mount St. Mary’s team took on top seed and overwhelming favorite Virginia in a NCAA tournament first-round game.

Instead, the Cavaliers (15-1) crafted an 18-4 rout in dominating fashion and Gravante could only guess what might have been different if junior Ben Trapp had scored off the opening faceoff instead of getting his shot snuffed by junior goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman.

"That might have changed the course of the game a little bit," Gravante said. "You’re left wondering what might have been if we scored the first goal of the game like that."

Still, Gravante knew that one goal – as significant as it might have been – didn’t provide enough of a cushion against a Virginia squad blessed with talent and experience at nearly every position.

"To win that game, we had to be perfect," he said. "We had to be 50 percent better on faceoffs, we had to be 50 percent better on ground balls, we had to be 90 percent in clearing, and we could not give up any transition goals. … At the end of halftime, we were 0-for-4. We gave up transition goals, we were less than 90 percent clearing, we were less than 50 percent facing off, and we were less than 50 percent on ground balls. Against a team like UVA, which is so athletic, I’m sure that teams facing them next, their goals will have to be the same to be in a game with these kids."

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May 16, 2010

Postscript from Loyola at Cornell

Lacrosse is often referred to as a game of runs. It can also be described as a game of inches.

That’s just one storyline embedded in No. 12 Loyola’s 11-10 triple overtime loss to No. 7 Cornell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon.

Perhaps the most memorable play occurred in the second overtime when senior attackman Cooper MacDonnell took a left-handed jump shot from the right wing that buzzed past Big Red freshman goalkeeper A.J. Fiore but caromed off the right post. A few inches to the right, and the Greyhounds (9-5) -- not Cornell (11-5) -- would be getting ready for a quarterfinal meeting with either No. 1 Syracuse or No. 20 Army.

"I thought as a team, we had a couple chances," Loyola coach Charley Toomey recalled. "Whether it was [senior midfielder] Taylor Ebsary humming one over the pipe or Cooper just off-pipe or [senior attackman] Collin [Finnerty] low-to-high missing one, we had some chances in overtime to put that thing away. But you’ve got to give Cornell credit. They got it done on their end. It was probably a way you didn’t anticipate the game ending. You expected it to probably be in Cooper’s hands or [Big Red sophomore attackman Rob] Pannell’s hands or [Cornell sophomore midfielder Roy] Lang’s hands or Taylor’s hands, and the game ends with a defenseman [junior Max Feely] going all the way."

Toomey, who had just wrapped up a meeting with his players, had mixed emotions about the team’s final game of the season. He appreciated the way the Greyhounds bounced back from a 9-2 deficit in the third quarter to send the game into extra frames, but he pointed out the 25-minute, 25-second stretch when the Big Red scored seven unanswered goals.

Likewise, Toomey said the season left him both satisfied and wanting.

"To be able to open Ridley [Athletic Complex], to be able for this program to go back to the tournament for the third time in four years, that was exciting," he said. "But we certainly didn’t reach all of our goals, and that would be to advance in the tournament and to win the [automatic qualifier] out of our conference [the Eastern College Athletic Conference]. So we’ve got to re-evaluate some things and look to improve and take that next step next season. We fell short in some areas that we’re going to hold ourselves accountable for as coaches, and we’re going to come back and be ready to attain those goals."

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Postscript from Hofstra at Maryland

Maryland’s attack gets a lot of attention and rightfully so. That unit has helped the offense rank 10th in Division I with an 11.8 average entering Saturday’s first-round game against Hofstra in the NCAA Tournament.

But the defense deserves a few headlines, too. That unit, which ranked 10th after surrendering 8.5 goals per game prior to Saturday, limited the No. 19 Pride to a season-low eight goals in a three-goal victory for the No. 3 Terps.

Junior defenseman Ryder Bohlander shut out Hofstra junior attackman Jamie Lincoln, the team’s leader in goals (33) and points (53), and junior attackman Stephen Bentz didn’t register a point against junior Max Schmidt.

"I thought Ryder Bohlander did a really good job on Jamie Lincoln," Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. "He stayed in front of him, and when he dipped under, he didn’t let him get anything. I think he had one under shot. If he got by us, we wanted him to take us top-side a little bit."

Pride junior attackman Jay Card scored four goals on junior defenseman Brett Schmidt, but two of those goals occurred in the final 71 seconds of regulation.

"They did a great job of getting in our hands and pressuring the ball," Card said. "I know our whole attack found it difficult to kind of get in a groove because they were always in our hands. It was just hard to operate and get into our sets with that happening."

Hofstra coach Seth Tierney said the team ran plays to persuade the Terps to slide, but Bohlander would not budge from Lincoln, and the other defensemen mostly stayed true to their assignments.

"I thought we had a lot of opportunities," Tierney said. "If it’s not one guy, it’s another on their defense that steps up and makes a play. Or their goalie will come up and make a save on a lay-up-type look. … They keep coming at you. They’re tough. They’re a tough lacrosse team."

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May 9, 2010

Postscript from Delaware at Towson

Under normal circumstances, Towson coach Tony Seaman would spend Monday and Tuesday meeting with each of the underclassmen, reviewing their seasons, and planning their offseason programs.

It’s anything but normal around the Tigers.

A 13th year as the head coach at Towson – and a 30th year overall – for Seaman is at stake as the administration mulls whether to sign the coach to a new deal.

Seaman, who boasts a career record of 260-156 and a school mark of 96-83, needed to guide the team to its first postseason berth since 2007 to impress school officials, but for the second consecutive season, the Tigers fell in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament final – just one victory away from clinching the automatic qualifier and making an appearance.

Minutes after the team lost, 12-9, to Delaware Saturday afternoon, Seaman, who was named the CAA Coach of the Year on Friday, was asked to sum up his feelings.

"Well, I really hate losing. I’ve never been a good [at accepting it," he said. "It would have been exciting to have these kids get a chance at the NCAAs. We won the league in the regular [season], and I think we did a great job in the league throughout the season. I gave them a schedule to go by that was really tough and difficult. I haven’t met with [athletic director] Mike [Hermann] or the president yet, and I know what was expected of us. And we didn’t make it. Missed it. So I guess they’re going to have to make a decision. It’s rewarding to see my colleagues make me the Coach of the Year for the league. That meant a lot to me."

Seaman was poised and rational during his post-game comments, and he praised his players for their perseverance in rallying from a 1-5 start to winning the CAA regular-season title and the top seed in the conference tournament.

"That’s the kind of team we’ve been all year," he said. "These kids are incredible with how hard they’ve worked and how they hang in there with the schedule they had in front of them all year long. They just don’t quit, and today, it was just that short of being enough. That probably hurts more than anything else."

No players were made available to talk about possibly playing for Seaman for the final time, but Blue Hens coach Bob Shillinglaw commented on a sport without Seaman.

"I would hate to see that," Shillinglaw said. "Tony’s a fantastic coach. His resume is as good as anybody out there. The landscape in lacrosse is so difficult and everybody is so equal. You look at the scores day-to-day. There’s no given – as you can see in the ultimate program like Hopkins is 7-7. I hope Tony continues coaching here. I think he’s good for Towson, I think he’s good for the sport of lacrosse, and I think he’s good for kids. That’s the most important thing, what the kids get out of the experience."

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May 6, 2010

Postscript from Albany at UMBC

After several years of standing atop the mountain, UMBC discovered what many climbers realize: at some point, you’ve got to come down.

After four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament and three America East Tournament crowns in four years, the Retrievers’ run of success ended Wednesday night with an 11-7 loss to Albany in a conference tournament semifinal at UMBC Stadium.

Finishing at 4-9 – the program’s worst record under coach Don Zimmerman since going 3-9 in 1996 – UMBC struggled despite the presence of 16 seniors on the Opening Day roster.

The Retrievers shuffled goalkeepers like a card shark in Atlantic City, could not get consistent production from the second midfield, and bid farewell to senior defenseman and team captain Bobby Atwell, who left the team for undisclosed reasons after being benched for the first quarter against Towson.

Zimmerman, who still has maintained his youthful look despite the losing, said the onus is on the players and coaches to review their efforts and make changes.

"You’ve got to do some soul-searching, and I think every coach and player on this team has to do some soul-searching," he said. "It wasn’t a good year. We played a very difficult schedule early on, but then we were kind of inconsistent as the season progressed. It’s a negative that we need to turn into a positive. As a coach, I’ve got to go back and look at everything that we do, and see if we can’t figure a way to turn this thing around. We’ve had some very good years here. This year was not a good year. But certainly we believe that we can get back to our winning ways, and that’s what we’ll be working on."

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April 29, 2010

Postscript from Towson at Johns Hopkins

Moments after Johns Hopkins’ 13-6 rout of No. 19 Towson at Homewood Field on Wednesday night in what amounted to a must-win game for the Blue Jays, one fan could be heard screaming, "We’re alive!"

That’s true, but the players and coaches are well aware that there is no room for error or a mulligan at this late stage of the regular season. A loss to No. 6 Loyola in the season finale on May 8 would doom Johns Hopkins (6-7) to a losing record and automatically take the team out of consideration for making a 39th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

"You try not to think about it," senior attackman Steven Boyle said. "You’ve just got to come out and do the things you’ve always done. You’ve got to come out and practice hard and watch film and study the opponent."

For seniors like Boyle, midfielder Michael Kimmel and defensemen Sam DeVore and Matt Drenan, this season has been especially difficult because they don’t want their careers to be remembered for ending "The Streak."

"We won a national championship as freshmen [in 2007], but you’re always remembered for what you do as you go out the door," Kimmel said. "… If we don’t make the playoffs, it’s obviously a huge disappointment, and that hasn’t happened in the last 38 years here at Hopkins. It definitely weighs on us a lot, but it also definitely motivates us."

A victory over the Greyhounds won’t necessarily guarantee Johns Hopkins a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but the Blue Jays hope a resume that includes an RPI of 14 and a schedule that included contests against No. 1 Syracuse, No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 North Carolina, No. 6 Loyola and No. 7 Princeton will be enough.

"All [Wednesday night’s win] means is that we’ve got another chance to play for something other than pride," coach Dave Pietramala said. "We have a chance to play for something next Saturday. And I truly believe that we are playing for something. If we have the good fortune of winning it, I think we have every right to expect to be considered. Do I think we’ll get in? I have no idea, but we’d have two things which a lot of people don’t have, and that’s two top-10 RPI wins."

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April 26, 2010

Postscript from Maryland vs. Virginia

When the topic of top goalkeepers in Division I is brought up, names including those of Syracuse junior John Galloway, Princeton sophomore Tyler Fiorito and Notre Dame senior Scott Rodgers are usually mixed in the conversation.

Curiously, Adam Ghitelman’s is left out, and that’s somewhat surprising considering that the junior has anchored No. 2 Virginia’s defense for the last three seasons. But if Ghitelman is upset about being overlooked, he’s not letting on.

"I can’t say that," he said minutes after his 16-save performance propelled the Cavaliers to their sixth Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship with a 10-6 dismantling of No. 5 Maryland in College Park on Sunday. "I think a lot of the goalie position is looked at based on save percentage and whatnot, and I think I bring a lot more to our team than just stopping the ball. But I’ve worked on that, and hopefully, my game is ready for the playoffs. Those guys are phenomenal. They deserve the credit that they get. If I’m overlooked, I don’t care. All I really care about are wins and losses and hopefully, getting the win in the final one."

Ghitelman’s numbers have, admittedly, not been impressive. He began his freshman year as the starter, but eventually gave way to Bud Petit, who carried the team to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Last year, Ghitelman ranked 19th among Division I goalies in goals-against average (8.39) and 30th in save percentage (.538).

This spring, his numbers are up. Entering Sunday’s contest, he ranked seventh in goals-against average (7.91) and 25th in save percentage (.538).

Ghitelman has registered spectacular outings against some of the more explosive offenses in the country. Cornell managed just four goals, which is a season low, and the Terps’ output on Sunday is also a season low. Both North Carolina (in a 7-5 loss) and Stony Brook (in a 13-8 setback) tied their season worsts against Virginia.

"He’s got an incredible record, but he doesn’t get a lot of credit," Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia said of Ghitelman, who is 35-5 in his career. "He’s had his up-and-down moments a little bit, but he brings us a lot of poise in the goal, and he’s very good out of the goal. He does a lot of the other things for us. He’s always been a good leader for us back there on the defensive end. His ball-stopping has begun to become more consistent, and today was close to spectacular. I feel like that end of the field is in good hands with him down there."

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April 25, 2010

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Navy

I enjoy talking to Richie Meade, and one thing I like about the Navy coach is that underneath his gruff demeanor, it's obvious that he cares deeply about the young men that their parents have entrusted to him. Even still, I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see Meade well up with emotion after the Midshipmen’s 9-8 overtime victory over No. 15 Johns Hopkins at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Saturday.

I was aware that the outcome snapped Navy’s 36-game losing skid to the Blue Jays, but as an outsider, I had no idea the impact that slide had on the players, coaches and supporters who had endured each loss that seemed to compound the frustration and heartache.

When asked about walking off the field after previous losses to Johns Hopkins, Meade took a few moments during his response to compose himself and when he did talk, you could clearly hear the emotion in his voice. I’ve tried to add some of that emotion in the transcript below.

"When we’ve played Hopkins in the past, there have been a lot of times [pause and sigh] I’ve walked off this field and have to [pause] walk into the locker room and deal with my kids and knew that they played their hearts out and they didn’t win," Meade said. "We’re not talking about once in a while here. We’re talking about a cumulative time. I mean, I remember 1985 [when Johns Hopkins won, 24-10]. I remember that game, I remember other games, I remember games where we played great and we didn’t win. And the reason why we didn’t win was because we were playing Johns Hopkins. If we had played anybody else that day, we would’ve beat them. … That’s all I really care about, to be honest with you. I’m the same coach I was yesterday. This doesn’t mean anything to me personally except that we won this game and I’m happy about it. But to our players and the players that weren’t successful when they played their guts out and to have them have to deal with that time and time again, that’s really the thing that has bothered me the most. So I think it’s important for our alumni. There are a lot of guys in that locker room that were great players here, that kind of built what we have become here over the last seven or eight years. A lot of guys are in the locker room, and that means so much to me. That means so much to me that this game means so much to them. That’s what I’m thankful for."

Meade choked up again when commenting on the team’s rally from a 5-0 deficit after the first quarter.

"It’s been a tough year, but it’s been a year that I’ve enjoyed a lot because we really have had to look inside of ourselves," he said. "We’ve had to just keep fighting. The only thing [pause] I really hope I teach these guys is to keep fighting, to believe in themselves and to be good leaders. That’s it. That’s a trait I think this team has."

Other notes:

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April 18, 2010

Postscript from Maryland vs. Johns Hopkins

No. 15 Johns Hopkins' 10-9 loss to No. 5 Maryland at the Smartlink Day of Rivals event at M&T Bank Stadium Saturday night begs the question: where does this leave the Blue Jays (5-6) in terms of making their 39th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament?

Johns Hopkins hasn’t absorbed six losses in the regular season since 1971 when that squad went 3-7. That was also the last time the school did not play in the NCAA Tournament.

With just three games left on the schedule before Selection Sunday on May 9, it would seem that the Blue Jays must win all three, which would entail beating Navy next Saturday, Towson on April 28 and No. 7 Loyola on May 8.

A defiant Dave Pietramala vowed that this team would aim at making the postseason.

"We’re going to make a run at this," the head coach said. "There are no ifs, ands or buts. We’re going to do everything we can to make a run at this. This isn’t over yet."

Senior midfielder Michael Kimmel echoed Pietramala’s feelings.

"Obviously, we’re not happy with the loss," the Towson native and Loyola graduate said. "But like Coach said, this thing’s not over yet. We’ve played the toughest schedule in the country and we obviously have to win out now, but we just have to learn from our mistakes. … Obviously, everyone’s down right now, but I’m a captain, and [attackman] Steve [Boyle] is a senior leader, and we’ve got to have our heads up and tell the guys that this thing isn’t over yet."

Other notes:

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Postscript from Georgetown at Loyola

As usual, Loyola’s attack performed splendidly. The midfield wasn’t too shabby either.

The No. 7 Greyhounds got a combined seven goals and two assists from their attack, but their midfield made contributions as well in the team’s 11-6 defeat of No. 9 Georgetown at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore Saturday afternoon.

The first midfield of juniors Eric Lusby, Chris Basler and Stephen Murray combined for two goals and two assists, while the second unit of seniors Chris Hurst, Taylor Ebsary and freshman Davis Butts totaled two goals and two assists.

Each line outdid the Hoyas’ vaunted first midfield of seniors Andrew Brancaccio and Scott Kocis and junior Max Seligmann (a combined two goals and one assist0>

Lusby, who scored two goals during a critical 4-0 third quarter to snap a 4-4 tie at halftime, said the midfielders are well aware of their responsibilities.

"It just balances the offense a lot better," the Severna Park native and graduate said. "It takes the pressure off of the attack to do more. Sometimes the midfields aren’t producing, and the attack has to take the game over, and sometimes it doesn’t turn out for the best."

Clearly, Loyola’s success is tied to its attack, but the midfield has been nearly as important to the team’s 8-2 record thus far. In fact, the Greyhounds are 8-1 when both midfields combine for at least two goals and three points.

"I think you’re seeing a group that’s growing up," coach Charley Toomey said. "I think you’re a seeing a group that, from game to game, is becoming more confident. We’ve never put handcuffs on them, but I think they’ve kind of undone the handcuffs themselves. If they feel like they’ve got a step in that alley, they’re going to be aggressive, and they’re going to try to get to their look. We’ve always felt like we’ve got an attack that can break you down or get their hands free and shoot it. Now we feel like we can attack you from different areas of the field and certainly in the midfield. That takes a lot of pressure off of the attack if you’ve got to slide upfield to cover one of our middies."

Other notes:

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April 11, 2010

Postscript from Navy at Maryland

Grant Catalino is the first guy to point out that No. 5 Maryland’s success is not based on one player. The numbers would seem to bear otherwise.

The Terps (7-2) are 6-0 in games in which Catalino registers three points or more as the junior attackman did when he scored three times in the team’s 11-9 victory over No. 20 Navy on Saturday.

On the flip side, Maryland is 1-2 when Catalino posts less than three points.

The same holds true over Catalino’s career. The Terps are now 18-4 when Catalino records at least three points, but just 9-10 when he can’t break that threshhold.

Catalino shrugged off talk of any offensive burden on his 6-foot-5, 225- pound frame, saying, “It’s different guys every week. This week is no different from that. Me and [junior attackman] Travis [Reed] ended up with three and four goals [respectively], but next week, it could be two more other guys. That’s the beauty of this team. We’ve got a lot of guys scoring.”

Still, there’s no denying that Catalino can spark the offense. He notched one goal and one assist in Maryland’s 9-7 loss to No. 3 North Carolina on March 27 and was shut out in the 11-10 setback to No. 1 Virginia on April 3.

“We need Grant to be a player,” coach Dave Cottle said. “He didn’t score a goal last week, and he hadn’t scored a goal against Navy in his career. So I challenged him. I called him some names this week. But he stepped up for us.”

Cottle’s memory might be blurry with so many games running together. Catalino did score once in 2008, but he was blanked last season. “I took it personally and prepared extra hard for this week because going into a game against a team you haven’t scored on in two years, I kind of wanted to make a statement,” Catalino said. “The ball kind of fell my way today. Luckily, we had a bunch of guys scoring, but it was good to finally get a goal against this Navy team.”

Other notes:

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April 8, 2010

Postscript from UMBC at Towson

Towson may not finish the season with a 40-goal scorer or a 70-point player, but that may suit the Tigers just fine.

Towson (3-5) has three players with seven or more goals each and four with at least 10 points, which speaks to the shared responsibility the players feel on offense.

Wednesday night’s 10-7 victory over UMBC was a good example of that cooperative effort as seven different players scored goals. This season, the Tigers are 3-1 when six or more players score goals, but 0-4 when less than five players score in a game.

“We’re a team offense,” said junior attackman Tim Stratton, who registered his second hat trick of the season against the Retrievers. “We don’t really have any go-to guys. On any given night, someone can put up a couple points. Everyone can score, and we’re a team that scores when we run our offense, not when we’re just giving it to one guy and watching. We’re successful when we’re running plays and guys are getting touches on the ball.”

That’s not to suggest that the team couldn’t use an unstoppable finisher or a primary distributor. But for Towson’s needs, a scoring-by-committee approach fits the personnel.

“Earlier in the year, I said my biggest problem was who was going to play out on the field for us in the midfield and attack because we’ve got so many people that are equal,” coach Tony Seaman said. “That’s good in some regards, but it’s horrible in other regards when you would love to have somebody who just stands up and scores goals for you. But it backs up what I said. We’ve got very good depth.”

Other notes:

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April 4, 2010

Postscript from Virginia at Maryland

For the second time in as many years, Maryland may have an argument about getting robbed by an official.

By now, many people remember the seven-overtime thriller that the Terps and Virginia engaged in last April with the Cavaliers winning, 11-10. Nine seconds into the first overtime, Maryland appeared to be the victor after then-sophomore attackman Grant Catalino buried a shot behind then-sophomore goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman.

But an inadvertent whistle by an official negated the goal, the rest is history.

On Saturday night, the No. 5 Terps trailed No. 1 Virginia by as many as six goals in the third quarter. They appeared to mount a comeback that was capped when junior attackman Ryan Young slapped a rebound of a Catalino shot over Ghitelman’s prone body and into the empty net with 2:11 left in regulation.

But an official ruled that Young was in the crease prior to the shot, thereby wiping out the goal. Consequently, the Cavaliers carried the ball downfield and junior midfielder Shamel Bratton scored 20 seconds later to give Virginia an 11-9 lead. A video replay seemed to show that Young was standing outside the crease and that the goal should have counted.

Senior attackman Will Yeatman said he had a good view of the play, but bit his tongue when asked to explain what he saw.

"I won’t say," he said. "The ref made the call. Everyone saw the play on the replay. We’ll leave it at that."

Yeatman’s coach was not nearly as shy. After responding to the first question about the call with your standard "You’ll have to ask him that" reply, Dave Cottle opened up a little bit.

"We had a different view," said Cottle, who could be seen ripping into the official during and after the game. "We thought we saw something different. But again, that may not have been – at the time – the best we felt, but there are some things that we can fix on our own to where that maybe doesn’t become something inconsequential. That man’s got to live with that. He’s got to live with that. And I think he saw the replay, too."

Other notes:

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April 2, 2010

Postscript from Georgetown at Navy

Davey Emala has played sparingly this season for No. 13 Georgetown, but the Hoyas are probably grateful that the freshman attackman’s energy was put to good use Friday night.

The Baltimore native and Gilman graduate scored three goals and was part of a freshman class that contributed to 11 of Georgetown’s 13 goals in a one-goal overtime victory over No. 20 Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Prior to Friday night, Emala had played in just two games, taking just one shot and scooping up one groundball. He scored on all three of his shots against the Midshipmen.

"It was absolutely a great experience,’ he said. "... I think as a team, we worked real hard this week. We had great practices Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and really focused on working hard and going after ground balls, and I think it showed a lot tonight."

One of the most sought-after recruits, Emala joined a Hoyas offense that featured a crowded attack with senior Craig Dowd, redshirt junior Rickey Mirabito, sophomore Ryan Shuler and freshman Travis Comeau. In fact, Emala got his most extensive playing time of the season Friday night because Mirabito sat out with a cracked jaw suffered in the team’s 15-10 loss to No. 6 Duke a week ago.

"It’s definitely a process," Emala said of his transition to college. "One big thing is playing all year-round. It’s definitely different focusing on just one sport. And the thing about college is, everyone was the best player coming out of their high school. So you’ve got to elevate the level of your game to play with them. So it’s been a tough transition, but it’s been a great learning experience."

Coach Dave Urick said Emala has been patient in waiting for his turn to play.

"We’ve been trying to get him some playing time, but four attackmen is the more comfortable rotation," Urick said. "It’s tough to play five. So if we kept Rickey out for this game, then Davey is that guy that plays in that role. He’s a finisher. He can score, and he proved it tonight."

Other notes:

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March 28, 2010

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Virginia

Among the myriad of concerns swirling around No. 8 Johns Hopkins, the team has an additional worry: who will start in the cage when No. 3 North Carolina visits Homewood Field in Baltimore Saturday afternoon?

Trying to end a three-game skid against an undefeated Tar Heels squad (9-0) could be even more arduous as the Blue Jays debate whether to start senior Michael Gvozden, sophomore Steven Burke or freshman Pierce Bassett in the net.

After Saturday’s 15-6 setback to No. 1 Virginia, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala had not made up his mind.

"I need some time to think about that," he said. "Out here on the field probably isn’t the time. My job is to make the best decision for this team, and I’ll do that."

For the second time in three games, Gvozden was pulled. In a 14-6 loss to No. 6 Hofstra on March 13, Burke replaced Gvozden after the latter surrendered three goals just eight minutes into the first quarter. On Saturday, Bassett filled in for Gvozden with 3:41 left in the third quarter after he allowed 10 goals.

As in the contest against the Pride, Pietramala said he benched Gvozden against the Cavaliers because the team looked lethargic and because Gvozden wasn’t clearing the ball according to the game plan.

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March 21, 2010

Postscript from Syracuse at Johns Hopkins

Michael Gvozden has had performances like the 14-save effort he posted in No. 8 Johns Hopkins’ 10-7 loss to No. 2 Syracuse on Saturday night at Homewood Field in Baltimore.

But it was still nice to see the senior goalkeeper pull through after being benched for sophomore Steven Burke in last Saturday’s 14-6 loss to No. 6 Hofstra.

"I think the only person I needed to answer to was myself," Gvozden said after the loss to the reigning national champion Orange. "I think for the first time in nearly two years, I played really inspired tonight and I think I found my niche again. That’s something I’ve got to build on."

Gvozden, a Severna Park native and graduate, who surrendered three goals in eight minutes to the Pride before being pulled by coach Dave Pietramala, had to compete with Burke and freshman Pierce Bassett for the right to start Saturday night. It wasn’t the kind of psychologically relaxing week you'd want prior to one of the biggest games on the Blue Jays’ schedule.

"It was pretty mentally tough and rightfully so," Gvozden said. "I don’t think my play was anything to write home about earlier in the season."

Pietramala, who has leaned on Gvozden for the past three seasons, was pleased with Gvozden’s display.

"I expect to see more of that as we move forward," Pietramala said. "That’s been the expectation all the time. That’s why we wound up where we were going into this game. I give Michael a lot of credit. He answered the bell. I hope that he sees the confidence that we still have in him and the loyalty we have shown to him, and I hope he’ll continue to play that way because it’s going to be important for us as we move forward that he do just that."

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March 17, 2010

Postscript from Navy at Towson

The relief etched on the faces of Towson players told the whole story.

Tuesday night’s 10-9 victory over No. 17 Navy at Johnny Unitas Stadium helped the Tigers avoid the program’s first 0-4 start – and stoked a competitive fire that has shown no signs of flaming out.

Moments after the win, junior goalkeeper Travis Love was licking his chops over Sunday’s tilt with No. 1 Virginia.

"It’s scary," Love said of the showdown with the undefeated Cavaliers, "but on any day, I feel like anything can happen. CP [senior Christian Pastirik, who scored three goals including the game-winner with 6 seconds left against the Midshipmen] was huge for us. It just takes that one guy and everyone else can ride their coattails. Our team has guys that can step up like that. I’m looking forward to Virginia. I want them. I want that second win."

Love might be getting a little ahead of himself, but the point is that Towson is not out of the playoff picture just yet. Yes, there are some challenging match-ups with Virginia and No. 11 Loyola in the next two weeks, but the Tigers can still makes waves in the Colonial Athletic Association.

"It’s a win – any way we can," coach Tony Seaman said. "We hung in there. … Our big theme was let’s play 60 minutes. We had been playing 50, 48, 49, and tonight, we finished it up with six seconds left. So thank God. We did everything we could to give me a heart attack tonight. … It was unbelievable."

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March 13, 2010

Postscript from Towson at Maryland

For all of the good vibes resulting from No. 6 Maryland’s 12-8 victory over intra-state rival Towson at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Saturday, Terps coach Dave Cottle had one concern on his mind.

The first midfield line of seniors Will Yeatman and Adam Sear and sophomore Jake Bernhardt did not record a single point and combined for 0-for-5 shooting. Bernhardt did win 5 of 9 face-offs and collected three ground balls, but Cottle said changes could be coming.

"We’ve got a dilemma with our first," he said. "We’ve got to figure this thing out: who’s the third guy on the first? That’s something we’ve got to fix in the next couple of days. We’ve got to find some guys that can run by some guys. Jake Bernhardt didn’t play as well as he’s played. He did a good job facing off, but he missed a bunch of shots, and I think it affected his game."

That eventually led to Cottle musing about some uncharacteristic displays of emotion from some players. A few players grew frustrated or pouted when plays didn’t go according to plan, and Cottle made a point to address the matter with the team in the locker room after the game.

"We’ve got to man up a little bit," he said. "The message I gave our guys after the game was that I didn’t like our body language from a couple guys when things didn’t go our way. That’s something we have to work on. You can’t let your opponent know that you feel like you should have either had that one or should have made a shot. You’ve got to keep battling, and that’s something we’re going to work on."

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March 10, 2010

Postscript from UMBC at Johns Hopkins

No. 7 Johns Hopkins got a combined nine goals and eight assists from attackmen Steven Boyle and Kyle Wharton and midfielder Michael Kimmel in a 16-10 shellacking of No. 19 UMBC Tuesday night at Homewood Field.

But nearly as significant were the contributions the Blue Jays got from their other midfielders.

Freshman Zach Palmer contributed three goals and two assists, and senior Max Chautin and freshman John Ranagan each scored once. The seven points from midfielders without the last name of Kimmel tie a season-high set in the season-opening 14-3 victory over Manhattan.

Coach Dave Pietramala said the offense needs that kind of production from its midfielders.

"It’s not going to be one guy that does it," Pietramala said. "It needs to be all of them that get one. And tonight, we got three from Palmer and one from Ranagan and one from Chautin. That’s a big deal to alleviate the pressure on Michael."

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February 27, 2010

Postscript from Maryland at Georgetown

The graduation of Dan Groot, Jeremy Sieverts and Jeff Reynolds had many observers questioning the strength of the No. 7 Terps considering that midfield line combined for 50 goals and 24 assists last season.

And while the jury is still out on the current midfield lines, this year’s unit is faring much better than anticipated.

A week after all three midfield lines produced a combined seven goals against Bellarmine, midfielders contributed 10 goals and one assist in Saturday’s 15-13 comeback win against No. 9 Georgetown.

Senior Will Yeatman, an attackman who started in the midfield, led the way with three goals, sophomore Jake Bernhardt registered two goals and one assist, and senior Adam Sear posted two goals.

Junior Scott LaRue, sophomore Drew Snider and freshman John Haus each scored a goal, and Bernhardt is feeling optimistic that the midfield unit can provide support to the potent attack.

"Everyone has been doubting us in the midfield," he said. "Today, we inverted a lot against Georgetown, but the midfielders stepped up big time. ... I felt like us as a midfield, we had to take a little bit on our shoulders and step up."

Other notes:

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February 26, 2010

Postscript from North Carolina at Navy

In the aftermath of No. 11 Navy's 11-4 loss to No. 3 North Carolina Thursday night, Midshipmen coach Richie Meade made it very clear that errors, not the absence of senior attackman Tim Paul, were at the crux of what is plaguing the team.

In back-to-back losses to the Tar Heels and No. 10 Loyola, Navy has committed 24 turnovers each. We won't likely know how many of those turnovers were on the offensive end until the Midshipmen coaches review the game film, but players who usually handle the ball on the offense end committed 17 turnovers, according to the box score of Thursday night's loss.

The Midshipmen turned the ball over 18 times in the offensive zone against the Greyhounds. That kind of generosity is not going to result in wins or cheery comments from Meade.

"Here’s what I told the guys," Meade said in response to the first question posed to him after the game. "We made too many mistakes to win a game like that. We let them get too far ahead. I thought in the beginning of the game, we were playing fine. We had a couple chances to score, they had a couple chances to score. I think the two goals at the end of the quarter kind of gave them momentum. … We’re making too many mistakes to win a game like that. That, in combination with having a couple chances early to get on the board and kind of make it tight, we got way behind. ... As crazy as it sounds, we have to make a lot fewer mistakes than we’re making. We have a situation where we’re coming down the field and we have a young defensive middie trying to dodge through three guys for no reason. That’s a turnover. They come down and score. All that stuff leads us to playing more defense than we need to play against a team of that ability offensively. You play that much defense, they’re going to crack you and that’s what happened."

Both Meade and senior attackman Brendan Connors declined to use the young season as an excuse for the team's lapses. Connors was especially critical of himself for throwing an errant pass that sailed out of bounds in the first quarter.

"You’ve just got to be real hard on yourself," he said. "Throwing a pass away in a game is just not really acceptable at this level if you expect to win. Could the weather have been a factor? Anything could have been a factor. But when it comes down to it, you practice five days a week, and you’re supposed to be able to throw and catch the ball."

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February 21, 2010

Postscript from Delaware at UMBC

Don Zimmerman knew the day would come when he would no longer be able to lean on goalie Jeremy Blevins, the Calvert Hall graduate who started all four years in the net for the Retrievers. That's part of the reason why four goalkeepers dot the roster this spring.

And so the UMBC coach decided to give senior Kevin Kohri his first career start Saturday against No. 20 Delaware. But at halftime, freshman Adam Cohen took over as the No. 17 Retrievers fell, 11-10, in triple overtime.

Afterwards, Zimmerman acknowledged that rotating goalies was somewhat unusual for him.

"I think the last time I talked to you, I said I would never do that," he said. "But it’s a pretty interesting situation. Number one, we lost a week outside because of the snow, and your goalies really don’t have a chance to go out and prove themselves. So we just kept watching and seeing what was going on, and I think it came down to this: we have confidence in all of our goalkeepers. And we felt like Kevin Kohri, for three years, has been a backup but probably one of the consummate team players, supporting all the guys out on the field from the bench. I just believed that he deserved that shot, and I think Kevin did a good job. They came at us hard, he made some good saves and let a couple in, but I think he did a good job. But I also think it was good for the freshman to watch and see what was going on, see the speed and see what kind of team Delaware was, and not have the pressure on him. Will we continue to do that? I don’t know. But I just thought that for this situation, we made the right choice. It was something that we thought about, thought about, thought about, and discussed. We made the decision yesterday. Looking back, I think it was the right decision."

Kohri, a Century graduate, made several sparkling saves in the first quarter and finished with five stops. Cohen, a Severn product, didn't have to make a save. So does that mean that Kohri has earned the right to play all four quarters when UMBC visits Rutgers next Saturday?

"No predictions," Zimmerman said. "I’m not predicting the future right now."

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May 23, 2009

Postscript from Cornell vs. Virginia

After scoring 37 goals in wins against Johns Hopkins and Villanova, the Cavaliers boasted the most prolific offense in the country.

But the Big Red stood tall, holding Virginia to more than seven goals below its season average in Saturday’s 15-6 victory in the NCAA tournament semifinal at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

One of the keys was a quick-slide package centered on forcing the ball out of the sticks of Cavaliers senior attackman Danny Glading and the sophomore midfield duo of Shamel and Rhamel Bratton. Every time one of those players touched the ball, they were double-teamed and harassed into passing the ball to a teammate.

"They did slide to us early today, and they played completely different the first time we played them," Glading said, referring to Virginia’s 14-10 victory over Cornell on March 8. "We didn’t necessarily think they were going to play the same way as they did earlier in the season, but they were quick to go today."

Glading registered two goals and one assist against Big Red senior defenseman Matt Moyer, but Shamel Bratton, who scored five goals in the quarterfinal win against Johns Hopkins, scored just once and Rhamel Bratton was shut out.

"We just basically said that we were going to slide to him," said junior long-stick midfielder Pierce Derkac, who paired with junior Andrew MacDonald to handcuff Shamel Bratton. "Even when I was in good position, we said we were going to go. Especially him, his brother and Danny Glading, we were saying, ‘Just go and go early and set the tone that we’re going to be coming to these guys.’ I think that put a [hiccup] into their offense."

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Postscript from Duke vs. Syracuse

Guys like senior attackman Kenny Nims (27 goals and 41 assists) and sophomore attackman Stephen Keough (47, 6) get a lot of attention from opposing defenses and for good reason.

But the No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Orange demonstrated that their offense is multi-faceted as nine different players scored a goal and 11 different players recorded a point in Saturday’s 17-7 thumping of No. 3 seed Duke in a NCAA tournament semifinal at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday.

Senior midfielder Pat Perritt surpassed his previous career high with four goals, and it was the first time he had notched a hat trick this season. Freshman attackman Tim Desko, the son of Syracuse coach John Desko, scored twice, and senior faceoff specialist Jake Moulton and sophomore long-stick midfielder Joel White each added a goal.

"I think it’s just the fact that we’re so deep," Nims said of the offense’s potential to explode. "We have about 10 guys who are capable of putting up big numbers. Any given day, someone can have a huge day. That’s been the story of our season pretty much all year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone new stepped up and had a huge game on Monday."

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May 18, 2009

Postscript from Gettysburg at Stevenson

The end of the Mustangs’ historic 2009 campaign – which included a program-record 17 wins, the school’s first-ever No. 1 ranking in any sport and the institution’s first appearance in a NCAA tournament semifinal – leads one to wonder: what’s in store for 2010?

Assuming that none of the current seniors on the roster have fifth years of eligibility remaining, Stevenson will bid farewell to its first midfield line of Nicola Bevacqua (31 goals and eight assists), Greg Furshman (23, 5) and Chris Baldwin (18, 10). The Mustangs will also graduate top close defenseman Mike Simon and long-stick midfielder Austin Hale.

But the cupboard is actually fuller than one might think. The team’s top-three scorers are underclassmen, and junior Steve Kazimer (33, 36), sophomore Jimmy Dailey (29, 37) and junior Richie Ford (42, 13) make up the starting attack.

Sophomores Evan Douglass and Ian Hart make up two-thirds of the close defenseman that will patrol the area in front of junior goalkeeper Geoff Hebert (7.04 goals-against average and .594 save percentage). Sophomore faceoff specialists Ray Witte (.542 percentage) and Joe Valderas (.589) will likely fill the void created by the departure of Furshman (.637).

Coach Paul Cantabene refused to let the 12-7 loss to No. 5 Gettysburg shape his team’s legacy.

"This team is a success," he insisted in his post-game comments after Sunday’s contest. "We changed a culture here at Stevenson. I told the guys in there that I’m proud of every single one of those guys. Not one guy let me down this season."

Ford said the objective next season is to advance further in the NCAA tournament. "Hopefully, we can just keep working and keep building it higher and get past this game," the Baltimore native and Towson graduate said. "Next year, it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I think everybody’s willing to put in the time this summer to get where we want to be."

Other notes:

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May 17, 2009

Postscript from Maryland vs. Syracuse

If junior Brian Phipps did indeed tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in the first quarter of the Terps’ 11-6 loss to Syracuse in a NCAA tournament quarterfinal Saturday, this begs the question: who will start in the net when the 2010 season begins?

Surgery and rehabilitation for ACL injuries can take eight to 12 months with some athletes who have endured the procedure saying that they didn’t fully recover until 18 months had passed.

Phipps will most likely miss fall ball sessions later this year, and he could be 50-50 when Maryland’s season opens. Even if he does return by then, how effective will he be?

So who’s next? Jason Carter, who started eight games, isn’t an option because he will have graduated. Mark White, a sophomore who red-shirted this season, is on the roster and word is that he’s a talent-in-waiting. The Terps will also welcome incoming freshman Niko Amato from La Salle (Pa.), who was recently named to the Under Armour All-American Boys North team.

Update at 10:30 a.m.: Saw early Sunday morning that Phipps made ESPN’s SportsCenter – which wasn’t a good thing. ESPN compared his injury to, among others, when former Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte head-butted a wall during a game and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica tore his ACL after celebrating a successful field goal. To me, that appeared a little harsh because Frerotte and Gramatica were both professional athletes. Phipps, on the other hand, is an amateur playing a collegiate sport without making a paycheck from it.

Other notes:

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May 11, 2009

Postscript from Maryland at Notre Dame

Don’t tell Dan Groot that Sunday’s victory over Notre Dame was an upset.

Even though the unseeded Terps defeated the No. 7 seed and previously unbeaten Fighting Irish, 7-3, at Alumni Field in South Bend, Ind., some Maryland players like Groot felt seeding (or lack thereof) was inconsequential to the outcome.

"It’s an upset because they were the seventh seed, and we weren’t seeded," said the senior midfielder who led all scorers with two goals. "I think we came in here confident. They didn’t look so confident to me in warm-ups. But I wouldn’t say it was an upset. We were ready to play. We thought we were the better team. We thought we could come in here and win it, and that’s what we did."

Notre Dame’s first loss in 16 contests raises the question of whether the team deserved one of the eight seeds after completing a regular-season schedule that was not considered among the most strenuous in the country. The Fighting Irish did beat North Carolina on March 8 and Villanova on March 31, but those were the only two tournament teams on their schedule.

Coach Kevin Corrigan, whose team will move to the Big East for the 2010 season, defended his team’s schedule.

"We beat the University of North Carolina, who beat [the Terps] by six [in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament]," he said. "The strength of schedule didn’t have anything to do with it. We played poorly today. That had everything to do with it. We weren’t prepared.

"We’re a very good team," Corrigan continued. "I’m not going to beat up our team for being 15-0 against any schedule. We had a great season, we played really well for a long extended period of time. We didn’t play very well today, and therefore we lost."

Maryland coach Dave Cottle opened his post-game conference by praising Notre Dame’s run, saying, "I don’t think our team could’ve done what they did in the regular season. So I feel for them."

Other notes:

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May 3, 2009

Postscript from Loyola at Johns Hopkins

The No. 18 Greyhounds have to wait until Sunday to learn of their postseason fate, but they certainly feel as if they’ve done enough to warrant an invitation to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, which begins Saturday.

"We should be in this tournament," senior attackman Shane Koppens said. "We have the record, we have the strength of schedule. You never know what can happen though. I don’t know what the [selection] committee does to choose who makes it or who doesn’t. We’re going to be praying they choose us to play somebody. I don’t care who it is. We can play anybody. Just praying that they give us a shot."

Loyola is thought to be competing with No. 5 Brown (12-3) and No. 13 Maryland (9-6) for one of two coveted at-large bids.

The Terps have won just three of their last seven games and have the lowest RPI of the three (No. 14), but they have beaten two teams ranked in the top 10 in RPI in Duke (No. 2) and North Carolina (No. 8). The Bears’ RPI is just slightly better (No. 12) and they missed out on a chance to win the Ivy League title and the automatic qualifier, but they beat Cornell (No. 10).

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April 30, 2009

Postscript from Binghamton at UMBC

Senior attackman Ryan Smith’s game-winning goal 55 seconds into double overtime overshadowed a troubling performance by a Retrievers offense that had been ranked fifth in the nation in scoring prior to Wednesday night’s 9-8 squeaker against Binghamton in an America East tournament semifinal.

UMBC took 46 shots, landing just 22 on net. Bearcats senior goalkeeper Larry Kline made 13 saves, and Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman said he thought the players began to press and take some low-percentage shots.

"I think we forced the ball a lot on offense tonight," he said. "I think guys tried to do too much. ... The key was, guys stepped up not in a heroic fashion, but in a team fashion and played to their roles."

While UMBC fans might have been heartened to see the starting attack of juniors Chris Jones and Matt Latham and Smith combine for six goals and one assist, the starting midfield of seniors Peet Poillon and Alex Hopmann and junior Kyle Wimer fizzled.

A trio that had combined for 76 goals and 36 assists prior to the semifinal compiled just one goal and three assists.

"I think our midfield kind of got away from the game plan," Zimmerman said. "I call that the ‘50 midfield,’ and that 50 is on their lockers because you add the [jersey] numbers of nine for Hopmann, 20 for Wimer and 21 for Poillon, and that adds up to 50. And they didn’t play like the ‘50 midfield’ tonight. They played like No. 9, No. 20 and No. 21. So we’ve got to get back to being the ‘50 midfield.’"

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April 26, 2009

Postscript from Salisbury at Washington

With a 15-3 record in the regular season, the No. 5 Sea Gulls will just have to sit and wait until the Division III bracket is released. Coach Jim Berkman thinks eight-time reigning national champion Salisbury will not get a seed higher than No. 4 in the South Region, which would mean a first-round bye and maybe one game at Sea Gull Stadium. But Berkman said his team should be prepared for life on the road.

"With the road that we have paved, we are going to have to win games on opponents’ fields," he said. "We might get one home playoff game. The journey to Stevenson, the journey to Washington College, we’re not going to get any harder avenues to play in. So that’s been good for this team, to experience that, so that when we go to the playoffs and they know it’s do or die and we’re going to play on someone else’s field, it’s not like it’s the first time."

With three losses, this Salisbury squad has accumulated more setbacks than the Sea Gulls had compiled since 2003. (That would be a total of two losses.) But if the sharks smell blood in the water, junior midfielder Mike Von Kamecke is not concerned.

"We’re defending our championship right now," he said. "Anyone can win it this year. It’s up for grabs, and that just makes it that much more interesting. Once you win that championship, you definitely want to go back and win it again."

Other notes:

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April 23, 2009

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Towson

The Blue Jays got a taste of what could become familiar.

The Tigers disrupted Johns Hopkins’ offense by carrying the ball into their offensive end, holding onto the ball despite several stall warnings and waiting for the Blue Jays’ defensemen to either get frustrated or over-aggressive before going on the offensive.

Through the first three quarters, Towson had a 26-19 advantage in shots and a 9-6 lead on the scoreboard.

"It’s definitely frustrating as an offense," Johns Hopkins junior midfielder Michael Kimmel said. "Especially when you get down by three goals, you want to score three goals in one possession. That’s not possible, obviously. But it’s definitely frustrating as an offense when you see your defense out on the field a lot. And then we get the ball and throw it away and then more defense. We were trying to press out at the end there. But we were playing defense the entire game. They were doing a good job of keeping the ball away."

The key for the Tigers was their ability to be patient and score when the opportunities arose. Then when they got the lead, they were able to sit on it and milk the clock. That formula might not work for every team, and senior midfielder Brian Christopher wasn’t sure every opponent might employ a similar strategy.

"It depends on the kinds of teams you see," he said. "Teams like Virginia and Syracuse push the ball no matter what. It all depends on what they want to do."

Other notes:

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April 19, 2009

Postcript from Fairfield at Loyola

When queried earlier in the season about what appeared to be the team's inability to settle on either sophomore Jake Hagelin or senior Alex Peaty as the starting goalkeeper, Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey would -- without fail -- point out that the defense had to give either goalie a chance to succeed.

Toomey and Hagelin got that wish Saturday in No. 19 Loyola's 12-7 rout of the visiting Stags. Fairfield took just 29 shots (16 were on net) and was shut out for a span of 21 minutes, 29 seconds in the second half -- during which the Greyhounds turned a slim 7-5 lead into a 12-5 advantage.

Loyola was especially tough against the Stags' top three scorers of freshman midfielder Brent Adams, senior midfielder Chris Ajemian and freshman attackman John Snellman. Senior long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci didn't surrender a point to Adams, who entered the contest as Fairfield's most productive player with 23 points on 13 goals and 10 assists, until he scored with 1:04 left in the fourth quarter.

Snellman, who led the team in goals with 14, scored just once and added an assist as junior Steve Layne didn't seem affected by giving up six inches and 30 pounds to the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Snellman. Ajemian scored twice, but one was on an extra-man opportunity.

While predicting that Adams would develop into a dangerous player, Ricci said the game plan entailed forcing the midfielder to get rid of the ball. "We shut him down in the first half and caused them to do a lot of inverts," said Ricci, who recorded a game-high four caused turnovers and six groundballs. "I think that really took away from what he could do because if I took him away on his first few dodges, they would go to someone else."

Other notes:

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April 12, 2009

Postscript from Army vs. Navy

Much of the post-game attention centered on senior goalkeeper Tommy Phelan, senior defenseman Andy Tormey and the rest of the No. 12 Midshipmen defense. But the end of Saturday’s press conference revealed that Navy had considered dressing junior attackman Tim Paul, the team’s leading scorer who sat out due to a sprained left ankle.

"He’s doing a lot better than I certainly thought he was going to do," coach Richie Meade said. "We thought about dressing him. He can walk around, but if we dressed him, he’d probably try to be Tim Paul and might get hurt again."

Despite missing the game against Army, Paul still leads the Midshipmen in assists (13) and points (30). At times, it appeared that the offense looked slightly out of sync trying to find its rhythm against the Black Knights, and the unit took just 25 shots.

Meade said Paul’s ankle is responding well to treatment, but he emphasized that he will not rush Paul back – even if that means playing without Paul against No. 11 Johns Hopkins, which owns a 35-game winning streak on Navy.

"I would love for Tommy to be 100 percent and be able to play, but he’s got to practice, and he’s got to be 100 percent," Meade said. "We’ve got enough guys that can play and fulfill that role. What I don’t want is I don’t want Timmy to feel llike he has to get back and play at 75 percent and have a setback. So we’re going to be very conservative with it and do the best we can."

Other notes:

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April 5, 2009

Postscript from Albany at Johns Hopkins

Only half of the No. 12 Blue Jays’ goals were assisted, according to the official score sheet. But three other goals were products of passes that got the players credited with goals in scoring position, and that was one reason Johns Hopkins beat No. 17 Albany, 14-9, and snapped a three-game losing streak.

"Offensively, I thought we played unselfishly for the most part," coach Dave Pietramala said. "We moved the ball, and we got good shots. ... I think we generated shots, and I thought they were quality shots."

Three goals came from long distance and should have been stopped by Great Danes freshman goalkeeper John Carroll. But the other scores were the results of sharp, quick passes that caught the Albany defensemen out of position.

"A lot of motion and just movement," said junior attackman Chris Boland, whose five goals were one shy of tying a career high set in a 16-15 loss to No. 1 Virginia on March 21. "When we move the ball and we’re moving to the right spots, our offense clicks pretty well."

Other notes:

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April 4, 2009

Postscript from Maryland at Navy

At 5 feet 11 and 187 pounds and only a sophomore, Tom Mansfield isn’t as experienced as senior Andy Tormey nor as physically imposing as 6-2, 209-pound Matt Vernam.

But Mansfield is quick, and that was more than enough for the Midshipmen to insert him into the starting lineup after sophomore Michael Hirsch was lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Mansfield shadowed Ryan Young, and although the Terps sophomore attackman scored twice, he also committed four turnovers.

"It wasn’t always pretty at times," Mansfield said of his performance. "But with guys like [goalie] Tommy Phelan and Andy and Matt, I don’t need to be a superstar out there. I just need to fit in within our defense and play my role."

Mansfield got burned early in Friday’s game, getting turned around by Young behind the net a couple times in the first quarter. But as the contest continued, Mansfield settled in and grew more comfortable with his assignment – which wasn’t made fully apparent until after Hirsch’s injury Wednesday.

"I think the thing that Navy lacrosse prides itself on is that everyone is always prepared," Mansfield said. "Even if they’re the third guy to go in, everyone’s reading that scouting report, and even if they don’t have a chance to go in, they’re going to be ready when the time comes. Coach kind of reinforced that in us when Mike went down, and we’ll always have guys step up."

Other notes:

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March 29, 2009

Postscript from Maryland at Virginia

The No. 1 Cavaliers’ 10-9 win in a NCAA-record seven overtimes and Brian Carroll’s third career overtime game-winner took the headlines, but Saturday’s game may have also cemented Adam Ghitelman’s resume as one of the best young goalies in the game.

The sophomore finished the game with 23 saves, including seven beyond regulation. Two of his best stops included stick saves on a low-to-high riser by Terps junior attackman Will Yeatman from seven yards out in the fifth overtime period and a bouncer by sophomore attackman Ryan Young after he had curled around the right post.

"I would say it was as much of a coming-out party for Adam Ghitelman as anything else that’s happened here," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "He did single-handedly keep us in this game until we were in a position to get the win."

Carroll called Ghitelman’s play "amazing." "That was the best game I’ve seen him play," Carroll said. "Maryland could have won that game multiple times in overtime if it wasn’t for him. He came up with some saves."

Other notes:

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March 22, 2009

Postscript from North Carolina at Maryland

Anthony Costanzo has not been one of the Terps’ primary defensemen, but none of his teammates were surprised when the senior was inserted after starter Ryder Bohlander suffered a concussion early in the first quarter of yesterday’s 8-7 win against the No. 14 Tar Heels.

"I wasn’t worried about him at all," fellow senior and goalkeeper Jason Carter said. "He knows the defense better than anybody out there. He’s the smartest kid on the field. That’s why he’s our man-down star, our man-down coach basically. So when he gets out on the field, you’re not really worried at all."

Costanzo deflected the compliment, insisting that his coaches and teammates had suggested extra study in the film room and on the field.

"I like to be well prepared and know the plays so that we can help each other out," he said. "Sometimes I’m a little bit quiet, so people have to try and get that out of me, but other people are talking to me and helping me talk more. Today was a tough day, and things were kind of going crazy, but we were well prepared and we knew everything that was going on. The other guys are smart, too."

At 6 feet 7 inches and 210 pounds, Costanzo can cover a lot of ground with a 6-foot-long stick, which is why he is a vital member of the team’s man-down unit. He may not be the fastest defenseman, but he was enough of a handful to shut out junior attackman Gavin Petracca, who – at 26 points – was (and still is) North Carolina’s third-leading scorer.

In fact, Costanzo – who recorded a team-high three forced turnovers – played well enough that Maryland coach Dave Cottle had Costanzo shadow midfielders Ben Hunt (four points on a goal and three assists) and Sean Delaney (three goals) toward the end of the game.

"He’s been sitting around, biding his time," senior midfielder Dan Groot said of Costanzo. "He always works hard, and it’s really great for him to go in there and play great like he did today. I’m really proud of him."

Other notes:

*Terps goalie Brian Phipps (head) was cleared to play, but Cottle elected to start Carter. Although Phipps is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game against No. 1 Virginia, the situation is slightly murkier with regard to junior faceoff specialist Bryn Holmes (groin) and defensemen Brett Schmidt (hamstring) and Bohlander. Maryland sorely missed Holmes at the faceoff X, where Tar Heels senior Shane Walterhoefer won 17 of 19 face-offs. The loss of Schmidt and Bohlander – and extended absence of Brian Farrell – sapped the team’s defensive unit. Redshirt sophomore Chris Ready picked up a long pole and junior Dean Hart alternated between a short and long stick for much of the game. The Terps could use a healthy squad against the Cavaliers.

*After going scoreless in two games against Towson and UMBC, Maryland’s midfield put up quite a showing. Groot led the way with four points on three goals and an assist, but senior Jeff Reynolds scored a goal to tie the game at seven and senior Jeremy Sieverts added an assist. Freshman Jake Bernhardt also scored a goal as the team’s attack unit outside of sophomore Grant Catalino accounted for just a single goal. "Coach said we had some advantages up top in the midfield," Groot said. "So we kind of wanted to get back to starting the dodge with the midfield and kind of drawing a slide and then banging it to the attack. That’s kind of how we got our first goal. … Starting up top kind of gets our offense flowing a little bit better."

*After Hunt found Delaney for his third goal of the game with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter, North Carolina owned a 7-5 lead and seemingly, the momentum. But Reynolds rubbed off his defender on a pick to cut the lead to one. Then junior Will Yeatman backed down Flanagan and fired in a goal before the slide could get to him to tie the score. "We made a couple mental lapses and that’s all that it takes for a team like Maryland to capitalize on, and that’s what they did," Tar Heels coach Joe Breschi said. "… We’re going to keep working hard because we’ve got Hopkins next week, so there’s no let-up."

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March 15, 2009

Postscript from UMBC at Maryland

Justin Radebaugh knew what he was up against: taking on the country’s third-ranked faceoff specialist in a meaningful game against in-state rival Maryland in front of a pro-Terps crowd.

But Radebaugh wasn’t alone. The Boys’ Latin graduate relied on the advice of junior J.D. Harkey and with the support of his teammates on the wings, Radebaugh more than held his own, winning 10 of 20 faceoffs in the No. 9 Retrievers’ 9-7 victory over No. 4 Maryland yesterday.

With Harkey lost for the remainder of the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during practice earlier in the week, Radebaugh took every faceoff. And although Terps junior Bryn Holmes -- he of the 65.6 win percentage prior to yesterday’s contest -- won seven of 12, Radebaugh edged out senior Jeff Reynolds, 4-3, and freshman Jake Bernhardt, 1-0.

"We would talk a lot between faceoffs about what I’m doing and what the other guy’s doing," Radebaugh said of his conversations with Harkey during the game. "Of course, you’re going to be nervous before the game, but I think that’s a good thing. The first thing you don’t want to do is jump. Once you settle in, you start timing the whistle and you get more comfortable as the game goes on."

Expect Radebaugh to take the brunt of the faceoffs in Saturday’s home game against Ohio State. The freshman has earned the faith of his teammates.

"He really stepped up today and did an amazing job," senior Alex Hopmann said. "Last week, we had a tough week on groundballs and face-offs, but this week, we went back to work. Justin Radebaugh, I can’t say enough about the kid. Stepped up as a freshman, first game at Maryland, and he pulls it out for us. He’s the star of the game."

Other notes:

* The Terps’ sophomore attack duo of Grant Catalino and Ryan Young combined for six goals and one assist, but UMBC surrendered just one goal to attackman Will Yeatman (in an extra-man situation) and limited the first midfield of Dan Groot, Jeremy Sieverts and Jeff Reynolds just two assists. "We knew we needed to pack it in tight and play as a unit," senior defenseman Kevin Goedeke said. "We did a good job of scouting them, and we knew what we were up against. We knew we had to take away their strengths and force them to the parts of the field that we wanted them to go, and then we slid to them at the right times."

* As significant as the rivalry is between the two programs, Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman insisted that the atmosphere at practice was not unlike the mood at previous practices against other opponents. "It’s funny because it wasn’t a big rah-rah type thing," he said. "Last week, we did the rah-rah thing [against Johns Hopkins and Princeton], and it didn’t really work for us. So today, we were a little more laidback, and I just told them, ‘Look, you’re going to have to go out there and play your game for 60 minutes and find a way to win a lacrosse game.’ And that’s what the kids did. This was a players’ win."

* Maryland coach Dave Cottle’s frustration yesterday may have stemmed from the offense’s lack of intensity. The Terps appeared lethargic until UMBC took a 9-4 lead in the fourth quarter, and many players seemed content to take shots either from long range or poor angles. Only 14 of Maryland’s 37 shots were on net. "This wasn’t a game about skill," Cottle said, dismissing a question about whether the Retrievers’ defensive schemes had taken the Terps out of their game. "This was a game about will, and we didn’t have the will that was necessary to win this game today. You could see it in pregame. We just weren’t there for whatever reason. We’ve got to fix it. We have to fix some things, and it’s more about heart and toughness than anything else."

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March 8, 2009

Postscript from Hofstra at Johns Hopkins

Today's game at Homewood Field featured a couple of interesting matchups, such as Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala against former Blue Jays associate head coach and current Hofstra coach Seth Tierney and Johns Hopkins senior defenseman Michael Evans vs. Pride sophomore attackman Jay Card (more on this later).

But the biggest draw involved Blue Jays junior Michael Gvozden and Hofstra freshman Andrew Gvozden in what is believed to be the first time a pair of brothers have opposed each other as starting goalkeepers. Andrew Gvozden -- who, like his brother, graduated from Severna Park -- earned his first career start as junior Danny Orlando did not make the trip with the team due to personal reasons. Gvozden surrendered 12 goals, and he admitted that his nerves didn't settle down until sometime in the second half. But he also made 11 saves and impressed Tierney.

"Andrew Gvozden had to fight against a lot of things besides his first college start -- his first college start against Hopkins, his first college start away from home, not at James M. Shuart Stadium, and his first start against his brother," Tierney said. "That's a difficult thing to ask a young man to do, and I think he would like to have a couple of them back, but certainly he made a fair share of them, and I'm proud of him."

"It's good to be back in Baltimore, but it was tough," Andrew Gvozden said. "A little nervous coming out. I told myself I wasn't going to be, but you can't really say that when you know it’s your first start of your career, [against] Johns Hopkins, [against] your brother. It's a lot to take in."

Said Michael Gvozden: "I was so proud of him. I thought he did such a good job, especially there in the second half. I thought he made some SportsCenter Top 10-type saves."

Other notes:

* Johns Hopkins (3-1) was forced to use its third faceoff specialist after sophomore Matt Dolente did not suit up and junior Michael Powers left the game with his right arm in a sling late in the second quarter. Freshman Marshall Burkhart went five of 11 and added a goal and an assist. "None of them are season-ending injuries," Pietramala said, declining to elaborate on the injuries to Dolente and Powers. "They're all banged up. You deal with it, and I thought Marshall came in and in particular early, gave us a lift."

* What I wrote above goes to show what little I know about lacrosse. I had thought that Evans, the Blue Jays best defenseman, would mark Card, Hofstra's most potent attackman. But it was junior Sam DeVore who was given the assignment of shadowing Card, and DeVore responded by limiting him to just a single goal. "He's definitely a great player," DeVore said of Card. "He's a righty, and I just tried to sit on his right hand, stay low, and play him knowing that I had my guys getting my back. ... I tried to be a little physical with him on goal line. Tried not to make him too much of a dodger because he's pretty dangerous. So I just kind of sat back and let him come to me."

* Johns Hopkins' Kyle Wharton saw extensive playing time last season, but this is his first season as a starter and the sophomore attackman has blossomed. Wharton, who scored a career-high five goals today, leads the team in goals with 11 and is tied with junior midfielder Michael Kimmel (Loyola) for the team lead in points with 14 points. "I'm having fun out there with [fellow starting attackmen] Steven [Boyle], Chris Boland and Josh Peck," Wharton said. "We have some good chemistry going. But as far as being comfortable, I hope I'm comfortable out there."

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March 7, 2009

Postscript from Princeton at UMBC

One of several areas of concern for UMBC, which has dropped two straight after opening the season with three consecutive victories, is a trend in which the team has fallen behind and had to dig itself out of a hole.

The No. 4 Retrievers' 14-11 loss to No. 8 Johns Hopkins was highlighted by a 3-1 deficit to start the contest, and after junior attackman Chris Jones opened the third quarter with a score to narrow the gap to two, the Blue Jays went on a 5-0 run that proved insurmountable.

In last night's 6-5 loss to No. 6 Princeton, UMBC owned a 2-1 edge at halftime, but the Tigers scored five unanswered goals and were able to withstand a furious fourth-quarter rally to secure the win. Even in a victory over Rutgers last month, the Retrievers trailed 3-0 before recording a 17-10 victory.

"We definitely need to come out a little stronger," UMBC senior goalkeeper Jeremy Blevins (Calvert Hall) said. "When we've got to dig back, especially against a great defense like [the Tigers] have, it's going to be tough to get those goals back. We just need to start doing the little things better."

Other notes:

* Princeton freshman Tyler Fiorito started and finished his second straight game. With Fiorito, the Tigers defense stymied a Retrievers offense that had averaged 13.8 goals a contest. Fiorito, who has posted a 6.40 goals-against average and a .610 save percentage, has sort of put the goalie rotation with junior Nikhil Ashra on hold. "He's ridiculous," Princeton coach Bill Tierney said of the McDonogh graduate. "The thing that highlights it the most is the kid [Ashra] sitting behind him on the bench. That kid is as good as anybody in the country. That's how good [Fiorito] is."

* The Tigers opened the season with a 3-0 record for the first time since 2001 when the program claimed the last of its six national championships. Fiorito said this year's squad is trying to re-capture that magic. "I think we've really tried to change things and get it back to the way Princeton was," he said. "We're working extra hard in the morning at 6:30, running and lifting. Guys want to turn things around and make it better."

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:28 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Postscript, UMBC
        

March 4, 2009

Postscript from Johns Hopkins at UMBC

Omitted from today’s article on No. 8 Johns Hopkins’ 14-11 victory over No. 4 UMBC last night because of deadline and space constraints was the impact junior attackman Chris Boland had on the Blue Jays' offense.

The Columbia native and Boys’ Latin graduate earned his first career start last night, and he validated coach Dave Pietramala’s decision by recording a career-best four points on two goals and two assists.

Boland, who filled in for senior and team tri-captain Josh Peck, had previously compiled just one goal and one assist in Johns Hopkins’ first two games.

"It was fun," Boland said of his start. "Josh was well-deserving of being out there. He’s a good leader and captain. I just tried to get into the groove of things and the flow of the game. It happened to work out a little bit."

Boland was declared academically ineligible before last season and was forced to sit out. But Boland has returned in good shape and given the Blue Jays another weapon on offense.

"Chris brings us a great field sense and a presence on the field," Pietramala said. "He sees the play happening before it does. He sees one pass ahead, and that’s a gift. It’s not something you teach. It’s an innate sense, and Chris really brings that to our offense. And when you have a shooter like [sophomore attackman] Kyle [Wharton] and a dodger like [junior attackman] Steven [Boyle], it’s a nice combination when you have three different guys that do three different things."

Other notes:

*The Retrievers won just seven of 26 faceoffs last night, but might have found a faceoff specialist in a guy who already does plenty for them. Junior midfielder Kyle Wimer, the team’s second-leading scorer with 15 points who also plays defense, won six of nine faceoffs. Compare that with the 1-for-17 outing of three teammates who also took faceoffs and you can see why coach Don Zimmerman vowed to have Wimer begin practicing faceoffs as soon as this afternoon’s session. "Kyle’s a scrapper. Technique’s one thing, but scrapping’s another thing," Zimmerman said. "And it was also our wing play. I thought our wing play improved. I thought [junior] J.D. Harkey was holding his own as far as making it a neutral groundball, but we just got out-ground-balled by their wings. That’s something we have to work on. I don’t know that I just want to point to the face-off guy and say, ‘That’s where the responsibility lies.’ Part of that is true, but we have to do a better job with our wings and get in there and scrap. I think that was the story of the game."

*Johns Hopkins sophomore faceoff specialist Matt Dolente won his first two faceoffs last night and even scored the team’s first goal off a faceoff win, but he did not return to the game. Without delving into specifics, Pietramala said the decision to replace Dolente with junior Michael Powers was precautionary. "Matt got banged up, but he’ll be fine," Pietramala said. "Not a season-ending injury or anything like that. It was something that was in the best interest of the student-athlete, to not play him at least for the rest of this game."

*I wasn’t able to stick around for UMBC’s news conference (big thanks to Inside Lacrosse’s Geoff Shannon for monitoring my tape recorder while I was trying to make my 10:20 p.m. deadline on a game that ended at 9:40), but it was pretty easy to sense the frustration building within senior midfielder Alex Hopmann and Zimmerman. Asked about what the Blue Jays did to limit a Retrievers offense that had been averaging 14.67 goals per game, Hopmann, an Annapolis native and graduate, answered: "The thing was, today we didn’t come out and play UMBC lacrosse. We came out and I don’t even know what lacrosse we played. It wasn’t us. We were undisciplined. We weren’t us. That’s the biggest thing. It’s not who we’re playing. I don’t care if we’re playing Hopkins or Vermont. We’ve got to play our ball, and that’s the reason why we lost this game." Zimmerman followed up with a little flare of his own, saying, "I think Alex hit the nail on the head. We were not a disciplined lacrosse team, and that’s unacceptable. If you don’t have discipline, then you can forget about everything else. I thought we lost our composure, and it almost got away from us. The silver lining is, instead of ending the game on a totally embarrassing note, our guys decided to play our game and made it a ballgame. But too little, too late."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Postscript, UMBC
        

March 1, 2009

Postscript from Duke vs. Maryland

Sophomore attackmen Grant Catalino and Ryan Young, senior midfielder Jeff Reynolds and junior attackman Will Yeatman played significant roles in No. 8 Maryland’s 11-8 victory over No. 14 Duke at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium yesterday. Junior goalkeeper Brian Phipps deserves some credit, too.

Phipps, who splits time in the net with senior Jason Carter, became the first goalie to play an entire game as he registered 13 saves against the Blue Devils. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Phipps may not have the physical frame that the 6-1, 215-pound Carter possesses, but Phipps at times seems more flexible, has a quick stick and is very adept at passing the ball to his teammates to start the team’s transition offense.

While remaining committed to his rotation and confirming that Carter would start this Saturday against Towson, Terps coach Dave Cottle said Phipps’ play anchored a team eager to avenge last week’s upset loss to Georgetown. "I thought Brian helped us big-time early," Cottle said. "… Here’s a kid who thought it was his fault – and it wasn’t – that we didn’t win and then has enough confidence to come back and start off strong. I thought that was important for him, making saves early and then his confidence grew and grew and then we had ourselves a heck of a goalie."

Duke senior attackman Ned Crotty said he and his teammates didn’t test Phipps as they should have. "He’s a three-year starter at Maryland, so he’s a good goalie, a great goalie. But I think a lot of times, we helped boost his confidence," Crotty said. "We didn’t put all of our shots in the right spots. What did we have, 41 shots? A lot of those shots were good shots, but just not in the right spots. … Because of that, he got hot, got a lot of confidence, and that kind of made it hard on us."

Other notes:

*With junior defenseman Brian Farrell hospitalized Thursday with two cracked ribs and fluid in his lungs, sophomore Brett Schmidt was the most immediate beneficiary of Farrell’s absence and he played admirably against Crotty. Schmidt, who entered the season as the team’s top long-stick midfielder, was moved to close defense, and even though Crotty finished with two goals and three assists, Schmidt did enough to impress Cottle. "Our plan was to give him work when we played some really quick guys because we felt like we weren’t apt to cover really quick guys," Cottle said. "So we started about two weeks ago, trying to get Brett ready for that move eventually. On Thursday, we found out something was wrong [with Farrell], so Brett made the move, and I can’t tell you how hard he played, how tough he played, and how good a player he played [against]."

*With Schmidt moved to close defense, junior midfielder Dean Hart filled the long-stick midfielder role. Sophomore attackman Travis Reed played sparingly as he continues to deal with offseason knee surgery and shin splints.

*The Blue Devils are dealing with their first losing streak since the 2004 campaign, but Cottle said critics should pause before dismissing Duke for the remainder of the season. "I think you’re going to see this team get a lot better," he said. "I think they’re going to figure out who they are. I think they’re doing kind of what we’re doing, trying to figure out the best way for their team to play. But I’ll tell you one thing: they’ve got some big, aggressive kids on defense, I think their goalie [senior Rob Schroeder] is solid, and 22 [Crotty], 8 [junior attackman Max Quinzani], 10 [senior midfielder Brad Ross] and 20 [senior midfielder Steve Schoeffel] are outstanding players on offense. I think they’ll be better next week because of today."

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland, Postscript
        

Postscript from Princeton vs. Johns Hopkins

Few things pain Dave Pietramala more than undisciplined play, which is why the Johns Hopkins coach was visibly frustrated by his team’s performance in yesterday’s 14-8 loss to No. 19 Princeton at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium.

After incurring just two 30-second penalties in the season opener against Siena, the No. 4 Blue Jays (1-1) were flagged 10 times for a total of nine minutes yesterday. The Tigers (2-0) converted on only 2-of-7 extra-man opportunities, but Johns Hopkins constantly put pressure on its defense and junior goalkeeper Michael Gvozden by playing undermanned.

Pietramala was especially incensed at a sequence with 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Junior midfielder Michael Kimmel’s 1-minute slashing penalty was compounded by another slashing call on redshirt junior defenseman Matt Drenan and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on junior defenseman Sam DeVore. Although Princeton junior attackman Scott MacKenzie was also whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct, Pietramala was less than pleased.

He nodded twice in agreement as Kimmel tried to explain that sequence, saying, "It wasn’t the classiest thing we could have done." Added Pietramala: "We didn’t handle that play in a classy fashion. Just that simple. That’s not what we do."

Other notes:

*Pietramala was equally frustrated by the defense’s inability to close off the Tigers’ shooting lanes. Princeton, which took 60 shots in the season opener against Canisius, launched 51 yesterday. "We just talked all week about trying not to let them plant their feet and shoot, and we didn’t do a real good job of that, did we?" Pietramala asked rhetorically.

*Gvozden was pulled with 11:30 left in the fourth quarter and the Blue Jays trailing, 14-6, and replaced by freshman Steven Burke. Pietramala insisted that the decision to pull Gvozden, who was later reinserted, should not be interpreted as criticism of the goalie’s effort. "No. I don’t think that we were playing great defense in front of him," Pietramala said. "I don’t think our defensive effort in general was up to snuff, and for me to sit here and blame Mike, that would be out of line. Again, I blame me. It’s my job to get this team ready to play, and when I watch that film, it doesn’t look like we were ready to play."

*Did anyone catch the shouting match between Pietramala and Tigers coach Bill Tierney along the sidelines late in the first quarter? Tierney seemed to take umbrage with senior long-stick midfielder Charlie Wiggins’ illegal body check with 4:17 left and let Wiggins know about it. Pietramala, in turn, jumped in to defend Wiggins, and both coaches engaged in an exchange of words and glares. Afterwards, both coaches appeared to have forgotten about the incident.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Postscript
        

February 22, 2009

Postscript from Georgetown's upset of Maryland

Prior to the No. 17 Hoyas' 13-10 victory over the No. 3 Terps yesterday, few people had any idea of what Georgetown sophomore attackman Ryan Schuler could do. What he demonstrated was impressive.

In his first career start, Schuler recorded a career-high three goals, added an assist and played a huge role in the Hoyas beginning the season on the right foot. Schuler had just three assists in 10 games last season, but when Brendan Cannon and Andrew Baird graduated, Schuler proved to coach Dave Urick that he deserved to join junior Craig Dowd and redshirt sophomore Ricky Mirabito as starters.

"We knew he was a player of the future here," Urick said. "The window of opportunity for him as an attackman wasn’t going to open up [last season]. So we felt it was important to get him some game experience, and it wasn’t a huge amount of playing time, but he played a role as a short-stick D-middie and as a regular midfielder. But he’s much more of a natural attackman."

With Maryland assigning its long-pole defensemen to Dowd, Mirabito, junior midfielder Andrew Brancaccio and senior midfielder Dan D'Agnes, Schuler took advantage of his short-stick defender, often evading his defender long enough to either take a shot or pass the ball to teammates who found better scoring opportunities.

Schuler, who tends to shy away from media attention, bolted for the team bus after the game, but Dowd praised his teammate for shedding his anonymity. "He’s not unknown to us," Dowd said. "This is his breakout game. They threw a short stick at him, thinking they’d be able to handle him, and he took advantage of that all game."

Other notes:

*Georgetown junior defenseman Barney Ehrmann limited celebrated junior transfer Will Yeatman to zero goals, zero assists and just five shots, only one of which was on net. Ehrmann's performance was even more astonishing considering that he battled a flu-like virus that sidelined him until Friday. "He didn’t practice until Friday, and what he did Friday was pretty minimal," Urick said. "I think he did fine." Said Ehrmann: "I knew all week I was going to try and play, give it my best. Adrenaline kind of takes over and once you get out there, you don’t really feel sick until afterwards."

*Terps coach Dave Cottle wasn't as alarmed about the play of goalkeepers Jason Carter and Brian Phipps as he was about the team's inability to clear the ball out of the defensive half of the field. After clearing the ball 92.3 percent of the time (39-of-42) in the first two games, Maryland cleared just 62.5 percent (10-of-16) against the Hoyas. The Terps went just 1-of-4 in the third quarter, which partially fueled Georgetown's 6-0 run that broke the game open. "We had six turnovers in the third quarter offensively," Cottle said. "We kept putting pressure on ourselves defensively, and we had three broken clears with two of those broken clears [with] wide-open guys, and they, in turn, scored two goals off of the broken clears. I just say give them credit. They had the ball, they wore us down a little bit, and they outplayed us in the fourth quarter."

*The Hoyas are just 2-7 all-time against Maryland, but they have won two of the last three meetings – both times in College Park. … Sophomore attackman Grant Catalino’s 16-game point streak is the longest among the Terps. … Maryland junior Bryn Holmes (McDonogh) won 12 of 16 face-offs and is 35-of-43 this season.

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:12 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Maryland, Postscript
        

February 15, 2009

Postscript from Ohio State at Navy

One of the factors in No. 10 Navy’s 8-6 win against No. 15 Ohio State yesterday was the Buckeyes’ inability to protect the ball. Ohio State committed 24 turnovers, and at the forefront of the Midshipmen’s attack was senior defenseman Andy Tormey.

Tormey led Navy with four caused turnovers, and all of those came against Buckeyes senior attackman Joel Dalgarno, an honorable mention All American last season.

Dalgarno recorded a hat trick and an assist, but he did commit five turnovers. Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the coaches felt that the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Tormey would pose match-up problems for the 5-11, 175-pound Dalgarno.

"We said, ‘Get up on this guy’s left hand and force him underneath.’ I think Andy did that almost all of the time when he was on him," Meade said. "And then I think Andy was very physical with him – which we wanted – without fouling him. So today he played a great game against – from what I was reading – one of the best players in the country. So I thought Andy did a nice job with him. We were prepared to play two guys on Dalgarno, but as the game unfolded, we didn’t really need to do that."

Other notes:

*One note of concern for Navy has been the team’s propensity for surrendering goals with just seconds left in quarters. Ohio State junior attackman Mario Ventiquattro scored his first goal yesterday with three seconds left in the second quarter and his second tally with one second left in the third period. VMI junior attackman Jacob Weimer scored a goal with 39 seconds left in the second quarter of last Saturday’s 13-5 loss to the Midshipmen.

"That’s just mental focus," Navy senior goalie Matt Coughlin said. "That’s something we need to work on. We just can’t assume that with three seconds on the clock, the quarter’s over. Every second counts. That’s something we’ve got to work on. That’s kind of a weakness right now for us."

For his part, Buckeyes coach Nick Myers was pleased with the late scores, but he also pointed out that the Midshipmen scored the first two goals of the third quarter and won the opening face-off of the fourth. "We kept just trying to claw and stay in it," he said. "End of the quarter, going into the fourth quarter at the face-off ‘X,’ I think it ended 50-50, but it seemed like when we needed the big draw, they were coming up with it and answering our momentum."

*Speaking of Coughlin, he appeared shaky in the early stages of yesterday’s game, giving up some low goals that he would have stopped last season prior to aggravating a right hamstring injury that forced him to miss much of the latter half of last year.

But Coughlin also shined, stopping, among others, Ventiquattro and senior attackman Doug Ruhnke on point-blank attempts.

Asked whether he has returned to the form of last season, Coughlin said, "Hard to say. It was a long year last year. A little disappointing for me personally. But I feel like as a team, we had a good year. I try not to think about last year too much and focus on right now."

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy, Postscript
        
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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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