Terps' Whipple and Hahn single-minded on goals Inseparable attack duo leads potent offense

March 27, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

COLLEGE PARK -- Andrew Whipple rolls to his right before zipping a pass inside to Matt Hahn. Two hard hits and a shoulder fake later, Hahn blasts a 5-yard shot into the goal.

Quick, efficient and, basically, common.

It's one of the best scoring combinations in Maryland history and the major reason the Terrapins are scoring 15 goals a game, the highest total after six games in 11 years. Maryland will rely on this attack duo tomorrow when the No. 2 Terps play host to No. 5 Virginia.

And it's a simple equation: Whipple feeds the ball and Hahn finishes it.

"They're so very special," Maryland offensive coordinator Scott Marr said. "These guys have been to two national championship games and a lot of people overlook their hard work. They complement each other so well."

At 6 feet, 180 pounds, Hahn doesn't have the typical towering size for a crease attackman and compensates with toughness.

He takes hits on the arm before he catches the ball. He endures blindsided checks after he catches the ball.

Yet Hahn still maintains control, uses a nifty assortment of head and shoulder fakes and converts the close-range shot. That's why Hahn has scored in every game in college, a streak of 51 games, as well as recording two game-winners in last year's NCAA tournament.

"Some of the stuff he does is amazing," Whipple said. "He catches the ball inside and sometimes teams slide two or three guys at him. He'll just absorb those checks and get a great shot off. I know that being a feeder, I can pass him the ball with someone on him and he'll run through that check to get a real good shot off."

Before Hahn finishes, it's Whipple who runs the show. He's the main ballhandler, posting up his defender and awaiting the open cutter.

Just ask Syracuse about Whipple's ability to see the field. In last year's national semifinal game, Whipple controlled the ball, sensed the cut and then set up Hahn for the game-winner.

"I really love playing with him," said Hahn, who has scored 113 career goals, 24 off of the Maryland record held by Rob Wurzburger (1988-91). "If you're open, he'll find you. I know where he's looking on the field. He knows what I'm thinking and where I'm going to cut."

It's a friendship built from practicing beside each other and living in the same house for four years. Even in their spare time, they'll party together or laugh it up every Wednesday during an episode of "South Park."

But it's no holds barred when they play the Madden '98 video game or when they square off in a practice drill. It's that competitive attitude which immediately pushed them into the starting lineup, a rarity for Maryland freshmen.

"They're competitors and their abilities were obvious from the get-go. But more than their ability, they had the poise to go with it," Terps coach Dick Edell said.

As Hahn and Whipple have grown, so has the Terrapin attack. Once renowned for its intimidating defense, Maryland has established itself more as an offensive force with the ability to adjust.

Play no-sliding, man-to-man defense to shut off passing options and Whipple will take the ball to the goal. Clamp down on Hahn FTC inside and he'll concentrate on grabbing loose balls to keep possession.

"I really have a hard time of not thinking about the one when thinking about the other," Edell said. "From a recognition standpoint, it's hard to separate the two. It's been an equal contribution with finishing ability and feeding ability. I don't know what it's going to be like when they're not in practice next year."

Goals galore

Senior attackmen Matt Hahn and Andrew Whipple have combined for 191 goals and 96 assists, accounting for 27 percent of all of Maryland's points over their four-year career:

Yr. ..... Hahn ..... Whipple ..... Terps

'95 ..... 36-7 ..... 24-20 ....... 235-140

'96 ..... 33-6 ..... 23-14 ....... 152-81

'97 ..... 31-12 .... 24-23 ....... 202-95

'98 ..... 12-2 ..... 8-12 ........ 91-53

Tot ..... 112-27 ... 79-69 ....... 680-369

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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