Terps blast UMBC, 15-7, behind Combs' 5 goals

Maryland avenges losses, awaits NCAA tourney

May 07, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Andrew "Buggs" Combs scored a coup yesterday for unsung lacrosse players, who usually have to settle for such tags as "scrappy little gnat," "incessant hustler," "tenacious" and "shows no fear."

The junior Maryland attackman left those kind words behind for the big-time yesterday when he went on a career-high five-goal scoring tear to lead the seventh-ranked Terps past UMBC, 15-7, in the schools' yearly grudge match before a crowd of 2,204 at UMBC.

The Combs explosion helped Maryland gain revenge for two straight stunning losses to the Retrievers over the last two seasons and sent the Terps into next week's NCAA tournament with some momentum.

There is speculation that Maryland (10-4) will meet Duke next Sunday at UMBC, which is host to a first-round Division I tournament doubleheader beginning at noon. There also is speculation that Loyola and Notre Dame will meet at UMBC in the other half of the doubleheader.

That would possibly leave Cornell, Hofstra, Georgetown and host Hobart battling in the other first-round doubleheader at noon Saturday in Geneva, N.Y.

The official first-round pairings will be announced at 7:30 p.m. today.

"I don't care where we play," Maryland coach Dick Edell said. "I'd go to Istanbul and play if it's a great matchup for us."

The five goals couldn't have come at a better time for Combs, a former St. Paul's School standout.

Combs has been down on himself on occasion this season because he believes he hasn't been scoring enough goals to be worthy of a starting attackman for the always-strong Terps. He had 13 goals in 13 games going into the UMBC duel and loads of compliments for his gritty work habits.

But the son of Towson University football coach Gordy Combs knows compliments don't win games.

"I think I should score every time I shoot the ball," he said. "I was working on my shot all week in practice and it was all nice today for me."

Combs was born and raised in Towson. He has spent many of the past summers playing against several UMBC players, and to invade the Retrievers' home turf and have the game of his life was a special moment.

UMBC knocked the Terps out of the NCAA tournament last year with a 7-6 victory and cost Maryland its No. 1 seed two years ago with a 12-8 win.

"I didn't want any talk of revenge," Edell said. "UMBC probably helped us two years ago when we went to the championship game, but last year was a different story. I felt we belonged in the NCAA tournament but I feel we deserve to play for the national championship every year."

UMBC (7-7) jumped off to a 5-3 lead yesterday with 8:36 left in the first half behind two goals from senior attackman Jeff Ratcliffe, but Maryland came back to score 12 of the next 14 goals to win handily.

"Our guys weren't kicking in what we asked them to do," veteran Maryland assistant coach Dave Slafkosky said of the Terps' slow start. "They were all saving it for the end and we told them not to think about anything like that. We were going to run a lot of people in the game anyway. So our players said `OK. We'll just go play.'"

Freshman Maryland attackman Mike Mollot added two goals and four assists for the winners while Ratcliffe led the Retrievers with three goals, and Dan Marohl had three assists.

"We'll go back to Route 1 and celebrate this one," Combs said.

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said his team gave the same strong effort as in the past two years but "we had some different players today."

Zimmerman declined to comment when asked about the possibility of being named the head lacrosse coach at North Carolina next season.

Maryland 3 3 5 4-15

UMBC 2 3 0 2-7

Goals: M-Combs 5, Mollot 2, Malone 2, LaChapelle, Hochstadt, Zeller, LaMonica, Connor, Hughes; UMBC-Ratcliffe 3, Hahn, Gibson, Meerholz, Ogle. Assists: M-Mollot 4, LaChapelle 3, LaMonica, Shirk, Howley, Pich; UMBC-Marohl 3, Hester, Shiley. Saves: M-McGinnis 10, McCormick 3; UMBC-Cusa 14.

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