Terps have Navy's number

For third straight year, No. 6 Maryland defeats Midshipmen by 6-5 score

College Lacrosse

April 08, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Though not as certain as death and taxes, a 6-5 Maryland lacrosse victory over Navy each spring is becoming almost as commonplace.

It happened for the third straight year yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium when the sixth-ranked Terrapins staved off the Midshipmen's late charge to score another hard-earned, one-goal win before 3,688 spectators on a raw, windy day.

"You can check your watch and come over two hours after the game starts and it's going to be 6-5 regardless of where it's played," said Maryland coach Dick Edell. "Is this an uncanny situation or what? It wasn't an artistic game, but we found a way to win it."

"This [6-5 margin] doesn't drive me crazy yet," said Navy coach Richie Meade. "Every game, every year is different."

Ranked No. 1 before a 7-2 defeat at Virginia a week earlier, Maryland (8-1) sleepwalked through the first period before winding up with advantages in nearly all major statistical categories and having just enough to best a resurgent Navy squad that had won five straight after an 0-3 start.

Early in the fourth quarter, Eddie McKinnon's second goal pulled the Midshipmen into a 4-4 tie before the nation's leading goal-scorer, Andrew Combs, stepped to the forefront.

He knocked down an intended pass from Navy goalie Jon Higdon, then kept scrapping for the ball in front of the goal until he finally scored.

"I got a piece of it [the ball] and kept trying to get it back," said Combs, who had been held under wraps until then by Navy's gritty defense. "It was like a scrum around the crease. He checked me the first time, then I picked it up again and just threw it. Hopefully, it was going to go in."

Said Higdon: "He threw his stick up and got some of the ball. He had knocked down two like that earlier in the game. The ball went toward the goal. He was a little ahead of me, but I went around and clamped. Then somebody I didn't see knocked it away from my stick. He was like lying on his back, cradling the ball and he put it in."

That gave the Terrapins a 5-4 lead with 7:33 elapsed in the final period. Less than a minute later Dan LaMonica sent home Maryland's second extra-man goal.

But 12th-ranked Navy (5-4) wasn't through trying to beat Maryland for the first time since 1992. At 12:12, freshman Dave Pittard eluded the defense with a sequence of nice offensive moves to bring the Midshipmen to 6-5.

The Midshipmen won the ensuring faceoff with plenty of time to gain at least a tie, but goalie Pat McGinnis (Loyola) and the gifted Terrapins defense - tops in the nation against scoring - repelled all threats.

With 13 seconds remaining, Maryland's Carrington King was whistled for a penalty, but the Midshipmen were unable to launch a shot and finished 0-for-3 in extra-man opportunities."[Andy] Burman was pressing the guy with the ball on the far wing," said McGinnis. "And that cost them five or six seconds. I don't think they were expecting that at all. I think they were expecting us to pack it in."

"Maybe I just put us in the wrong set," said Meade. "We have another set that's a little quicker. If we had had just a little more time, I think something good was going to happen. We just made a mental mistake on that play and threw it to the wrong guy."

McGinnis lowered his nation's-best goals against average to 5.22 in Maryland's ninth straight win over the Midshipmen and was especially effective in the first period when Navy dominated, but could not take command.

Although they outshot the Terps, 9-1, won all the faceoffs and had an 8-3 edge in ground balls, the Midshipmen managed only a 1-1 tie after a period.

"We were really concerned about them coming out fast," said Meade. "But on the other hand, I thought they might have a residual hangover from the Virginia game. The score could have been 4-1. But if you can't cash in and make them play under more pressure, it's tough. That was largely because of McGinnis. He was ready to play."

"He's the best goalie in America," gushed Edell.

Although Navy shut down the Terps' attack, Maryland received five goals from midfielders one week before its showdown with Johns Hopkins at College Park.

"That couldn't have happened at a better time," said Edell. "These kids have big-time aspirations."

Maryland 1 2 1 2 - 6

Navy 1 1 1 2 - 5

Goals: M-Hochstadt, Combs, M. LaMonica, Watkins, D. LaMonica, Malone; N-McKinnon 2, Conklin, Borcz, Pittard. Assists: M-D. LaMonica, Malone, Daue. Saves: M-McGinnis 6; N-Higdon 11.

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