Lost in transition, Terps beaten by Virginia, 11-10

Lapses in first half doom No. 5 Maryland

`transition killed us'

March 31, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - While Maryland's men's basketball team was preparing to tackle some important business in Atlanta, its men's lacrosse team was suffering another setback in the Atlantic Coast Conference yesterday.

Unable to overcome a shaky first half dotted with defensive lapses and a flurry of missed offensive opportunities late, the fifth-ranked Terrapins fell to No. 2 Virginia, 11-10, before 3,158 at Byrd Stadium.

In a battle of teams riding four-game winning streaks, Maryland (6-2, 1-2) never led after the Cavaliers broke away from a 4-3 deficit with five unanswered goals in a flurry that stretched through the second quarter and into the early moments of the second half.

Still, Maryland had a chance to force overtime in the waning seconds, but goalie Tillman Johnson (St. Mary's), a standout all afternoon, turned aside Mike Mollot's hard shot from close range to preserve the victory in his team's ACC opener.

"I was just standing there," Johnson said. "I felt like I could eat it up all the way."

"I thought if we could hold them under 10 we could win," said Terps coach Dave Cottle, whose team's biggest wins have been against North Carolina and Towson. "But we didn't check in our transition defense even when we had the numbers and they got seven in the first half. We didn't make a lot of little plays."

Senior midfielder Nate Watkins, who led Maryland with a career-best three goals, said: "Transition killed us. We didn't get back in the hole a couple of times and gave them easy goals. They did a good job of matching up on us."

Virginia (6-1, 1-0) is in excellent shape to qualify for the NCAA tournament based on victories over Johns Hopkins, Princeton and now Maryland, which it beat for the sixth time in the past seven meetings.

Freshman sensations John Christmas and Joe Yevoli continued their assaults with four and three goals, respectively, and Chris Rotelli pitched in with the final two scores and two assists to fend off a Maryland team that had been undefeated at home and stood atop the national defense rankings.

"Tillman played well, coming up with big saves when we needed them," said Virginia coach Dom Starsia. "No real leader has surfaced to become the All-American goalie and he's starting to show his stuff a little bit."

Virginia's decisive spurt culminated in Christmas' final goal at 11:48 of the third period. The Cavaliers were playing two men short after two concurrent penalties, but Trey Whitty (St. Paul's) emerged out of his defensive side with the ball, sprinted downfield and fed Christmas, who was the national Player of the Week after scoring seven points against Johns Hopkins.

In what became a rough game in the second half, the Terps responded with three extra-man scores of their own, but they could never get over the hump. Rotelli scored each time they closed within one, as Virginia's offensive accent shifted to the midfielders.

"We talked about keeping our poise and discipline," Starsia said. "We wanted to keep our heads and wits about us because we didn't have our best week coming in. We weren't as attentive, probably because it's been a long, hard road for us. So this is a big win, coming in here like this."

Rotelli said Virginia - which lost the faceoff battle, 15-8, the ground-ball duel, 48-30, and was assessed four more penalties - played with resourcefulness.

"We attacked when we needed to," he said. "When I scored, I felt we needed something to pick us up. They played physically, but I don't think we backed down. "

Virginia 3 4 2 2 - 11

Maryland 3 1 4 2 - 10

Goals: V-Christmas 4, Yevoli 3, Shannon 2, Rotelli 2; M-Watkins 3, Mollot, Passavia, Morsell, M. LaMonica, D. LaMonica, Hochstadt, Urlock. Assists: V-Gill 2, Whitty 2, Rotelli 2, Shannon, Christmas; M-D. LaMonica 3, Mollot, Passavia. Saves: V-Johnson 13; M-McCormick 9.

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