Terps show Cavs who's No. 1 now, 11-2

Top-ranked Maryland easily avenges playoff loss to last season's champs

College Lacrosse

April 04, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - There was a time earlier this season when the Maryland Terrapins were an afterthought to the Johns Hopkinses and Virginias of the men's lacrosse world. But yesterday was another reminder that those days are long over.

In their first game as the No. 1 team in three seasons, the Terrapins looked every bit like the nation's best, blasting No. 10 Virginia, 11-2, before 4,454 yesterday at a soggy Byrd Stadium.

Crisp and patient on offense and devastating on defense, the Terps (8-0, 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) jumped out to a 6-1 halftime lead and never were threatened in thrashing the Cavaliers to clinch their first ACC regular-season championship since 1998 and avenge a 14-4 loss to Virginia in last year's final four.

"The whole pre-game speech was about that," said Maryland sophomore attackman Joe Walters, who had a goal and three assists while being watched primarily by Cavaliers All-American defenseman Brett Hughes. "They spanked us in the final four and we had that on our minds. We wanted to get some payback from last year and we did."

After upsetting top-ranked Johns Hopkins last week, a game that put the reigning national champions back in the NCAA tournament picture, Virginia (3-5, 0-1) was held to its lowest goal total since 1984. The two-goal output was the lowest for the Cavaliers against a Maryland team since 1955.

"I think that we've been doing things the right way for about 10 to 12 weeks now, while [Virginia] has been doing it right for about two to three weeks," said Maryland coach Dave Cottle, whose team hosts No. 7 Navy next weekend. "Right now, I like our guys. We play hard. I don't know how good we are, but we compete and we're solid."

Sophomore attackman Xander Ritz led the Terps with three goals and three assists while freshman Mike Brown pitched in with two goals - both on laser shots past Cavaliers All-American goalie Tillman Johnson (14 saves) - in the fourth quarter.

But by then, Maryland's defense had long set the tone. Virginia, which didn't get a single point out of its starting attack, often was forced to settle for outside shots, ones Maryland goalie Tim McGinnis smothered with ease en route to 17 saves.

"It's pretty obvious that we probably have the best defense in the country," said McGinnis, a grad student in College Park. "When they are giving up the shots that they were giving up, I expect to make those saves."

McGinnis wasn't forced to make his first save until the 8:40 mark of the second quarter, but by then Maryland led 4-0 on goals by J.R. Bordley, Michael Phipps, Ritz and Walters.

Virginia coach Dom Starsia joked that his young team might have been a little intimidated in the pre-game warm-ups by the Maryland football players, who before going in the locker room after their spring practice, went behind the Virginia goal and taunted the Cavaliers.

"We weren't ready to play coming out of the blocks, there's no question," said Starsia, whose team can only lose one more regular-season game to finish with a winning record. "And they are playing with a lot of confidence."

Said Walters: "I feel we played a complete game. We outhustled them, outplayed them. It was just a great day for us."

Virginia 0 1 1 0 - 2

Maryland 4 2 1 4 - 11

Goals: V-Gilbert, Little; M-Ritz 3, Brown 2, Walters, Healy, McGlone, Phipps, Bordley, Matz. Assists: V-Morrissey; M-Walters 3, Ritz 3, Healy, Gillette, Matz. Saves: V-Johnson 14; M-McGinnis 17.

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