X. Ritz, Terps drop No. 1 Duke

Senior gets room, uses it for 5 goals

Maryland 8 Duke 7

March 05, 2006|By STEPHEN WHYNO | STEPHEN WHYNO,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Durham, N.C. -- For the entire game yesterday, Maryland senior Xander Ritz got no respect.

Duke's defense chose to focus on All-America attackman Joe Walters and the Terrapins' other offensive weapons.

So Ritz took advantage.

He scored five goals, including the winner in overtime, as the No. 2-ranked Terrapins beat No. 1 Duke, 8-7, at Koskinen Stadium.

Just more than a minute into overtime, Ritz took the ball behind the net and proceeded to beat defender Bo Carrington, snapping the ball into the netting past goalie Chris Loftus.

Ritz said he and Walters were both options for the play, but after he saw the defensive mismatch against a short stick, he said a shot was the right option.

"I dodged and the defense wasn't really ready for it at the moment and I was able to duck underneath and dive across and chuck it in the goal," Ritz said.

Seconds after the ball hit the grass, the players on the Terps' sideline swarmed Ritz. The celebration put more pressure on him than Duke's defense did for much of the game.

Ritz opened the scoring for the Terps with just less than two minutes left in the first quarter and, after Duke answered, he ratcheted up his game. He scored twice in the second quarter and recorded an assist.

Walters said it's only a matter of time before opposing defenses realize they can't ignore Ritz.

"He's dropping too many goals and causing too much damage for teams to deal with," Walters said. "I don't know what teams are thinking."

The Terps felt the Blue Devils were trying to keep Walters from dominating, because he had scored 18 career goals against Duke before yesterday.

Before Ritz's overtime effort, Walters scored his first goal of the season to tie the game at 7 with just more than eight minutes left.

Walters' goal helped illustrate why Duke's defense failed to focus on stopping Ritz, who has nine goals in two games this season.

Ritz said he expected less attention because of how potent the Terps' offense is.

"I wasn't [surprised], just because we have such good threats," he said. "We have such good threats that have histories of scoring that they just can't afford to do that."

Led by Ritz's performance, the Terps are now expected to be the top-ranked team in the nation when Inside Lacrosse's poll is released Tuesday.

Terps coach Dave Cottle said he and his team never discussed that aspect of the game, wanting to avoid adding pressure to an already intense meeting.

But senior midfielder Bill McGlone said the Terps will benefit from the emotional win.

"This is obviously going to help us in a lot of areas - confidence, standings, ranks," McGlone said. "But we know it's all about the big game at the end."

The victory also amounted to revenge for the Terps, who were routed by Duke, 18-9, in the NCAA semifinals last season.

For Ritz and his senior teammates, that game is history, and yesterday's win could be a step toward bigger things.

"Revenge won't be until May. That's when it counts the most," Ritz said. "But as a senior, it's my last chance and I have to make the most of my opportunity."

Maryland 1 3 2 1 1 - 8

Duke 2 1 3 1 0 - 7

Goals: M-X. Ritz 5, Walters, McGlone, Groot; D-Dowd 2, Zash 2, Danowski, Greer, Thompson. Assists: M-Walters 2, X. Ritz; D-Danowski 2, Flannery, Greer, Lamade. Saves: M-Alford 12; D-Loftus 20. A-4,242.

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