Shooting woes abound as Blue Jays, Terps face off

College Lacrosse


When the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays and the Maryland Terrapins renew their men's lacrosse rivalry for the 102nd time tonight at Homewood Field, one could make a pretty safe bet that the goals will not come easily.

With few exceptions, both teams have dug in and played stingy defense. Conversely, each squad has had problems sustaining a spark at the other end of the field.

Tonight's winner between No. 6 Hopkins (5-3) and No. 7 Maryland (6-3) very well could be the team that puts together one good burst of offense, or at least achieves a little more consistency.

Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala attributes Hopkins' scoring problems to a lack of chemistry and comfort level among a cast of players that, because of inexperience and injuries, has not played together long enough to be consistent.

Maryland coach Dave Cottle sees the Terps pressing too much by trying to make the big play, taking too many bad shots and getting too little out of anyone not named Joe Walters or Xander Ritz.

Hopkins is averaging 10.25 goals, 12th in the NCAA, but that includes a recent, 19-6 win over Mount St. Mary's. The Blue Jays managed an average of just 5.3 goals in losses to No. 1 Virginia, No. 3 Hofstra and No. 8 Princeton.

The Terps, averaging just 8.3 goals overall, are in a deeper funk. They have reached double figures only twice, have offset the nation's most proficient extra-man attack with only 59 goals in all-even situations, have scored just 11 goals during their current, two-game losing streak, and have shot a paltry 23.2 percent.

"It's not effort or selfishness. It's bigger than just shooting," Cottle said. "I've been more concerned with how we're playing. I think we're standing around too much and being very impatient. Everybody is trying to make the play. We're trying to do the big things marginally, rather than doing the little things brilliantly. We just haven't put it together yet."

Forty of Maryland's 76 goals have been scored by either Walters or Ritz, leaving the Terps wanting for balance. And Maryland has not been able to loosen up defenses with dependable outside shooting or get inside with enough regularity with good ball movement.

Senior midfielder Brendan Healy has scored just five goals, has been shut out in seven games and is shooting just 12.5 percent. Senior midfielder Bill McGlone (11 goals) has scored in every game, but has recorded one goal each in seven different games and has yet to record a three-goal game.

Down low, sophomore attackman Max Ritz (nine goals) scored four goals in the season-opening, 10-4 victory over Georgetown, but did not score a goal for five straight games after that. Junior attackman Michael Phipps (two goals) is shooting 11.1 percent.

Hopkins' headache isn't quite as serious. The Blue Jays have improved in the clearing and turnover areas, and are creating better looks at the net.

But they are shooting a mediocre 27.4 percent. And they have come up short in situations in which such freshmen as attackman Tom Duerr - who missed the first four games with a shoulder injury - and midfielders Brian Christopher and Austin Walker have been guarded by opposing short-stick defenders.

Pietramala said preseason and early-season injuries to such players as attackmen Jake Byrne (10 goals) and Kevin Huntley (21 goals) and midfielder Paul Rabil (14 goals) hampered the flow of the offense.

"Our team has had some tremendous challenges this year. It started with graduation," said Pietramala, alluding to the loss of such players as Kyle Harrison, Matt Rewkowski and Peter LeSueur.

"The thing we've battled the most is our ability to develop cohesiveness, chemistry and comfort. For a long time, we didn't have the same six guys out there."

Senior midfielder Greg Peyser thinks the Blue Jays have struggled for one big reason: bad shooting. Peyser has shot just 21.6 percent.

"If you look at the tape, we're getting to a certain yardage, we're getting what we want," said Peyser, who has just eight goals. "Whether it's a missed shot or a great save, it's a collective thing. We've missed the cage a whole lot. I know I've been brutal."

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