Terps cruise in first round

On deck for Maryland: Princeton next Sunday

Maryland 16 Denver 8


COLLEGE PARK -- Whatever worries the University of Maryland men's lacrosse team had yesterday about Denver, with its excellent faceoff specialist, its hard-riding, high-pressure scheme and its overall unpredictability, evaporated quickly at Byrd Stadium.

This first-round NCAA tournament matchup was about the wide-eyed kid getting slapped aside by the seasoned bully, a part Maryland played with confidence and purpose.

Sophomore attackman Max Ritz scored a career-high five goals, senior attackman Joe Walters became the school's top career points scorer by producing a goal and a career-high five assists, and the second-seeded Terps did whatever they pleased while crushing Denver, 16-8, before 1,717.

Maryland (11-4) moves on to play seventh-seeded Princeton in a quarterfinal contest at Towson University next Sunday. The Terps, who are trying to get to their third final four in four years and win their first national championship since 1975, have not beaten Princeton since 1977.

Denver, the Great Western Lacrosse League champion playing in its first NCAA tournament game, never had a chance. The Pioneers (12-5) came in 0-4 when playing east of the Appalachians, and hoped senior faceoff ace Geoff Snider and their aggressive, attacking style at both ends would bother Maryland.

Wrong. The Terps asserted their upper hand immediately by forcing a slew of turnovers and scoring the game's first six goals, while Snider struggled by drawing procedure penalties four times in the first quarter. Maryland rolled to a 9-2 halftime lead and scored the first three goals of the second half to end the competition. Through three quarters, the Terps outshot Denver 34-10.

"We made a conscious decision not to run from them, but to run at them," Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. "We have some big, athletic kids, too. We wanted to hunt them. There was a period when I thought we were playing great lacrosse."

All of those pre-game whispers about Maryland's not being able to handle all-out pressure - think Bucknell's 10-man rides and its 7-6 double-overtime upset of the Terps two months ago - quickly were rendered moot.

Maryland defused Denver and played with a chip on its shoulder from the opening faceoff. Its defense jumped the Pioneers, who committed seven of their 27 turnovers in the first quarter and got off just one shot. Even sophomore faceoff man Will Dalton, who took over after David Tamberrino was scratched with a hamstring injury, wasn't fazed. He took five of the first seven draws, and won 12 of 23 overall.

Offensively, Maryland overwhelmed Denver's double teams and quick slides. Senior midfielders Brendan Healy and Xander Ritz each had a hat trick. Healy, who has three hat tricks and 11 goals in his past four games after scoring seven this season before that, got his mostly by running by and through multiple defenders.

Walters toyed with the Pioneers' defense by drawing attention, then finding open teammates on the weak side and along the crease. He assisted Max Ritz three times. His feed to Ritz on the crease for a goal to open the second half made it 10-2 and made Walters No. 1 in points in Maryland history. He has 151 goals and 223 points, both school records.

"To be honest with you, it actually wasn't on my mind at all," Walters said. "I knew it would come. The most important thing was to win and advance, and we did that today."


Denver 0 2 3 3 - 8

Maryland 6 3 4 3 - 16

Goals: D-Goodwin 3, Murray 2, Koll, Goltra, Richardson; M-M. Ritz 5, Healy 3, X. Ritz 3, McGlone 2, Walters, Borell, Evans. Assists: D-Goodwin 2, Koll, Snider, Zordani; M-Walters 5, Healy 2, M. Ritz. Saves: D-Hollingsworth 7, Konkel 5; M-Alford 8, Carter 2. A: 1,717.

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