Terps fight injuries, No. 4-ranked Hoyas

Third-string goalie in net for ailing Maryland

February 24, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

College Park -- University of Maryland senior defender Ryan Clarke has played lacrosse long enough to know that injuries are unavoidable. But looking at the state of the Terrapins, who have been strapped by a run of ailments dating to the preseason, is enough to make Clarke shake his head in amused bewilderment.

As the No. 5 Terps (2-0) gear up for today's 3 p.m. matchup with No. 4 Georgetown (0-0) at Maryland's field hockey and lacrosse complex, they are a study in the walking wounded.

Senior goalie Harry Alford, an All-American and third-year starter, has yet to play after having shoulder surgery nearly four months ago. He could rejoin the team in the next two weeks. But junior backup Jason Carter is expected to miss another month while recovering from a broken collarbone he suffered earlier this month in practice.

That has left goaltending duties to freshman Brian Phipps, and that's only the beginning.

Senior defenseman Ray Megill, who missed more than a week in the preseason with a broken finger, should return today after food poisoning kept him out of Tuesday's 16-7 rout over Vermont.

Junior defensive midfielder Jeff Reynolds is questionable after limping off the field against Vermont with a knee injury. Senior defensive midfielder Jimmy Borell will return today after missing the first two games with a broken thumb.

Then there are defenseman Ryne Adolph and attackman Scott Tompkins, backups who haven't played because of hamstring problems. And backup long-stick midfielder Chris Rhine, who missed the opener against Bellarmine with a shoulder injury. And starting midfielder Chris Feifs, who missed the opener with food poisoning.

"This is a little weird," said Clarke, who, along with senior defenseman Steve Whittenberg and junior defenseman Joe Cinosky, has remained unscathed, although Cinosky missed the fall after having hernia surgery. "Sometimes it goes from one day when there's three guys on the sideline [at practice] to the next day, when there's seven or eight."

During the preseason, midfielder Travis Holmes (hamstring), defensive midfielder Paul Andrews (concussion), Rhine (separated shoulder) and starting attackmen Michael Phipps (ankle) and Max Ritz (illness) missed a week or more of time.

It got so bad recently that one day in practice Maryland used two defensive midfielders as goalies.

"It's a comedy out there," coach Dave Cottle said. "I think we had 13 guys [sidelined] in warm-ups against Bellarmine. Trying to develop a consistent roster and work on the things we need to work on has been the most difficult thing.

"We're fortunate that we have some good backups, some good players a lot of people don't know about."

The Terps, who lost four starters on offense, are finding their way at that end of the field. Phipps (11 points) and Ritz (five assists) are leading the way as returning starters. The revamped midfield is getting solid contributions from sophomore Dan Groot (seven points) and junior Drew Evans (six points). Holmes and sophomore Jeremy Sieverts have led the second midfield.

The defense is expected to carry Maryland, especially early, and losing the team's top two goalies has put a wrinkle in that plan. The unit expects a strong test from the Hoyas, who are aiming to advance to the school's first final four since 1999.

"We can't wait for Harry to come back, but we can't think about that now," Clarke said. "We have to take the burden on ourselves as a defense."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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