No. 10 Terps struggle, hold off Towson late

UM ends 2-game skid despite being outshot 44-25

No. 10 Maryland 8 No. 11 Towson 7

March 11, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

The University of Maryland men's lacrosse team came to Towson yesterday in search of some confidence, a sign of life on offense, and above all, an end to a two-game losing streak.

The 10th-ranked Terrapins were not picturesque. But they played enough trademark, physical defense, got a fine showing from freshman goalie Brian Phipps, and patched together enough scoring to edge mistake-prone Towson, 8-7, before 3,445 at Unitas Stadium.

Maryland (3-2) has never lost at Towson in 12 visits and improved to 24-5 against the Tigers.

It wasn't a classic performance by either offense. The No. 11 Tigers committed 21 turnovers, including 14 in a first half that featured one Tigers goal, coming three seconds before halftime. Towson (2-1) whiffed on six of seven extra-man chances, shot 7-for-44 and missed the cage on 21 shots.

The Terps, who never trailed, had 21 turnovers but made good on eight of their 25 shots. Junior attackman Max Ritz scored all three of his goals in the first half, helping Maryland take a 4-1 halftime lead.

"We would have taken a win here at any score. It was a tooth-pulling experience," said Maryland coach Dave Cottle, on watching his offense. "We didn't play with a great deal of confidence at that end of the field. We played a ton of defense in the fourth quarter, and we got tired."

The Maryland defense did its share, especially the young guys. Phipps, who has taken over for injured senior Harry Alford - he could return to action within two weeks - was mostly efficient and occasionally outstanding with a career-high 16 saves.

Freshman defensive midfielder Bryn Holmes scooped a game-high eight ground balls. Freshman long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell scored the game's key goal.

With Maryland leading 7-5 and Towson in the middle of a five-goal flurry in the fourth quarter and with an extra-man chance to get closer, Farrell feasted on a huge turnover.

Tigers junior midfielder Brian Vetter dropped a cross-field pass from sophomore attackman Randall Cooper about 20 yards from the Maryland goal. Farrell picked up the ball, sprinted down the middle of the field and beat Towson junior goalie Matt Antol (seven saves) to make it 8-5 with 3:44 left.

The Tigers, who got just one goal from their six starters on offense, kept battling behind senior faceoff man Matt Eckerl. He won 14 of 18 draws.

Freshman attackman Justin Schneider (two goals) cut the lead to 8-6 with an 8-yard shot from the left wing with 1:37 left, then converted a follow-up with six seconds remaining. Eckerl then won his last faceoff and took the last shot of the game. Maryland defensive midfielder Jimmy Borrell blocked it, about 25 yards from the cage.

"We dropped balls. We just passed the ball to Maryland with no pressure on us. It was that kind of a day for us all day long," said Towson coach Tony Seaman, who watched senior attackman Bobby Griebe hit the goal post twice with shots in the second half.

Through the first three quarters, Towson scored two goals, and those came in a nine-second span bridging halftime. Eckerl won the opening faceoff of the second half and scored to cut the Maryland lead to 4-2. But the Terps cashed in three minutes later on a fast-break score by senior attackman Michael Phipps.

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

Maryland 2 2 1 3 - 8

Towson 0 1 1 5 - 7

Goals: M-Ritz 3, Evans, Sear, M. Phipps, Alford, Farrell. T-Boyle 2, Schneider 2, Hagelin, Williams, Eckerl. Assists: M-Evans, Ritz, Sear, Sieverts, Ward. Saves: M-B. Phipps 16. T-Antol 7.

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