Take charge

Cinosky sparks strong Terps defense in tournament

Maryland men's lacrosse

May 16, 2008|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

Of all the cuts and bruises Joe Cinosky has had to endure this spring, the gash on the bridge of the Maryland senior defenseman's nose is the least painful because it was the result of a little celebration.

The wound opened in the fourth quarter of the seventh-seeded Terps' 10-7 victory over Denver in an NCAA tournament first-round game Saturday when Cinosky scored his first goal of the season - and second of his career - as part of Maryland's game-clinching 7-0 run.

"This is actually a bittersweet injury, because when you score a goal, everyone starts jumping on you," Cinosky said with a smile. "My helmet came down a little bit, and they kind of busted my nose open. But I'll take this kind of injury any day. ... It was pretty cool."

Cinosky is usually the one delivering, not receiving, the hits for the Terps (10-5), who take on second seed Virginia (13-3) in a quarterfinal tomorrow at noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Cinosky is the spark plug of a Maryland defense that ranks 12th in the country in goals allowed with opponents averaging just 7.7 goals per game. Of the eight teams left in the tournament, opposing teams have taken the fewest shots against Navy (380), Syracuse (408) and the Terps (465).

As the Terps' top shutdown defenseman, Cinosky has been asked to mark opponents' best playmakers. In Maryland's 15-7 loss to Duke on March 1, Cinosky limited 2007 Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Danowski to two goals.

North Carolina's Bart Wagner posted just a goal and an assist against Cinosky and Virginia's Danny Glading has registered zero goals and five assists in two meetings with Cinosky.

Both Cinosky and defensive coordinator Dave Slafkosky are quick to stress that Cinosky gets aid from teammates like seniors Ryne Adolph and Jacob Baxter (Severna Park) during those matchups. But Cinosky says he relished those types of assignments.

"I actually like having that responsibility," he said. "I definitely take pride in that, but it's not something that I worry about during the game."

ESPN analyst and 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Ward pointed out that Cinosky's value is even more pronounced when considering the Terps' plan of rotating junior Jason Carter and sophomore Brian Phipps (Severn) in the net.

"Usually, you look to a goalie to be the one who quarterbacks a defense," Ward said. "With a team switching goalies at halftime, it's kind of tough to develop that. But Maryland's defense has been playing great all year, and you have to credit Joe as being the guy who's kept it all together."

At 6 feet 3 and 225 pounds, Cinosky's bulk tends to mask his speed. His 45 ground balls are second on the team only to sophomore midfielder Bryn Holmes' 46, and Cinosky leads the team with 31 caused turnovers.

Slafkosky is petitioning head coach Dave Cottle to use Cinosky on the wings during faceoffs to give possession to Maryland.

"He has been our best player from beginning to end," Cottle said, adding that Cinosky has proved himself to be a first-team All American on defense. "I think he's been more consistent, and I think he's guarded better this year."

But befitting his modest persona, Cinosky balked when he was asked about being regarded as one of the best defensemen in the country.

"I can't accept that status with Ryne Adolph, Jake Baxter, Brian Farrell and basically everyone that plays defense - especially our goalies," Cinosky said. "I think the one thing we've focused on this year is being a team and sliding. It's not just me."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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