Maryland's Grant Catalino (1) is congratulated by teammates… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
COLLEGE PARK — — If third-ranked Maryland was out to prove its lack of a post-ACC tournament hangover Saturday, mission accomplished.
Looking as sharp as they have all season, the host Terrapins bounced back from last weekend's loss to Virginia with a dominant performance against Fairfield, scoring the game's first eight goals and holding the Stags without so much as a shot for the first 11:21 in a 17-4 victory.
"We really wanted to boost our confidence again," sophomore Joe Cummings said. "We came out and showed everyone that we're back. We didn't literally lose a step."
Grant Catalino scored a game-high four goals and Cummings (Loyola) had three, as Maryland posted its most lopsided victory since defeating Presbyterian by 15 to start the 2009 season. More importantly for head coach Dave Cottle, it was the team's first real blowout this season, and a valuable opportunity to get playing time for reserves heading into the upcoming NCAA tournament.
"We've talked about all year how we haven't been able to get a lot of guys in the game," Cottle said. "At halftime we were close, and if we could just play pretty well in the third quarter we'd get a chance."
Fairfield (8-5), coached by former Maryland assistant Andy Copelan, had entered the day sporting one of the nation's top defenses, holding opponents to an average of just 7.4 goals per game. It took the Terps (10-3) until just midway through the second quarter to score eight, and by late in the third they had built their lead to 15-1.
Stags goalie Joe Marra, who led the nation in save percentage, could do little against wave after wave of Maryland attacks. By halftime, the Terrapins had outshot Fairfield, 30-9.
"We were a little more athletic than them … and we had a chance to run," Cottle said. "When we get transition opportunities, it doesn't matter who's in goal. We had a lot of four-on-threes, three-on-twos, two-on-ones. You leave a goalie out to dry there."
Meanwhile, the Terps' defense held Fairfield scoreless for a span of 25:07 as Maryland built a 15-1 lead by late in the third.
"You never know how a team is going to react to a loss, and so we didn't know what we were going to see," Cottle said. "You just play the game and try to get better, and we're better today."