Loss to Duke shows Maryland might not be elite

Terps coach Tillman trying to figure out his team's identity

March 07, 2011|Mike Preston

When No. 19 Duke upset No. 3 Maryland, 9-8, in overtime Saturday, there was mild surprise throughout college lacrosse, but not on the part of Terps coach John Tillman.

Despite Maryland's scoring 36 goals in its first two games, including a 20-8 drubbing of Georgetown a week earlier, Tillman expected a tough battle with the Blue Devils in Durham, N.C..

And he got one.

"If we played Georgetown 100 times, we wouldn't beat them by 12 goals in 99 of them," Tillman said. "This was our first road game of the year, and it was against the defending national champions, who were healthy for the first time."

"We kind of fell into the trap, and Duke played well," Tillman said. "They still have a who's who list of players, and they mixed some things up. We were prepared for it, but they still played well. We didn't play as well as I would have liked, but we were still only four seconds away from escaping with a victory."

After the first two games, there was talk about Maryland being a legitimate title contender, but that might have eased with the loss to Duke. Maybe Maryland isn't up there with Virginia or Syracuse.

Tillman, in his first season as coach, is content with the Terps' overall play but is still trying to figure out the personality of this team.

"You don't define yourself this early in the season," Tillman said. "You win games early, then you figure out who you are, your roles, what you do well and what you need to improve on to get better.

"We [are] still a team in transition and still learning. We have a new staff, and we've changed some things. We tried not to change too much to turn these guys into freshmen, but we've put some new schemes into place that we think can help us in the long run. We're adjusting, and we have a lot of confidence in this group."

Hawkins making strides

Loyola sophomore Josh Hawkins is quietly becoming one of the best defensive midfielders in the game. Hawkins, from Amherst, Mass., runs well and has great power.

When he cross-checks a player, he can knock him into next week. It's like having an offensive player on defense because he creates turnovers and can run the fast break.

The Greyhounds have another outstanding sophomore in attackman Mike Sawyer, who scored five goals in the Greyhounds' 9-6 win against Bellarmine on Saturday. He'll stay under the radar because school officials don't want Sawyer talking to the media yet about his suspension for the 2009 postseason and why he didn't return last season.

Shhhh, like no one in the lacrosse word really knows what happened.

Rough riding for Mustangs

A balanced offense and stellar defense have led Stevenson to the No. 2 ranking in Division III, but the Mustangs are about to enter a tough part of their schedule that includes No. 9 Lynchburg, No. 5 Roanoke, No. 4 SUNY Cortland and No. 1 Tufts.

"It's a tough stretch, but all you can do is take it one game at a time," Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene said. "We lost a few games from a year ago, so we added Tufts and we'll play them for a couple more years."

Pietramala makes right move

I liked when Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala refused to use his team's youth as an excuse after the Blue Jays were routed by Princeton, 8-3, on Saturday.

You can use that excuse at Towson or UMBC, but not at Homewood Field, where the Blue Jays get a legitimate shot at all the blue-chip players. Plus, inexperience is not an excuse for Princeton having a 38-21 advantage in ground balls.

It's all about determination and hustle. Most of these Division I kids have been picking up ground balls since they were 6.

Try it against the Terps

Towson routed Mount St. Mary's, 11-3, Saturday, and there were indications the Tigers had finally found their offense. Now, that's funny.

I think they should just find Mount St. Mary's every week. Let's see the Tigers put up 11 on Maryland on Saturday.

Tar Heels growing up quickly

No. 17 North Carolina has been hit hard by injuries, especially in the midfield, where the Tar Heels have lost eight players from a year ago. North Carolina is playing 10 freshmen regularly.

The Tar Heels, though, have enough talent to prevail, with freshman attackman Nicky Galasso, senior defenseman Ryan Flanagan and sophomore midfielder Marcus Holman. They have a good system and some smart players.

But there are questions about their goalkeeping and how tough this team will be at the end of the season.

"From our standpoint, we knew the strength of our recruiting and we knew it was up to us to bring in some guys who could play right away," coach Joe Breschi said. "This is our first recruiting class. They were squeezed into action early, and they are coming along quickly."

Lakers at the top

Boys' Latin has six players chosen as captains of their respective college teams, five of those in the Division I top 20. They are midfielders Brian Farrell (Maryland), Jack Dudley (Cornell), Adam Scharff (Bates); goalie Jake Hagelin (Loyola); and attackmen David Shriver (Georgetown) and Chris Boland (Johns Hopkins).

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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