Maryland's Brett Schmidt looks to keep frustrating North Carolina's Bitter

Terps, hosting Tar Heels Saturday, might get midfielder Burns back

March 24, 2011|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Few opposing defensemen have rattled North Carolina senior attackman Billy Bitter the way Brett Schmidt has.

The Maryland senior held Bitter without a point and caused four turnovers in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal April 23, 2010. The only other time Schmidt and Bitter have tangled was April 24, 2009. That day, Bitter recorded three goals and two assists but also committed four turnovers — three of which were credited to Schmidt.

But Schmidt took the diplomatic approach when talking about potentially tangling with Bitter again when the No. 7 Tar Heels visit the No. 6 Terps on Saturday at Byrd Stadium.

"We've always had a great team defense that knows how to play against UNC's offense," Schmidt said Tuesday. "I think we just stick to our game plan. We did that last year, and we had pretty good success. So we'll see."

Asked whether he noticed anything about Bitter's game that contributes to Schmidt's success, he shrugged off the question, saying: "I just watched film and prepared last year. I don't really know if there's anything specific I'd want to say, but I'm just playing defense. I know that I have everyone behind me for help when I need help. We just had a great plan last year."

Bitter, a two-time first-team All American, has been overshadowed by the play of freshman attackman Nicky Galasso and sophomore midfielder Marcus Holman (Gilman), but his 12 goals and eight assists suggest that he will still be a formidable test. Schmidt, who leads Maryland in ground balls (33) and caused turnovers (17), acknowledged that being backed by fellow senior defensemen Max Schmidt (no relation) and Ryder Bohlander gives him a little leeway to be aggressive.

"They're my roommates, and I trust them 100 percent," said Brett Schmidt, who has been matched up against Bitter, Virginia midfielder Shamel Bratton, Navy midfielder Andy Warner and former Johns Hopkins attackman Tom Palasek. "That's been a strength for our defense this year, just believing in each other and trusting each other. So that's definitely comforting that I have those guys right next to me on the field."

Terps on the mend

Speaking of Maryland, coach John Tillman confirmed a Lacrosse Magazine report that senior short-stick defensive midfielder Dan Burns (back) might make his 2011 debut Saturday.

"I'm pretty optimistic that he could be out there on Saturday, but I don't know what his conditioning situation is," Tillman said Thursday about Burns (Severna Park). "But we're certainly excited about trying to get him out there. If everything looks good tomorrow, we'll give him a go. If he's not quite ready, we'll wait another week. But I'm excited for him."

Tillman sounded slightly less optimistic about senior attackman Travis Reed (Boys' Latin), who has missed back-to-back starts since injuring his left shoulder in the team's 8-4 win against Towson on March 12.

"He's got to prove to us that he's got the range of motion and strength," Tillman said of Reed, who returned to practice this week. "We're not going to put him in a spot where he could hurt himself."

Ford expected back next week

Stevenson's comeback bid that fell short in Wednesday night's 14-13 loss to top-ranked reigning national champion Tufts might have been exacerbated by the absence of fifth-year senior attackman Richie Ford, who left in the second quarter after pulling a hamstring.

"When you lose an attackman of that caliber — and he was making some plays, he was putting some heat on early on — losing him hurt," Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said of Ford (Towson), who had ranked third on the team in goals (15) and points (22) entering the contest. "We had to adjust a little bit. And that's what happens when you're nine games into the season. Guys start to get banged up. We'll get him back in about a week."

Loyola could be missing two

Loyola senior faceoff specialist John Schiavone and fifth-year senior midfielder Chris Palmer are doubtful for Saturday's game at Mount St. Mary's after suffering concussions in the Greyhounds' 12-8 loss to No. 15 Denver on March 15. Neither player made the trip to Colorado for the team's 8-6 loss to Air Force on Saturday, nor have they returned to practice this week.

But coach Charley Toomey expressed his confidence in junior J.P. Dalton's ability to fill in if Schiavone, who has won 52 of 91 faceoffs (57.1 percent). Dalton (St. Mary's) won 10 of 16 in Saturday's loss.

"He stepped in, and I do believe our faceoff coach [volunteer assistant Steve Vaikness] does his job in a terrific way of preparing whoever we throw out there," Toomey said.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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