Archives for posts with tag: college lacrosse

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

The Maryland Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse teams have made Memorial Day Weekend an annual tradition lately:  while coach Cathy Reese’s team has reached 10 straight Final Fours John Tillman’s guided his program to five straight and seven of eight National Semifinal rounds.  Each team stands one win away from getting back to the last weekend of the season, although their paths to this point have been markedly different. The Maryland Women entered the tournament as the #1 seed-even with their loss in the Big Ten Tournament to Northwestern-and their road to the Final four goes through the friendly confines of Maryland Stadium (construction has moved the team from the Maryland Field Hockey Lacrosse Complex this season).  The Maryland Men entered the tournament off consecutive losses to arch-rival Johns Hopkins and were the only unseeded team to advance past the first weekend. Their road to the Final Four involves a trip to Towson (and a 14-13 overtime win last Sunday) and now a neutral site-game against a favored foe.

 

Maryland Men (12-4) vs. No. 3 Virginia (14-3), noon, Hempstead NY, ESPNU.  None of the seniors on this team were in the program when these two schools were annual ACC foes, but junior Jared Bernhardt knows better. “I remember watching this game when my brothers (Jake and Jesse) were here.  Definitely a huge rivalry in the ACC. It (still) means a lot-you know obviously we’re not in the ACC anymore, but it’s a big game.”  Bernhardt leads the Terps with 47 goals this season and had two against Towson-including the season-saving score with three seconds left in regulation.  Senior Louis Dubick scored the game-winner that afternoon, and the third-generation Terp doesn’t have to be taught the Terps-Cavaliers history. “My grandfather’s name is above my locker, and my dad’s (name) is above the locker next to me.”  I’m sure both have filled him in on the Terrapins’ onetime nearest ACC neighbor.

Rivalry or not, the Cavaliers boast a high-octane offense that ranks fifth in the nation in scoring.  “They have great parts:  very athletic, very dynamic. I wouldn’t say they’re the most complicated team- but that’s a credit to Virginia,” Tillman said, “They kind of line up and they play. And you have to stop them. They’re a hard team to stop.” Get used to these guys, too: sophomores Matt Moore (38 goals and 39 assists) and Ian Laviano (43 goals) are leading the Cavaliers in points and goals, respectively.

 

No. 1 Maryland Womens (19-1) vs. Denver, 7 p.m. College Park, BTN.  The Explorers may be unseeded, but they aren’t unranked. At number 17 in the nation, they’re the ninth straight ranked foe for the Terps and also bring the top scoring defense (6.79 goals allowed per game) into College Park.  But Maryland is fresh from disposing of Stony Brook, who play zone defense as well. “They’re zone’s different than Stony Brook-but Denver does it and does it well,” said coach Cathy Reese (who incidentally got her first head coaching job with the Explorers from 2004-06).

After falling behind 4-0 against the Seawolves and 10-4 in the Big Ten Tournament Finals, coach Reese is looking for a stronger start this time.  “We’re focusing on moving the ball -working as a unit offensively and making sure we’re looking for the right feed, right look,” sophomore midfielder Grace Griffin said, “Even if the first look isn’t there that we’re looking for the second look and really working the defense and finding those gaps.” Griffin ranks fifth on the team with 38 goals and 47 points;  senior Jen Giles and graduate student Erica Evans have 53 goals apiece to pace an attack that averages 15.95 goals per game (fifth best in Division I).  And while the major storyline may be how the Terps try to solve Denver’s D, Maryland ranks third in the nation in scoring defense.  Could we see a defensive duel under the lights at Maryland Stadium?

Advertisements

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM

 

It takes a special team to win a National Championship in Men’s College Lacrosse.  Just ask Maryland.  The Terps advanced to 19 Final Fours in between its 1975 and 2017 only to be thwarted one way or another by the Syracuses and Johns Hopkins of the world.  Last year’s title squad won three of its four tournament games by three goals or fewer.  Come May the little things become big and the big things become huge.  It takes a special group to win four games over three weekends.

The Terrapins head to Foxborough, Massachusetts for the Final Four on the strength of the best Special Teams combination in Division I:  Maryland ranks 2nd in Man-Up Offense (lacrosse’s equivalent of hockey’s power play) and 5th on Man-Down Defense (the lax version of the penalty kill).  Of the other three schools playing this weekend, only Duke has a specialty unit ranking in the top ten (6th on Man-Up Offense).  Coach John Tillman said, “We devote a lot of time to special teams–we feel like it’s a big part of any game. I do think it could be a big part this weekend.”

In charge of the two units are the Terrapin assistant coaches.  J.L. Reppert primarily works with the offense and has made the Man-Up Unit into a force that scores on 58% of its opportunities.  Coach Tillman said, “On the offensive end we have typically six really skilled kids out there– that group has great chemistry.  Coach Reppert’s done an awesome job putting the pieces together.”  Reppert’s grown into his role with the senior class.  Senior Midfielder Connor Kelly said, “I think we just have a group that’s really smart with and without the ball. With coach Reppert being in his fourth year he’s helped us out in preparation…and we’ve been thrown at us a bunch of different looks (by opponents).”

Sophomore attacker Jared Bernhardt leads the team with seven Man-Up goals, but Kelly (45 goals overall this year) receives a huge portion of the defense’s attention–much to the delight of the coaching staff. “When they take Connor away it takes the whole situation from a 6-on-5 to a 5-on-4,” Tillman said,”Connor’s presence is huge for that–and then it’s just having guys zip the ball around and have good spacing.and those guys are so unselfish.”  After losing championship games as a freshman and sophomore before last May’s title, the captain is more than happy to share the offensive wealth if results in a repeat of 2017.  Kelly said, “If we just keep moving it…any guy on that man-up unit is able to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Directing the Man-Down Defense that denies foes on 78% of opportunities is 2013 graduate Jesse Bernhardt.  The 2012 ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Year returned to College Park last summer after successful stints at Rutgers and Princeton, and has made an instant impact at his Alma Mater.  Senior goalie Dan Morris said, “He puts in a great scheme for us and gets us ready for every game.  We have guys who have good sticks who are really good on man-down.  Our unit’s a pretty close group and they do what they do well.”  Senior co-captain Bryce Young along with junior Curtis Corley anchor a Man-Down crew that is as stingy as the Man-Up is efficient.

How many times both units will be tested this weekend is anyone’s guess.  In two tournament games thus far the Terps have committed four penalties while being in the Man-Up just once (freshman phenom Bubba Fairman scored against Cornell).  Will we see the refs swallow their whistles in Foxborough?  “Historically the later you go the more they let you play, which i think most coaches would like,” coach Tillman said, “I think you’re talking about four teams that have gotten there for a reason and you’re getting the best officials.  My gut is it will be a more physical weekend.”  The Terps face former ACC foe Duke at 2:30 p.m on Saturday.

 

The other semifinal pits #2 Albany (16-2) against #3 Yale (15-3) at noon Saturday.  The Great Danes lead the nation in scoring and winning faceoffs while the Bulldogs rank fourth in goals per game.  Albany’s Achilles has been a man-down unit that is the most generous of teams playing this weekend (52nd in Division I).