This Saturday at 6:30pm at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD, your Maryland Terrapins will face off against in-state rival Johns Hopkins for the 106th time. That's right, the greatest rivalry in all of lacrosse makes it way to the Charmed City's professional football stadium for the Smartlink Day of Rivals. These games mean more than just a simple win or loss. Coach Cottle played down the importance of the game saying "This game means an 8th win, a good seed in the NCAA tournament, and winning at a great venue. If we win it means that we were the best team in the stadium that day and hopefully we’ll learn to be the best team at the end of the year, win or lose." But in reality, this game is so much more for all the players. They are playing for their legacies at their schools. It's UMD-JHU that is remembered for the rest of the players' lives.
Although this series has been a bit lopsided this in the past decade, with the Blue Jays winning 8 of the last 10 games (and three strait), Maryland comes into this contest as the higher ranked team for the 3rd time in 4 years. In the entire history of the rivalry, the edge goes to Hopkins 67-37-. None of that matters Saturday night as the Terrapin seniors, including goalie Brian Phipps, get ready for their last shot at beating their arch nemesis.
This is easily one of the most youthful teams that coach Dave Pietramala has fielded in a long time. Hopkins has a 5-5 record on the season, which included a ridiculous stretch against Syracuse-UVA-UNC (the 3 top teams in lacrosse, which no team has had to do...kind of like Maryland's conference schedule). For the first time, more than half of the starting line up consists of freshman. Coach Pietramala has been very proud of his young team's willingness to listen and learn from the more-experienced players "They’re a phenomenal group of guys. They’ve been really energetic and respectful. They want to follow the older guys, they want to be led." After sitting behind senior keeper Mike Gvozden for 8 games this year, freshman goalie Pierce Bassett has started the past two games for Hopkins, a 16-7 win over Albany and an 11-7 loss to #2 UNC. He was also in goal against #10 Hofstra during a 14-6 loss. The young guns who are putting up points for the Blue Jays are Zach Palmer (10 goals, 4 assists) and John Ranagan (8 goals, 2 assists). Tucker Durkin has started all 10 games for Hopkins on the back line (18 GBs, 14 CTs).
Showing them how to play the right way is a trio of talented upper classmen. Attackman Steven Boyle (24 goals, 16 assists), Midfielder Michael Kimmel (14 goals, 12 assits), and Attackman Kyle Wharton (15 goals, 8 assists) lead Hopkins in scoring all with over 23 points. Boyle continues to climb the record books. With 149 career points, he's just 1 point away from being the 19th Blue Jay ever to have 150 points, and ranks 24th and 18th on the goals and assists lists respectively. Kimmel is 4th on the career assist list for midfielders who have donned a Hopkins jersey, trailing only Kevin Boland, Del Dressel, and Paul Rabil (who ripped the game winning shot in 2007 against the Terps in an 8-7 OT victory for Hopkins as they went on to win that years national title).
They anchor an offense that scores 10.8 goals a game and ranks 8th in the nation in terms of shooting percentage, connection on 108 of 319 shots for a .339%.
As a team, they are 22nd in the country under scoring defense, allowing 9.5 goals a game. Bassett has a 9.88 GAA with 18 saves made on the season, although he has only started 3 games.
Taking face-offs for Hopkins this year has been senior Michael Powers, and junior Matt Dolente. Powers has won 63 of his 118 face-offs, a .534% and Dolente has won half of his 94 face-offs. For those without a calculator near by, that is exactly 50%. This is always a key matchup when Maryland plays. Holmes really sparks the offense when he is winning the battle in the middle circle.
Hopkins Man-Up offense is not nearly as good as Maryland's. They have converted just 13 of 36 chances, for a pedestrian .361 conversion rate. If Maryland can keep those numbers down when the do commit penalties, it will give the senior class a great chance to finally get the monkey off their back and get a long-awaited victory over Johns Hopkins.
Stay tuned for a preview of Maryland and all the key matchups for this highly-anticipated prime-time showdown. If you can't make it out to the game, remember to listen to wmucsports.com for all the action. I can't wait to broadcast the game. It should be a great one! Go Terps!