Since coach Dave Pietramala took over the reigns at Johns Hopkins 10 years ago, the Blue Jays have dominated the Maryland Lacrosse landscape. They are riding a 23 game win streak against foes from the Old-Line State. The last loss came in 2006 against the Terps. Hopkins has a 46-2 record against teams from MD. In fact, both losses came against the Terps.
Both the Blue Jays and Terrapins have played daunting schedules. The difference is that Maryland has beaten top 10 teams this year. Hopkins is 0-5 against the best of the best in 2010. Their only win against a ranked opponent came against Hofstra (currently #11). Maryland took down a ranked Georgetown team and current #5, Duke.
No matter how much we dissect the past, and try to see who has the upper hand based on the location of the game, or what team is coming into the game on a hot-streak (both teams just snapped losing streaks of 4 for JHU and 2 by the team from College Park)...it's all about the players.
Catalino seems to have broken out of his slump. Coming up empty-handed against UVA and scoring a late, meaningless goal against UNC in back-to-back losses, Grant scored his hat trick against Navy in just 2:28. His talent and ability to score at will (when he decides to step up) is big reason why he is a 2010 nominee for the Tewaaraton Trophy. He leads the team with 34 points this year, but he needs to bring a high level of intensity every game, and every time he steps onto the field. The team has shown that they can hang with UVA and UNC without Catalino making an impact, but it would be much easier with him.
Travis Reed had 4 goals against Navy and an assist after he was also held scoreless against the Wahoos. Yeatman's absence (broken thumb) hurts the Terps' size up top, but Reed has proved that he is worthy of playing alongside All-American Ryan Young and the face of the offense, Catalino. As long as those two carry the Terps while Yeatman is out, the offense should continue to chug along.
The Extra-Man-Opportunity unit is still 2nd in the nation. They are 17-30 so far for a .567 conversion rate. Australian senior Adam Sear has 5 goals with the EMO team and Joe Cummings has tallied 4 goals with the man-up group. If Maryland continues to shoot the ball that well, they have a great shot at getting the first win against Hopkins for the senior class.
On the defensive side, Farrell leads the way as the Terps 2nd Tewaaraton Trophy nominee. A junior captain, Farrell's return has sparked the defense which has been the team's steady hand, though the stats might say otherwise.
Farrell has caused 15 turnovers this year and has 31 ground balls. Farrell's biggest strength is his ability to push the ball into the offense end of the field after winning it in the defensive zone. He has 2 goals and 4 assists on the year, gaudy numbers for defensemen.
In goal, Phipps stick has been sensational. Phipps carries a 8.94 GAA and is making saves at an astounding .532 rate. The senior is enjoying the relaxed mind-set that comes from job security. For the first time of his decorated career, he is the lone starting gaolie donning a Terrapin uniform.
Brett Schmidt and Max Schmidt both have 21 groundballs on the year and have anchored UMD's backline. Unhearalded long pole, Ryder Bohlander, has 12 groundballs on the year himself. They have done a great job holding some of the top attack units below their season average (UNC failed to reach double digits and UVA "only" scored 11 goals, more than 3 below their season average). After giving up 13 goals to Georgetown in the first tough game of the year, the group has settled down and shifted much better. Their stick work has been tremendous and the short-stick-middies like senior Dean Hart, and Dan Burns have shown the ability to move up and down the field flawlessly.
I think the X factor in this game will be Jake Bernhardt. I love watching him play and run circles around opposing teams. They simply have no answer for him (aside from UVA possibly with the Brattons). He has 7 goals and 2 assists on the year, but at times, he can be the most dominant presence on the field because of his athleticism. Aggressive and fast, Jake uses his blazing speed to dodge multiple defenders at a time. If he can have an impact, bringing out Hopkins defenders, and opening up his teammates, Maryland will be that much better. We know the attack will be great if they play up to their potential. It's all about how the midfield will react to a prime-time game with the possibility of playing without Yeatman for the second straight game (his status is un-determined as of now, I believe he will be a game-time decision).
That's it until game time. Remember to listen to wmucsports.com for all the action. I will be up in the press box, taking in the game's Greatest Rivalry. Go Terps!
Great Photos from last year's game between Maryland and Johns Hopkins.