After Army defeated Navy for the 2nd time in 3 seasons in a riveting 7-6 victory (putting Navy in a bind after the Terps beat them last week in College Park), the Greatest Rivalry in Lacrosse took the field and was just as exciting.
Another slow start forced the Terrapins 8-2 (1-2) to play catch up for the rest of the game, adding to the pressure of not having beaten Johns Hopkins 5-6 (IND) for 3 years. But the team rallied in the second half and held on at the end as Hopkins staged a furious rally to leave M&T Bank Stadium victorious, 10-9.
Not one player in red had more than 2 goals or 3 points, a testament to the depth that this team has. "Our bench brings tremendous energy," said the Coach after getting the monkey off his back. And for the next 24 hours, Coach Cottle will let the team celebrate the huge win. However, this game wasn't described as THE rivalry. As much as possible, the team tried to treat it like just another game. I agree with Coach's comments after the game. Is this necessarily the best UMD rivalry? How about UVA? What about Duke [the most hated school by far for any Terp]? You can't have a rivalry when one team beats the other all the time. Plus, Cottle doesn't think these "rivalry" games define his coaching career. He was just so happy for the seniors to get the win; more so than for his coaching pedigree.
But for Brian Phipps and the senior class, they focused on the team success over the individual accomplishment. "Growing up a Maryland fan, you always root against Hopkins, it feels really good to win." Phipps is one of several Maryland lacrosse players with family ties to the school and it's storied lacrosse program.
Maryland fell behind early, 3-1 in the first period, getting a lone goal from Grant Catalino, and held it together during the second 15 minutes to pull within 4-3.
Although they were prone to penalties, reminiscent of the game last year against Hopkins in which the Terps had 10 yellow flags, while the Blue Jays only had 4, the Man-Down defense was spectacular. In the first half, Johns Hopkins was 0-6 on EMO chances. Brian Farrell and Brett Schmidt played at All-American levels, and the Terps won the decisive ground-ball battle 31-21. Cottle praised the effort of his team, winning the 50/50 balls in the second half. "We were out ground-balled in the first half, we out ground-balled them in the second half...it's a simple game...you get more ground balls, you shoot it better, you play tough, you win."
Maryland opened the game wide open coming out with a vengence in the 3rd as the seniors did not want to leave Raven Stadium losing for the 4th time in just as many tries against their arch rival...who just happened to be riding a 19-win streak when leading at half time. But since September workouts in the weight room, the motto has been to Finish Strong. "It's very easy to coach a group of kids who work this hard." And they needed every bit of composure when Hopkins started to fight back after going down 10-7 in the 4th.
Junior Captain Brian Farrell pointed to the earlier game against Duke, also played in the heart of the Charmed City, for how the Terps keep their cool. "We're a calm team, we always keep our heads up. If something bad happens, we get the next play."
Will Yeatman warmed up but was not in the starting line up. He provided an emotional lift for the offense and represents a match-up nightmare. Travis Reed, who had 2 goals and 1 assist himself called his teammate an insane athlete. That was never more relevant than on a sequence in the 4th quarter when he had 2 defenders riding him, then he stutter-stepped towards the sideline, turned around and raced past a 3rd defender and ripped a low shot as he fell to the ground.
However, it was the face-off battles that really sparked UMD's offense. Bryn Holmes was incredible and showed his great body control in the closing minute as he ran down the clock for an entire minute while dodging 2 Hopkins defenders, nursing a 1-goal lead. "That is the toughest son of a booger that any of us has been around in my coaching career."
Steven Boyle netted a hat trick for Hopkins and Michael Kimmel scored twice while getting 2 assists to lead the team with 4 points. But it wasn't enough to stop the overall team effort by Maryland.
Play resumes on Friday night against UNC in the ACC tournament. There is no automatic berth in the NCAA tournament at stake, but with an 8-2 record and a #4 ranking, the Terps are in a fantastic position. Besides, the finally shook off that gorilla in the room. Instead of letting Hopkins roll into this game with a record around .500 and then reel off win after win, it seems that Maryland picked up some momentum and can hopefully carry this into the conference and national tournaments.
More analysis from the game to come later in the week. Also, #5 Duke just defeated #1 Virginia 13-9 tonight in Charlottesville, VA.