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April 14, 2010

Lambrecht: Questions Linger for Maryland

by Gary Lambrecht | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Lambrecht Archive

Coming into the 2010 men’s lacrosse season, the biggest question surrounding the University of Maryland men’s lacrosse team was the Terrapins’ midfield.

Would this unproven unit emerge to take pressure off the attackmen that have carried Maryland in the recent past?

Was there a star hidden in this group, someone who could create his shot by dodging and penetrating and forcing defenses to slide early?

Was there an intimidating presence up top that would make opposing defenses react to him and create more shooting lanes for the other Terps?

Following No. 4 Maryland’s 11-9 victory over visiting, unranked Navy on Saturday, those questions linger.

Despite being crushed in face-off and ground-ball play and getting out-shot by a whopping 43-25 margin, and despite playing a ton of defense as it has for much of its disappointing season, Navy (5-6) was never out of this game.

And in the end, with Navy goalie P.J. Wickham racking up 17 saves in a heroic effort for the Midshipmen, Maryland (7-2) needed its much-advertised attack to stop a two-game losing streak and rescue the Terps from a damaging upset.

The Terps needed atackmen Grant Catalino, Travis Reed and Ryan Young to do the offense’s heavy lifting again, this time by combining for eight goals and 13 points.

Catalino (three goals) and Reed (four goals) did what they do best -- use screens to slip into the open wing areas eight to 10 yards from the cage, then catch and shoot. Young, the engine of the offense and clearly the team’s best dodger and feeder, lowered the boom with a goal and four assists.

As for the midfield, Maryland got a goal each from Joe Cummings, Dan Burns and Owen Blye. The Terps got serviceable, workmanlike play from its three lines, just nothing earth shattering, nothing that left a dramatic mark on the action.

Granted, Maryland was missing 6-foot-5 Will Yeatman, who sat out after having surgery to repair a broken thumb and could return for Saturday’s game against Johns Hopkins.

But Yeatman, who leads Maryland’s midfielders with 13 points, has scored seven of his 11 goals in only two games. He also played lots of attack during a four-goal outburst in a recent, 11-10 loss to Virginia, which scored the game’s first six goals.

Some might say Maryland has depth and underrated balance in its midfield. The way I see it, the Terps are good enough there to manage against decent competition, good enough to produce against teams they should beat.

But in order to catapult to the Division I elite status occupied by Virginia, Syracuse and North Carolina, Maryland -- not the best defensive team by any stretch -- needs to be more balanced on offense, needs to get more shots and production from its midfielders.

Through nine games, including easy wins over Bellarmine, Towson, Penn and UMBC, Cummings (nine goals), Adam Sear (eight goals) and Jake Bernhardt (seven) are averaging barely one point per contest. Drew Snider (eight points) and John Haus (seven points) are next in line.

Somone from this group must step up and play some big-time lacrosse down the stretch, be a difference-maker. If not, the Terps at best will remain the best of the game’s second-tier teams, and will be left a step behind the elite.

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