April 8, 2011

No Suspense This Time, Maryland Swamps Navy in Tillman's Return

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com

Maryland's Joe Cummings tries to advance to the cage the hard way during a rain-soaked, 10-4 Terps win Friday at Navy.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- For the better part of the past decade, whenever Maryland and Navy had squared off in men's lacrosse, the contest typically would go down to the final possession before the verdict was reached, and usually Navy had the last word.

On Friday night in heavy rain at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, No. 5 Maryland proved quickly how much it has separated from the unranked Midshipmen, who were overwhelmed early and absorbed a 10-4 thumping at the hands of the Terrapins.

In the 86th meeting between the two schools, Maryland won for only the third time in the past eight meetings, and did so with authority.

Behind two goals apiece from attackman Owen Blye and long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell, the Terps (8-2) scored six of the game's first seven goals, took a commanding, 7-2 lead at halftime, and were never threatened.

Navy (4-7) must beat archrival Army next week, then hopes to qualify for the Patriot League tournament, which the Mids must win in order to avoid their second consecutive losing season and their second straight NCAA tournament miss.

Last night marked the fewest goals Navy has produced in the Maryland series since the Mids managed three goals in 1957.

Dating to 1999, the Maryland-Navy game had been decided eight times by one goal.

There was no such suspense this time around.

"The Maryland-Navy game is always something you circle on the schedule," Farrell said. "We're always going to come out on fire in a game like this. We stayed calm and really focused. We stayed ahead of the game."

It was a night of mixed emotions for John Tillman, Maryland's first-year coach, who returned to the playing field in Annapolis for the first time since leaving the Navy program in 2007 after 12 years as an assistant.

Tillman had spent the past three seasons as head coach at Harvard, before replacing Dave Cottle in College Park last year.

Then, after a pre-game ceremony honoring former Navy lacrosse player and 2004 graduate Brendan Looney – he was a lieutenant in the Navy SEALs who was one of nine U.S. military killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan in September – Maryland showed its poise.

Navy coach Richie Meade speaks with the Looney family following a pre-game ceremony Friday which honored former Navy lacrosse player Brendan Looney, a lieutenant in the Navy SEALs who was one of nine U.S. military killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan in September.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

"It felt weird. It was a really hard week. I wasn't really looking forward to the game," Tillman said.

"I have so many great relationships here. I will never want Navy to lose. You want them to succeed. It just seemed awkward all week."

Maryland wasted no time bringing its weapons and athleticism to bear, as four different Terps scored within the game's first five minutes to put the Mids in a 4-1 hole.

The disparity between the two teams was obvious during that opening stretch, and beyond.

Three Terps scored after beating a defender, drawing no help, and hitting shots easily in unassisted fashion. Eight of Maryland's goals were unassisted.

Attackman Ryan Young started it off by leaving defenseman Michael Hirsch in the soggy turf, before curling around the right side of the crease and finishing with a lay-up barely two minutes into the contest.

Midfielder Joe Cummings made it 2-0 by burying an eight-yarder from the left wing with 11:55 left in the first quarter.

And after midfielder Jay Mann got Navy on the scoreboard with a 10-yard runner down the right alley, Terps midfielder Snider broke free on the right wing and nailed an eight-yard shot to make it 3-1 with barely four minutes gone.

Bernhardt quickly answered at the 10:07 mark by converting a six-yard score, off a slick dodge-and-dish from Catalino. That made it 4-1 with 10:07 left in the quarter, and the tone had been firmly set.

By the end of the first quarter, Navy had a 6-1 lead, had outshot the Mids, 14-3, and had won the ground ball battle, 12-5.

Navy's only consolation was it stopped the bleeding at the defensive end from there, but the Mids could generate hardly any offense.

Only 10 of Navy's 33 shots were on goal. Maryland spent much of the second half holding the ball on offense, repeatedly drawing stall warnings.

"I thought we were ready. Maybe we were too ready, maybe we were too pumped up," Navy coach Richie Meade said. "We were getting our asses kicked, and we tried to crawl our way back. [Maryland] came out ready to play Navy. Unfortunately, Navy was 10 minutes late for the game."

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