May 27, 2012

UnCensered: Snider is Latest Senior Middie to Step Up in May

by Joel Censer |

Fifth-year senior captain Drew Snider hit a mid-season lull but after a change in practice habits he's refreshed this postseason. He pumped in four goals against Duke on Saturday.
© Bryce Vickmark

NCAA Division I Men's Semifinals

* Lusby, Defense Lead Loyola to Final Four | Runkel Stays Big
* Terps Top Duke as Moshpit Intensity Continues | Snider Steps Up | Live Blog Replay

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Unheralded senior midfielders have a way of showing themselves come Memorial Day. This old adage is true for a number of reasons. Most relevant, in postseason lacrosse, teams make you earn your goals in the half-field. So the guys who draw a short-stick are going to have to initiate offense, draw slides, and generate quality looks. Because playing midfield is often about experience and having some necessary physical prerequisites. It usually comes down to a few guys who have been around the block before.

Go back to the 2002 semifinals, and Syracuse second-line midfielder Tom Hardy scored on an invert dodge, in the second overtime no less, to put the Orange past the Wahoos in the championship game. Two years later (and forgotten in the Navy/Mikey Powell fawning), Hofstra transfer and fifth-year senior Kevin Dougherty — rocking the greatest handlebar mustache in the history of lacrosse — pumped in six points for Syracuse over three days. A year later, it wasn't Hopkins' Paul Rabil, Kyle Harrison or Matt Rewkowski scoring a couple early tallies against Virginia in semis, but a second-liner from Colorado named Joe Malo. The list goes on and on.

On Saturday afternoon, Maryland dropped 16 goals on ACC rival Duke with a pick-friendly, precision-passing offense generated mostly from behind the net. When you looked at the stat sheet, it was hard to not see Drew Snider's four goals staring right back at you.

Duke was supposed to have the advantage at offensive midfield. Prototype Robert Rotanz has been doing his overhand-to-a-pipe assault for the past couple weeks. Ditto for rangy senior southpaw Justin Turri, a preseason first team All-American, whom the Blue Devils were using behind the goal more often.

But it was the 6-foot, 175-pound Snider, who has never drawn a long-pole, much less many headlines, who ended up stealing the show. Scoring three straight goals from the end of the second quarter to midway in the third, the fifth-year senior from Seattle did it in a variety of opportunistic ways. He stepped into space to deposit one top shelf. He hitched hard to his right hand to get an angle on another. His fourth goal may have been the best of his career when he muscled his way hard left-handed, before eventually rolling back to let it go and find twine.

Of course, we should've seen this coming, right? A do-it-all, hard-working senior who spent the past two weeks skewering Lehigh and Johns Hopkins (three goals in both games) was going to continue to find his late-May stride right?

For Maryland coach John Tillman, Snider's outburst wasn't surprising and had more to do with circumstance than historical narratives. Snider was Maryland's best midfielder in the fall, and scored a point in every game until the Johns Hopkins game in April. That started a lull where Snider only put up five points over the next four games. But during the Terrapins stretch run throughout the NCAA playoffs, the senior has gotten healthier and looked rejuvenated.

"We backed off on practice time with him and rested him a little bit because we really felt like he was getting worn down and he didn't have the burst that he had before," Tillman said about Snider's mid-season quiet period. "He's getting fresh again."

Snider was humble, talking about how he's been helped by going through the playoff gauntlet a year earlier and playing with John Haus, who draws the pole. Not to mention how assistant coach Ryan Moran has helped mold him into a "complete player" who can step into space as effectively as dust a short-stick. And there's the whole leadership thing.

"I'm a fifth-year senior and a captain, and people are looking at me. So I got to take that on my shoulders and run with it," Snider said.

In May, it's about matchups, mojo, and making plays. Snider seems to have all those this postseason.

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