February 23, 2013

Maryland Midfield Picks On Greyhounds Defense

Loyola midfielder Hawkins suspended for third straight game

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Rapid Reaction/Live Blog Replay

Maryland's John Haus paced the Terps with four goals and one assist in a 12-10 win over Loyola. In the national title game rematch on Saturday, the Maryland midfield took advantage of a Greyhounds' defense that was without star Josh Hawkins for the third straight game.

BALTIMORE — The top-ranked Maryland Terrapins came into Saturday's much-anticipated clash with No. 2 Loyola fully confident in their offensive midfield's ability to break down the Greyhounds' defense — whether or not it included Loyola defensive star Josh Hawkins.

As it turned out, Hawkins did not dress once again for the Greyhounds. Instead, the senior short-stick midfielder stood on the Loyola sideline for the third straight game while serving a disciplinary suspension.

And the Terrapins went to work against Loyola's depleted defensive midfield, with excellent results. With senior John Haus leading the way, Maryland's starting midfield scored seven goals, as the Terps put Loyola in a hole early and rolled to a 12-10 victory before 5,781 spectators on a chilly, drizzly afternoon at Loyola's Ridley Athletic Complex.

Before the third-largest crowd in Ridley history, in a contest matching the opponents from last year's NCAA championship game, the runner-up Terps had too much firepower for the defending champions to overcome. Maryland also had too much toughness between the pipes in the form of junior goalie Niko Amato.

Haus paced Maryland (3-0) with four goals and one assist, while junior Mike Chanenchuk (two goals) and fifth-year senior Jake Bernhardt (one goal, one assist) rounded out a huge day for Maryland's starting midfield, which shot 7-for-15. Behind a defense that forced 16 Loyola turnovers, Amato stuffed Loyola with 13 saves.

Senior midfielder Chris Layne led Loyola (2-1) with two goals and one assist. Eight other players scored one goal apiece for the Greyhounds, including senior attackman Mike Sawyer, who exemplified Loyola's offensive frustration with a 1-for-8 shooting day.

But the story of the day was Maryland's relentless pounding of Loyola's short-stick midfielders — including juniors Pat Laconi and Kyle Duffy — who could not stop Haus and Chanenchuk for much of the game. The Terps never trailed after Loyola opened the scoring, as Maryland answered with five straight goals in the first quarter and never looked back.

The sight of Hawkins standing on the Loyola sideline had to please Maryland. It has not been determined when Hawkins, still suspended for a violation of athletic department policy, will play his first game of the season.

"We have a lot of respect for Josh. We know what a great player he is," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "We didn't know if he would or wouldn't play. We had to prepare as if he was going to play. Our scout team [defense] played with six poles at times this week [in practice]. But we never say we can't dodge against anyone."

The Terps, who are averaging 17 goals through their first three games, dodged as they pleased at times. Eight of their 12 goals were unassisted. It got so bad that Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey pulled starting goalie Jack Runkel (two saves) four minutes into the second half, after senior attackman Kevin Cooper gave Maryland a 10-4 lead.

"We're happy we won... [But] our bar is set for ACC and national championships. No one is ever satisfied by a win in February or March."

— Maryland goaltender Niko Amato

Freshman goalie Jimmy Joe Granito gave the Greyhounds a lift, after Loyola switched to a zone defense. But there was too much ground for Loyola to make up. The Greyhounds got two goals in the last 50 seconds to make the score close, before Amato denied senior midfielder Davis Butts with 12 seconds to go with his final stop.

"I'm going to put this one squarely on me," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "We probably should have popped into a zone earlier. [Replacing Runkel] was about jump-starting our defense, jump-starting our sliding. I don't feel like we gave Jack a chance. [Too many Maryland shots] were from the doorstep."

With the physical, athletic Hawkins on defense, the Greyhounds usually are quite comfortable in a man-to-man alignment with little sliding required. Toomey said Hawkins' return is still to be determined.

"Josh will be back when he's ready to be back," Toomey said. "We've still got to determine some things as a university."

The Terps, who held a 7-3 lead at halftime and were never seriously threatened, downplayed the significance of the victory and any relation what happened in last year's title game — a 9-3 win by Loyola.

"This is a completely different year, and we have different guys and so do [the Greyhounds]," said Haus, who is benefitting from the aggressive shooting of Chanenchuk and the impressive return of Jake Bernhardt from a shoulder injury that ended his 2012 season.

"We try not to think about last year's championship game. We all respect Loyola's shooters and their offense," Amato said. "We're happy we won. We may see [the Greyhounds] down the road. Our bar is set for ACC and national championships. No one is ever satisfied by a win in February or March."

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