March 30, 2014

Terps Tinker Offensive Look, Down ACC Rival Virginia

by Gary Lambrecht | | Twitter

Wearing special-edition uniforms, Maryland showed a new offensive look with midfielder Henry West (above) making his first career start and freshman Connor Cannizzaro shifting to attack.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Sophomore midfielder Henry West made his first career start Sunday for Maryland, while freshman Connor Cannizzaro shifted from midfield to attack, and those adjustments in the end paid huge dividends for the fifth-ranked Terrapins against No. 8 Virginia.

It just took a while for the Terps as a whole to find their rhythm against the Cavaliers. But once Maryland cleaned up its act after a turnover-prone first half, the Terps, with nice sparks from West and Cannizzaro, were off and running to a 9-6 victory before an announced crowd of 3,424.

In the 91st and last ACC regular-season meeting between the longtime rivals — Maryland is headed for the Big Ten in 2015 — the youngsters colored much of a good day for the Terps (8-1, 3-1 ACC). West scored three goals and added two assists, while Cannizzaro added two goals and an assist to put down the Cavaliers (8-3, 1-2).

On a day when Maryland fell behind 5-3 at halftime after committing 13 turnovers in the wet, breezy chill, the Terps eventually rode the steady faceoff dominance of senior Charlie Raffa (14-for-19).

The second half was all Maryland, which is now 47-44 all-time against Virginia. After halftime, the Terps out-scored the Cavs, 6-1, out-shot them, 23-9 and torched Virginia in the ground ball battle, 21-10, an edge that stemmed from Raffa's 7-for-9 show at the X.

"I'm very proud of the guys for grinding it out against a really good Virginia team. I'm proud of the way they responded at halftime," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "Our guys really hung in there, showed a lot of heart. On a not-so-great weather day, the guys found a way."

Maryland flexed its experience at the defensive end. Senior goalie Niko Amato, after struggling a bit early and giving up long-range shots by midfielders Rob Emery and Ryan Tucker, found the touch to finish with 10 saves. The close defense, led by sophomore Matt Dunn and junior Goran Murray, who held Mark Cockerton scoreless, held Virginia's starting attack to just two goals.

Early on, the Cavaliers' hard-cutting, picking offense caused some problems with Maryland's defensive switches. On top of that, the Terps were playing too much defense, due to their inability to hang onto the ball.

"Virginia is such a fast team. They pick you a lot," Dunn said. "You know their tendencies from watching film, but we got a better feel for what they were doing by playing them."

West, who transferred to Maryland from Cornell in January, had the right feel all afternoon. In the first half, when Maryland's known weapons were silent at the offensive end, West put an end to Virginia's game-opening, 4-1 run by scoring back-to-back goals on hard, step-down shots from 10-to-12-yard range to make it 4-3 with 2:44 left in the first half.

"I don't think you ever expect to get a hat trick or five points," said West, who benefitted from the attention Virginia paid to midfielders Mike Chanenchuk (one goal) and Joe LoCascio (one goal). "We were just focused on running the offense. It's a function of guys around me and coaches doing a great job."

After Virginia won the ensuing faceoff, Virginia attackman James Pannell scored his only goal of the game after taking a feed from wingman Nate Menninger to give the Cavs a 5-3 halftime lead.

And that would be pretty much it for Virginia, as the Terps came out of the locker room and dominated possession time. Maryland, which would own the ball for 20:30 of the second half, seized momentum by scoring four unanswered goals in the first 9:13 of the third quarter.

Two of those came from Cannizzaro, whose second score off of a feed from West gave Maryland a 6-5 edge with 7:48 to go – its first lead since Bryan Cole had scored the game's first goal.

West then completed his first career hat trick with 5:47 left to make it 7-5.

After Owen Van Arsdale closed the gap to 7-6 late in the third, LoCascio and freshman attackman Matt Rambo scored to cap Maryland's day.

"It was a bunch of little things [that went wrong]. Maryland really carried the play to us on the ground in the second half," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said.

"We just need to continue to get better. We've got to put a complete effort together at both ends of the field. There's no margin for error [in the ACC]. If you've got a weakness, you're going to be exposed."

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