- The Washington Times - Friday, April 8, 2005

Navy has faced an abbreviated week of practice leading up to tonight’s game against No. 7 Maryland at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Yet five days after absorbing an 11-6 loss to Georgetown, the eighth-ranked Midshipmen (7-2) are eager for their shot at collecting back-to-back victories over the Terrapins (5-3) for the first time since 1980-81.

“The short turnaround may actually help us,” coach Richie Meade said. “When you play poorly, you just want to play again.”

Navy was shaky in many areas against Georgetown and ultimately doomed by its inability to maintain possession. The Mids lost the groundball battle 41-30 and were steamrolled at the defensive end by the Hoyas, who scored eight goals from inside 10 yards.

“They were ready to come,” Navy goalie Matt Russell said. “We didn’t show up with our game. Against any team in D-I, if they come and you don’t, they’re going to come and kick your [butt].”

Maryland is coming off a 10-2 loss at Virginia, the third straight time the Terps have been held to fewer than 10 goals. It was the fewest by Maryland since a 7-2 loss at Virginia in 2001 and the lowest output for a Dave Cottle-coached team since Penn defeated his Loyola squad 14-1 in 1984.

The Terps have been in control at times, particularly in the season-opening defeat of Georgetown. At others, Maryland’s youth — it starts one senior — has been evident.

“Inconsistent play is more due to inexperience, not lack of effort, hustle or toughness,” Cottle said. “We’ve made half a play an awful lot.”

Like many other teams this season, the Terps have struggled with their offensive efficiency. They are shooting just 24.5 percent and averaging nearly two goals fewer than a year ago.

“We have to take better shots and take better advantage of our opportunities,” Cottle said. “Good teams find a way to win when they don’t shoot well. If it’s basketball, you get them to get offensive rebounds. In lacrosse, you have to get groundballs, and you have to keep getting pressure on the defense. We haven’t done that.”

Both teams could use a big victory to bolster their respective NCAA tournament resumes. More importantly, both simply would like to shake off uncharacteristic performances from a week ago.

“I’m viewing Maryland as an opportunity to show how much we’ve improved in the last week and that Georgetown was an aberration,” Meade said. “I do think Maryland’s kind of in the same situation. They’re a good team, but maybe they’re not playing as well as they’d like to. It’s obviously a big game for both teams.”

Defense holds for Virginia

While Maryland and Navy continue searching for consistency, No. 3 Virginia (7-1) bounced back nicely from its loss at Johns Hopkins two weeks ago. Goalie Kip Turner made nine saves in the Cavaliers’ rout of Maryland last week, anchoring another solid performance from a defense that has yielded 10 goals only once this season.

“If there’s one piece of our game that’s exceeded our expectations, it is our defense,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia. “I thought we were OK [in goal], but you’re never completely sure after losing a Tillman Johnson. I also wasn’t sure we had a first team All-America-caliber defensemen, and Michael Culver and Steve Holmes and Rob Bateman are playing very well, and our short sticks have been excellent. The sum may be better than the parts.”

The Cavaliers play host tomorrow to North Carolina (2-6), a desperate team that can afford to lose only one more game and still remain in the NCAA tournament hunt.

Stick checks

Navy will play host to the Army-Navy Lacrosse Charity Classic next Friday at 7 p.m. at Rip Miller Field. All proceeds from the alumni game will benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which donates all of its contributions to families of soldiers killed in action. Donations can also be made at fallenheroesfund.org. …

Top-ranked Johns Hopkins (7-0) will go for its program-record 32nd straight home victory when it plays host to No. 2 Duke (11-0) tonight at Homewood Field. The Blue Jays tied the record with a 19-6 rout of Albany on Tuesday.

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