- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 16, 2006

BALTIMORE — Maryland’s lacrosse program was troubled all week as it tried to fix its suddenly anemic offense after two straight losses.

The Terrapins ultimately slowed it down last night at Johns Hopkins and wound up running away with a shockingly easy victory.

Joe Walters scored six goals and added two assists as the No. 7 Terps shut down the No. 6 Blue Jays 11-4 before 9,778. It marked Maryland’s first victory over Hopkins at Homewood Field since 1996 and most lopsided victory at Hopkins since 1976.

“This is great for us,” said Walters, who set a career high with eight points. “The seniors haven’t won against Hopkins in four years, and there’s no better way to go out than beat them on their home field. It’s definitely something special.”

Maryland (7-3), which had not defeated Hopkins since 2001, snapped a two-game losing streak and earned its largest margin of victory over the Blue Jays (5-4) since a 16-8 win in the 1995 NCAA semifinals.

The Terps, sloppy and disjointed while combining to score 11 goals in consecutive losses to Virginia and Navy, came out with both poise and a plan. Maryland dominated possession, holding the ball for 19:38 in the first half and 42:32 for the game.

Maryland intelligently poked and prodded the Hopkins defense, refusing to cave into the Blue Jays’ usual demands of taking ill-advised shots from the outside. Walters seamlessly was involved in almost all of it, mixing in dodges, charges from around the cage, long-range shots and slick passing to bury the Blue Jays.

Walters had three goals and two assists at the break, and it almost appeared effortless. Senior midfielder Bill McGlone scored back-to-back goals to make it 7-2 early in the third quarter, and Brendan Healy snapped out of an 0-for-27 slump with a goal wedged between Walters’ final three goals in the second half.

“We just played smarter tonight than we played for most of the year,” senior midfielder Xander Ritz said. “We tried to probably play like a team we might not have been. Tonight, we just played within ourselves.”

The bonus of the Terps’ offensive efficiency was keeping the ball away from Hopkins stars Jake Byrne, Kevin Huntley and Paul Rabil. The three combined for a goal and an assist while shooting a collective 1-for-9, and one of the few highlights for Hopkins was the return of sophomore midfielder Stephen Peyser from a broken jaw.

The defense, meanwhile, grew progressively weary as the Blue Jays committed seven turnovers in the first half while eschewing the fundamental play that characterized Hopkins’ style in recent seasons.

“We play like this against anybody, we’re not going to win,” Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “We have to play better. This week, it isn’t about Navy. We have to clean up our own house. … I don’t know if we have to go back to the drawing board. We have to go back to being disciplined.”

Maryland’s goaltending mini-mystery was solved when Harry Alford trotted out to the crease to start. Alford was yanked a week earlier against Navy in the first quarter but was solid when necessary last night. Alford made nine saves.

The Terps craftily massaged possession, passing with a precision that was sorely lacking the last two weeks, and for the most part kept it away from Alford and the rested defense. The Terps cleared it efficiently — 13-for-15 in the first three quarters — to avoid the foolish errors that so irked coach Dave Cottle.

It all added up to a rare bludgeoning at Homewood — it was Hopkins’ worst home loss since a 14-5 pummeling against Loyola in 1999 — and a victory that should reverse the Terps’ recent slide.

“We just needed a win. When you go two weeks without winning, you start to get on each others’ nerves a little bit …,” Cottle said. “We’ve been knocking on the door with the senior class, and this was a sweet win. It’s a win that matters at a place that’s hard to win @, and we’re very happy with it.”

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