- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

First-year Maryland lacrosse coach Dave Cottle wants his Terrapins to run and establish a fastbreak mentality.
That is, eventually.
Cottle, who coached at Loyola in Baltimore the last 19 years, has only a handful of offensive weapons this season. The team he inherited from Dick Edell, who coached Maryland for 18 seasons before retiring in September because of health reasons, is heavy on defense, and thin on offense. As such, Cottle's 2002 Terps, who are ranked sixth in the coaches poll, will play to their physical strengths.
"This is as strong a defensive team as I have been around," said Cottle, whose Terps play host to Hobart today in the opening game for both teams. "I'm just hoping we can get to 10 [goals] every game."
This is not the type of attitude one would expect from one the top offensive minds in Division I lacrosse entering a season. But Cottle's brief tenure at Maryland has been anything but normal.
From his first day on campus, Cottle faced opposition from his players as the team protested against the athletic department's decision to hire him, and refused to practice.
"It was a rocky beginning, to say the least," Cottle said. "After the first day, the kids have done everything asked of them. When you come down to a situation, [the players] want to make sure you're a good coach. They helped me, and now it's my job to help them [win games]."
Towson coach Tony Seaman, one of Cottle's long-time friends in the sport, believes Cottle's steadfast beliefs and philosophy helped him handle this adversity.
"Coach Cottle didn't change one bit," said Seaman, whose Tigers are ranked fourth by the coaches. "He's been successful at every level of lacrosse, and the kids are finding out real quick he can coach and knows a lot more lacrosse [than they thought]."
Cottle's initiation into the Maryland program was aided by his choice of assistant coaches. He retained assistants Dave Slafkosky whom many players wanted as coach and Jon Stainbrook. Slafkosky was Edell's assistant for all of the latter's 18 seasons.
With familiar faces around the team, players began to believe in Cottle's system and Cottle himself.
"It was a tough beginning," defenseman and captain Andy Burman said. "[Slafkosky and Stainbrook] were very important to ease the process."
But even with them on board, Cottle has made it clear that these Terps will reflect his style of play. Cottle has adjusted the offense considerably, and no player has been immune.
Consider:
Mike Mollot, the quarterback behind the net on attack the past two years, has been moved to first-team midfield.
Senior captain Mike LaMonica, who played midfield the last three years, will start on attack.
Junior faceoff specialist Ryan Moran will see limited time in the circle compared with the past two seasons in an attempt to utilize his stick skills. Cottle moved him from defensive to offensive midfield.
Midfielder Nate Watkins, known for his punishing hits, will run with the first-team midfield because of his size and speed.
"We're still tinkering," Cottle said. "We're trying to share the ball and just to play, instead of running plays. When you teach new things, understanding an offense and new positions [takes time]."
These moves by Cottle are an attempt to have his top six offensive players on the field and gain matchup advantages against short-stick defenders. Cottle's offensive philosophy starts with the midfield, whereas Edell believed in a strong attack.
"They've gone from having one of the best coaches in the country to one of the best coaches [in the nation]," Seaman said. "It's a nice transition."


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