- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2006

Senior Joe Walters knows Maryland’s perception among many in the lacrosse world, and he isn’t surprised. The Terrapins are viewed as a close-but-not-quite program, a regular staple among the nation’s top teams but never the best when May rolls around.

It’s actually somewhat appropriate for a program that hasn’t won a national title in more than three decades and was blown out in the final four last year. Yet armed with a veteran group, the Terps might have their best chance in quite a while to both win a championship and change the way their program is looked upon.

“We haven’t really made it to that big game, that last game,” Walters said. “We’ve come close. We’re definitely a team to look out for, but I think everyone thinks of Hopkins, Syracuse, Duke, Virginia. Those are the teams people talk about. Not so much Maryland. I like that because we can prove people wrong.”

The third-ranked Terrapins (11-6 in 2005) will try to start doing just that this afternoon when they visit No. 7 Georgetown (10-5 last season) in the season opener for both teams and a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals

The Terps won that game to advance to the final four, the cap to a bizarre season featuring a 5-5 start and a late six-game winning streak to secure a second consecutive ACC tournament title.

Maryland would rather avoid such uneven play this year.

“Even though we were a final four team, it didn’t feel like it,” senior midfielder Brendan Healy said. “We had a 5-5 season at one point and made it to the final four, but I don’t look back at last year and say, ‘We were a final four team.’ I look back and say, ‘We had some games that were close that we let get away,’ and those are the ones we have to capture this year.”

Healy and the senior-laden Terps hope an experienced offense will improve the team’s consistency. Healy, Bill McGlone and Xander Ritz, who played attack the last two years, probably will make up an all-senior top midfield line.

Walters, who needs 33 goals and 53 points to set school records in both categories, will again lead the attack, with Michael Phipps and Max Ritz also starting.

Unlike a year ago, there are few preseason doubts about the defense. Junior goalie Harry Alford is back for his second year as a starter, and Joe Cinosky, Ray Megill and Steve Whittenberg started together at the end of last season on close defense.

One concern could be faceoffs, a weakness for the Terps in recent years. Four players could rotate through as Maryland tries to top 52 percent at the X for the first time since 2002.

“We’re in favor of winning some this year,” coach Dave Cottle said.

Even if they don’t enjoy faceoff prowess, the Terps probably still will win plenty of games and take their usual spot in the postseason. However, that won’t satiate a program seeking its first national title since 1975.

“Last year, we made it to the final four, but I think we were happy to be there after everything that happened,” Healy said. “It was at the point where the team was satisfied to be in the final four, and it’s not a good feeling to be satisfied. … We have so much experience on this team and this is the last chance for a lot of us. We want nothing less than a national championship.”

Notes — Today’s game is Georgetown’s first at its Multi-Sport Facility and was pushed back to 2 p.m., about the same time the Georgetown-Syracuse basketball game will end. “We were hoping we could catch a fair amount of students coming back [by bus] from MCI Center since they get dropped off by the stadium,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “Hopefully we can grab the interest of those people and it’ll make for a better event.” … Urick said Scott Kahoe (shoulder) and Matt McBride (hip pointer) are ready for the opener. Senior midfielder Pete Cannon (thumb) was been limited in practice because of illness. “We expect him to play. It’s just a question of how effective he’ll be,” Urick said. … Cottle said McGlone (left hamstring pull) probably will play. “I think you’ll see him. How much you’ll see him, I don’t know,” Cottle said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide