- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2006

Brendan Healy arrived for practice 45 minutes early several times this spring simply to shoot. And shoot.

And shoot some more. Anything to help the Maryland midfielder break out of a nearly season-long slump.

It is a typical approach for Healy, and one that is paying off at an ideal time. The senior has more than doubled his scoring output in the last three games as the second-seeded Terrapins (10-4) enter today’s NCAA tournament first round game against Denver (12-4) at Byrd Stadium.

“Brendan’s like a pitching machine. He just keeps going and going. He’s always working on his game,” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. “If he’s having a problem with something, he’ll try to work his way out of the problem rather than ignoring it. That’s the difference between Brendan and a lot of kids.”

It was a trait Healy developed while growing up as he tried to keep up with his older brother Ian. Since he wanted to play with kids who were two or three years older than he was, Brendan had little choice but to improve quickly to keep pace.

Both brothers played at Bethesda’s Landon School, where coach Rob Bordley re-enforced the importance of a strong work ethic. With both his brother and Bordley pushing him, Healy developed into a savvy player.

“I came to the realization there are plenty of better lacrosse players, better athletes than me, but if I can get an edge from just working harder than people, I can find a way on the field,” Healy said.

Ian eventually landed at Maryland, where he wrapped up his career as a fifth-year senior last spring. His presence helped Brendan make his college decision, and his influence helped Brendan handle the ups and downs of a freshman year as a role player, and increased presence as a sophomore and a 20-goal season laced with shaky shooting as a junior.

“Having the chance to get on the field with my brother is something I really wanted to do. It didn’t happen on too many occasions, but I’m glad I made that decision,” said Healy, who switched jerseys from No. 34 to No. 4 this year. “Being able to wear his number for my senior year and just saying, ‘This is why I came here and we’re going to win it this year and I’ll be wearing your number’ means a lot to me.”

Healy appeared ready to be a key component in the Terps’ offense when he scored five goals in a two-game stretch in early March. However, he fell into an 0-for-27 drought that lasted more than a month.

With opponents constantly pushing him right, Healy used much of his extra shooting to hone his ability to shoot on the run right-handed. He broke out for three crucial goals against North Carolina in the ACC semifinals, added two more against Virginia in the final and then scored three times last week against Penn to up his season total to 15.

“The ball’s just going his way a little more,” senior midfielder Bill McGlone said. “The whole year he’s been toasting people. He’s just been very unfortunate with some unlucky bounces and he hasn’t been able to put the ball in the back of the cage as much as he would have liked.”

Healy’s improved play bodes well for the Terps. Joe Walters, Xander Ritz and McGlone have ranged from spectacular to steady all season, but opponents have cheated at times on Healy and manned him with a short stick, daring him to make a shot from the outside.

Not anymore. Healy is coming off the best three-game stretch of his career, and there is little reason his powerful shot won’t continue to help the Terps in the postseason.

“If we can count on four guys to get you two or three, it gets you to 12,” Cottle said. “We’re gonna win a lot of games since we only give up six. If we can get three playing well, it’s a good thing. If we can get four playing well, it’s a great thing.”

Perhaps great enough to collect the program’s first title since 1975. Healy still wants to win a title for his brother, and his re-emergence could be a deciding factor if the Terps make an extended tournament run.

“When I was looking forward to this season in the fall, I thought this was going to be the season where I break out and everything clicks,” said Healy, who will attend law school at Ohio State in the fall. “It happened, and I guess it’s starting to click when it really matters. I just hope it keeps going that way.”

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