- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 11, 2008

Maryland defenseman Joe Cinosky strode out of his final home game with a gash just above his nose to complement a stellar performance in the first round of the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

It was a minor annoyance, something Cinosky is accustomed to after four seasons. And since it re-opened while celebrating just after the seventh-seeded Terrapins’ 10-7 victory over Denver, it could be the most tolerable injury ever.

Cinosky delivered far more pain than he incurred throughout the afternoon, causing four turnovers, grabbing four groundballs and scoring a man-down goal as Maryland (10-5) withstood a slow start and a physical game from the Pioneers (10-7) before 1,360 at Byrd Stadium.

“That tough style of lacrosse, that’s how we like to play,” Cinosky said. “Once we knew that they were trying to bully us, that’s when we kind of bulled our necks and took it to them a little bit.”

Maryland advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal in Annapolis, where it will meet the winner of today’s Virginia/Maryland-Baltimore County game. And if the Terps can receive a similar performance from their defense, they’ll have a chance to advance to their fourth final four in six years.

The Terps, who has lost all five games they trailed after a quarter in the regular season, spotted the creative Pioneers a 5-2 lead. But a close defense featuring three seniors — Cinosky, Ryne Adolph and Jacob Baxter — tightened to hold Denver scoreless for more than 30 minutes.

The rugged Cinosky was responsible for much of it, knocking down passes and snagging loose balls to disrupt an offense that relies on precision and quick strikes to go on extended runs. The Pioneers committed 29 turnovers, and rarely seemed settled in the second half.

“[Defensive coordinator] Dave Slafkosky said it best in one timeout: ‘Somebody else but Joe Cinosky has to get a groundball,’ because he was getting every groundball at his end of the field,” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. “Anybody he guarded, they were in trouble holding onto the ball. Ryne and Jake really picked it up and followed Joe’s lead.”

Eventually, the Terps’ offense came to life as well. Maryland scored three extra-man goals to erase its deficit by halftime and could feel good with significant advantages in shots (29-12) and groundballs (21-15) at the midpoint.

The stout play of Denver goalie Austin Konkel, who made 11 of his 13 saves in the first half, helped keep it close. But Maryland midfielder Dan Groot pinballed a shot off Pioneers defenseman Dillon Roy to give the Terps their first lead at 6-5.

Maryland scored the next three — Ryan Young’s goal in transition, Cinosky’s man-down gallop and Grant Catalino’s laser off Cinosky’s caused turnover — to all but finish off the Pioneers by early in the fourth quarter.

“We got that lucky goal and that kind of took the pressure off of us,” Cottle said. “They’ve been great in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t even tell our guys. They’ve been dominating, and we didn’t want to plant that seed.”

It was Denver’s second NCAA appearance, and like in 2006 it ended with a loss to the Terps. The Pioneers, who used only 20 players, held up longer than two years ago but still seemed weary as the second half progressed.

“You take a shot that’s a little bit out of your range in transition, it’s coming right back down on you and it just wore us out,” Denver coach Jamie Munro said.

Catalino and Max Ritz scored twice for the Terps. Jamie Lincoln, the Pioneers’ leading scorer who entered the tournament with 47 goals, was held to a goal on seven shots.

The performance ensured Maryland avoided a first-round knockout at home for the second straight season. Memories of last year’s 13-9 loss to UMBC lingered with the program, and Cinosky in particular wanted to leave Byrd with a better — if not necessarily bloodier — memory.

“A couple of those guys are still around and you see them all the time and it seems to come up,” Cinosky said. “You don’t want to say you did it for them, but you kind of do. You do it for everybody who’s been through this program, but it’s time to go back to work.”

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