Drought Stops Here: Why Terps Will Win It All
The Maryland men's lacrosse team has not won an NCAA championship since 1975. The impatience of Terrapin nation reached fever pitch last year, when coach Dave Cottle was fired despite leading his team to the NCAA quarterfinals. It was not enough.
But coaches don't win championships. Players do.
That's why Maryland, which faces defending national champ Duke tonight in the second NCAA semifinal at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, will win it all. It won't be because of some masterful handling by first-year coach John Tillman or some cultural shift brought on by a change at the helm of the athletic department.
Maryland will its first national championship in 36 years because of the tangible size of its defense, the intangible size of Ryan Young's heart and strength in numbers among a hungry senior class.
Why Maryland will win it all, by the numbers:
That's how many seniors (including redshirt juniors) the Terps boast on their roster. It seems like they've all found ways to contribute. Witness Scott LaRue's unexpected offensive contributions in Maryland's 6-5 NCAA quarterfinal upset of Syracuse. LaRue's last-second redirect of Young's bullet feed to the crease in the third quarter was as significant of Grant Catalino's game-winning goal in overtime.
That's Ryan Young's jersey number. Young has been the Terps' field general for the last four years. So it was no surprise when the entire Maryland team showed up in single file to pay its respects to the Young family when Ryan's mother, Maria, died after a four-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. His emotional leadership has this team playing on another level. You can sense it on the sidelines with each eruption. You can see it in the purple "Forever Young" t-shirts coaches wore last weekend to honor him and his family. And from a sheer lacrosse standpoint, none of the three teams standing in between Maryland and a national championship has the lock-down defensive presence to keep Young from threading needles to his favorite finishers. He even had three assists against Syracuse's "eraser" John Lade.
6-foot-3, 213 pounds
That's the average height and weight (rounded up) when you put together Maryland's four most active long poles. Close defensemen Max Schmidt (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), Ryder Bohlander (6-foot, 205 pounds) and Brett Schmidt (6-foot, 175 pounds), combined with explosive long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell (6-foot-5, 240 pounds), make for a lot of mass in the middle. It will be interesting to see how Duke will initiate its offense. Farrell will likely be on midfielder Justin Turri, so it could be up to shifty attackman Jordan Wolf to weave his way inside the gauntlet. These defenders, all seniors, are also quick to recover from slides and in transition.
That's Curtis Holmes' faceoff win percentage, which could loom large specifically in the semifinals against Duke, which employed Greg DeLuca last week instead of C.J. Costabile, who has a hand injury. Costabile played well off the wings, but it's not the same as having him there to hack at Holmes the second he wins it to himself.
That's how many fans are expected to cycle through Baltimore for the NCAA men's lacrosse championships this weekend, including the two Division I semifinals Saturday, the Divisions II and III championship games Sunday and the Division I championship game Monday. One would expect to see plenty of red in the stands for the de facto home team.