No More Time for Inconsistency from Maryland
The sixth-ranked Maryland men's lacrosse team already has proven its resiliency in 2011. A week after going to sleep with a 4-0 lead, then dropping an 11-6 decision at home to North Carolina, the Terps regrouped on the road to whip Virginia last month, 12-7. Then, a week after blowing a five-goal, second-half lead in College Park before losing in OT to Johns Hopkins, the Terps hit the road and won the ACC tournament to regain its swagger.
The time for any slippage has just about run out for the Terps, whose senior-laden team is aiming to reach the school's first NCAA tournament final four since 2006 and to win Maryland's first national title since 1975.
Sure, if Maryland loses its regular-season finale to a desperate Colgate team - a highly unlikely event - the Terps will still host a home game in the first round of the NCAAs. But, as first-year coach John Tillman said, the Terps, after getting nearly two weeks off, need to hit the postseason with a head of steam.
"I wish we were a little more consistent," said Tillman of his 10-3 team. "When we've been down, or when we've had our hearts broken, we've bounced back pretty well. We can't let the game or the situation manage us. We have to manage our game."
Getting junior midfielder Joe Cummings (tied for team lead with 24 goals) as healthy as possible for the NCAA tournament is hugely important for Maryland. Cummings is recovering from a knee injury suffered two weeks ago, and could play against Colgate.
But Maryland has so much going for it in early May. Consider that the Terps are ranked in the top 10 in Division I in scoring offense, scoring defense, face-off win percentage, ground balls per game, fewest turnovers per game, assists per game and shooting percentage.
If Maryland gets beat in the NCAAs by a better team on that day, so be it. But the Terps are out of excuses for inconsistency. And if Maryland is to make a serious run at that elusive title, it probably will start with a strong, focused performance against Colgate.