Terps Get Back on Track in Romp over Colgate
by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com
|Maryland produced 18 goals on
Saturday against Colgate, its highest scoring output since its
season-opening 23-6 rout over Mount St. Mary's. The Terps are in
line to host a first-round NCAA tournament game.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Coming into Saturday's regular-season finale against visiting Colgate, the Maryland Terrapins were trying to shake a scoring slump, recapture some inspiration and earn a likely home game in the first round of the upcoming NCAA tournament.
It was obvious from the opening moments that No. 8 Maryland was up to those tasks and had solved its recent Colgate problems.
Behind junior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk and senior attackman Kevin Cooper, the Terps asserted their energy and talent by scoring the first five goals. That set the tone for an 18-6 rout over the unranked Raiders before 1,929 at Byrd Stadium.
Maryland, which was smarting from last week's seven-goal loss to Virginia in the ACC tournament semifinals and had been in an offensive funk since late March, broke out in a big way against Colgate by charging out to a 10-3 lead at halftime.
Maryland produced its highest scoring output since its season-opening, 23-6 rout over Mount St. Mary's by out-playing the younger Raiders (8-7) in every way. The Terps shot 18-for-37, won the ground ball battle by a decisive, 46-29 margin, feasted on 17 Colgate turnovers and got 13 saves from goalie Niko Amato, who anchored another rock-solid day for the defense.
The Terps also made sure not to falter for the third straight time against Colgate. The Raiders had knocked off Maryland (10-3) in the past two, regular-season finales for both schools. Each time, as a result, Maryland lost a chance to host a first-round playoff game, although that didn't stop Maryland from reaching back-to-back, Division I championship games.
Maryland most likely nailed down the chance to host a first-round contest in next weekend's opening round of the NCAAs, as the Terps set their sights on winning the school's first national title since 1975.
"There's so much going on outside, so much we can't control. We talk about blocking out the noise," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "We were trying to get the energy back. We need to play good lacrosse. If we play good lacrosse that will get us what we want. There's no way I expected us to get 18 goals, but I'll take them."
Chanenchuk and Cooper and nine other scorers saw to it that Maryland would get its offense on track — the same offense that had been averaging just 7.7 goals during a 3-3 stretch in the past six games, the same offense that had combined to score 18 times in the past three outings.
Chanenchuk produced his third hat trick of the season and chipped in an assist. Cooper (two goals, four assists) carved up the Colgate defense with his feeding ability, as three of his pinpoint, interior passes turned into point-blank scores by Jay Carslon. Jake Bernhardt also had a goal and two assists.
All in all, Maryland, which also scored six of the game's final seven goals, had a good dose of fun on Senior Day.
"You might as well let it all hang out," said Jake Bernhardt, who opened the scoring 45 seconds into the game with a 10-yard shot while rolling across the middle.
"It has been a while. We haven't played well for the past month or month-and-a-half or however long it's been," he added. "The guys were excited. Getting out and jumping [Colgate] was an awesome feeling. We had a lot of hockey assists today. Winning those tough, 50-50 ground balls was huge for us. Hopefully, this game was somewhat of a spark."
Colgate was missing its spark. Last week's loss to Lehigh in the Patriot League semifinals knocked the Raiders out of the NCAA tournament. On Saturday, even with senior Peter Baum, last year's Tewaaraton Award winner, playing in his final collegiate game, Colgate was in over its head.
Baum, a midfielder-turned-attackman, went back to the first midfield, in the absence of Jimmy Ryan, who broke his collarbone in last week's loss to Lehigh. Baum (one goal) was not much of a factor. Sophomore attackman Ryan Walsh led the Raiders with two goals.
"We wanted to send our seniors out right, and I'm proud of the way our guys fought," Colgate coach Mike Murphy said. "But we played a good team today. Their Johns were better than our Joes."
Tillman said he made a concerted effort to shorten practice time last week and simplify the offense, in order to get the Terps relaxed and playing faster. With Cooper operating as the prime feeder, Maryland got tasty looks at the goal from the inside and outside throughout a lopsided first half.
"We got away from what Maryland lacrosse is — playing hard and making little plays," Chanenchuk said. "Everyone was excited for the seniors today. It's important that we take [momentum] into the tournament and have some home-field advantage. This is definitely a step in the right direction."
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