Thursday night I watched the Maryland women's basketball team dismantle the Pitt Panthers - a far less talented opponent. Saturday at Byrd Stadium the Maryland men's lacrosse squad did the same to the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers winning 16-3 in another game in which the final score didn't reflect the true disparity between the two teams.
Here are some of the final stats: The Terps out shot the Mount 44-21 (+23). Maryland had an edge of plus thirty (49-19) in ground balls and won 13 of 23 faceoffs. In clears, the Terps finished 17 of 18 and the Mountaineers 9 of 15. Maryland had eleven turnovers to Mount St. Mary's twenty.
At the end of the third quarter, Maryland had a 15-3 lead and head coach John Tillman went deep into his bench - only nine players on the roster didn't play and at least two of them didn't dress for the game. Keep in mind the final stats as you look at those numbers before the start of the fourth quarter: the Terps had out shot the Mount 37-14 (+23). Maryland had an edge of plus twenty-six (38-12) in ground balls and had won 13 of 21 faceoffs. In clears, the Terps were a perfect 11 for 11 and the Mountaineers 6 of 9. Maryland had five turnovers to Mount St. Mary's fourteen.
As Pete noted in his recap, the Terps scored the first five goals and those came from five different goal scorers. Charlie Raffa aided Maryland's quick start by winning three of the first four faceoffs. After a timeout, Mount St. Mary's bounced back with two straight goals and the first period ended with Maryland up by three.
The Terps put the game away in the second scoring six while shutting out the Mountaineers. Freshman Matt Rambo bookended the period scoring the first and last goals. In between those, Mike Chanenchuk and Jay Carlson each notched their second goal of the game while Joe LoCasio and Bryan Cole each scored their first. The Terps took an 11-2 lead into the locker room. Despite that advantage, Tillman said, "We've got to play better than we did today. We did some things well in the first half but at halftime we had a lengthy discussion on some things we didn't do well."
Just as he'd opened the game with a goal, Chanenchuk opened the second half scoring for the Terps needing less than a minute to complete his hat trick. The goal came on an assist from another of Maryland's prized freshmen, Connor Cannizzaro who finished the game with two goals in addition to that assist. After "Channy" pulled his hat trick, Rambo swatted his homer ringing up his fourth goal of the afternoon becoming the first Maryland freshman to score four goals in his first game since Grant Catalino achieved that in 2008. His six points is the most in a Terrapin debut since Delaware transfer Xander Ritz racked up seven points in his first game as a Terp in 2004.
After the Mountaineers scored on a man up advantage, Cannizzaro registered his second goal on an assist from Rambo. With two seconds left in the period, Carlson took a pass from Rambo and in the highlight reel goal of the game whipped one home from behind his back becoming the third Terrapin to register a hat trick. Ben Chisolm scored on a pass from Zack Wholley with two seconds to play in the game to close out the scoring and give the home team the 16-3 win.
The plan coming in for Coach Tillman was to control faceoffs and utilize Maryland's strength on defense, and get to more ground balls to maximize possessions. Once in control of the ball, he wanted to see his team make good decisions that would lead to good opportunities. After the game he assessed his team's performance: "There were some lulls. There were some times where we did get good opportunities but we didn't finish them and our passes were a little late. I still think there's a lot for us to prove. Mount St. Mary's is a young team and we're going to face teams with more experience and that will be a tougher test for us."
I asked about keeping a young team grounded after a dominating performance given that the competition picks up next week against UMBC and then ramps up another notch when they travel to Syracuse. Regarding the immediate challenge, Tillman said, "The team we play Saturday beat us the last time we played. Half the guys on the team experienced that and if that doesn't motivate you, I don't know what does. And, it's an in state rival." For the longer term, the coach sees it this way, "We need to get better at doing the things we do. I think in certain aspects we played well and in certain aspects we didn't. Today there were some really good moments but there were some times when we just didn't do fundamental things. I thought sometimes with our shot selection we made it a little but easy. We threw the ball in the goalie's stick a few times. We didn't make the extra pass. Defensively we had some breakdowns. They got the ball inside too much. We need to play better on the ball defense and we need to help better."
So, the lesson, Terp fans, is: enjoy this win but don't get too excited over it. This team has a long way to go.