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North Carolina hands Maryland first loss of lacrosse season

Posted on 22 March 2014 by WNST Staff

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Freshman Connor Cannizzaro had three points on two goals and an assist, but the No. 1 University of Maryland men’s lacrosse team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with an 11-8 loss to No. 6 North Carolina in front of 6,135 at Kenan Stadium.

The Terrapins are now 7-1 on the season and 2-1 in ACC play. The Tar Heels improve to 7-2 overall and 1-2 in the conference.

UNC took an early 1-0 lead when Joey Sankey capitalized on an unsettled play, finishing off a feed from Pat Foster with 13:06 on the clock in the first.

Maryland answered right back as the second midfield line put up the first Terrapin goal at the 11:03 mark. Sophomore Henry West found freshman Colin Heacock inside the Tar Heel zone and Heacock was able to get off a quick turn-and-shoot to beat Carolina goalie Kieran Burke.

The Terps tool their first lead of the game with 10:01 left in the first on an unassisted goal by Cannizzaro. He was able to get right to the Carolina doorstep thanks to a terrific pick set behind the Tar Heel goal by freshman Matt Rambo.

North Carolina knotted the score at 2-2 with an extra-man goal by Foster at the 7:26 mark and then the Tar Heels regained the lead on an unassisted goal by Chad Tutton with 4:34 left in the first.

Cannizzaro scored his second of the game, finishing off a cutter off an assist by freshman Tim Rotanz, to tie the game at 3-3 with 7:28 left in the second.

The Terps regained the lead off the ensuing faceoff when junior Charlie Raffa won the ball clean and pushed it into the UNC box. The Carolina defenders wouldn’t come off the Maryland attackmen, but senior long pole Michael Ehrhardt was left alone and he scored his first career goal.

But the lead was short-lived as Carolina got goals by Shane Simpson and Walker Chafee to gain the lead at 5-4 with 3:40 left in the second.

The Carolina advantage would grow to two goals at the 2:34 mark when Spencer Parks was in the right place at the right time to pick up a rebound off of a shot by Jimmy Bitter and put it back in the Terrapin net for the 6-4 Tar Heel lead.

UNC had a chance to build on its lead in the final minute of the first half, but senior goalie Niko Amato stood tall and turned away a shot by Bitter and then scooped but the rebound as the clock wound down.

The second half started out with the 10th faceoff win of the game for Raffa and senior Mike Chanenchuk made it count as he lost his defender near the top of the box and stepped into a big shot that beat Burke topside to make it a 6-5 game at the 14:15 mark.

UNC counters less than two minutes later to up its advantage back to two on an acrobatic goal by Sankey.

Maryland’s defense picked up the offense on the next Terrapin goal. Amato made an easy stop on a shot by Steve Pontrello and quickly found a breaking Brian Cooper with the outlet. Cooper pushed the ball into the Carolina box and cut hard to his left hand and beat Burke for his first career goal at the 9:18 mark.

But Carolina wouldn’t let the Terps get on any kind of run and answered with Simpson’s second goal of the game with 8:15 left in the third to push its lead to 8-6.

The see-saw game continued with Maryland responding with a goal by junior Joe LoCascio at the 3:20 mark of the third. Cannizzaro drew a double-team coming around the back of the cage and slipped the ball to LoCascio, who was then able to step into a big shot from the right alley.

The Tar Heels continued the back-and-forth scoring to start the fourth quarter as Sankey got a step on his defender and slipped the ball under Amato’s stick for a 9-7 UNC lead with 10:21 to play.

Carolina pushed its lead to three for the first time in the game when Bitter scored an unassisted goal at the 9:31 mark for a 10-7 Tar Heel advantage.

The Terrapins refused to give in and cut the Carolina lead back to two on a shovel shot by Heacock off of an assist by Chanenchuk with 8:41 left.

Carolina continued to have the ball bounce its way less than a minute later when Rotanz dropped the ball while attempting a shot on an open net as Burke came out of the cage on a shot by Chanenchuk that bounced off the side of the net and behind the goal. Chanenchuk picked up the loose ball and found Rotanz on the left wing, but Jake Bailey picked up the dropped ball by Rotanz and went all the way down the field to finish the scoring.

Raffa finished the day winning 16-of-23 faceoffs with a game-high eight groundballs, while Ehrhardt had five groundballs and a caused turnover.

Maryland stays with conference play when it hosts No. 10 Virginia on Sunday, March 30. Faceoff is scheduled for noon at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium and the game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

Game Notes:
• With today’s 11-8 loss Maryland is now 39-24 all-time vs. North Carolina.
• With two points on a goal and an assist, senior Mike Chanenchuk now has 35 multi-point games for his career.
• With three points on two goals and an assist, freshman Connor Cannizzaro now has six multi-point and four multi-goal games for his career.
• With three points on two goals and an assist, freshman Colin Heacock registered the first multi-point and multi-goal game of his career.

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Steve Smith making great impression after signing with Ravens

Posted on 22 March 2014 by Luke Jones

It remains to be seen how much a 35-year-old Steve Smith will bring to the field this September with the Ravens, but it’s difficult to dispute the great number of fans he’s already made in his first week with his new team.

Despite his reputation as an intense competitor who’s occasionally gone too far, Smith has shown his softer side over the past week in saying goodbye to the Charlotte community he’s called home for the last 13 years. The longtime Carolina Panther has already said he plans to continue living in the Queen City but went out of his way to cheer up a seven-year-old Panthers fan who reacted sadly to the news of Smith’s release in a video that went viral.

Smith used his official Twitter account to get in touch with the boy’s father and surprised him on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with an invitation to his camp and the gift of a new Ravens jersey:

In addition to his television appearance, Smith took out an ad in Saturday’s edition of The Charlotte Observer (below) to express his thanks to Panthers fans and to share his desire of one day retiring with the organization that gave him his start in 2001.

It’s clear that Smith isn’t feeling warm and fuzzy about Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman and his decision to part ways with the veteran receiver at the start of free agency, but his affection for Charlotte and the Panthers is reminiscent of the many Ravens players who’ve expressed great thanks when leaving Baltimore. And it makes him easy to root for as he brings his talent and experience to the Ravens.

Even if his new city will only be viewed as a temporary home.

To hear Steve Smith’s interview earlier this week with Drew Forrester on The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction, click HERE.

Letter

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Maryland returns to ACC play Saturday at North Carolina

Posted on 21 March 2014 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The No. 1 Maryland (7-0) men’s lacrosse team returns to ACC play on Saturday, March 22 when it plays at No. 6 North Carolina (6-2) at Kenan Stadium. Faceoff between the Terps and the Tar Heels is scheduled for 2 p.m.

• The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU and streamed on ESPN3.com and via the WatchESPN app. Booker Corrigan will handle the play-by-play and Ryan Flanagan provides the analysis.

• Maryland enters Saturday’s game on a short week following Tuesday afternoon’s 13-5 win at Michigan. Junior Jay Carlson and freshman Matt Rambo led the Terps with four goals apiece, while senior Mike Chanenchuk continued his torrid scoring pace with four points on two goals and two assists. Chanenchuk leads the team this season with 29 points on 21 goals and eight assists. He is followed closely by Rambo, who has 21 points on 17 goals and four assists. Junior Charlie Raffa has won 67-of-112 (.598) faceoffs this season with a team-best 47 groundballs and four goals. Senior Michael Ehrhardt has made a seamless transition to the long-stick midfield spot and has 27 groundballs, which leads all non-faceoff men, and a team-best 17 caused turnovers. Senior Niko Amato has started every game of his college career (57 straight) and boasts a 6.51 goals-against average this season with a .606 save percentage.

• North Carolina also comes into Saturday’s game on a short week after pulling out a 13-10 home win over Harvard on Tuesday. The Tar Heels boast the No. 2-ranked offense in the nation, scoring 15.3 goals per game. Junior attackman Joey Sankey leads the UNC offense with 32 points on 17 goals and 14 assists. He’s joined by fellow junior attackman Jimmy Bitter, who has 15 goals and seven assists for 22 points. Senior Pat Foster, who has started at attack the past three games after beginning the season on the second midfield, and junior midfielder Chad Tutton also have double-digit goals with 13 each. Sophomore Kieran Burke has started all eight games in net for the Tar Heels and has a 7.49 goals-against average and is saving 57.8 percent of the shots opponents have put on goal. Senior faceoff specialist R.G. Keenan has seen limited playing time so far this season (11/19, .579), but freshman Stephen Kelly has stepped in and won 74-of-121 draws (.612) with 47 groundballs and two goals.

THE COUNT DOWN

10 … Since 2002 Maryland has won 108 of the 117 games in which the Terps have scored 10 or more goals for a .923 winning percentage.
9 … Maryland is 125-26 in games since 2002 when it allows nine goals or less, for an .828 winning percentage.
8 … Prior to this season, only eight other Maryland teams in the program’s 89 seasons started 7-0 and scored at least 10 goals in each of its victories.
7 … Seven Terps have at least 10 groundballs this season, including three of its top four scorers.
6 … Mike Chanenchuk has six points on four goals and two assists in his career vs. UNC.
5 … Maryland and North Carolina are 5-5 in the last 10 meetings with the Terps holding a +5 scoring margin in those 10 games.
4 … The Tar Heels have won the last four regular season games vs. the Terps, but Maryland leads the overall all-time series 39-23.
3 … This is just the third time the Terps and Tar Heels will play with Maryland carrying the No. 1 ranking.
2 … This will be the second time Maryland and UNC have met in Kenan Stadium (2010 ACC Semis).
1 … Maryland is ranked the No. 1 team in the country for the 11th time since 1978.

COACHING MATCH-UP

• John Tillman is in his seventh season as a head coach, and fourth with the Terps, with a 62-34 career record for a 64.6 winning percentage. Tillman is 42-15 (.737) as Maryland’s head coach. He had a 20-19 record in three seasons as the head coach at Harvard.

• Joe Breschi is in his 17th season as a head coach and holds a lifetime record of 157-90 (.634). He is in his sixth year with the Tar Heels and has a 65-27 (.703) record as the Carolina head coach.

• Tillman has an 2-3 record vs. North Carolina as a head coach with all five decisions coming as the Maryland head coach.


SERIES HISTORY VS. NORTH CAROLINA

• Since Maryland and North Carolina began their series in 1964, Maryland holds a 39-23 (.650) advantage. The Terps have won 16 of the last 22, but Carolina has won the last four in the series.

• Maryland was undefeated and No. 1 in the country going into its home game vs. UNC on March 23, 2013, but the No. 14 Tar Heels opened up a 5-2 lead in the first quarter and held off a Terrapin comeback to claim a 10-8 victory. Seniors Kevin Cooper, Owen Blye and Jake Bernhardt each had two goals for the Terps, while junior goalie Niko Amato had 11 saves and four groundballs.

• In 2012 No. 14 North Carolina defended its home field with an 11-10 win over No. 7 Maryland on March 24. Billy Gribbin scored three goals for the Terps and Joe Cummings had four points on two goals and two assists, but the Tar Heels were able to pull out the victory behind three goals from freshman Joey Sankey.

• The rubber match of 2011 took play at Fetzer Field in the first round of the NCAA tournament and it was the unseeded Terps advancing thanks to a convincing 13-6 victory over the No. 8-seeded Tar Heels. Drew Snider led the offensive charge, including scoring on the hidden-ball play pulled off by Grant Catalino and Brian Farrell. Kevin Cooper had a hat trick for the Terrapins, while Curtis Holmes dominated the faceoff X, winning 15-of-22. Niko Amatomade 13 saves in cage.

• Just like in 2010 the Terps answered a regular season loss to Carolina with a victory in the ACC tournament. UNC led 6-2 going into the fourth quarter, but Maryland scored five unanswered goals for a 7-6 win. Owen Blye scored two goals in the run, which was capped off by a behind-the-back game-winner by Grant Catalino.

• The 2011 regular-season meeting saw North Carolina come into Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium and leave with an 11-6 victory. The Terps opened up a 4-1 lead in the first quarter, but an illegal stick penalty on Maryland allowed the Tar Heels to regain their composure and go on a 7-0 run to take command of the game. Grant Catalino led the Terps with three goals. Curtis Holmes was terrific at the face-off X, winning 15-of-20 draws.

• The Terps avenged the loss in the 2010 regular season to UNC by topping the Tar Heels, 13-5, in the semifinals of the ACC tournament in College Park. Grant Catalino led the way, tying his career high with six goals. John Haustallied his first career hat trick for the Terps. Brian Phipps was terrific in cage for Maryland, stopping 13 Carolina shots.

• In the 2010 regular-season meeting it was Carolina earning a 9-7 victory over the Terps on March 20 in Chapel Hill. Marcus Holman subbed for the injured Billy Bitter and scored four goals to lead UNC. Maryland was paced by Ryan Young and Adam Sear with two goals apiece.

• The Tar Heels scored 10 goals in the first half en route to a 16-10 win in the semifinals of the 2009 ACC Tournament at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. Joe Cummings recorded his first career hat trick for the Terps, while Ryan Young had a three-point day on a goal and two assists.

• Earlier in 2009 the Terps and the Tar Heels played a nail-biter at Ludwig Field and in the end it was Maryland coming away with the 8-7 victory. Dan Groot scored three goals, including the game-winner that deflected off of two Carolina defender sticks, and added an assist. Grant Catalino chipped in with two goals, while Jason Carter played the whole way in cage and stopped 10 Tar Heel shots.

• The Terps entered the 2008 game as the underdog for the first time since 2000, but left the game with their sixth straight victory over the Tar Heels, 13-8. Junior midfielder Jeff Reynolds scored his first career hat trick to lead the Terps. Grant Catalino, Dan Groot, Jeremy Sieverts and Max Ritz each had a goal and an assist in the Maryland victory.

• The Maryland midfield dominated the 2007 game and le the Terps to an impressive 14-8 win over a rising Carolina team at Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium. Sophomore midfielder Dan Groot led the Terrapin attack with three goals for his second career hat trick. Freshman goalie Brian Phipps was stellar in the cage for Maryland, stopping 15 Tar Heel shots, while allowing just seven goals.

• The Tar Heels led for nearly the entire game in the 2006 ACC semifinals, but Xander Ritz scored off a brilliant cross-crease pass from Michael Phipps with just 1:25 left in the fourth quarter to give the third-ranked Terps their first lead of the game and the 10-9 victory. Brendan Healy scored three goals and added a pair of assists for Maryland, while Ritz finished with a hat trick and Bill McGlone scored two and assisted on another two scores.

• In the 2006 regular season meeting Joe Walters scored five goals to lead the No. 4 Terps to a 9-6 win at North Carolina on March 25. Sophomore attackman Max Ritz added two goals, while Bill McGlone and Michael Phipps each scored one. Defensively, Harry Alford stopped eight shots and allowed just six goals in net for the Terps.

• Terrapin goalie Harry Alford stopped 20 UNC shots in the 2005 meeting to lead the fourth-ranked Terps to a 9-4 win over Carolina in College Park. Michael Hartofilis turned in the finest performance of his Maryland career with a goal and a career-best three assists. Brendan Healy, Michael Phipps and Joe Walters each scored twice in the Maryland win.

• The 2004 meeting in Chapel Hill saw Maryland pick up a thrilling 10-9 victory at Fetzer Field on March 27. The Tar Heels used a five-goal third quarter to take a 8-7 lead into the fourth, but two goals by Maryland’s Mike Brown and another by Joe Walters gaves the Terps a 3-1 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter and the 10-9 win. Walters finished the game with four goals, while Michael Phipps scored two goals in the victory.

• In the 2003 game at Byrd Stadium, No. 13 North Carolina upset the No. 2 Terps as goalie Paul Spellman had a career-game with 25 saves. Joe Walters scored two goals for the Terps in the defeat. Bill McGlone also added a tally in the win. UNC was paced by Austin Garrison, who had four goals.

• The Terps and Tar Heels have only met twice in NCAA tournament play. Maryland lost the first meeting with the Heels in 1986, 12-10, but won the 2011 first round game, 13-6.


MARYLAND AS THE NO. 1 TEAM

• The Terps took over the top spot in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and the USILA Coaches’ Poll on March 3 after two impressive wins over then-No. 2 Syracuse and then-No. 1 Duke in sucsessive weeks. This is the 11th time Maryland has earned the No. 1 ranking since 1986.

• Overall, Maryland has played 31 games as the No. 1-ranked team and is 22-10 in those games.

• This last time the Terps were the No. 1 team in the rankings was in the 2013 season. After taking over the top spot following its 12-10 win at then-No. 1 Loyola on Feb. 23, the Terps played six games as the nation’s outright top team and was 4-2, defeating Duke, 16-7, in Durham on March 2, topping Stony Brook, 13-7, at home on March 10, going on the road to beat Villanova, 10-7, on March 16 and dropping a 10-8 decision to North Carolina on March 23. After regaining the No. 1 ranking on April 1, the Terps defeated Navy, 11-8, in Annapolis on April 5, but then dropped a 7-4 decision at home to Johns Hopkins on April. 13.

• Prior to the 2013 season, the last time Maryland was the top team in the nation was in March of 2006 after the Terps defeated then-No. 1 Duke, 8-7 on the road in overtime. Maryland defeated Towson as the No. 1 team the following Saturday, but fell, 7-6 in double-OT, to Bucknell on Tuesday, March 14. The Terrapins were still No. 1 in their 9-4 win at UMBC to close out their two-week stay at the top of the polls.

• The longest Maryland has held on to the No. 1 ranking was seven weeks in 1987. That streak came to an end with a 13-8 loss to No. 4 Johns Hopkins in the NCAA Semifinals.


GET TO 10 AND WIN

• One axiom of lacrosse is that if you score 10 goals or more your chances of winning are pretty good. Well, a look at the results since 2002 shows that when Maryland scores 10 or more goals there’s not just a pretty good chance the Terrapins will win; it’s an almost certainty. Since 2002 Maryland has won 108 of the 117 games in which the Terps have scored 10 or more goals for a .923 winning percentage.

• Maryland scored 10, but fell at North Carolina, 11-10, on March 24, 2012 and again came out on the losing end, despite scoring 11 in a 13-11 loss at Colgate on May 5, 2012. The Terps scored 11 vs. Johns Hopkins on April 16, 2011, but the Blue Jays won the game in overtime, 12-11. On April 3 of last season the Terps lost to No. 1 Virginia by a final of 11-10, giving Maryland its only loss when scoring 10 or more goals in 2010. In 2009 the Terps lost to Georgetown, 13-10 on Feb. 21 and lost again when scoring 10 in the ACC Semifinals in a 16-10 defeat at North Carolina. Prior to that, Maryland had not lost when scoring 10 or more goals since dropping an 11-10 decision to Virginia in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C. The Terrapins got to 10 goals in the 100th game against Johns Hopkins, but the Blue Jays took the game 14-10. Virginia is the only team to beat the Terps twice when allowing 10 or more goals. The Wahoos did it first in 2002 with another 11-10 decision.

HOLDING OPPONENTS TO SINGLE-DIGITS

• The Terps have been extremely impressive (winning 92.3 percent of its games since 2002) when it scores 10 or more goals, they have been nearly as impressive when holding opponents to less than 10 goals during that span.

• Since 2002 Maryland is 125-26 in games, for a .828 winning percentage, when it has held opponents under 10 goals. The Terps have played 200 total games since 2002. Maryland has held opponents to nine goals or less 75.5 percent of the time.


SHOOTING TELLS THE STORY

• Since 2005 the Terps are a remarkable 66-4 (.943) when shooting 30% or better in a game. The only four losses were: 13-10 to Georgetown in 2009 (the Terps shot 10 of 30 for 33.3% vs. the Hoyas), 11-10 to No. 1 Virginia on April 3, 2010 (10 of 33 for 30.3%), 12-11 in overtime on April 16, 2011 to No. 3 Johns Hopkins (11 of 28 for 39.3%) and 13-11 at Colgate on May 5, 2012 (11 of 31 for 35.5%).

• Maryland is 7-0 on the year and shot 30% or better in four of its seven victories and just barely missed that mark in the win at Syracuse.

W- Mount St. Mary’s: 16 goals, 44 shots = 36.4%
W- UMBC: 14 goals, 45 shots = 31.1%
W- at Syracuse: 16 goals, 55 shots = 29.1%
W- Duke: 10 goals, 44 shots = 22.7%
W- at Stony Brook: 11 goals, 48 shots = 22.9%
W- Villanova: 12 goals, 39 shots = 30.7%
W- at Michigan: 13 goals, 42 shots = 31.0%

• If 30% is the benchmark, then 40% shooting is in a class all to itself and Maryland has shot 40% or better in 15 games since the start of the 2008 season. Out of those 14 games, Maryland shot 50% or better in four of them.


TERPS ON ESPNU

• Maryland has had 47 games on ESPNU since 2006. Maryland is 26-21 (.553) all-time in games broadcast on ESPNU.

• The Terps are scheduled to play four games (at North Carolina, vs. Virginia, at Johns Hopkins and the ACC tournament semifinals) on ESPNU in 2014.


STREAKING TERPS

• Seven games into the 2014 season and so far and three Terps have notched at least one point in every game.

• Senior Mike Chanenchuk has scored at least one point in each of the seven games so far in 2014 and has a 30-game point scoring streak dating back to the Johns Hopkins game on Apr. 14, 2012. Overall, for his Maryland career Chanenchuk has tallied at least one point in 37 of 39 games.

• Chanenchuk’s point-scoring streak is the second longest since the 2004 season. The only other point-scoring streak longer belongs to Joe Walters, who had at least one point in 45 straight from Feb. 2004 to April 2006. Here’s a look at the Terps’ 20+ game point-scoring streaks since 2004.

45 – Joe Walters (2/28/04 – 4/30/06)
30 – Mike Chanenchuk (4/14/12 – present)
29 – Xander Ritz (2/26/05 – 4/30/06)
26 – Bill McGlone (2/28/04 – 4/23/05)
22 – Grant Catalino (3/3/08 – 3/28/09
20 – Max Ritz (5/6/06 – 5/13/07)
20 – Joe Cummings (5/28/11 – 5/28/12)

• Junior Jay Carlson and freshman Matt Rambo have also registered at least one point in every game this season. Junior Joe LoCascio had his five-game point scoring streak end in the Villanova game.


FRESHMAN HAT TRICKS

• With four goals in his first college game, a 16-3 win over Mount St. Mary’s (Feb. 8), Matt Rambo became just the ninth Maryland men’s lacrosse freshman to record a hat trick since 1998. He followed that up with another hat trick in the 14-3 win over UMBC (Feb. 15) to become the first Terp to record back-to-back hat tricks in his first two collegiate games since Grant Catalino in 2008. Rambo netted his third hat trick of the season with four goals in the Terps’ 13-5 win at Michigan (March 18).

• Connor Cannizzaro scored his first hat trick with three goals in the Terps’ 16-8 win at Syracuse to become the 10th Terp freshman with a hat trick since 1998. This marks just the second time since 1998 that two freshman have recorded hat tricks in the same season. Cannizzaro netted his second career hat trick vs. Villanova on March 14.

• Game-by-game stats haven’t been saved since the 1998 season, so the following chart can only go back to then, but here’s a look at freshman hat tricks (consecutive games are underlined):

Andrew Combs (1 in 1998): 3-0=3 vs. Towson, Mar. 7
Mike LaMonica (1 in 1999): 3-0=3 vs. Penn State, Mar. 17
Mike Mollot (1 in 2000): 3-4=7 vs. Hofstra, May 14 (NCAA first round)
Dan LaMonica (3 in 2001): 3-1=4 vs. Duke, Mar. 4; 3-1=4 vs. Johns Hopkins, Apr. 14; 3-1=4 vs. Virginia, Apr. 20 (ACC semifinals)
Joe Walters (6 in 2003): 4-1=5 at Towson, Mar. 8; 4-2=6 vs. Bucknell, Mar. 114-0=4 vs. Butler, Mar. 25; 3-1=4 at Virginia, Mar. 29; 4-0=4 at Navy, Apr. 5; 3-1=4 vs. UMBC, Apr. 25
Grant Catalino (3 in 2008): 4-0=4 at Georgetown, Feb. 23; 3-1=4 at Mount St. Mary’s, Feb. 26; 4-3=7 vs. Yale, May 3
Travis Reed (4 in 2008): 4-1=5 at Mount St. Mary’s, Feb. 26; 3-0=3 at Duke, Mar. 1; 3-0=3 vs. Providence, Mar. 3; 3-2=5 vs. Virginia, Mar. 29
John Haus (1 in 2010): 3-0=3 vs. North Carolina, Apr. 23 (ACC semifinals)
Matt Rambo (3 in 2014): 4-2=6 vs. Mount St. Mary’s, Feb. 8; 3-0=3 vs. UMBC, Feb. 15; 4-0=4 at Michigan, Mar. 18
Connor Cannizzaro (2 in 2014): 3-1=4 at Syracuse, Feb. 22; 3-0=3 vs. Villanova, Mar. 14


50 PERCENT OR MORE

• Senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk scored five of the Terps’ 10 goals in the team’s 10-6 win over No. 1 Duke on March 1, 2014. That performance marks just the ninth time since 1998 that a Maryland player scored at least 50 percent of the team’s goals in a victory (with a five-goal minimum). Chanenchuk is the first Maryland player since 1998 to accomplish the feat at home.

• Here’s a look at Terps who have scored 50% or more of the team’s goals (min. 5 goals) in wins since 1998:

Mike Chanenchuk, 5 goals in 10-6 win vs. Duke (3/1/14)
Jay Carlson, 5 goals in 10-7 win at Villanova (3/16/13)
Joe Walters, 6 goals in 11-4 win at Johns Hopkins (4/15/06)
Joe Walters, 5 goals in 9-6 win at North Carolina (3/25/06)
Xander Ritz, 5 goals in 8-7 OT win at Duke (3/4/06)
Joe Walters, 6 goals in 12-11 win vs. Virginia in ACC finals (4/25/04)
Buggs Combs, 6 goals in 10-4 win at Delaware (3/17/01)
Scott Hochstadt, 6 goals in 9-4 win at Yale (5/1/99)
Scott Hochstadt, 7 goals in 14-11 win at Virginia in ACC finals (4/19/98)

• There are a couple others earlier than 1998, which includes a minimum of six goals scored (which is the minimum for the single-game records):

Rob Wurzburger, 6 goals in 12-7 win at Towson (3/26/88)
Dick Corrigan, 9 goals in 17-10 win over Navy (4/26/58)


TERPS’ 89TH SEASON OF LACROSSE

• The Terps boast an all-time record of 754-253-4 (.748), dating back to the first varsity team in 1924 (a team was not fielded in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II). Maryland has finished every one of its previous 88 seasons with a .500 or better record, including last season when the Terps went 12-6. The program reached the 700-win milestone with a 15-6 victory over Penn on April 14, 2009 at Ludwig Field and became just the fourth program with 750 wins with a 16-8 win at No. 2 Syracuse on Feb. 22, 2014.

• During the decade of the 2000s, Maryland went 111-49 for a .694 win percentage, making it the winningest decade in Terrapin lacrosse history. In the decade of the 1990s, Maryland posted a 95-47 record. The .669 winning percentage matched Maryland’s win percentage of the 1980s when the Terps went 83-41 and also compiled a .669 win percentage. So far, Maryland is 54-19 in the 2010’s for a .740 winning percentage.


THE 700 CLUB

• Maryland’s 15-6 victory over Penn on April 14, 2009 was the program’s 700th victory in 84 seasons of varsity men’s lacrosse. The Terps join Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Navy, Army and Cornell as the only programs with 700 or more Division I wins.

• Two things that make Maryland’s accomplishment all the more impressive is that the Terps reached the 700-win plateau in just their 84th season. Only Syracuse reached win No. 700 in as few seasons, but it took the Orange 53 more games than Maryland. In fact, Maryland needed only 940 games to reach 700 wins and only Johns Hopkins needed fewer games (932) to hit the historic number, but the Blue Jays did so in their 105th season.

SEASON HONORS

Inside Lacrosse
Face-Off Magazine Preseason All-Americans
Michael Ehrhardt (1st)
Niko Amato (2nd)
Goran Murray (2nd)
Mike Chanenchuk (3rd)

National Player of the Week
Mike Chanenchuk (Mar. 3)

The ACC
Preseason All-ACC
Niko Amato
Michael Ehrhardt
Goran Murray

Offensive Player of the Week
Mike Chanenchuk (Mar. 4)

Defensive Player of the Week
Niko Amato (Feb. 25)
Niko Amato (Mar. 4)

University of Maryland
Terp of the Week
Charlie Raffa (Feb. 28)


CONSECUTIVE 10-WIN SEASONS

• Maryland’s 18-6 win over the Colgate on May 4, 2013 extended the Terps’ streak of double-digit win seasons to 11, which is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse. (Special thanks to Patrick Stevens of the D1scource.com).

• There are only four programs with a current streak of at least five-straight 10-win seasons:

Maryland (11): 2013 (10-4), 2012 (12-6), 2011 (13-5), 2010 (12-4), 2009 (10-7), 2008 (10-6), 2007 (10-6), 2006 (12-5), 2005 (11-6), 2004 (13-3), 2003 (12-4)
Notre Dame (8): 2013 (11-4), 2012 (13-3), 2011 (11-3), 2010 (10-7), 2009 (15-1), 2008 (14-3), 2007 (11-4), 2006 (10-5)
Duke (7): 2013 (16-5), 2012 (15-5) 2011 (14-6), 2010 (16-4), 2009 (15-4), 2008 (18-2), 2007 ( 17-3)
North Carolina (5): 2013 (13-4), 2012 (11-6), 2011 (10-6), 2010 (13-3), 2009 (12-6)

• Cornell’s string of seven-straight 10+ win seasons came to an end in 2012 with a 9-4 final mark. Virginia’s streak of eight-consecutive seasons with 10+ wins ended in 2013 with a 7-8 record, while Siena saw its run of six 10-win seasons end with an 8-9 mark this season.


A FAMILY AFFAIR

• Many school’s refer to their sports programs as families, but the Maryland men’s lacrosse program is truly a family affair. Since 2001, the Terps have had 13 sets of brothers, including three on this season’s roster, don the red and black together for at least one season.

Harry & Thomas Alford: 2004-05-06-07
Jake & Jesse Bernhardt: 2010-11-12-13
Justin & Owen Blye: 2009-10-11
Brian & Kevin Cooper: 2011-12-13
Billy & Bobby Gribbin: 2012-13
Brendan & Ian Healy: 2003-04-05
Bryn & Curtis Holmes: 2010
Bryn & Travis Holmes: 2007
Dan & Mike LaMonica: 2001-02
Chris & Willy Passavia: 2001-02-03
Brian & Michael Phipps: 2007
Max & Xander Ritz: 2005-06
Mark & Michael White: 2008-09-10-11

• The 2014 season is the first since 2000 that the Terps have not had a brother combination on the roster.


FIRST TIME OPPONENTS

• Coming into 2014 Maryland has played 78 different opponents in its 89 seasons. The 2014 season added Michigan to that list. In the Terps’ 79 first-time meetings Maryland is 75-4 (.949) in those games. Adelphi (12-13, 1982), Army (0-3, 1923), Syracuse (3-10, 1927) and Yale (3-5, 1925) are the only schools to beat the Terps the first time the schools met on a lacrosse field.


MARYLAND IN SEASON OPENERS

• Maryland has an 85-3-1 (.961) lifetime record in season openers dating back to the 1924 season. The Terps have won their last 19 openers and 26 of the last 27, with the only loss coming to Duke in 1993, when they fell to Duke 9-5 on March 6.

• After losing their 1925 opener to Yale, 5-3, the Terps went on to win 40 consecutive season openers from 1926 through 1967. The streak was broken when Maryland tied Princeton, 6-6, in the 1968 opener. Following the deadlock, Maryland went on to win its next 14 openers, giving the Terps a 54-0-1 record over a 57-year span (Maryland did not field a team in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II.)

21 STRAIGHT IN SEASON OPENERS

• After beating Mount St. Mary’s to open the 2013 season the Terps have an 20-game winning streak in season openers. Five of those wins came against Villanova (1994-98) and the last nine over Denver, Mount St. Mary’s (three times), Air Force, Hobart, Duke, Georgetown (four times), Bellarmine (twice), Presbyterian, Detroit Mercy and Hartford. Over the 21-year stretch, Maryland outscored its foes 306-108 (an average score of 14.6-5.1) in those games.

• The Terps have not allowed more than seven goals to any opponent in a season opener over the last 21 years. Maryland has not allowed an opponent to score 10 or more goals in a season opener since Syracuse beat the Terps, 16-13 on March 9, 1983.

FOUR TAKEN IN MLL DRAFT

• Led by senior defender Michael Ehrhardt, four Maryland men’s lacrosse student-athletes were chosen in the 2014 Major League Lacrosse collegiate draft.

• Ehrhardt was chosen seventh overall by the Charlotte Hounds, becoming the eighth Maryland player to be taken in the first round, joining Lee Zink (2004, 5th), Chris Passavia (2004, 6th), Joe Walters (2006, 1st), Bill McGlone (2006, 5th), Ray Megill (2007, 9th), Joe Cinosky (2008, 9th) and Jesse Bernhardt (2013, 4th).

• Senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk was the next Terrapin off the board, also joining the Hounds as the 11th overall selection.

• The third Terp to be selected was senior goalie Niko Amato, becoming the first Terp to join the Florida Launch, with the 29th overall selection.

• The final Terp to be drafted was senior short-stick defensive midfielder Brian Cooper, who earned the distinction of being 2014’s MLL equivalent of “Mr. Irrelevant” as the final selection of the draft, going with the 64th overall selection to the Chesapeake Bayhawks.


FIVE TERP ALUMS SELECTED FOR TEAM USA

• Five Maryland men’s lacrosse alumni were named to the 30-man roster for the U.S. National Team that will compete at the 2014 FIL World Championships from July 10-19 in Denver.

• Jesse Bernhardt (2013), Dan Burns (2011), Jeff Reynolds (2009), Drew Snider (2012) and Lee Zink (2004) made the team, which was selected from an original pool of 98 players through a seven-month selection process.

• Maryland’s five selections are tied for the most of any college program with Johns Hopkins, which also has five alums among the 30-man roster.


2014 TEAM CAPTAINS

• Four players have been named team captains for the 2014 season. The quartet, which was selected by a combination of team vote and coaches’ input, consists of seniors Tyler Adelsberger, Niko Amato, Mike Chanenchukand Michael Ehrhardt.


BIG TEN LACROSSE STARTS IN 2015

• The University of Maryland’s men’s lacrosse team will compete in the Big Ten Conference beginning with the 2015 season, following an announcement from the conference office on June 3, 2013 that the Big Ten has secured six men’s teams when Johns Hopkins was accepted as a sport affiliate member for men’s lacrosse only beginning with the 2014-15 academic year to give the Big Ten six men’s programs, joining Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.

• The six programs that will comprise Big Ten men’s lacrosse boast 56 national championships, with schools that have competed for more than a century. Johns Hopkins has been an independent since 1883 and leads all schools with 44 national championships. Maryland has claimed 11 national titles, while Rutgers has also won a national championship. The Scarlet Knights launched men’s lacrosse in 1887, followed by programs starting in 1913 for Penn State, 1924 for Maryland and 1953 for Ohio State. Michigan instituted a men’s lacrosse program in 2012. Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State each qualified for the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship in 2013, with the Buckeyes advancing to the quarterfinals.

 

 

 

 

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Steve Smith not looking to be Boldin, Andre Johnson in Kubiak’s system

Posted on 15 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens hope that much of what new wide receiver Steve Smith brings to the field won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet every week.

That’s not to say Baltimore won’t take advantage of the remnants of the 14th-year receiver’s ability in a career that includes five Pro Bowl selections, 12,197 receiving yards, and 67 touchdown receptions, but Smith’s intangibles were equally attractive to an offense that lacked a vocal leader willing to ruffle some feathers when needed last year. Smith has occasionally come under fire for his willingness to speak his mind and tell others what they might not want to hear, but coach John Harbaugh told the veteran during his free-agent visit that the Ravens want him to be himself.

The Ravens signed Smith to a three-year, $11 million contract on Friday afternoon.

“We’ve added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a released statement. “Steve is a proven player who has performed his best in big games and on the biggest stages like the playoffs and Super Bowl. He adds toughness to our offense, big-play ability, and leadership to our team.”

Those intangibles aside, what should the Ravens expect from a wide receiver set to turn 35 in May?

From the start of the offseason when Newsome and Harbaugh spoke about the Ravens’ need to add a wide receiver who can move the chains and pick up the tough yards after a catch, it sounded as though they were envisioning Anquan Boldin’s replacement as someone who can line up in the slot and make difficult catches over the short-to-intermediate middle portion of the field. The similarities in attitude between Boldin and Smith are clear, but the 5-foot-9 Smith has relied more on his speed on the outside throughout his career while Boldin is bigger and slower but has always made catches in traffic.

You can hardly blame Smith for not wanting to be compared to someone else after being one of the better receivers in the NFL over the last decade.

“I’m not Anquan Boldin,” said Smith when asked if he can fill the void of the former’s departure from a year ago. “I respect the heck out of ‘Q,’ and what ‘Q’ brings to the table is what ‘Q’ brings to the table. I’m Steve Smith, and what I bring to the table as a Baltimore Raven, I have to earn that, and my time on the field will display what I bring to the table.

“We play similar games; we want to win and we go all-out. But we’re also individuals, and I’m not here to replace anyone. I’m here to be myself.”

Determining what role Smith will play isn’t easy as many believe he’s lost a step after recording only 64 receptions for 745 yards last season, his lowest totals since 2010 when the Carolina Panthers were the worst team in the NFL with a 2-14 record. And the Ravens offense will clearly present a different look under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Smith met with Kubiak to discuss what his role would be in the Baltimore offense, using the coach’s offenses in Houston as a point of reference. The former Texans coach really didn’t have any player in Houston who compared to Smith in terms of physical makeup, but the veteran made it clear he’s not expecting to have the extensive role of No. 1 wide receiver Andre Johnson during all those years he played with Kubiak.

This is good news for an offense that can’t put all its hopes in a veteran receiver whose best days are behind him. Until proving otherwise, Smith should be a complementary option to fourth-year receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta as the featured parts of the passing game while Pitta and 6-foot-4 wideout Marlon Brown profile as better red-zone threats.

Quarterback Joe Flacco certainly doesn’t need a veteran nearing the end of his career demanding to be the focal point of the passing attack, so Smith’s position had to be a breath of fresh air for Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

“I know his system. I’ve seen his system,” Smith said about his discussion with Kubiak. “I’ve seen the very creative ways they’ve gotten other guys the ball. I want to be a part of that. One of the things I’ve seen for myself — I don’t see myself in coach Kubiak’s system like Andre Johnson. I see the complementary dude of Kevin Walter. I see how he contributed and how he was instrumental in getting Andre the ball but also getting his own opportunities.”

Smith said new teammate Torrey Smith is going to be a “fantastic” player, but it was interesting that the former Panther went out of his way to compare himself to Walter, who never recorded more than 900 yards in Kubiak’s offense. Walter’s run with the Texans came to an end in 2012, but he served as Houston’s No. 2 wideout behind the Pro Bowl receiver Johnson for several years and averaged 732.8 receiving yards per season as a possession receiver from 2007 through 2010.

Kubiak’s use of Walter in the slot fluctuated from year to year as he ran 45.8 percent of his routes from that spot in 2012 but ran less than 20 percent of his routes there in 2009 and 2010, two seasons in which he eclipsed 600 receiving yards. In contrast, Smith was rarely used in the slot under current Panthers coach Ron Rivera the last three seasons — only 15.5 percent of his routes last season and less than 10 percent of the time in 2011 and 2012 —  and was only used in the slot about a third of the time from 2007 through 2010.

Given the perception of his declining speed and lack of previous work in the slot, Smith compares favorably to former Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, who didn’t work very often in the slot after 2008 and caught 73 passes for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns at age 35 in 2009. The Ravens would be thrilled if Smith can post numbers even remotely approaching those of the 5-foot-10 Mason that season. He isn’t the deep-ball threat that he was in his prime, but Smith doesn’t need to be with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones as available vertical threats on the outside.

Perhaps the Ravens will simply need to rely on Kubiak’s creativity to maximize Smith’s ability at this stage of his career, but there’s no questioning how pleased they are to acquire a player with his pedigree to add to an offense that finished 29th in the league last season. And they hope his addition will be part of the solution to put Baltimore back among the elite in the AFC, even if there’s more work to be done on the offensive side of the ball.

“I believe and the Baltimore Ravens believe that I can help increase the chances of us being successful,” Smith said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to swing for the fence, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

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Newly-released receiver Steve Smith firmly on Ravens’ radar

Posted on 13 March 2014 by Luke Jones

What’s been expected for a couple days became official Thursday morning as the Carolina Panthers released longtime wide receiver Steve Smith.

And the Ravens are ready to pounce as multiple outlets immediately pointed to Baltimore as the favorite to land the 34-year-old wideout who had spent his entire 13-year career with the Panthers. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound receiver is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and has long been praised for his toughness and playmaking ability despite his slight stature.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Smith was to fly to Baltimore Thursday night to meet with the Ravens on Friday. However, New England, San Diego, Washington, and Seattle have also expressed interest in the veteran receiver, according to Yahoo! Sports.

“He can play. It would be nice,” wide receiver Jacoby Jones said after signing his four-year contract on Thursday. “[I’d have] open arms. If you can play, and they like you, then I love you.”

Smith was scheduled to carry a $7 million cap figure, but the Panthers instead elected to move on from the franchise’s all-time receiving leader after he recorded 64 catches for 745 yards in 15 games, his lowest totals since 2010. Carolina will still owe him $5 million as he will receive $3 million guaranteed and an additional $2 million in deferred bonus money.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh expressed their desire at the beginning of the offseason to acquire an impact receiver who can move the chains and gain yards after the catch. However, Smith’s 11.6 yards per catch average in 2013 was the second-lowest mark of his career (not counting the 2004 season in which he only played one game) and a sharp decline from the 16.1 yards he averaged per reception in 2012.

In his career, Smith has recorded seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has caught 67 touchdowns, but he will turn 35 in May.

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Maryland makes final ACC visit to North Carolina Tuesday night

Posted on 03 February 2014 by WNST Staff

Maryland (13-9, 5-4 ACC) at North Carolina (14-7, 4-4 ACC)

Hot off the heels of consecutive conference victories against Miami and Virginia Tech, Maryland heads to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on North Carolina for the final time in ACC play Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Watch: ACCN – Tim Brant (Play-by-Play, Mike Gminski (Analyst)

Listen: Terrapin Sports Radio Network – Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play), Chris Knoche (Analyst); Sirius 110, XM 191

Storylines

• North Carolina leads the all-time series 121-57, including a 57-16 mark at home against the Terps. The Terrapins won the inaugural ACC meeting between the teams on Dec. 18, 1954, as they pulled away for a 70-60 victory in Chapel Hill.

• The Terps mounted a 14-2 run to begin the second half and never looked back as they defeated Virginia Tech, 80-60, Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. Maryland shot over 50 percent for the second consecutive game, as Seth Allennotched a season-high seven assists in addition to 16 points.

• The matchup pits the conference’s top rebounding teams against each other, as North Carolina ranks first in the league with 41.3 rebounds per game and Maryland is second (38.2/g). The Terps are 11-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play when outrebounding their opponent.

• Junior Dez Wells has been sensational for the Terps over the last three games, averaging 19.7 points on 70 percent (19-of-27) shooting. He has shot 87 percent (20-of-23) from the charity stripe during that span.

• Head coaches Mark Turgeon and Roy Williams, who have a strong personal relationship, have met six times over the last two seasons. Junior Nick Faust is averaging 12.7 points in six career games against the Tar Heels, including three performances of 16 points or more. Dez Wells averaged 18 points on 53 percent shooting in three meetings last year.
Scouting North Carolina
North Carolina (14-7, 4-4 ACC) has won three consecutive games and four of its last five since beginning 0-3 in ACC play. The Tar Heels’ four victories in conference games have come by an average of 14.3 points, including a 14-point win over NC State on Saturday. UNC has strong victories against perennial powerhouses Kentucky and Michigan State, but also fell to UAB.
Sophomore Marcus Paige leads the Heels with 16.7 points/g in a team- high 35.6 minutes/g. Paige is lethal from the free throw line, shooting a conference-best 91 percent (84-of-92).
North Carolina leads the ACC with 41.3 rebounds/g, in addition to 14.71 offensive rebounds/g. The Tar Heels are also second in the ACC in points (76.0/g), trailing only Duke (81.9/g).

Back to the ‘Wells’
Junior Dez Wells continued his incredible play with a 19-point performance at Virginia Tech, downing the Hokies on 6-of-9 shooting (7-of-8 FT’s) to lead the Terps to victory.
Wells has been on fire over the last three games, averaging 19.7 points on 70 percent (19-of-27) shooting. He has also shot 87 percent from the free throw line during that span.
His most recent performance piggybacks his spectacular display against Miami, when he scored all 21 of his points in the second half on 7-for-7 shooting. Every shot Wells took went in the basket (6-for-6 FT’s), including the game-winning 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds remaining.

Statistically Speaking

  • Junior Evan Smotrycz has continued to shoot the ball well, shooting 55 percent (67 percent from 3-pt range) on 16-of-29 shooting over the last three games. He shot 9-of-36 (25 percent) in the previous three games.
  • Sophomore Jake Layman is shooting 50 percent over his last three games, averaging 14.3 points during that span.
  • Dez Wells has scored in double-figures in 17 of his last 18 games, and is averaging 19.7 points on 70 percent shooting over his last three games.
  • Maryland has shot over 48 percent in three straight ACC games for the first time in three seasons, last accomplishing the feat during the 2010-11 season.
  • The Terps are 10-1 when leading at the half, and also 10-1 when holding opponents under 70 points.

A Look Back: Dec. 18, 1954
The inaugural ACC meeting between Maryland and North Carolina took place on Dec. 18, 1954, when the Terps fought to a 70-60 victory in Chapel Hill. The Baltimore Sun game recap noted “Maryland controlled the backboards and threw up a defense that chilled North Carolina…”
Bob Everett led the Terrapins with 20 points, while teammate Frank Fuqua added 14. Tar Heel star Lennie Rosenbluth, the ACC’s leading scorer at the time, was held to 15 points on five field goals.
Maryland opened a 37-16 halftime advantage, as it held off a late North Carolina flurry to secure the victory. A total of five players fouled out in the game.

Terps Cruise Past Virginia Tech
Maryland guard Dez Wells scored 19 points to lead the Terrapins to an 80-60 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Maryland (13-9, 5-4 ACC) shot 51.8 percent (29 of 56), won its second in a row and beat the Hokies for the fourth-straight time. Wells shot 6-of-9 from the floor.
Maryland got 3-pointers on its final two possessions – from Seth Allen and Jake Layman – to take a 43-35 lead at halftime.
The Terrapins mounted a 14-2 run to grab a 17-point lead and take control. Wells scored four points in the run, including a one-handed dunk that prompted a Virginia Tech timeout with 16:06 remaining. Nick Faust’s 3-pointer capped the run and gave the Terrapins a 57-40 lead with 14:51 to go.

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“The Reality Check” Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Houston Texans (Last Week 32)

So nothing’s changed.

31. Washington Redskins (29)

I stand by it.

30. Oakland Raiders (27)

But at least there’s nothing.

29. Atlanta Falcons (31)

Mike Smith needed a win. He got it. Nothing more to see here.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26)

I have to talk about them for another month?

27. Cleveland Browns (25)

Caleb.Hanie.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

RED HOT.

25. Buffalo Bills (23)

They beat the Ravens. They BEAT THE RAVENS.

24. New York Jets (22)

They’re going to finish the season 32nd. I think.

23. Minnesota Vikings (28)

Looking forward to Matt Pondman starting at QB Sunday.

22. Green Bay Packers (21)

Just…Tebow.

21. St. Louis Rams (20)

Back to not being interesting.

20. New York Giants (24)

Honorary “best of the crappy teams”.

19. Tennessee Titans (18)

But if the Indianapolis Colts can’t fulfill their duties as AFC South champions.

18. Chicago Bears (15)

Nice run defense.

17. San Diego Chargers (16)

Not dead yet.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Goaltending the Difference In Caps Loss to Canes

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

In hockey, you often hear the saying, “Goaltending is the great equalizer.”

Well, you could use that term to describe the first 30 minutes of the Caps-Hurricanes game on Tuesday night. Washington dominated the play, in what Coach Adam Oates called his team’s “best first 30 minutes of the season,” but thanks to some super goaltending by Carolina goalie Justin Peters and two short side goals allowed by Braden Holtby to Jeff Skinner, the Caps trailed 2-0 with just under nine minutes to go in period two.

At that point Washington was still in the game, but Mikhail Grabovski made a major no-no, turning the puck over at his own blue line and then subsequently compounded a bad situation by taking a tripping penalty. The Canes scored on the man advantage on a screened point shot and the energy came right out of the Capitals. Carolina would make it 4-0 shortly thereafter. Mike Green notched a third period power play goal, his first of the season, as the Caps worked hard in the final frame but they could not solve Peters anymore.

Peters was very good on this night, his positioning was solid, but he was also fortunate, too. Jason Chimera had a wide open layup early in the game but somehow fanned on what would have given the Caps a 1-0 lead and perhaps changed the complexion of the game. Washington had numerous other chances that they either shot wide or Peters just happened to be in a spot where the puck hit him. He’s a streaky goalie and on Tuesday he was on (26 saves).

As for Holtby, this was not his night. Early on, an end over end puck that was shot from just inside the blue line hit the crossbar providing some foreshadowing for the tough night #70 would have. Holtby would be the first to tell you that he should have had both of Skinner’s goals. In the course of 82 games you are going to have bad outings and this just happened to be one of those for the young goaltender.

Despite the loss, the Caps improved play coming out of their zone since Dmitry Orlov joined the lineup on Saturday is encouraging. They are moving through the neutral zone with more speed and their puck possession in period one was excellent, as evidenced by their 23-14 advantage in attempted shots. Carolina was on their heels in the opening frame and Oates said the chances were 7-2 in his clubs favor.

The effort was there for the Caps in this contest and they skated well. This game was nothing like the Pittsburgh defeat where they were completely dominated by their opponent, so there is no need to go all “doom and gloom” after this loss.

The Capitals did a lot of good things in this game.

But goaltending, good at one end and subpar at the other end, can be the “great equalizer.”

That’s the way it went for the Capitals on Tuesday in their 4-1 loss to Carolina.

Notes: Holtby was yanked after 40 minutes and Philip Grubauer made nine saves on nine shots in the final period…John Carlson, who should make Team USA for the 2014 Olympics, was the Caps ice time leader at 22:58…Tom Wilson had a solid game and logged 10:44. #43 had 5 hits…the Caps were 1 for 5 on the power play while Carolina went 1 for 4… Washington is off until Saturday, when they host the Nashville Predators.

 

 

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Caps Start 2013-14 With High Expectations Once Again

Posted on 29 September 2013 by Ed Frankovic

It is awfully difficult to win a championship in professional sports but heading into 2013-14 that is once again the goal of the Washington Capitals, who have yet to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup since their inception in 1974. The Caps, who have made the playoffs the last six years, have another quality team as they prepare to open their season against the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks, in the Windy City on Tuesday night at 8pm on NBCSN.

On Sunday, Caps General Manager George McPhee made several moves to help put some clarity to the opening night roster culminating with a trade of center Matheiu Perreault to the Anaheim Ducks for a 4th round pick and AHLer John Mitchell. In addition, several players were sent to Hershey, including defenesemen Tyson Strachan and Dmitry Orlov. For now, here is what the Caps roster looks like:

Goalies (2): Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth

Defensemen (7): Mike Green, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, John Erskine, Jack Hillen, Steve Oleksy, and Connor Carrick

Forwards (14): Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Mikhail Grabovski, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer, Martin Erat, Tom Wilson, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera, Aaron Volpatti, and Michael Latta

The move of Perreault was predicted here last week and makes sense from a hockey and salary cap standpoint. This Caps team needed to get bigger and more powerful up front and Wilson’s outstanding camp made keeping him up with the main club, rather than shipping him back to a weaker league (OHL), an easy decision. The 19 year old, who was the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft, brings a dimension that this Washington team needs more of in the post season: size and the ability to score the tough goals in close. Six months with Coach Adam Oates and some highly talented teammates is what is needed for Wilson to continue his development, the OHL is just not going to help him get any better.

As for the rest of the squad, the strengths appear to be in goal and up front. Braden Holtby has established himself as a number one goalie and has the chance to move into the elite category with a very strong season. As McPhee told the media last Tuesday, to win the Stanley Cup you have to have great goaltending. #70 is the guy being counted on to deliver that, but Neuvirth is a more than capable net minder and will be needed to play well so that Washington can qualify for the post season in a very competitive Metropolitan Division.

At forward, the Capitals have some serious depth on the wings but still aren’t sure who is going to be the third line center. Backstrom has the first line locked up with Grabovski manning the second unit. The club could go with Beagle as the 3rd line center and Latta pivoting the 4th to start the season, but that depends on the health of the others, primarily Laich, who has been battling a hip flexor issue. Right wing is just loaded up with Ovechkin, Brouwer, Fehr, Wilson, and Ward. Both Fehr and Erat were tried at center this preseason by Oates with some success, so the head coach has lots of options. Johansson could play 3rd line center at some point too. The Caps have not had as talented a crew of forwards to start the season in many years and with the players they have there is lots of room for flexibility.

On defense, the top three is awfully good with Green, Alzner, and Carlson. After that, it gets dicey. Erksine was super last spring in the regular season but is he really a top 4 d-man? #4 will have a chance to prove it starting this week. Oleksy came out of seemingly nowhere to take a 3rd pair spot in the spring and Hillen overcame an early season injury to play a lot of quality minutes last year. Carrick was the biggest surprise of training camp, has great offensive skills and his hockey IQ is high. Learning to play defense in the NHL is harder than any other position so Washington has to be careful to not put too much on the 19 year old, who has incredible potential. The organization still has high hopes for Orlov, but given his injury situation last season, starting him in Hershey made too much sense. The 2009 2nd round pick will play top pair minutes in the AHL and can hone his craft for what appears to be an inevitable jump back to the NHL at some point during the 82 game season.

Special teams will be an important component of Washington’s success. Last season the Caps were #1 in the NHL with the power play (26.8%). You can expect it to remain at least top 5 and Oates and assistant coach Blaine Forsythe will continually be tweaking things to counter opposition tactics. As for the penalty kill, Laich stated on Tuesday that is one of the areas this Capitals club will have to improve in if they want to do well in the regular season and playoffs. The PK has been one of the team’s weaknesses the last few years and it was 27th out of 30 in 2012-13 with a success rate of only 77.9%.

In summary, the expectations are high for this Capitals team. The playoffs are not a given, but if this club can stay relatively healthy, then they have the talent to compete for the division title. Every team in the Metropolitan Division has its issues. The Penguins are the pick of many but their goaltending and team defense certainly has its question marks. Will the Rangers respond positively to a new coach in Alain Vigneault? How will the Devils do with the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk? The Flyers added Vinny Lecavalier but will Ray Emery or Steve Mason step up and be a top goalie in a pressure packed Philly market? Are the Islanders ready to take the next step up the ladder or was their playoff run last spring a one time deal? Is Columbus going to play like the team that nearly qualified for the post season last spring or the cellar dweller crew that started 2013? Finally, will Cam Ward returning in net for Carolina propel them to a winning season? Nothing is set in stone heading into the season and in the salary cap era every team has holes and/or issues. What is important is that the Capitals get off to a good start since coming from behind in the standings is not going to be as achievable as it was in the Southeast Division.

 

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Ravens-Panthers: Inactives and notes

Posted on 22 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — With what will likely be their final opportunity to showcase their final units this summer, the Ravens hope to prove they’re on track for the start of season with their opener in Denver only two weeks away.

Coach John Harbaugh intends to play most starters the entire first half against the Carolina Panthers, with certain veteran likely being removed late in the first half and others potentially playing into the third quarter. If the last few years are any evidence, the Ravens will not play most of their starters in next week’s preseason finale in St. Louis.

Many eyes will be veterans Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark, who are expected to receive extensive playing time against the Panthers after signing one-year deals with Baltimore following the first preseason game. The wide receiver position will be of special interest with as many as six healthy wide receivers taking extensive reps with the first-team offense over the last week of practice.

Right guard Marshal Yanda and cornerback Lardarius Webb were both active and were expected to receive their first preseason action of the summer. According to CBS Sports, Webb was only expected to see playing time in a limited capacity. Both linebacker Elvis Dumervil and defensive tackle Marcus Spears were suited up and going through warmups after returning to the practice field earlier in the week.

A surprise inactive was outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who practiced all week and hadn’t appeared to be dealing with any specific injury.

Running back Delone Carter was inactive a day after being acquired from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for wide receiver David Reed.

Thursday marks the sixth time the Ravens and Panthers have met in preseason action with Baltimore holding a 4-1 advantage. These teams last met at M&T Bank Stadium in 2006, which was a 23-21 victory for Carolina thanks to a big day by current Panthers receiver Steve Smith.

The Ravens will wear purple jerseys with white pants Thursday night while Carolina will wear white jerseys and white pants for the third preseason game of the summer.

Here are Thursday night’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
RB Delone Carter
TE Ed Dickson
TE Dennis Pitta
WR Deonte Thompson
OL Ryan Jensen
LB Jameel McClain
LB Pernell McPhee
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore

CAROLINA
WR Armanti Edwards
WR Joe Adams
RB Jonathan Stewart
FB Mike Tolbert
FB Michael Zordich
G Edmund Kugbila
OT Bruce Campbell
TE Ben Hartsock
WR Domenik Hixon
DE Mario Addison
DT Frank Kearse

Be sure to follow WNST on Twitter throughout the evening as Glenn Clark, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.

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