Today, the #1 Maryland Terrapins opened their home schedule on a gorgeous day in Byrd Stadium against interstate rival and 15th ranked Towson. The first half was all Maryland as Towson couldn’t manage to get the ball past a hot Harry Alford and Maryland fogo David Tamberrino was dominant at the X. Alford wasn’t the only hot keeper though – Towson fifth year Mark DeGroat kept the game from being out of hand by halftime. Tony Seaman had his team ready for the second half as Towson came to life in the third quarter and forced the game to a higher tempo. Eventually, Maryland’s defense put on the clamps and the experienced offensive leaders put out the Tigers’ fire and rode the game out for a 9-6 victory.
First blood was drawn by one of the usual suspects, as POY hopeful Joe Walters let loose one of his lefty blasts off a Mike Phipps feed about five minutes into the game. The rest of the first saw a few scoring chances for each team and some exciting between the lines action from poles on both squads. Terp freshman Dan Groot scored the 2nd goal of the game on an iso from back left with only eight seconds left in the quarter.
The second quarter saw some more end to end excitement, with a lot of action between the lines. Towson’s offense managed a few great chances, but Alford was up to the task and kept them off the board. Maryland’s EMO unit continued to be cruelly efficient when Brendan Healy converted a Xander Ritz feed into the Terps 3rd goal. Not to be outdone by big brother, Max Ritz handed out a helper of his own to Walters less than a minute later, and the Terps went into the half with a 4-0 advantage.
The Tigers came to play in the third quarter, outscoring the Terps 5-1 in the period and taking control of the game’s momentum. Steve Mull threaded a pass through traffic to Bobby Griebe for Towson’s first goal. Ninety seconds later, Towson’s Kyle Fiat dodged underneath from the left wing and got annihilated by a sliding Steve Whittenberg as he finished the ball past Alford. Maryland seemed to stop the bleeding when Bill McGlone converted an extra man chance shortly thereafter.
However, Fiat had other plans as he went back to the lefty wing for another iso. This time he took his man topside and uncorked a beauty into the nearside corner with less than two minutes left in the 3rd. Towson’s cheering section erupted and the Tigers began to feel momentum on their side. Towson shortstick and do-it-all midi Casey Cittadino scored coming around from the right side of X after clearing the ball to pull the Tigers within one. The Tigers knotted the score less than half a minute later when Griebe converted a man-up chance and Towson seemed to have all the momentum on their side as the quarter ended.
The break between quarters couldn’t have come at a better time – the Terps regrouped and looked like a different team in the 4th. Xander Ritz scored an unassisted goal and Brendan Healy followed with two of his own early in the quarter to take the wind out of Towson’s sails. Brian Vetter scored on EMO with four minutes left to give Towson hope but a dagger soon followed. With just over two minutes remaining and a flag down for offsides, Joe Walters milked some time off the clock before charging around from the leftside of X and firing a no look shot between DeGroat and the near pipe for the game’s final goal.
Although Towson showed they are capable of some serious offensive output in the 3rd quarter, Maryland played a more complete game and was successful in defending their #1 ranking. Maryland looks like a very dangerous team at this point; they are playing extremely stingy and physical defense, Alford is a beast in the cage, Tamberrino is controlling the faceoffs, and a disciplined and efficient offense led by seniors is putting up the necessary numbers. At this point, it seems very possible that we will see three ACC teams in the Final Four again in ’06.
Maryland vs. Towson