COLLEGE PARK – Johns Hopkins may be Maryland’s arch rival in men’s lacrosse, but true Terps want a win against one team more than any other.
“We just really want to beat Duke,” said starting junior attack Billy Gribbin.
Maryland and Duke have met ten times in the ACC Tournament, with each team winning five. Overall, Maryland is 59-19 against the Blue Devils, compiling more wins against Duke than against any other school.
Earlier this year, Maryland defeated Duke 10-7 in College Park on March 3rd.
Maryland took a commanding 5-1 lead after the first quarter and led 9-4 after three quarters.
“They whacked us. I think they took their foot off us at the end because they had such a big lead,” Duke head coach John Danowski said.
The following week, current top-ranked Loyola took down the Blue Devils in Baltimore to drop Danowski’s team to 3-3.
Duke hasn’t lost since, outscoring their opponents 102-72. They’ve reeled off eight wins in a row and are one of the hottest teams in Division I men’s lacrosse.
“They’re a very different team than we last played. It’s just a completely revamped team,” said Gribbin, who scored a goal and added two assists in the first Duke-Maryland matchup this season.
A trio of sophomore attackmen have propelled Duke’s offense. Each has scored at least 20 goals this season.
Leading the way: sophomore Jordan Wolf, who made the All-ACC team as a freshman in 2011 and again this year. With 50 points [26 goals and 24 assists] through 14 games, he is on pace to surpass last year’s point total that earned him honorable mention All-American honors on Friday.
Maryland freshman defender Goran Murray shadowed Wolf for much of the game in March and held him to just one assist on the day.
“I know him from back home and he’s going to try and get revenge from last time,” Murray said.
Duke is coming off their biggest win of the season. The Blue Devils toppled former top-ranked Virginia 13-5 last Friday night in Charlottesville.
Duke held onto a 4-2 lead at halftime, but reeled off five goals in a span of 9:42 to run away with the contest. Virginia only scored five goals, the lowest all year for the defending national champs.
“We’re not fooled by…that. We know we’re not eight goals better than Virginia,” Danowski said. “We’re a good team, we’re not a great team.”
Maryland head coach John Tillman said neither team can use the same game plan as last time and must make adjustments on the fly.
For Maryland, the key will be slowing down Duke during the first 12 seconds of each possession so that the Terps can play six-on-six defense, Tillman said.
“You’ve really got to stay focused, if not, they’ll run by somebody, they’ll pick somebody, they’ll throw the ball through,” Tillman said. “[Virginia was] thinking the same thing, yet they still couldn’t stop them.”
Tillman also said Duke has the best long stick midfielder and one of the most underrated players in college lacrosse in senior LSM CJ Costabile.
“He picks up ground balls, he can cause some chaos, he can handle the ball under pressure, he can trail check you because he’s so fast, he covers your best middie. He is really, really good. I think he’s a first team All-American,” Tillman said.
Danowski says the best part about Costabile is his ability to apply pressure on face-offs even if the other guy wins the draw.
“You can lose a face-off but not necessarily lose possession of the ball,” Danowski said.
Maryland boasts the 15th-ranked offense in the country, averaging more than 11 goals a game.
No Terrapin has scored more than 17 goals on the year, but ten different players have scored at least five goals.
Although the Terps finished last in the conference, Maryland had a league-high four All-ACC selections this week.
If Maryland senior captain and midfielder Drew Snider and his team need any more motivation, they just need to look at their fingers.
“We just got our rings [for last year’s ACC title] a couple weeks ago. It was such a good feeling to finally get it and we want that feeling again this year. Hopefully come Sunday, we’ll be holding that trophy in the air.”
Tune in to WMUC Sports beginning at 4:45 p.m. to hear the game or watch all the ACC Tournament action on ESPNU.