By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
4:41 PM EDT, March 17, 2012
Maryland's lacrosse game against Villanova lasted nearly two hours, but it took about 15 minutes to determine the winner.
No. 11 Maryland jumped out to a six-goallead in the first 12 minutes asthe Terps easily defeated No. 9 Villanova, 11-5, before a crowd of nearly 2,000 at Byrd Stadium on Saturday .
Maryland junior attackman Owen Blye had four goals, while midfielder Michael Shakespeare and attackman Billy Gribbin each had two to pace the Terps (4-1), who never struggled after building the big lead.
Villanova (4-2), playing without two starting midfielders in Matt Bell and Max Hart, didn't get their first shot until there were 2 minutes and 38 seconds left in the first quarter.
"All week the coaches had talked to us about their quick starts and in three of their games, they had scored six goals in the first quarter," Blye said. "So, we worked on being explosive in the first 30 minutes of each practice. We talked about playing with great intensity because we knew it would benefit us. We wanted to be able to take their initial blow."
The Wildcats didn't survive the pressure put on by Maryland. Even with Hart and Bell, they may have been outclassed by the Terps who had more speed and athleticism.
Maryland defenders slid hard to the crease and they smothered Villanova attackman Jack Rice, who had only one goal on three shots. Rice, a junior, had entered the game as Villanova's top scorer with 14 goals.
Villanova's pick and roll offense, which involves a lot of one and two man games at the top or near the crease, was shut down.
"If you are not shooting, you are not scoring," said Maryland goalie Niko Amato, referring to Villanova being shutout in the first quarter. "Those guys can get a couple of goals on the quick because they are fast and they play up tempo."
Maryland dominated the first half and had an 8-2 lead at the end of the second quarter. Most of the damage, though, was done in the first period when the Terps scored six straight goals.
"We took away their strengths [Saturday] , and we weren't coming off No. 2 [Rice]," said, Amato, who finished with 12 saves. "We wanted to limit his shots and the defense put me in a good position to make saves."
In that first period, Maryland outshot Villanova, 14-2, and the Terps won five of seven faceoffs. The Terps were deliberate and patient, often drawing the Wildcats into mismatches and winning against their short poles.
Gribbin and Blye each had two goals in the first period. The Terps weren't nearly as dominant in the second period, but they still controlled the pace of the game. Villanova's C.J. Small and Kevin Cunningham each scored a goal within a minute early in the second quarter, but Maryland junior midfielder John Haus closed out the scoring with an extra-mangoal with 4:05 left in the half.
If Villanova was thinking about a comeback, its momentum was squelched early in the third quarter when Shakespeare connected on a low bouncer six minutes into the period for a 9-2 Maryland lead.
"Going in, we felt we could attack their short poles and that they slid early to protect them," Blye said. "We got the early lead and then they adjusted. After that, we had to adjust again.
"I knew I had scored some goals early in the game, but it's not something you think about."I think about wins, and it was nice getting that early led because it gets the monkey off your back, and just allows you to play."
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