Owen Blye grew up playing attack in Chester Springs, Pa., but he quickly became familiar with a certain defenseman named Tucker Durkin who grew up about 40 miles away in Huntingdon Valley, Pa. Blye committed to Maryland and Durkin made his way to Johns Hopkins and this Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park, the pair will meet again as opponents.
“I actually played against him sometimes in our summer league,” Blye, a fifth-year senior, recalled Tuesday afternoon. “He’s a great defenseman, and obviously they have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a big, physical guy, and he’s done really well over there. So we understand that they have a lot of good parts and they know what makes them successful. So we’re going to have to be really prepared this week and understand what’s coming.”
Durkin leads the No. 15 Blue Jays (6-4) in caused turnovers with 13 and ranks third in ground balls with 22. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Durkin was most impressive in the team’s 10-9 loss to No. 14 Albany last Friday night when he shut out sophomore attackman Lyle Thompson, who is the leading scorer in Division I this season.
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“He’s certainly one of the best out there and we have a ton of respect for him,” said coach John Tillman, who will lead the No. 4 Terps (8-1). “With us, everything that we do revolves around the six guys working together. We have to be that way. We know we’re going to play really good defensemen throughout the course of the year. So we make it a point not to be one-dimensional in terms of who we’re dodging. If you just line up and all you do is dodge Tucker Durkin, I really don’t feel like you’re going to be very successful with a steady diet of that just because he’s so good at what he does. We’ve got to make sure that we just play team offense and make sure that we make good judgments and look for good matchups and share the ball and play fast and make good decisions.”
Durkin could shadow either senior attackman Kevin Cooper (17 goals and 14 assists) or Blye (13, 7). Blye insisted that he did not know about Durkin’s play against Thompson, but he said that he would not shy away from butting heads with Durkin.
“You always want to play against the best guys,” Blye said. “That’s what every athlete or competitor wants. … I just kind of take the approach that I want to execute our game plan each week and you want to play against the best guys because that’s why you came to a school like Maryland and that’s why you go to a school like Hopkins. It’s to play the best competition.”