After Maryland’s 11-8 win against Navy on April 5, the team improved to 8-1 and was an early favorite to earn the top seed in the NCAA tournament. Since then, the team has dropped two of its last three contests – including a 13-6 loss to Virginia as the No. 1 seed in a semifinal of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
But as analysts suggest that the No. 11 Terps are beginning to lose their grip on one of the tournament’s eight seeds and a home game in the first round, coach John Tillman said he’s not concerned about his team’s position.
“We never really look at rankings or talk about seedings or anything like that,” he said during his weekly conference call Tuesday morning. “Our goal is to try to be the best team we can be, and because of the nature of our schedule, we’re going to go through some ups and downs and we’re going to be tested every week. We knew that – just like anybody else out there – this team has some areas of strength and then we have some areas that we’re working on. We need to make sure that we’re in the right place, we’re working hard, we have attention to detail, we’re playing with urgency. I think when we’ve played that way, we’ve played at a better level collectively and had more success. When we haven’t played that way, we’ve been very vulnerable and in fact rather average. But I think that’s the goal for everybody. Everybody’s got to go through that this year.
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“There have been moments when teams have played better and then they’ve played worse,” Tillman continued. “It’s a long year. People forget that these are young people, college-age students with a lot of things going through their minds, a lot of distractions. They’re not robots. There are a lot of things that pull at them. So trying to maintain their focus and create that sense of urgency and attention to detail, that’s something that every college coach tries to do. That’s certainly something that we’re focused on right now, but we realize that there are some things that we have to improve upon, and the level of our opponents has told us that these are some things that we’ve got to get better at, and those are things that we’re addressing. We’re hoping that if we continue to emphasize them, we will improve. We have kids that really care, kids that are committed. I’m excited to see if we can continue to get better down the stretch.”
Maryland can turn down the din by beating Colgate (8-6) this Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park in the regular-season finale for both teams. Securing 10 victories should be enough to have the Terps open the NCAA tournament at home rather than the last two years when they’ve been forced to win first-round contests at North Carolina in 2011 and Lehigh in 2012.
“Getting a win on Saturday would get us to 10 wins and to have 10 wins with the schedule that we’ve played in college lacrosse, to me, that’s a major accomplishment if we’re able to do that,” Tillman said. “And that’s a big if because the team we’re playing is a very talented team, a team that was in the [NCAA tournament] quarterfinals last year. Many of those pieces are back, and on any given day, they can beat anybody, and I think college lacrosse has proven that this year.”