As practice ended on Monday and the Maryland lacrosse players dispersed, coach Dick Edell approached Brian Haggerty and simply winked.
No words. No explanations.
It's Hopkins-Maryland week, and nothing needs to be said, especially to Haggerty.
"It was to the effect: 'You remember last May, don't you?' " said Edell, referring to the Terrapins' 9-7 loss to Johns Hopkins in last year's NCAA quarterfinals. "He has a personal agenda to put that memory behind him."
It was 11 months ago when Haggerty, a freshman reserve, was thrust into a prominent role when Maryland's top faceoff specialist, Chris Nohe, reinjured his back after the opening draw. The result still haunts Haggerty.
Hopkins' Werner Krueger exposed Haggerty in the center of the field before the largest crowd at Homewood Field in 20 years, winning 11 of 17 faceoffs and scoring three goals.
"I felt after the game that I was the major reason we lost," Haggerty said. "Krueger was the guy who knocked us out of the game. He beat me. He beat me good."
Tomorrow, the rematch: Haggerty vs. Krueger. That's when the No. 5 Blue Jays travel to meet the No. 4 Terps at 1 p.m. at Byrd Stadium.
But it's a different scenario this time. Haggerty entered this season with a new-found determination and has elevated his game to become one of the top faceoff specialists in the country.
Haggerty has battled to win 63 percent (94 of 150) of his faceoffs and captured 13 of 18 against Navy last Saturday.
Still, Krueger remains his biggest test. By controlling 31 of his past 49 draws, he has won 60 percent (78 of 131) of his faceoffs this year.
"Werner was crucial [last year against Maryland]," Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "He allowed us to go ahead 7-0, and Maryland didn't get the ball as many times and didn't establish themselves.
"I think faceoffs are very important [tomorrow]. If one team dominates, it's going to be very big. We've listed it as one of the keys of the game."
In the past eight Hopkins-Maryland meetings, the team that has won the most faceoffs has emerged victorious.
"I think it's huge," Edell said. "When things are going good, it keeps going good. You can't put too much into faceoffs."
When Krueger and Haggerty go face-to-face and stick against stick, each will have different thoughts running through his mind.
Krueger doesn't consider faceoffs as showdowns between players. Winning the draw depends on reflexes, not countering the opponent's move.
This theory was drilled into him after practicing against then-starter Peter Jacobs as a freshman and sophomore. Krueger knew Jacobs' exact moves, but couldn't beat him because of inferior timing.
"You anticipate when the official is going to blow the whistle," said Krueger, a senior co-captain and a Centennial product. "After they say 'Set,' it's just a split second. If you react to the other guy's movement, you're going to be late and lose."
Haggerty takes a more confrontational approach. Using a clamp-down technique, he looks to scoop the ball through a series of mind games and guesses that he compares to the children's game of rock, paper, scissors.
Last year, Haggerty wasn't ready to play these sort of games. As a freshman, he played behind Nohe, taking an average of three faceoffs a game.
After the debacle in the NCAA quarterfinals, Haggerty still understood his role would be backing up Nohe this season. But he refused to be embarrassed like that again.
In the off-season, Haggerty ran and lifted rigorously to go from one of the worst-conditioned Terps to the top third on the team now. When Nohe came down with a season-ending ulcer in February, the job again was handed to Haggerty.
"If you would have told me on May 19, that dark Sunday that I am still trying to forget, that I would have to depend on Brian for our faceoffs, it would have been one of the worst summers for me at Maryland," Edell said. "But it was like he knew it was going to happen. He bought into our idea of work ethic."
Edell has since referred to Haggerty as the most valuable player of the first half of the season. Against ranked teams, Haggerty has proven to be the difference, winning 67 percent (80 of 119) of his faceoffs.
"That's little consolation," Haggerty said. "It still doesn't make up for last year."
In the Maryland-Johns Hopkins rivalry, the team that has won the most faceoffs has won seven of the past eight meetings.
Year .. Score .. .. Faceoffs
1991 .. UM 11-8 ... UM 13-10
1992 .. UM 13-9 ... UM 13-12
1993 .. JH 19-11 .. JH 21-14
1994 .. JH 12-10 .. JH 15-12
1995 .. JH 16-15 .. JH 19-17
.. . .. x-UM 16-8 . Tied 14-14
1996 .. UM 12-9 ... UM 14-10
.. . .. y-JH 9-7 .. JH 14-6
x-NCAA semifinal; y-NCAA quarterfinal
Pub Date: 4/11/97