WASHINGTON -- Who cares if it wasn't aesthetically pleasing? Season openers so rarely are. Instead, to hear Terps lacrosse coach Dave Cottle tell it, Maryland's 10-4 victory over Georgetown yesterday was about toughness.
It was about fighting for ground balls, elbowing for defensive position, sprinting until there was no oxygen left in the lungs, and taking a punch (sometimes quite literally) without going down. And for now, those qualities are all that matters.
"I thought Maryland played tough today," said Cottle, who is 16-0 against Georgetown as a coach at both Maryland and Loyola. "We hustled and we cared today. It was a physical, tough game like it always is against Georgetown, and our kids came to bat. They buckled their chin straps, got knocked down and got back up."
The third-ranked Terps (1-0) and the seventh-ranked Hoyas (0-1) know one another quite well by now, having played twice last season, including once in the NCAA quarterfinals in which Maryland ended Georgetown's season with a 9-8 overtime victory.
But yesterday's game was much more similar to the season opener a year ago for both teams, when the Terps shut down the Hoyas in the second half for a 13-6 win. Georgetown grabbed a 2-1 lead this time, but from that point Maryland dominated, holding the Hoyas scoreless for 38 minutes while reeling off nine consecutive goals and winning, at one point, 13 of 14 face-offs.
Siblings Maxwell Ritz and Xander Ritz scored four goals each (career highs for both), and goalie Harry Alford made 16 saves as the Terps took advantage of 11 Georgetown penalties.
"We did really well [with a man advantage] today," said Xander Ritz, who had just 18 goals all of last season. "I thought we did a great job of being disciplined and not retaliating on their penalties."
Things got tense and emotional in the second half, especially as Georgetown's frustration began to build. With Maryland leading 7-2 in the third period, senior defender Ryan Lang drilled a Hoyas attackman, knocking the ball loose into the penalty box.
During a mad scramble for the ground ball, tempers boiled over and as the two sidelines had to be separated by the officials after pushing and shoving resulted in a few punches being thrown. (Both teams were flagged for unnecessary roughness.)
"Our guys were getting frustrated, feeling like the calls were going one way," Hoyas coach Dave Urick said. "But you don't like to see that happen. I'd like to think that's not what we're all about."
Cottle, however, didn't seem to mind that some of his team briefly turned into amateur pugilists. With a brutal early-season schedule, the Terps, who next travel to face No. 1 Duke on Saturday, need all the emotion they can summon this early in the year.
"You've got to fight," Cottle said. "Tough guy always wins. And this game, you've got to be tough. We have tremendous respect for Georgetown's players and coaches, and we knew if we didn't bring our toughness today, we were in trouble. They'd run you off the field. And I thought our kids brought their toughness today."
Maryland 1 3 5 1 -- 10
Georgetown 2 0 0 2 -- 4
Goals: M--M. Ritz 4, X. Ritz 4, McGlone, Hartofilis; G--B. Cannon, Casey, Baird, Garnett. Assists: M--Phipps 3, Walters 3, Healy 2, M. Ritz; G--B. Cannon, P. Cannon. Saves: M--Alford 14, Carter 2; G--Kass 12.