COLLEGE PARK -- For all of the attention heaped on the precocious freshman attack that powers the Maryland men's lacrosse team, the defense laden with upperclassmen tends to get overshadowed.
That wasn't the case yesterday as an announced crowd of 1,360 watched the unit anchor the Terps' 10-7 win over visiting Denver in an NCAA tournament first-round game at Byrd Stadium.
The seventh-seeded Terps (10-5) will meet No. 2 seed Virginia (12-3) or UMBC (12-3) - which play today at 5 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va. - on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Eighth-ranked Maryland advanced to its fifth quarterfinal in the past six years courtesy of a defensive effort spearheaded by seniors Joe Cinosky, Ryne Adolph and Jacob Baxter and sophomore Brian Farrell.
After surrendering five goals in the first 22 minutes, 22 seconds, the Terps' defense shut out the Pioneers (10-7) over the next 30:06. Denver was also outshot, 43-23, and committed 29 turnovers to Maryland's 16.
"We just kept at it," said Cinosky, who caused four turnovers, collected four ground balls and scored his first goal of the season (the second of his career). "Nothing changed. We kept the same game plan. We just kind of put our heads down and worked through it."
The defense was especially sharp against Denver's prolific offensive duo of junior Cliff Smith and freshman Jamie Lincoln, who had combined for 72 of their team's 180 goals. Yesterday, Lincoln finished with just one goal and Smith was held without a point.
"The defense played tremendously," said Terps sophomore goalkeeper Brian Phipps, who allowed just two goals while making six saves. "[The Pioneers'] whole philosophy is they like to shoot inside. So you keep them outside, and we'll be successful."
Trailing 5-2 with 7:38 left in the second quarter, Maryland - which won its first game when trailing after the first quarter - rallied thanks to four Denver penalties. The Terps scored on three of those extra-man situations to tie the score at 5 by halftime.
A piece of good luck ignited a 4-0 run by Maryland spanning the third and fourth quarters. Junior midfielder Dan Groot took a shot from a sharp angle, missing the net and Denver junior goalie Austin Konkel (13 saves). But the ball bounced off Pioneers sophomore defenseman Dillon Roy and into the cage with 6:14 left in the third.
"We knew we had it in us," said freshman attackman Grant Catalino, who led all scorers with four points on two goals and two assists. "The ball just wasn't falling our way.
"The goalie was making outstanding saves, but I thought if we just kept shooting, eventually the ball would fall our way and we'd come back."
Senior midfielder Max Ritz scored two goals, and Groot, junior midfielder Jeremy Sieverts and freshman attackman Ryan Young each posted a goal and an assist.
The Pioneers' only two NCAA tournament appearances have ended with losses to the Terps in the first round.
Denver was led by junior Joey Murray and sophomore Charley Dickenson, midfielders who each recorded a goal and two assists.
Denver 3 2 0 2 - 7
Maryland 2 3 2 3 - 10
Goals: D-Gajic 2, C. Dickenson, J. Dickenson, Lincoln, Koll, Murray; M-Catalino 2, Ritz 2, Cinosky, Evans, Groot, Sieverts, Weiss, Young. Assists: D-C. Dickenson 2, Murray 2; M-Catalino 2, Farrell, Groot, Holmes, Sieverts, Young. Saves: D-Konkel 13 ; M-Carter 3, Phipps 6.