Daunting Duo

The Baltimore Sun

As attackmen for the Maryland men's lacrosse team, Will Yeatman and Grant Catalino are often targeted by opposing defensemen.

And they make huge targets - Yeatman, a junior, is 6 feet 6 and 260 pounds, and Catalino, a sophomore, is 6-5 and 240 pounds - and they've got the scars and bruises to prove it.

A cut on Yeatman's right shoulder blade is almost scabbed over, and angry red welts along his right triceps and elbow are healing. Catalino said he has similar bumps and bruises on his upper body and legs.

"I do get hacked a lot," Yeatman said. "But it's something I've been used to playing lacrosse for so long."

Catalino added: "We definitely get checked the hardest out of anybody."

Yeatman and Catalino expect to be subject to more slashes, spears and whacks as opponents attempt to limit the Terps' "Two Towers" offensive approach. They are the most obvious pillars of No. 8 Maryland's attack, which will tangle with No. 14 Duke in the second game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T; Bank Stadium today.

Handling Catalino, who led the Terps in goals (29) and points (42) last season, figured to be a priority for opposing defenses. Since Yeatman, who paced Notre Dame with 46 points on 21 goals and 25 assists in 2007, transferred to Maryland in December, opponents have had to rewrite their defensive playbooks.

Teams have to decide among a few defensive options. Marking Yeatman and Catalino with their biggest defensemen seems to be the simplest approach, but ESPN analyst Mark Dixon said Yeatman, who runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, can outrun lumbering long-pole defenders, and Catalino is nearly as nimble.

Some opponents assign their most athletic defensemen, but if they're too light, Yeatman and Catalino can use brute force to create opportunities in front of the net.

Another option is switching from a man-to-man defense to zone, which clogs the area in front of the net and dares offenses to take low-percentage shots from the outside.

That might contain Yeatman and Catalino, but sharpshooters such as sophomore attackman Travis Reed (20 goals on .323 shooting percentage last season), senior midfielder Jeff Reynolds (19, .333) and junior defenseman Brian Farrell (eight, .571) will take advantage of suddenly open shooting lanes.

"I think if you feel like you can't cover them, then your answer is the zone," Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. "The one thing is that Will is a very good passer and Grant is a very good passer. So it's not that they're just one-dimensional guys. "

As if to prove Cottle's point, Yeatman leads the team with seven assists and Catalino ranks second with five. Catalino (five goals) and Yeatman (three goals) are also 1-2 in points.

But Georgetown might have provided a blueprint for stifling the Terps' offense. The Hoyas shadowed Yeatman with 6-6, 220-pound junior Barney Ehrmann and marked Catalino with 6-2, 200-pound junior Eric Bicknese.

Yeatman did not record a point for the first time in his career, and Catalino was limited to two goals as the then-No. 17 Hoyas pulled off a 13-10 upset of then-No. 3 Maryland last Saturday.

"I think my size definitely helped out," said Ehrmann, a Gilman graduate. "Give him all the credit in the world, though. He's a tough player and a really nice kid."

Taking nothing away from Ehrmann's play, Yeatman vowed to improve, saying, "I look forward to rebounding next week."

Cottle did not seem alarmed about Yeatman's performance.

"Will is still a young player, an experienced player that has a body of a man but needs to understand sometimes how to do this thing," Cottle said. "It's going to be a learning thing, and he'll be better because of this."

Loyola coach Charley Toomey agreed. Though his defensemen, 6-1, 195-pound junior Steve Dircks and 5-9, 180-pound junior Steve Layne, managed to limit Yeatman and Catalino to two goals and an assist in a scrimmage last month, Toomey said it's still early.

"They're a very talented group," he said. "You've got to remember that Grant is only a sophomore and Will hasn't played for a year. When those guys have a couple games under their belt at game speed, they're going to be a better attack than they were a month ago."

face-off classic

NO. 4 JOHNS HOPKINS (1-0)

VS. NO. 19 PRINCETON (1-0)

Today, noon

NO. 14 DUKE (2-1)

VS. NO. 8 MARYLAND (2-1)

Today, 2:30 p.m.

Site: M&T; Bank Stadium

TV: ESPNU

Tickets: 410-261-7283, ticketmaster.com, faceoffclassic.com

Matchup: No. 19 Princeton (1-0)

vs. No. 4 Johns Hopkins (1-0)

Outlook: Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala has emphasized getting contributions from a variety of sources, but junior attackman Steven Boyle and sophomore attackman Kyle Wharton are still the go-to guys on offense. Princeton received 11 goals from its attack unit in last Saturday's 14-6 win over Canisius.

Matchup: No. 14 Duke (2-1)

vs. No. 8 Maryland (2-1)

Outlook: The Blue Devils might borrow tactics Georgetown used to handcuff the Terps' offense last Saturday. Duke's starting defense averages 6 feet 3 and 220 pounds and is fast enough to keep up with Maryland's attack. Senior attackman Ned Crotty leads the Blue Devils in assists (eight) and points (12).

Edward Lee

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