Top-seeded Maryland's 13-6 victory over Quinnipiac in Sunday's NCAA tournament first-round game included a 5-0 run to end the third quarter that was capped by a transition goal initiated by senior defenseman Matt Dunn.
The Towson resident and Loyola Blakefield graduate scooped up a ground ball off a caused turnover in the defensive end, carried the ball into the offensive end, and kicked off a tic-tac-toe passing sequence with the ball going from Dunn to freshman attackman Louis Dubick to junior attackman Colin Heacock (Boys' Latin) to junior Matt Rambo for a score just before the end-of-quarter horn sounded.
Dunn chuckled when asked about the play during the team's postgame news conference.
"I don't really think too much about it," he said. "I usually don't play in transition that often. We were kind of joking about it earlier. But yeah, I don't think anybody on our team really cares too much about their own personal numbers – more so just the overall team outcome. So I think everybody is looking for the open guy, looking to make the right play. It's the best play for the team at that moment."
Coach John Tillman joked that Dunn was the target of some teasing for the lumbering strides he took, but said the Terps coaching staff has plenty of confidence in the long-poles carrying the ball.
"We do a lot of stick work in practice, and the guys played a lot of box in the offseason, and I think that's helped our stick work," Tillman said Tuesday morning during a conference call. "When we play box, the defensive guys play offense. It's fun for them and we want them to get confident. They do shooting drills during the week, the defensive guys. So it is a part where if you can get a long-pole scoring or leading the break, those are momentum goals that can really help you."
Maryland (15-2) – which will meet No. 8 seed Syracuse (12-4) in Saturday's NCAA tournament quarterfinal in Providence, R.I., at 12 p.m. – has recently found sources other than the traditional 6-on-6 set to score goals. The team got two scores in transition against Quinnipiac, a tally off a faceoff and another off a failed clear against Rutgers on May 7, a goal in transition against Penn State on May 5 and another score off a failed clear against Johns Hopkins on April 30.
Tillman acknowledged the general criticism that the Terps want to slow games down and avoid a run-and-gun style, but he said there is an emphasis to generate scoring chances in unsettled situations.
"That's something we've got to continue to try to push and explore opportunities, yet have an opportunistic mindset where we're not reckless but we're going to look for some opportunities early," he said. "At this time of the year, you can't play conservatively. You've got to play to win, and we're certainly going to keep doing that going forward."