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Maryland working on turning anger into focus

No one likes to lose and Maryland is no exception.

It’s been five days since the Terps were upset Saturday, 10-8, by then-No. 10 North Carolina – an outcome that saddled the team with its first loss in seven games and cost it the No. 1 spot in most polls and rankings. As No. 5 Maryland (6-1) prepares for Saturday’s showdown with Atlantic Coast Conference rival and No. 13 Virginia (5-4), the emotion from the setback has ebbed, but not entirely disappeared.

“Obviously, we were disappointed,” fifth-year senior midfielder Jake Bernhardt said Tuesday. “We don’t want to lose a game. Some guys were ready to move on. Even right after the game, they wanted to get going. We couldn’t do anything about it now. The game was over. And then some guys were [ticked] off, and that’s normal. It was good and now we’re ready to move onto this week.”

Anger can be interpreted as a positive sign as it suggests that the players care about their performances and want to achieve the most success possible. But coach John Tillman said channeling that anger positively is a challenge for players and coaches alike.

“I think the big thing for us is just being focused, being very purposeful, trying to get better every day,” he said. “Any time you play a game, there are teachable moments. Those lessons are a little bit harder to learn after you lose because they sting a little bit more. It was obviously a two-goal game, but we can’t read too much into that and we can’t get too high or too low. We need to do some things better and a team like North Carolina and much like some of the other teams we’ve played, when you don’t do something right or you make some mistakes, they typically take advantage of that. We need to look at film and address some areas and coach better and see if we can play better.”

As frustrating as Saturday’s contest was, the Terps know that they have five more regular-season contests and at least one game in the upcoming ACC tournament. Senior midfielder John Haus echoed something that redshirt junior goalkeeper Niko Amato said after Maryland had knocked off then-No. 1 and reigning national champion Loyola, 12-10, on Feb. 23.

“[T]he thing is, there’s just so much more of the season left,” Haus said. “Like Niko said earlier, one game in February is not going to define you. So for us to say that one game at the end of March is going to define us is not true. For us to take what we did wrong and what we need to work on is what is going to define us and make us better, and we are going to try to get where we really want to be.”

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