Brown coach Lars Tiffany joked that the return of Tewaaraton Award finalist Dylan Molloy from a broken right foot for Saturday’s NCAA tournament semifinal against top-seeded Maryland may have been aided by runs to Chipotle as the program’s medical staff kept the junior attackman under near-constant supervision.
The strategy – and a pain-reducing injection – worked somewhat as Molloy, a first-team All American who suffered what Tiffany called a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in the fourth quarter of a 17-8 thumping of Johns Hopkins in the first round on May 14, returned after sitting out an 11-10 win against Navy in the quarterfinals on May 21. Molloy, the Division I leader in assists (54) and points (116), said he never intended to miss the semifinal despite Tiffany’s previous assertion that Molloy was “unlikely” to play.
“Physically, pretty beat up,” Molloy said of his condition after the contest. “My foot’s killing me. But I needed to be out there. After last weekend, being on the sideline was probably the hardest thing ever. I just couldn’t do that again. So whatever the risks were, I had to take it. I just needed to be out there with my team once more.”
Tiffany was effusive in his praise of Molloy.
“He is one of the toughest men to ever put a lacrosse helmet on,” Tiffany said. “To play this game with a broken foot, a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal, is phenomenally heroic. I believe there has never been a stronger effort that has been put out there by an athlete and the training staff.”
Molloy scored two goals on three shots despite limited runs in a 15-14 overtime loss to the Terps, but Maryland senior defenseman Matt Dunn – who matched up against Molloy on both of those goals – said Molloy did not appear that much different from his earlier self.
“He’s obviously a great player,” said Dunn, a Towson resident and Loyola Blakefield graduate. “Having him back in the lineup for them definitely posed different challenges for us. He got some goals on some good shots because he is a really good player.”
Circling back to “Three Things to Watch” …
1) Brown’s transition. The Bears (16-3) got goals from senior faceoff specialist Will Gural and junior long-stick midfielder Larken Kemp off of faceoffs wins and another tally from senior attackman Henry Blynn off of a Maryland turnover during a clear attempt, but the Terps (17-2) did a fair job of getting back on defense and influencing Brown to play six-on-six. Dunn credited his teammates on offense for slowing the Bears, who had 11 shots turned aside by redshirt senior goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr.
“I think our offense did a great job of not letting them catch the ball and get out and get behind us in those uneven scenarios,” Dunn said. “That helped us to get our settled sets, and then once we got settled, they’re still very tough and talented all over the field. So just communication, we did our best to move around and play with each other, and Kyle made some great saves to help us out.”
2) Maryland’s ball security. The Terps committed 11 turnovers, which almost matched their season average of 10.8. But Brown gave the ball away 24 times, including eight in the third quarter and 14 for the second half. Tiffany, who has always said he is comfortable with turnovers if it means his team can dictate tempo and style, acknowledged that the giveaways – 12 of which were caused – hurt.
“I felt like most of our turnovers were in the middle of the field,” he said. “I’m sure there were some others, but there was a stretch there from the end of the second quarter through much of the third quarter where we just couldn’t make that next pass and complete it. Certainly those are on us, and they’re under our turnover category for a reason. And I think it’s the athleticism of Maryland. Playing at this level, we saw some good athletes creating pressure.”
3) Brown’s offense. The Bears’ comeback from a 14-10 deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation was aided by Gural’s ability to win seven of eight faceoffs in the fourth quarter. Maryland had gone a respectable 10-for-23 through the first three periods, but the team could not maintain that pace.
“I thought we did a really good job in the third quarter with some great ground balls,” Terps coach John Tillman said. “And then they flipped it in the fourth quarter. They went seven out of eight on faceoffs, so they got six extra possessions. … I’m proud of our guys for bouncing back. I knew they’d make a little bit of a run. We were just hoping that maybe we could hold them off. But when you get six extra possessions on faceoffs and you’re that good of a team, they’re going to make a run for sure.”