Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My daughter was accompanied home from day care last week with a report that noted that she had been disobedient throughout the day and had spent considerable time in the "quiet chair" (she had apparently been slugging some of the other kids and when they howled in protest, she held her index finger up to her mouth and shouted "shhhhhh!"). In that sense, it was disappointing that she elected not to accompany me to Ludwig tonight as she would have felt an immediate, personal connection to London Woodberry. (Instead, she chose to stay home and watch Charlotte's Web for the eighth time in the last month ... leading my wife to discover that the reason she had been telling us over the last week that a number of things were "not fair" was a line delivered by Dakota Fanning early in the movie ... my wife already has a bizarre antipathy for Fanning and this added further fuel to that fire). I was too far away from the event to see what triggered it, but a bad giveaway in front of London led to a great opportunity on goal for Colgate. Woodberry was yanked from the game immediately and Cirovski appeared to let him have it on the sideline -- he was banished from the bench and forced to stand away from the team for the remainder of the game.

What Woodberry saw from his absurd vantage point justified my daughter's decision. I had gone to Ludwig expecting a walkover and a chance to see extended minutes from Maryland's bench players. Colgate, after all, had already lost this season to Cornell at home and Long Island away. But for the first thirty minutes or so, Colgate had Maryland on its heels. While Woodberry drew the ire of Cirovski, Taylor Kemp on the opposite flank had a howler of a game. Kemp repeatedly gave the ball away in bad positions in the back and Colgate tested him repeatedly by sending through balls to Jeff Leach on the right flank. Kemp was not alone, however, as Maryland struggled to string together passes and maintain possession. Nevertheless, while Woodberry watched from the barrier, Kemp played the full 90.

The tension between players that bring artistry to their games at Ludwig and those who embody a more brass knuckle hard-nosed work ethic is an interesting dynamic to Maryland's team and was fully on display tonight. On a surprisingly cold evening, the few fans and students that turned up were spared the prospect of extended minutes by a gorgeous shot from outside the box by Karou Forbess ten minutes from the half. Forbess' elegant shots and passes seem to put him fully in the artist camp of the team and may explain his limited minutes.

Similarly, I continue to swoon every time Sunny Jane is introduced to the festivities. Jane's agility and skill on the ball impress the spectator, but, on nights like tonight with few in the stands, what Jane does with the ball on his feet is offset by the bellowing screams of "Get Back Sunny!" from the coaches when Jane strays too far from his defensive obligations.

Ultimately, what won the game tonight was Maryland's hard workers. Greg Young, who replaced Woodberry at left back, embodies that ethic and filled the position effectively if lacking flair. The goal that sealed the game was off a corner whipped in by Kassel and headed in from five feet outside the goalmouth by Casey Townsend who fought his way into the position. But the night belonged to Jason Herrick, who bullied Colgate's tall back line (their two center backs are listed at 6'5 and 6'4" and the left back is reported to be 6'2"), and fought for every ball near him. Late in the game, Herrick went up for a 50/50 ball and put in an elbow into the side of the head of a Colgate defender. At an ensuing throw in, the Colgate player noted to the linesmen that he had been nailed on the side of his face and showed the blood drawn to prove his point. The rest of the Colgate players appeared outraged at another instance of the hard, physical play of Herrick and I assumed that they would try and exact revenge, but, instead, appeared to give Herrick a wider berth.

Maryland walked away a 2-0 victor and avoided embarrassment, but Colgate acquitted itself well, created a number of good goal scoring opportunities, and did not crumble under Maryland's pressure.

Zac MacMath had another excellent game in goal. The design of Cirovski's gameplan puts a lot of pressure on the backline and goal as the offense is built from and flows through the back and MacMath handles that pressure effortlessly. Even with some foul ups from the full backs, MacMath seemed nonplussed, confident with Ethan White and Alex Lee in front of him. The most impressive aspect of MacMath's game -- building on my note regarding the Clemson match -- is his distribution. For Colgate, keeper Chris Miller struggled to get goal kicks into Maryland's half. On the other side of the field, MacMath boomed kicks forward into open areas for Herrick, Townsend, Oduaran, or Mullins to run down. If Colgate got a shot on target or a cross to close to MacMath, their players had to release back quickly to keep pace with a racing Terp that would otherwise be in a dead sprint with Miller to get to MacMath's punted ball. MacMath is no slouch with his arm either. Late in the second half he hurled a ball past the half line mark towards a streaking Herrick only to have the ball cleared away by a well-timed lunge by Mike Garzi that averted disaster.

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