Monday, November 29, 2010

As expected...

When Maryland knocked out Penn State to make the final eight of the NCAA tournament, the Terps, as the number 2 seed in the tournament, joined six of the other top eight seeded teams in the quarterfinals. Perhaps fortunately for Maryland, the only top eight team not to advance was South Carolina. The Gamecocks were upset by the Wolverines at home and Maryland will face the number 10 seed rather than the number 7.

Our daughter attended this afternoon's game in a newly acquired pink University of Michigan sweater -- a gift from her uncle's recent trip to the Big House -- but it wasn't warm enough to keep her interested in the game. Penn State presented a formidable opponent for Maryland and those at Ludwig were treated to an entertaining match-up that featured five of the thirteen underclassmen targeted for Generation Adidas offers as recently identified in a report by Steve Goff.

Nevertheless, despite a very well played game, my two-year old declared that she was ready to come home ten minutes into the second half -- a half that Maryland dominated. It is a reflection of my failings as a father that we didn't actually begin the slow exodus from the stadium until fifteen minutes was left in regulation. I took another thirteen to get to the entrance and was rewarded by the parting sight of a well hit ball from Taylor Kemp into the upper corner of Penn State's goal.

I celebrated like an idiot, thrilled that my expert dawdling had won enough time to see the deciding moment of the game. Our final exit from Ludwig was followed by that of D.C. United's new full time head coach, Ben Olsen. I can only hope that we'll have a chance to celebrate D.C. United's exploits next season as stupidly and as joyously (my daughter kept telling me that the whole thing was "funny daddy, it was sooooo funny daddy").

As to Maryland, Taylor Kemp's winner was fully deserved. The Terrapins did a wonderful job of stretching the Nittany Lions with balls played to the fullbacks (Kemp and Greg Young) and crossed back in to the box. Kemp and Young could focus on attacking because Ethan White and Alex Lee locked down the middle of the field and, when required to, Zac MacMath saved the team -- MacMath's save of Drew Cost's screamer early in the first half looked amazing from our vantage point. On the other side of the ball, I was impressed by Alex's brother Justin, who, in part, forced Maryland to play the ball to the wings, and by the pressure mounted by Penn State's junior forward Corey Hertzog and freshman Jordan Tyler.

Kemp's goal also erased frustration that had been building from a failure to capitalize on Maryland's second half dominance. Jason Herrick's anger at not being fed the ball in an open position by Casey Townsend after Townsend had done great work to get himself free summed up a series of wasted opportunities that made the game much closer than it should have been.

No matter. Maryland is through and we will next see them live in the fall of 2011. The team that comes back should be very different from the one we saw today. In addition to the departures of seniors Greg Young, Will Swaim, Doug Rodkey, Jason Herrick, and Billy Cortes (four of whom were in the starting XI), the Generation Adidas targeting of four underclassmen (Matt Kassel, Zac MacMath, Ethan White, and Casey Townsend -- all in the starting XI) will likely lead to additional departures forcing a major overhaul (I would be surprised if London Woodberry is back next season as well).

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