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Saturday, May 9, 2009

It was a nice ride...

Megan and I headed out this afternoon to watch UMBC play--and ultimately lose to--the UNC Tar Heels in the first round of the NCAA lacrosse tournament. I've spent the season hoping we'd be Foxborough-bound and simultaneously knowing that a first-round exit was entirely possible, especially against a squad like Carolina. Still, I was glad I could make it out and support the team.

We made the drive over from Greensboro with enough time to do a bit of tailgating before heading in to the game. We were pleasantly surprised be the amount of Dawgs there--we had pretty much a whole lot that was ours and it was stacked pretty nicely in black and gold. Thanks to a generous loan from my current employer, I had a UMBC flag flying high on a 20 foot flagpole. I figured since I was tailgating a Baltimore team, the shrimp generously seasoned in Old Bay would be a nice touch, and they did not disappoint. When we made the move to the stadium, it might as well have been a Retrievers home game. As the game wore on, we probably ended up with a pretty even split, but upon arrival, black and gold dominated the stands.

Make no mistake, it was a great game; my team just happened to come out on the wrong end of it. The tale of this game was unfortunately one we've heard so many times before--faceoffs were an issue for the Retrievers, and I'm led to believe, as in all of our other games this season, that a few more draws could have been the difference between an L and a W for us. Our disciplined defense also came into play: That is to say, we may be disciplined to a fault. There was no aggression and as a a result, Billy Bitter and the Carolina attack were able to pick us apart. I hate to play the "what if" game, but what if Bobby Atwell were healthy? What if we had some more prowess at the X? And as much as we all love our first midfield, we really need someone to be able to back them up. By the end of the game, it was clear they were tired, and what should have been fast breaks to the goal instead led to pulling up to conserve energy or catch a breath.

If only I had known the plans of the other UMBC faithful, we would have planned to stick around following the game--while some folks were tailgating before the game, it looked like they were breaking out the main event after the game as we were leaving. Instead, we opted to head out and go to Rita's Water Ice--since there aren't any in our immediate area, we make it a point to hit one whenever we're elsewhere that has them.

We met a couple people who were down doing the Tobacco Road two-step--catching UMBC at UNC at 2:30, and then Navy at Duke at 7:30, a game that's wrapping up as we speak with a Duke drubbing of Navy. Anyone who was pulling for Maryland teams in both contests got themselves disappointed. 

I'm going to make a comment that will shock the hell out of anyone that knows me: I would not entirely mind seeing Duke win the national championship. Yeah I said it. More specifically, I would rather see anyone win than the vaunted four (Virginia, Syracuse, Hopkins, Princeton, one of whom has won the championship for over a decade). Duke seems to be among the few teams with a chance at cracking the code, and while you'll never catch me rooting FOR Duke, I wouldn't hate to see them take it. 

So the Dawgs are done, but there's still plenty of good lacrosse to be played. 
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