Old habits die hard. For three straight seasons now, Georgetown has opened the season with a loss to Maryland, only to get hot immediately thereafter and go on a long winning streak. A year ago, the Hoyas began the season with a 10-4 home loss to No. 3 Maryland, but they did not look back afterwards, reeling off an eight-game winning streak beginning with their next game. The previous season began in a similar fashion – a 13-6 loss in College Park – but Georgetown again was able to rebound and win eight of its next nine. In 2004, the Hoyas fell to Maryland before winning 10 of their next 11. Apparently, the Hoyas learn from their mistakes – and early on. But, for Head Coach Dave Urick and his squad, the season opener is not about moral victories. It’s about grabbing a `W.’ “The biggest rival for us is, without question, Maryland,” senior Jerry Lambe said in a preseason interview. “As a senior, they’ve beaten us every year we’ve been here. They knocked us out in overtime to go to the final four two years ago. That’s just the one kind of monkey on our back that we really want to get off.” Though just as tough, this year’s Terrapins team has different strengths and weaknesses. Unlike past seasons in which Maryland has been led by its offensive firepower, this year’s team will be anchored by a staunch defense, which despite a freshman goalie, promises to be one of the country’s best. “They took a big hit at the offensive end,” said Urick, who is about to embark on his 18th season at the helm for Georgetown. “They are still very capable of scoring goals – it’s not like there is an absolute void down there – but they are arguably one of the best defensive teams out there right now. Physically they are very impressive defensively.” Senior Steve Whittenberg, a preseason first-team all-American and a second-team all-American a year ago, leads the Terps’ defensive corps. Senior Ray Megill joins Whittenberg on the defense and on the all-American first team. Junior Joe Cinosky, senior Ryan Clarke, and midfielders Jimmy Borell, a senior, and Jeff Reynolds, a junior, will also look to keep the Georgetown attack in check. “In the past they’ve had a ridiculously good offense, but they graduated most of those guys,” Lambe said. “They have probably the best defense in the country as a unit, so it’s kind of the reverse of what it’s been in the past. So I think it’s going to be a different game than it’s been the last couple of years.” How will the Hoyas’ attack match up with the Maryland defense? That, according to Urick, is the “million-dollar question.”I think we need to make sure they’re not out trying to do much,” he said. “We have to take care of the ball. We tend to sometimes get a little impatient on offense. We’ve been stressing taking quality shots and making sure that we deal with their pressure.” Junior attacker Brendan Cannon, the ECAC’s preseason offensive player of the year, will lead that Georgetown attack. In last season’s loss, Cannon scored a goal and tallied an assist, taking seven shots, second most on the team. Senior attacker Trevor Casey led the team in shots that afternoon with eight, but only scored once. To beat Maryland tomorrow, Casey says it will take an aggressive attack right from the opening face-off. “I think coming out right from the opening whistle and getting a couple of quick goals will be important,” he said. On the other end of the field, the defense, led by Lambe and boosted by a pair of talented freshmen in Barney Ehrmann and Chris Nixon, is significantly stronger. Thus with both teams sporting impressive defensive units, Urick believes that Saturday’s contest could be a low scoring affair. “I think defense is a strength for [our] team for sure,” Urick said. “Their defense is going to be a challenge for us, first time out. In our two scrimmages, we haven’t shown a real ability to put up a high number of goals, so I think it could be in the high single digits or low teens. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.” The Hoyas have fallen in the NCAA quarterfinals five years in a row. Saturday’s game will be the start of a year-long campaign to kick bad habits. “It just feels different this year than it has in the past,” Lambe said. “Starting off with the Maryland game – which we’ve lost three years in a row – and we’ve made it to the quarterfinals three years in a row, I think there’s going to be the big turnaround [this season], if we can get through that game.” Face-off is set for 3 p.m. on Maryland’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse complex. – Staff Writer Doug Hance contributed to this report.

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