Friday, August 28, 2015

Maryland Lacrosse History - Testudo Goes Missing

Incredulous Maryland Terrapin undergrads, 1947 (The Diamondback)
College Park, MD- As I finish research on a history of lacrosse in the state of Maryland, I've come across some great, rare material. The Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame is preparing their archives for a move to a new facility in nearby Sparks. Fortunately for me, this means plenty of items are out on temporary display before they get packed up.

I've flipped through thousands of photos and newspaper pages, and this picture certainly merits sharing. It's a 1947 photo from the University of Maryland newspaper The Diamondback, and it shows (photogenically) bemused Maryland students staring at a pedestal that once held...something.

That something was UM's beloved statue of Testudo, the university's mascot. The occasion for the theft was the forthcoming lacrosse rivalry game against the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. The perpetrators? Those same Blue Jays. A minor riot ensued on campus, the culprits were later brought to justice, and Testudo returned.

The photo is a reminder of how fortunate the lacrosse world is that both the Terps and Blue Jays are members of the new BIG-10 lacrosse league that began this year. With conference realignments annually terminating long-standing rivalries, college lacrosse's most intense was spared when the two joined the BIG-10 (Hopkins for lacrosse-only).

Coming into the season, Hopkins and Maryland previously faced each other 111 times. Hopkins won the annual regular season matchup in 2015 with a 15-12 victory over the Terps in College Park. The Jays came into the game at 6-6 and the Terps at 12-1 and at the time it appeared a major upset.

In the BIG-10 tournament, Hopkins had the last laugh, or near to it, when they captured the first BIG-10 championship in history with a win over Ohio State. The Buckeyes earlier upset the Terps, 9-6, in the semis and then bowed to Hopkins in the conference championship, 13-6.

Hopkins was surging with a 9-6 record, and a reasonable assurance of an NCAA tournament bid in place. The BIG-10 lacrosse tournament will have an automatic NCAA postseason qualifier for its champion beginning in 2016-2017.



Johns Hopkins and Maryland were both part of the BIG-10's inaugural lacrosse season (Photo / Getty Images)

The Terrapins finished out 2015 as the better team after they topped Hopkins in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, 12-11, to gain the championship. This was an especially tough blow for the Jays as it came just days after they dramatically knocked off their nemesis, Syracuse, in the quarterfinals at Annapolis. 

In the championship, the Terps fell to Denver under head coach Bill Tierney. Maryland closed out their season short of a national title, but with the current upper hand in a competition spanning back well over a century.  - Tom Flynn

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