Maryland had risen to their highest rank of the season after consecutive dominant performances over Top 15 foes in Princeton and Villanova. This would be by far their biggest and toughest game of the season yet though, a meeting with #2 North Carolina, statistically the best offensive team in the land. But the Terps D put in another incredible effort and they nabbed a tight 10-8 win.
Maryland won the opening face-off of the game but their first possession would be one and done with Kieran Burke stopping Jay Carlson. Carolina didn't take long to strike after getting the ball in the zone, Joey Sankey feeding Chad Tutton for the opener. 1-0 Heels just 1:22 in. Both teams had a turnover filled next few minutes, neither managing to establish a possession.
Maryland was hit with a 30 second shot clock at 9:18 of Q1 and wasn't able to get a shot off, with Peyton Klawinski forcing a turnover on Matt Rambo. It was a sloppy affair overall early on, with the Terps the slightly more loose team. The exact same sequence would happen on Carolina's next trip down the field. Tutton turning it over after the refs slapped a shot clock on the Heels. It appeared that the zebras were very quick to enforce the shot clock, wanting a quick and fast-moving affair. There's been some inconsistency with how the refs have dealt with it so far this season and this set of officials weren't hesitant.
The Terps got on the board at 5:38 of the quarter with Bryan Cole setting up Henry West to rifle in an equalizer for UMD. Not even a minute later they took the lead for the first time, as West's midfield running mate Joe LoCascio scored unassisted to make it 2-1. The flurry of scoring continued, this time Carolina finding the back of the net at 4:09 courtesy of Tate Jozokos.
Maryland controlled the rest of the quarter, getting 3 shots off, including forcing a save from Burke. But after Q1, it was Maryland 2-2 Carolina.
Joe LoCascio was the first goalscorer in Q2, firing a customary bullet into the back of the net. 3-2 Maryland. The Heels won the ensuing face-off but Long Stick Midfielder Matt Neufeldt forced a turnover, something he has been outstanding at this season. He's filled in superbly well for Michael Ehrhardt, who was the rock at that position for Maryland. Under a minute later it was Short Stick Midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen getting involved in the offense and hitting a pipe.
At 10:48 of the quarter we got our first penalty of the evening. It was pushing by UNC's Zach Powers which sent the Terps to a 30 second man-up. While UMD wasn't able to cash in there, they did find the back of the net a few minutes later on an unassisted tally from Colin Heacock. 4-2 Maryland at 8:55 of the quarter. The Heels committed a violation on the following face-off, their third of the half, which results in a penalty. It was another 30 second man-up opportunity for the Terps. They did convert on this chance, another goal from Heacock.
The defense of UMD was once again stingy, physical and just tremendous. Carolina wasn't getting many great looks, Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey weren't running the offense in their usual flow. Luke Goldstock, who has scored 30 goals this season, hadn't even attempted a shot through the first 25 minutes. Add in a 6-3 lead in face-offs....and Maryland was playing their game to perfection.
The Terps weren't having much success on their extra man though, despite Heacock's tally. Carolina was playing very undisciplined, and giving quite a few tallies in the second quarter. But Maryland was a bit too sloppy, perhaps a bit too slow in the build-up as well. This prevented them from blowing the game open in the 2Q.
Both teams had chances late in the half, Kyle Bernlohr making two saves and Carlson hitting a pipe. At half-time, the score was Maryland 5-2 North Carolina.
Maryland once again opened the third having the better of the play with Burke forced to make stops on both Rambo and Carlson. Carolina got perhaps the best look in the early stages though, as Jimmy Bitter hit a pipe. It was the first shot of the game for the national player of the year candidate.
The refs once again quickly slapped a 30 second shot clock on the Terps after they entered the zone. They did get a shot off, Carlson testing Burke, but weren't able to find the back of the net. The Heels finally started peppering Bernlohr midway through the 3rd, Sankey and Goldstock putting efforts on the cage. But the nation's leader in sv% continued to hold them out.
During the third a familiar routine was starting to develop. Both teams were looking to initiate quickly, they usually had a few shots go wide or high, eventually got some quality looks on cage...but the goalies were there to stop them. Kieran Burke and Kyle Bernlohr were both standing on their heads and putting on a show.
At 5:06 of Q3, Austin Pifano - the Heels best D man - was called for a slashing penalty. With a 1 minute man-up....this gave Maryland a huge chance to extend their lead and put some real breathing room between them and UNC. And just 21 seconds into the advantage they did cash in with Joe LoCascio getting his hat-trick. Joe was the man again at 3:55, burying yet another bomb. He had four goals on the day and Maryland had seven.. They were in full control of this one.
UNC went to the extra man with just over a minute left in the quarter and broke a scoring drought of 33:25. Bitter was the goalscorer. 21 seconds later Bitter turned provider and Joey Sankey scored another for the Heels. After three, it was Maryland 7-4 Carolina.
Play to begin the 4th was a bit sloppy, though both teams had some looks on goal. Bernlohr stopped Patrick Kelly and Burke managed to finally stop LoCascio. Bernlohr wasn't stopping Bobby Gribbin a few minutes later though, as the Senior got just his 2nd goal of the year - unassisted as well - to stretch the lead back to four. UNC responded nearly immediately though, Tate Jozokos getting his second of the night. After a superb start by Raffa, he was struggling a bit in the second half. Maryland wasn't enjoying the huge possession advantage they were used too but still managed well.
The Tar Heels continued their momentum to another goal at 6:16 of the quarter. Luke Goldstock finally getting on the board in the game. Maryland had held this highly potent quite for a long time, but they were finding their stride down the stretch. After a key Raffa face-off win Maryland's player of the game, Joe LoCascio, broke up a 4-1 Carolina run with his fifth goal of the day. He received another feed from West, buried another terrific shot and restored the three goal lead.
Colin Heacock earned his hat-trick to push the lead to four before UNC mounted a small late rally with two goals. But that wasn't enough. Maryland held on and earned a terrific 10-8 win over the #2 team in the land.
This is the most impressive and biggest win of Maryland's season so far. This should also push them into the Top 3 of the polls. They'll return to the East Coast on Tuesday for a game against 1-6 Robert Morris.