#3 Maryland survived a tough test from the Loyola Greyhounds this week, but they didn't get to rest up before their next tilt. They met the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the road in Piscataway, looking to move to 3-0 in Big Ten play. They were able to do that, though not without a big fight from the Scarlet Knights, winning 9-8.
Jon Garino, and not Charlie Raffa, was at the face-off X to start for the Terps, going up against a stud in Joe Nardella. Nardella won the draw for RU. A 30 second shot clock was quickly hit on Rutgers and they couldn't get a shot on cage, leading to a turnover. Maryland's opening possession saw Kris Alleyne in the Scarlet Knights cage save twice from Henry West, and no opening goal.
Both teams would have shots ring off the pipes in the early stages and halfway through the first we were still scoreless.
The shots continued to rain in from Maryland, with Joe LoCascio hitting a pipe and Matt Rambo being stopped on a low angle shot from in tight. They finally found the back of the net at 4:46, with Dylan Maltz speed dodging from behind the cage and shooting topside. It was a nice return for Maltz after missing the Loyola game with an injury.
Rutgers won the next face-off and held the ball for nearly four entire minutes, getting next to no looks, perhaps luckily surviving a shot clock violation, and eventually Maryland picked up a groundball after a Bernlohr save. They didn't score in their final possession of the quarter though and led 1-0 after the opening 15 minutes.
Rutgers equalized 49 seconds into the second on a step down shot from Chad Toliver after Maryland made a mistake in substitution which led to a six-on-five advantage for RU. They took the lead a few minutes later after Christian Trasolini drove down the alley and ripped a wormburner past Bernlohr.
Maryland finally touched the ball on offense four or so minutes into the second quarter and was completely out of sync, getting nothing on cage, and promptly turned it over.
Rutgers had the ball way more than Maryland in the 2nd and they used it to their advantage. Jeff George scored on a shot from downtown that trickled through Bernlohr and the Terps were down 3-1. They weren't winning any face-offs, they were turning it over every possession on offense, and their defense was showing cracks. It was an awful beginning to a game that should have been a comfortable W.
Maryland finally broke their scoring duck at 3:23 of the quarter. LoCascio cut inside, drew a slide from the Rutgers defender, which left Brian Cole open in the left alley and buried a lefty shot into the top corner. But Joe Nardella won another face-off and took it all the way to the cage and restored the two goal lead for RU.
At half-time, Rutgers led Maryland 4-2.
The first half was an unmitigated disaster from Maryland. They couldn't win face-offs, their offense was lethargic and out of sync, and they weren't able to force turnovers on defense. It was an all around poor performance in a game they should've been dominating and they had work to do.
Jeff George ripped another shot from the outside to make it 5-2 and Maryland's defense was struggling under the pressure of playing defense for long periods at a time.
The Terps got a big goal at 11:34 courtesy of Henry West to cut the lead down to two. Casey Ikeda would go to the box a few minutes later for a high hit. Maryland was able to kill it off, but Rutgers scored soon after on a jump shot by Trasolini from the outside. Rutgers was in control of possession for long periods of time and scoring on shots from downtown. With Maryland winning hardly any face-offs they were struggling due to the defense wearing down from being under pressure for nearly the entire game.
Maryland went to the man-up themselves with just under seven minutes left in the half after George got called for a hook. They cashed in, as Carlson received the ball in traffic and fired a high-to-high shot past Alleyne. Garino won a big face-off after the goal and then Matt Rambo cut the lead down to one by uncorking a burner to the roof. A 3rd straight face-off win followed and they were making those advantages count. Rambo drove into the middle and similar to Cole's goal, Rutgers slid to him, leaving LoCascio open to wind up and fire. You can't do that. Joe found the roof of the net and we were all tied up at six.
With the Terps now confident and fully in stride on offense it was only a matter of time before they found the lead. Henry West was the man to give it to them. A strong alley dodge and bounce shot beat Alleyne and after a four goal run in about six minutes, Maryland finally led again. They were called for an illegal procedure for too many dudes on the field late in the half which gave RU another man-up chance. Bernlohr made a big stop on a step down chance to preserve the lead.
After 3, Maryland led Rutgers 7-6.
Matt Rambo was the go to man as both a scorer and as a feeder in the third quarter, and he opened the scoring in the 4th for UMD. After driving in from behind the cage he lowered his shoulder to create space and buried a jump shot to push the advantage to two.
After another face-off win by Garino and the Terps, which pushed them to 5-of-8 in the second half, Rutgers was called for an unnecessary roughness which gave Maryland a 30 second man-up opportunity. They weren't able to find any open look and turned it over. A couple of seconds later they were called for their own penalty which gave RU an EMO. They did cash in courtesy of Brian Goss to cut the lead to one.
Scott Bieda scored an equalizer at 3:36 after using a roll dodge and sneaking one past Bernlohr on the short side. Similar to the Loyola game, Maryland was in a dogfight with a few minutes left. Nardella won the next face-off and Rutgers created a quality look but Bernlohr made a huge save, followed by Ikeda diving to win the race to the end line to give Maryland possession.
They held the ball for about two minutes looking for the final shot. No looks were created and they called timeout with under 40 seconds to go. After not finding any space on the perimeter, Henry West fed Matt Rambo behind the crease. Rambo decided to drive in from behind and after getting his hands free he ripped a bullet to the roof with 14 seconds left to give Maryland the lead.
After not allowing Nardella to win the face-off and push it forward, they ran down the remaining seconds on the clock and took a 9-8 win back to College Park.
Final: Maryland 9-8 Rutgers
It's hard to say that Maryland played poorly. They certainly weren't at their best tonight. But in 6-on-6, on defense and on offense...they did well considering the circumstances. The defense was punctured by some great shooting and also the fact that they had to play defense for long stretches. That was due to the face-offs. Maryland was dominated at the X in the first half which allowed RU possession after possession. It would be a bit unfair to expect the Terps D to make stop after stop and not get worn down. And while the offense had a few turnovers in Q2...when they got some draws and had the ball in their sticks in the 3rd Quarter they scored.
This game just served to show even more how important Charlie Raffa is to this team. If he's in this game, I feel confident in saying it's not particularly close. The offense would've had the ball and the defense would've been much fresher. Garino put in an admirable effort in the second half to spark the big five goal run and they might not win without his work in that crucial juncture. But this team NEEDS Charlie Raffa. The sooner he's back and playing, the better.
Maryland is now 3-0 in Big Ten play and tied for 1st in the conference. They can claim the outright lead and the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament next weekend when they square off with #11 Ohio State next weekend at 11 AM on Saturday.