In the second semi-final of the first Big Ten Lacrosse tournament, perhaps the two best teams in the conference squared off, both in need of a victory. Maryland wanted to help enhance their seed in the NCAA Tournament, while Ohio State was looking for a second marquee win to help their at-large profile. The winner got Johns Hopkins and a shot at a Big Ten title. Once again, Maryland blew a lead at home in the 4th Quarter with a dismal collapse, and bowed out in the Semi-Finals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Jon Garino took the opening face-off for Maryland, which was won by the Buckeyes. They earned themselves an Extra Man Opportunity on their opening possession which was cashed in after a gorgeous face dodge and finish by Jesse King. A couple minutes later, Jesse King was called for the crosscheck and went to the box himself, giving UMD a 60 second man-up opportunity. The Terps cashed in on their chance as well, off a customary lefty rip by Matt Rambo. 1-1.
A groundball pick-up off the FO gave Maryland their first 6-on-6 possession. After a couple decent looks, Joe LoCascio cut topside into the middle of the field and was able to wind up for a shot, which he buried in the top corner. Both teams turned it over on their next two possessions. Terps on an errant pass and OSU on a shot clock violation. With under five left in the first, Maryland led 2-1.
The run of turnovers continued for both teams over the next few minutes. Stick checks, errant passes, and even an illegal screen all contributed to neither team really being able to get into a full set. With about 1:30 left in the quarter, Ohio State went back to the extra man after a crosscheck was called on Maryland. OSU ran off about 1:15 on the clock, but couldn't find a good look and the EMO kicked in with 15 ticks left in the quarter.
After 1, Maryland led Ohio State 2-1.
The Caused Turnovers continued for the Terps D early in the second, poking the ball away before the penalty expired. Unfortunately their next two offensive possessions were both passive and poor. The first saw only one shot and the second was a throw away. Some sloppy offensive play and some tremendous defense were contributing to the low score.
Maryland's offense was perhaps too passive, but also was struggling to really create space for their shooters. And when they did occasionally get space for the likes of West and LoCascio, the shots were saved by Carey and also just a hair off the target. Fortunately, the defense continued to do their thing and Kyle Bernlohr was also up to par making some key saves.
With 4 minutes or so left in the quarter, the Terps were hit with a shot clock. They weren't able to get anything going and with 10 seconds left, Henry West tried to force feed a pass into the middle for Matt Rambo. It was broken up. With the ball laying on the floor Joe LoCascio picked it up, used a hitch step to drive towards his left and ripped a shot to the far side with 1 second or so left on the clock. 3-1 Terps.
Over the previous few games we had seen some increasingly poor slides and general reading of plays by the Maryland defense. Tonight we saw the return of that suffocating unit we've gotten so used too. Perfect slides, active sticks, being physical. There was just no room whatsoever for Ohio State. The amount of high quality looks for them in the first half was probably under five.
Eventually Ohio State found some individual magic though. Turner Evans bull dodged his way in from down low and snuck a low angle shot past Bernlohr to cut the Terps lead to one.
At halftime, Maryland 3-2 Ohio State.
When you have two teams who play slow, methodical lacrosse...there's a chance low scores can happen. When you add in the top defense in the land and turnovers...there's a very good chance. That is indeed what happened here.
The play to begin the 3rd continued to be rather slow on both sides. But after another wasted possession from OSU, Jessie King was called for a non-releasable one minute penalty after an extremely high, late hit on Casey Ikeda. It sent UMD to the EMO. They created a great look down low for Colin Heacock but he was stuffed by Tom Carey.
At 7:53 of the 3rd, after another slow developing possession, Ohio State tied the ball game. Carter Brown dodged from behind the cage and dived to the front while finishing low past Bernlohr.
A few minutes later, with his team needing his presence to be felt, Matt Rambo showed up. He used his big frame and bull dodged past his man to the cage and despite taking a hit stuck the shot past Carey. 4-3 Terps. They won a key face-off and followed it up with another goal soon after, Brian Cole and Jay Carlson connecting for UMD's 5th. It was a customary quick stick finish inside from Jay. On a personal level it was his 100th career point. The draws kept coming and that can only mean good things for Maryland. Matt Rambo was caught up high by the stick of a Buckeye defender, giving the Terps another man-up chance.
The man-up quickly expired without any look though and eventually a 30 second shot clock was slapped on. Matt Rambo appeared to beat on a drive to the cage but he was called for stepping in the crease. And then the worst possible ending to the quarter happened for Maryland.
After forcing Jesse King away from the cage and causing a turnover, the ball came to David Planning from way outside with just a few seconds left in the quarter. He managed to quickly get off an absolute laser of a shot that beat Bernlohr though. Time of the goal? 14:59.
After 3, Maryland 5-4 Ohio State
The game tying goal came 2:33 into the 4th, from Turner Evans. Once again he slipped underneath his defender and finished neatly past Bernlohr. Not long after came the lead for the Buckeyes. Planning once again beat Bernlohr from a shot from the perimeter. 6-5.
Maryland's first possession of the first, like so many all night, was fruitless and disappointing. No quality looks, forced pass, and a turnover. The defense continued to come up big though, forcing a shot clock violation on OSU with 7:19 left in the game. Unfortunately though, the offense's relentless sloppiness prevented them from mounting a comeback. And this poor play punished them with 4:54 left, as Colin Chell was wide open on the door step to make it a 7-5 game. And after another face-off win, they scored again. It was another 4th Quarter collapse as they continued to lose face-offs and give up goals.
The game finished with Ohio State getting the win 9-6. They will play Johns Hopkins for the Big Ten Championship on Saturday.
Maryland was 12-1 just eight days ago. A Top 4 seed in the tournament. Now? They've lost two on the trot and potentially have fallen out of a seed. Maryland is definitely IN the tournament. This question is where do they fall? As an 8 seed? On the road in Round 1? We'll see Sunday night.