Taking a break from Big Ten play for just a short while, the #3 Maryland Men's Lacrosse team squared off with the #19 Loyola Greyhounds at Byrd. The two teams hadn't met since the 2013 season, when the Terps came out on top 12-10 at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore. They also met in the 2012 National Championship game, a 9-3 loss Terps fans would like to forget. Tonight was a much different game. Maryland looking to continue taking care of business, en route to a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. And Loyola looking to nab a marquee victory in what has been so far a troubling season. It was the Terps who accomplished their goal this evening, beating the 'Hounds in a thriller, 11-10.
Loyola jumped out to the quicker start, using a couple early face-off wins - Jon Garino, not Charlie Raffa was taking the draws for Maryland - to kickstart a run. Zach Herreweyers, the Greyhounds leading goalscorer, got the opener as he stepped into a lefty shot and fired past Kyle Bernlohr. A few minutes later they struck again, with Zach Sirico blowing past a long pole on a speed dodge from Goal Line Extended and finished topside to make it 2-0.
Colin Heacock, who was filling in for Dylan Maltz on the 1st Attack line, got Maryland's opener. He wrapped around from GLE and snuck a low shot past Grant Limone. 2-1 LU. Maryland's 2nd tally came via transition after Bernlohr made a big stop. Ikeda pushed it up ahead and found Matt Rambo cutting from behind the cage, and Rambo fired a turnaround shot into the back of the net to tie it up. The 'Hounds won the ensuing face-off, and cashed in after a slow start to the possession. Tyler Albrecht found Brian Sherlock at the top of the box and he scored on a stepdown shot to restore Loyola's lead.
Maryland didn't take long to respond, with Jay Carlson joining his two fellow attackmen on the scoresheet. Joe LoCascio made a nice skip pass to Bryan Cole, and after Cole used a roll dodge to shake free of his man he fed a cutting Carlson in front who quick sticked one past Limone to tie it up. Both teams created open looks for shots on their next two possessions, but neither Rambo or Romar Dennis of Loyola was able to find the net.
With just 26 seconds left in the opening frame Maryland took the lead for the first time. Joe LoCascio drove down the right alley and after shaking free of his defender he bounced a shot into the far corner. That would be all the scoring in an entertaining 1st Quarter.
Loyola got the opening tally of the 2nd Quarter courtesy of Romar Dennis. The midfielder picked the ball up from well downtown and scored on a jump shot that bounced between the legs of Bernlohr. They took the lead immediately after, with Sirico breaking from behind the cage again and easily finishing. The Greyhounds were doing a terrific job in getting the Maryland defenders to slide and creating open looks. Once they got them, they were cashing in.
The back and forth nature of the contest continued, with Maryland responding just over a minute later. After a couple of shots from LoCascio and Henry West that went wide, Matt Rambo picked the ball up on a quick restart and passed in front to Carlson who once again quick sticked a shot near side. That was the 4th goal for the Terps attack, so naturally their 6th came from the midfield. Bobby Gribbin drove down the right alley, got his hands free, and ripped another shot near side. 6-5 Terps.
And of course on their next possession, Loyola scored. Tyler Albrecht, who had been causing mayhem with his passing, scored for Loyola on a nifty behind the back shot, leaving Bernlohr with nothing to do. This was by far the most offensive game Maryland had been in all season long and through a quarter and a half they were acquitting themselves well.
The scoring was a bit subdued for the next few minutes but not due to a lack of opportunities. Herreweyers and LoCascio both hit pipes, and West also came close to finding the back of the net. At 5:57 Maryland went man-down for the first time in the game. Colin Heacock was called for an illegal stick which gave Loyola one minute of extra man time. The Terps were able to kill it off relatively easily; Loyola only got one look during their opportunity.
Bernlohr and Limone made a save apiece in the final four minutes and change of the half. At half-time the score was Loyola 6-6 Maryland
Both teams used a duo at the face-off X in the first half. Savio and Brendan Donovan for Loyola, Garino and Andrew Walsh for Maryland. It was about an even match-up. Bernlohr had five saves, Limone six. The Terps leading scorer was Jay Carlson with two, Zach Sirico led Loyola with two.
Maryland struck first in the third quarter. Jay Carlson used an effective face dodge to drive past his defender and then bull dodged his way in front, got pushed, but still managed to get the goal. It was a hat-trick for Carlson and a 7-6 Terps lead.
By now, you knew what came next. Loyola answered. Brian Sherlock used a right alley dodge and rifled an outside shot into the far corner. Maryland continued to have struggles with the Greyhounds outside shooters - who are fantastic players, mind - which hasn't at all this season.
The two offenses began to get a bit sloppy after the opening stages of the quarter. The clears were too slow to develop and the offenses weren't very aware of the checks from the defenses. This created three or four turnovers in quick succession.
Halfway through the 3rd, Maryland re-took the lead. Joe LoCascio used a nice hitch step, cut into the middle of the field, and his shot just got past Limone after the goalkeeper got a piece. Loyola won the ensuing face-off, but Donovan threw his pass away and this sparked an unsettled situation. As usual it went to Matt Rambo, and he roll dodged his way to create space before sending a laser to the roof of the net. 9-7 Terps. This gave Maryland their largest lead of the game. They weren't going to rest though. They went straight to extending the lead.
Bobby Gribbin, making the most of some extended game time, took advantage of a short stick match-up and sent a bullet to the roof high-to-high. It was a three goal run from the Terps to build a three goal lead. The pressure continued in the next few minutes but there wasn't a goal forthcoming,
With just three seconds left in the quarter, Zach Sirico notched his hat-trick. And in what was in the exact same fashion as his previous two. A speed dodge from GLE and then the shot from point blank range.
After three, Maryland led Loyola 10-8.
The Terps kept up some of the pressure they were throwing at the Greyhounds late in the 3rd Quarter, generating some quality looks. Limone made a nice save, but his defense wasn't able to finish the job on the clear and Maryland continued to be in control of possession as they rotated in their second midfield of Bobby Gribbin, Joe Fitzpatrick, and Connor Kelly. Gribbin was the one who got the nice look, a shot in the middle of the field. It was saved again however and the lead remained at just two.
Even after Bernlohr was forced to make a save on Loyola's first possession of the quarter, the Terps were able to keep up the pressure and continue to milk some of the clock. But the quality chances weren't coming. For Loyola though, they were. And midway through the fourth Brian Sherlock took over. From way downtown he ripped a high to high shot past Bernlohr and after a 'Hounds face-off win he drove down the alley and bounced one home. He had four, two in a row, and all of a sudden it was a tie game. The face-off wins kept coming and the open looks kept coming. This time though Kyle Bernlohr made a tremendous save to maintain the lead.
With time ticking down and Maryland in need of a tally, an unexpected name stepped to the forefront. LoCascio drove towards the middle of the field as if he was lining up for one of his vintage rockets but instead sent a deft pass to the doorstep to the cutting Bryan Cole who showed some of his Canadian background with a nifty finish for his 1st of the game and to restore the lead. 11-10 UMD with 3:04 left.
Unfortunately for Maryland, Brendan Donovan continued his sterling play at the X and got the possession for LU. After Maryland held them check for the first minute or so, Nikko Pontrello - who up to that point had been very quiet - broke from GLE and looked like he was about to tie it with a turnaround shot but he was stuffed by Bernlohr. Maryland succesfully cleared with about 90 seconds left, but they got hit with the first shot clock of the ball game. With no avenues to the net, Carlson let the time run out on the clock, giving the ball back with 30 seconds left.
The Greyhounds didn't go down quietly, and created two big looks. Nikko Pontrello was open on the left wing to step in to one with five seconds left but he shot wide and then Bernlohr made one final save to preserve the W.
Final: Maryland 11-10 Loyola
This wasn't the best from Maryland. The defense didn't slide very well, they gave too many open looks to Loyola's sharp shooters on the outside, and they didn't do great at the face-off dot. The latter exemplified how important Charlie Raffa is to this lacrosse team and hopefully he can remain healthy down the stretch. On offense though they showed some great stuff. All kinds of goals against a defense and goalkeeper that brought it. Rambo and Carlson were tremendous, as was Joe LoCascio in the midfield and they got valuable contributions from Bobby Gribbin and Bryan Cole.
You're not always going to play your best, especially in midweek games that can often get weird. Loyola had just a 6-5 record but they're an extremely talented team and showed it tonight in perhaps their biggest game of the season. It's important to get through these games with wins. That's what Maryland did. And now their 10-1 on the year.
Maryland returns Sunday in a 6 PM home tilt with basement B1G team Rutgers.