Today from Philadelphia, the Maryland Men's Lacrosse team faced off with their legendary rival Johns Hopkins with a berth in the National Championship on the line. The Blue Jays had already beaten Maryland earlier in the season and were standing between Maryland and their 3rd trip to Memorial Day in the last five seasons. The Terps would need their best game of the season to knock off JHU. And they did indeed turn in a tremendous all-around performance to set up a National Championship game tilt with Denver.
Drew Kennedy won the opening face-off for Johns Hopkins and decided to take an early shot. It was easily saved by Kyle Bernlohr. Maryland's opening possession also consisted of just one shot, with Eric Schneider stopping Jay Carlson on a wrap-around attempt from behind. Hopkins second possession saw Wells Stanwick throw the ball away. Maryland's second opportunity was quite different. Henry West picked the ball up at the top of the perimeter, used a hitch step to break free of his man, and blew a lefty shot past Schneider. 1-0 Maryland.
Maryland had an incredibly long possession which stretched from under the 10 minute mark to around six minutes left in the half. They had a few early shots go high before eventually getting hit with the shot clock. Colin Heacock's dodging towards the cage created a step down shot chance for Joe LoCascio, which hit the bar and appeared to have possibly went in. It wiped off the shot clock and Maryland kept possession after a groundball pick-up by Matt Rambo. Not long after, Rambo dodged from Goal Line Extended and hit the bar as well on a shot. It ricocheted all the way to the sideline and the race was won by Johns Hopkins.
The Blue Jays would cash in on their next possession, as Joel Tinney got inside on his man in front of the cage and scored to tie the game up at one. Maryland's response was instant. Charlie Raffa won the clamp on the draw and pushed it ahead. He picked up the GB himself, made a change of direction move as he entered the box, and shot low past Schneider. 2-1 Maryland.
After their 3rd face-off win of the opening frame, shots continued to rain in on Eric Schneider's cage from Terrapin shooters. He stood tall though, and eventually they turned it over as Rambo couldn't find a cutting Carlson. Fortunately for Maryland though, Hopkins turned it over themselves. It set up a run-out for Maryland in transition. A Terrapin SSDM fed Joe LoCascio, who went low to Jay Carlson, who then went backside to Matt Rambo and he wasn't going to miss. Tic-tac-toe. 3-1 Maryland.
Momentum from face-offs can be very important. Isaiah Davis-Allen and Charlie Raffa were a formidable 1-2 punch at the dot in the opening quarter, and UMD was taking advantage of it. Davis-Allen picked up a GB on the face-off following Rambo's goal and entered it into the box. Patient play predictably ensued, before Joe LoCascio drove down the right alley. He was pushed away from the cage to just behind the cage. The threat didn't end there though. The senior midfielder found his fellow senior Bryan Cole right on the doorstep, and the Canadian lefty easily finished past Schneider. 4-1 Terps.
That would be all the goalscoring in the opening frame. End of 1: Maryland 4-1 Johns Hopkins
We got a glimpse of the Hopkins extra man to star the second. Bernlohr took an extremely unnecessary penalty after a hack on Wells Stanwick. This meant Dan Morris had to enter in the game. It didn't really matter. No one was stopping Pat Fraser's - the EMO specialist for the Blue Jays - low to high laser from downtown. 4-2 Maryland.
Both teams had long possessions of their own following Hopkins' 2nd. Maryland's had a couple good looks from the outside and ended with a Caused Turnover from the Blue Jays. Hopkins' possession, which followed the Terps, had some good looks from the wings and one particularly great chance for a Ryan Brown on an open step down. Eventually the Stanwicks ran their patented pick game, and Wells dodged from behind and beat Bernlohr low. 4-3 Maryland.
A response followed quickly for the Terps though. Hunter Moreland went early on the face-off which gave possession to Maryland. They attacked the cage a few times but weren't able to find any looks. This saw a shot clock slapped on. However, only a few seconds into the shot clock, they ran a little pick play of their own which created space for Colin Heacock who wrapped around from behind and roped it into the roof of the net. 5-3 Maryland.
In a theme of the first half, every Hopkins run was answered by one from Maryland. Hopkins scored two in a row, so Maryland responded with two in a row of their own. LoCascio and Rambo worked the ball around on a carousel, before Matt made a great feed to Jay Carlson who cut towards the middle of the field and ripped a low shot into the back of the net. 6-3 Maryland.
Hopkins wasn't going away though of course. A miscommunication on Maryland's end left Ryan Brown open on the wing. They pressured him, expecting him to shoot. But he made a great pass inside to Wells Stanwick who snuck a shot past Bernlohr on the doorstep. 6-4 Maryland.
That would be all the scoring in the second frame. End of 2: Maryland 6-4 Johns Hopkins
Like the Second Quarter, Hopkins got a man-up to start the frame. It was for a delay of game on Matt Neufeldt. It expired without any clear looks. Wells Stanwick appeared to tie the game on a dodge from behind and low finish, but he went in the crease and it was waved off.
Maryland struck first to start the third on an incredible goal by Jay Carlson. Henry West's step down step down attempt was saved by Eric Schneider. But somehow, Jay Carlson took it out of the air, caught, instantly finished and somehow avoided the crease. SportsCenter Top 10 that one. 7-4 Maryland.
A weird play ensued on the face-off. Maryland was called for a push which gave the ball to Hopkins. Tinney started taking off before the re start and got a great look but missed. The refs then brought the play back. This should've resulted in a delay of game on Tinney. But it didn't. John Crawley then scored for Hopkins on a step down shot. 7-5 Maryland. The refs also called a very generous late hit call which sent JHU to the EMO for one minute. But Bernlohr made a big save and the penalty was killed off.
Remember when I said that every time Hopkins made a run it was answered by Maryland? That happened again in the third quarter. This time though it was one huge run to change the entire tenor of the game. First: Henry West. The midfielder picked the ball up on the left wing and dodged. It was snuffed out. He then decided to let rip a tight angle shot and it found itself a home in the far corner. 8-5 Maryland. Then it was Matt Rambo's turn. He received the ball up at the top of the perimeter, where he had been effectively operating in the second half, spun around and sniped a lefty shot past Schneider. 9-5 Maryland. They weren't done. Raffa won the ensuing face-off. Beginning of the trip was patient. Joe LoCascio drove down the right alley and was able to get a shot off. Schneider made the save, but wasn't able to control the rebound and then Jay Carlson did Jay Carlson things. Deposited the rebound and made it a 10-5 game.
Going with the nature of the game though, Hop answered. John Crawley scored twice on two consecutive possessions. The first was a shot from the perimeter that bounced past Bernlohr. Then he dodged down the alley and sent an absolute rocket to the roof of the net. He had the last three goals for the Blue Jays. 10-7 Maryland.
It seemed as if Matt Rambo had stretched the lead to four, before the refs waved it off for him going into the crease on a dive. It certainly appeared as if he was pushed from behind and that facilitated the dive. Just one of many questionable calls that went the Jays way in Q3.
End of 3: Maryland 10-7 Johns Hopkins
Joel Tinney broke the ice to start the third for Hop. Joel Tinney used a face dodge to burn Isaiah Davis-Allen, and then stuck the shot in the top corner. 10-8 Maryland. John Crawley then followed it up after another Hopkins face-off win on an alley dodge and low finish. 10-9 Maryland.
The Fourth Quarter was exactly identical to the first game. In that one, Hopkins won every face-off to start the 4th and kept scoring. That's exactly what they did today. Following Crawley's goal, Moreland won yet another draw and then Ryan Brown beat Kyle Bernlohr on a snipe to the top corner. As I mentioned above, face-offs bring momentum. In the first half it was momentum for Maryland. In the second it was for the Jays.
A face-off win appeared to present itself following the game tying tally from Brown. Tim Muller couldn't initiate the clear after maintaining the GB and eventually lost it. It led to a transition opportunity for the Jays. They had a great look in front but Casey Ikeda made a tremendous hit to break it up. Somehow the referees called a foul on it and it gave JHU an EMO. They forced a huge turnover though and the refs gave Maryland a make-up call after a hit on the clear. It was a one minute unnecessary roughness call. Maryland passed the ball around and worked the cycle before Matt Rambo picked it up down low, spun, and stuck the shot home.
Charlie Raffa was putting in a gallant performance at the face-off X. He had lost four or five in a row to Moreland but right when Maryland needed him to win the draws to stem the tide, he did. And the offense was making his work count on the scoreboard. On the next possession, it was Matt Rambo doing his thing again. This time he received the pass from the top and stepped into a sidewinding shot which found a home in the middle of the net. 12-10 Maryland.
The next few minutes were hearts in mouths for Terp fans everywhere. Hopkins was on offense for a long time and had multiple favorable match-ups and looks. Joe LoCascio was stuck on defense for a long time. He had to guard Tinney, Brown, and Wells Stanwick. He did a tremendous job on the first two. Eventually Wells got a great look as he drove from behind before Bernlohr made an incredible save.
Maryland worked a lot of clock on their following possession. They had a few looks from LoCascio and some attackmen inside. But for the most part it was a "milk the clock" possession. Eventually Eric Schneider made the save. He threw it down field to no one in particular and it resulted in a turnover. Somehow though, the refs found Matt Rambo liable for a late hit. It was completely clean. A great lacrosse play. It ended up being a one minute extra man for Hopkins. Hopkins had gotten a myriad of calls all day. Maryland had gotten one or two as well. Some were questionable and you could see where the ref was going with it. Not that one. That was poor. A one minute extra man chance for the Blue Jays.
Hopkins cashed in on their opportunity after a face dodge and finish by Shack Stanwick with 1:13 left. 12-11 Maryland.
The ensuing face-off was won by Hop after a great groundball pick-up by Phil Castronova. Dave Pietramala immediately called timeout with 1:04 left. They attacked quickly. Connor Reed drove towards the middle of the field before making a feed to Shack Stanwick on the wing. Shack ripped a shot just wide, which found the side netting. Bernlohr eventually threw it down towards the empty cage as Hopkins went to a 10 man ride. The refs ruled his heave as a pass and not a shot, which gave the ball back to Johns Hopkins.
There was enough time for one more quality look. And enough time for the best goalie in America to make one more incredible save. Joel Tinney went to that face dodge one more time, went in one on one with Bernlohr, and somehow Kyle made the save. He used the butt of his stick to tip it away. Maryland got possession, ran out the clock, and conquered their rival for the first time since 2012 to advance to the Championship.
Final: Maryland 12-11 Johns Hopkins.
Whew. What a game. I'm not sure how you dissect that game from a tactical and coaching standpoint. It wasn't that type of game. It was an emotional, hard hitting, put it all on the line and just try to make one more play. Maryland made one more play in the end and got the win.
There are so many performances you can highlight for Maryland today. Matt Rambo returned to his hometown of Philadelphia and had four goals and two assists. Charlie Raffa was incredible. He didn't dominate, but he won so many big draws and chipped in with a goal. Bryan Cole was threatening all day. Joe LoCascio had an incredible defensive series after being on the field for three to four minutes or so. A true team effort.
Next up for the Terps is the National Championship Game against Denver. 1 PM ET on ESPN2. We'll have a preview up tomorrow. For now, enjoy this win and be proud of this team. They've had an incredible ride. Just one more stop left.