No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse’s offense started on fire against Albany.
The opening goal of the first quarter came three minutes in courtesy of sophomore attacker Owen Murphy, and then the Terps began to pile it on. Fifth-year attacker Logan Wisnauskas finished the first quarter with an astounding six points on two goals and four assists.
Graduate midfielder Jonathan Donville had a first-quarter hat trick and added two assists. One of those assists came to another one of Maryland’s multi-goal scorers, senior midfielder Kyle Long, who scored a goal with about four minutes to go. Sophomore midfielder Jack Koras added another tally just a minute later.
Other first quarter goals came from sophomore midfielder Eric Malever, fifth-year midfielder Anthony DeMaio and senior long-stick midfielder John Geppert. After 15 minutes, the Terps led 11-0.
The dominant performance in the opening quarter set the tone of the game early on as Maryland collected a decisive 24-6 win over Albany, marking Maryland’s sixth consecutive win as the Terps remain undefeated halfway through the regular season.
The 24 goals were the most that Maryland has scored in a game since it scored 26 against Radford on March 21, 1995, and the six goals Maryland’s defense allowed were the fewest the Terps have given up all season.
The leadup to Saturday’s game was hectic, as wintry conditions led to the game’s start time first being moved from noon to 10 a.m., and then just hours before the game was set to begin, it was moved indoors from Maryland Stadium to Jones-Hill House.
“I can’t say how thankful I am for so many people in our department that really pitched in to make the game happen,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “We have a lot of people, our facilities guys, our administrators, you name it, that came in super early and made everything work.”
Saturday marked the first time a game was played in the building since Maryland men’s basketball beat Virginia on March 3, 2002. It was also the first indoor home game in Maryland men’s lacrosse program history.
Before the game, Maryland honored eight seniors: Jonathan Donville, Keegan Khan, Owen Prybylski, Chase Cope, Joshua Coffman, Kyle Long, John Geppert, and Brett Makar.
The first quarter was nothing short of total domination from Maryland. The Terps scored 11 goals and allowed none.
As has been the case all season, Maryland’s faceoff success jump-started its offensive attack. The tandem of junior Luke Wierman and junior Gavin Tygh won 9-of-12 first quarter faceoffs. The Great Danes also took four penalties, two of which resulted in Maryland goals.
“We benefited from a couple of early violations at the faceoff X which got us some extra man [opportunities] and a bunch of possessions,” Tillman said.
The second frame wasn’t much different after the Terps entered the quarter up by a big margin on the scoreboard.
Albany got on the board after junior attacker Jack Pucci assisted sophomore attacker Joey Pezzimenti two minutes in, but junior attacker Daniel Maltz and fifth-year midfielder Bubba Fairman scored goals to push the lead to 13-1. Fairman’s goal was assisted by graduate attacker Keegan Khan, who got his name on the scoresheet for the first time since the team played at Syracuse on Feb. 20.
Senior attacker Corey Yunker scored for the Great Danes to make it 13-2, but the Terps ended the half with five unanswered goals. John Geppert scored his second goal of the day, also assisted by Khan. Anthony DeMaio got his second goal of the game, and then sophomore attacker Daniel Kelly scored his first career goal.
DeMaio assisted Maltz before Kelly scored again right before the halftime buzzer to give the Terps an 18-2 lead heading into halftime.
“I think it was just intensity and focus,” Donville said of his team’s dynamic first-half performance. “We started moving the ball and got some good passes that really carried us through.”
Maryland started the second half right where it left off, as junior faceoff specialist Gavin Tygh won the opening faceoff and raced down the field before finding Daniel Maltz, who dished it to Daniel Kelly for a hat trick on the same day he scored his first career goal.
Graydon Hogg answered for Albany after an assist from Pezzimenti to cut the score to 19-3, but the Terps got their 20th goal of the day less than five minutes into the third quarter from junior long stick midfielder Justin Sherrer, the first of his career, and shortly after Malever scored his second goal of the game.
Albany sophomore attacker Camden Hay made it 21-4 before Maryland junior midfielder Garrett Gibbons got the first goal of his college career to extend the lead to eighteen. Logan Tucker responded for the Great Danes, but Maryland freshman midfielder Kevin Tucker got his first career goal shortly after. The last goal of the third quarter belonged to Corey Yunker, who took a pass from Jack Pucci to make it 23-6 after 45 minutes of play.
The fourth quarter was far less eventful than the preceding three, as it took six minutes before the first and only goal. Sophomore midfielder Gabe Goforth got his first goal as a Terp to make it 24-6. Both offenses struggled to get much going, as a lot of inexperienced players were getting their first game action of the season.
Next week, a national championship game rematch beckons against No. 2 Virginia. That game is scheduled to begin on March 19 at 3 p.m. as a part of a triple-header at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
“We have something in the locker room where we can see the score from last year’s game… it’s something that we look at every day before we go to practice,” graduate midfielder Alex Smith said of Maryland’s motivation for next week’s game.
Three things to know
1. A glimpse of the future. Because of the lopsided score, Maryland head coach John Tillman was able to mix in a lot of his younger and more inexperienced players into the rotation. Five Terps – Daniel Kelly, Kevin Tucker, Gabe Goforth, Garrett Gibbons and Justin Sherrer - were all able to score their first career goals, and Kelly was able to add three more. Throughout much of the second half and most of the fourth quarter, Maryland’s players were almost entirely underclassmen.
“To get so many minutes for those guys, and I thought a lot of them showed very well, just an awesome day,” Tillman said.
2. Ground ball dominance. Maryland scooped 49 ground balls compared to Albany’s 23. The defense was key in this, as the Terps’ stick checks knocked the ball out of the Great Danes’ possession multiple times. The wings were key in collecting ground balls after faceoffs. Those loose balls are key to getting extra possessions, and the 24 goals that the Terps scored were very much in part to the success they had in ground ball situations.
3. Sharing the wealth. A total of 15 different Terps scored a goal on Saturday, including eight players that recorded at least two goals. Goal distribution has been a staple of this Maryland offense all season, and it was no different against Albany. 13 of Maryland’s 24 goals were assisted as well, which shows how well this team plays together and is indicative of their well-balanced offensive approach.
“I thought our guys did a really good job,” Tillman said after the game. “They played very maturely, shared the ball. We moved [the ball] and I thought we shot incredibly well, [putting our players] in really good spots.”