Two straight goals from Penn State’s sophomore midfielder Mark Sickler and freshman attacker Will Peden cut No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse’s lead to 5-3 halfway through the second quarter.
With the Nittany Lions beginning to gather some momentum, graduate attacker Keegan Khan fired a shot while falling down, finding the back of the net for his second goal of the game. Just six seconds later, junior faceoff specialist Luke Wierman scored, and the onslaught continued for the Terps.
Four more unanswered goals, featuring two from Khan, one from senior midfielder Kyle Long and another from fifth-year midfielder Bubba Fairman, made the score 11-3 before the halftime break. In the blink of an eye, Maryland had hampered Penn State’s energy for good.
“We were able to snatch that momentum back and then kept it going,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said.
No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse started conference play with a commanding 18-7 victory at Penn State, improving to 8-0 on the season and 1-0 in the Big Ten. Penn State dropped to 2-7 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten.
The Terps are now 39-1 all-time against the Nittany Lions and 8-1 since the teams both joined the Big Ten.
Sunday’s first goal came two minutes in from Maryland’s sophomore midfielder Jack Koras, assisted by fifth-year attacker Logan Wisnauskas.
Keegan Khan, the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, extended the Terps’ lead to 2-0 about four minutes later by using his speed and strength to force his way from behind the goal to right in front of the Penn State redshirt junior goalie Aleric Fyock.
Kyle Long kept the goals coming for the Terps with back-to-back goals from the right side of the crease, making it 4-0 Maryland just eleven minutes into the game.
Penn State got on the board after a gift from Maryland, as an errant pass during an attempted clearance led to an open-net opportunity for Will Peden. He converted with 3:34 left in the first quarter and cut the Terps’ lead to 4-1, which was the score as the first quarter came to a close.
Junior attacker Jack Brennan scored the Terps’ fifth goal of the game with 12:39 left in the second quarter, making it 5-1.
After Maryland was able to answer Penn State’s back-to-back goals with a 6-0 run to end the half, it led 11-3.
The Terps’ numerous runs this season have all had a similar catalyst: Luke Wierman. The junior has been sensational this season, and his incredible performance in the first half (winning 14-of-16 faceoffs) was the main reason why Maryland was able to have its offensive success.
“It feels good, just [knowing] the guys have my back and trust me,” Wierman said.
The second half started just how the first half ended, with the Terps pouring it on the Nittany Lions. Wisnauskas scored just a minute into the third quarter, and Jack Koras scored his second goal of the game two minutes later. Fifth-year midfielder Anthony DeMaio and Jonathan Donville added goals of their own, both assisted by Wisnauskas.
With 5:40 left in the third quarter, Maryland led 15-3 and had scored ten unanswered goals.
Sophomore attacker Eric Malever kept his foot on the gas for the Terps, finishing the third quarter with three goals in the final 4:36 to make the score 18-3 in favor of Maryland after 45 minutes.
After the Terps began to rotate some less experienced players into the game, Penn State found the back of the net three times in quick succession. Junior midfielder Mac Costin, freshman attacker Nils Barry and junior midfielder Grant Haus all were able to fire shots past Maryland’s graduate goalie Drew Morris.
Morris made five saves during the fourth quarter.
“It is honestly one of the greatest things you can see as a teammate,” Wierman said of having players usually on the scout team get game action. “They [work] their butt off all week long and they’re the reason [we’ve been] successful recently, just because of their hard work and what they put in throughout the week.”
Barry added another goal with 4:25 remaining, assisted by redshirt sophomore attacker Canyon Birch. His goal extended Penn State’s run to 4-0, but the game ended with a final score of 18-7 in favor of the Terps.
Maryland continues Big Ten play next Saturday with a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the Michigan Wolverines.
Three things to know
1. It was a tremendous performance from Maryland’s defense. Maryland’s defense stymied Penn State’s offense, allowing only three goals through three quarters of play. The third quarter was the fourth time that Maryland didn’t allow a single goal in a quarter this season. Junior goalie Logan McNaney was fantastic in net, making nine saves and giving up only three goals. One of those goals, however, was on a busted clear and he wasn’t in position to make a save. With speculation of a potential letdown game floating around after an emotional win over No. 2 Virginia, Maryland’s stout defense played with remarkable intensity.
“I thought our settled defense was really good tonight,” Tillman said after the game. [Defensive coordinator Jesse Bernhardt] and those guys were pretty dialed in.”
2. Wisnauskas is chasing history. With five points – a goal and four assists – Wisnauskas brought his career point tally to 282, just eight shy of Jared Bernhardt’s school record of 290. With four regular season games still remaining on Maryland’s schedule, Wisnauskas would only need two points per game to break Bernhardt’s record before the postseason begins. He is currently averaging 5.6 points per game and is on pace to become the first player in Maryland men’s lacrosse history to total 300 career points.
“It’s not difficult at all when you have those guys around you,” Wisnauskas said after the game, giving credit for his individual success to his teammates.
3. Maryland’s regular season dominance continued. Sunday’s victory marked Maryland’s 20th straight regular season win with its last loss coming on Feb. 18, 2020, at Villanova. It was also the 11th straight Big Ten win for John Tillman’s squad. While regular season accomplishments pale in comparison to postseason accolades, the intensity that the Terps have played with in recent seasons shouldn’t go unrecognized. Their consistent play is indicative of the culture that Tillman has built and the buy-in from the team as well.