The beginning of the second half proved what No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse’s opponents this season have learned the hard way; when junior faceoff specialist Luke Wierman is winning faceoffs, the Terps are almost unstoppable on offense.
Nine seconds into the third quarter against Michigan, Wierman passed the ball to senior long stick midfielder John Geppert, who ripped a shot past Michigan sophomore goalie Shane Carr. Wierman promptly won the subsequent faceoff, passed it to sophomore attacker Eric Malever who then found Geppert for his second goal in the span of 14 seconds.
“When juice plays like that happen, we definitely take that moment and really get excited about it,” Geppert said of Maryland’s scoring run. “The bench fires us up more than anything.”
Goals from fifth-year attacker Logan Wisnauskas and graduate attacker Keegan Khan a few minutes later pushed Maryland’s lead to eight just four minutes into the second half.
Backed by its seven-goal third quarter, No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse won its ninth consecutive game of 2022, improving its still-undefeated record to 9-0 with a 20-12 win at Michigan on Saturday. Michigan lost its fourth straight game and is now 7-4 on the season.
“I love our guys, I really love this team,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “I’m very grateful that we won today.”
Maryland will return home next Sunday night for a high-stakes matchup against a top-five opponent in Rutgers.
Around three minutes into the game, Michigan freshman attacker Ryan Cohen scored an impressive goal while being guarded by Maryland graduate defenseman Matt Rahill. Cohen was falling to the ground, but was still able to muster enough power on his shot to beat junior goalie Logan McNaney.
It took almost five minutes for the Terps to answer. After a Michigan penalty, Keegan Khan took it himself for an unassisted goal that tied the game at one.
Michigan reclaimed the lead after a great play from its top two offensive weapons. Sophomore attacker Michael Boehm found junior attacker Josh Zawada on the doorstep for a goal that made it 2-1 Wolverines with 6:19 remaining in the first quarter.
Like they have all season, Maryland scored multiple goals in quick succession to reclaim control of the game. Graduate midfielder Roman Puglise fired a shot into the top corner to tie the game, and then just 42 seconds later Logan Wisnauskas gave Maryland a 3-2 lead as the first quarter came to a close.
The second quarter opened with a pair of Maryland goals, both assisted by Khan. First, he found sophomore attacker Owen Murphy who fired a hip-level shot past Michigan’s Carr, and then Khan dished the ball to Wisnauskas who found the back of the net, making it 5-2 Maryland just over two minutes into the quarter.
Michigan briefly ended the 4-0 Maryland run with a slick bounce shot from sophomore midfielder Isaac Aronson that got past McNaney. However, the Terps didn’t give Michigan an opportunity to build momentum.
With 5:46 left in the first half, space opened up for graduate midfielder Jonathan Donville to break free, and senior midfielder Kyle Long found the Cornell transfer for a goal. Only six seconds later, Luke Wierman rushed down the field after winning the faceoff and scored his sixth goal of the season.
Just under a minute after that, sophomore attacker Eric Malever scored Maryland’s third goal in just over a minute to extend the lead to five.
After Maryland’s flurry of goals, Michigan needed a quick one. Cohen looked back to Aronson, and found the sophomore for his second goal of the game. After a pushing penalty was called on Wisnauskas, Michigan scored an extra-man goal on a shot from Boehm.
The lead had been cut to three, but Long dished out another assist to Murphy for a goal that made the score 9-5 in favor of the Terps, which proved to be the final goal of the first half.
Despite the deficit, Michigan refused to go away quietly. Cohen scored two straight goals, and then Zawada cleaned up a messy fight for a ground ball and quickly lobbed a shot into the goal to cut the Maryland lead to five.
The Terps saw Michigan’s 3-0 run and went on one of their own. Khan scored after an assist from Wisnauskas, and then Murphy scored his third and fourth goals of the game to make it 16-8 Maryland with 2:28 left in the third quarter.
“We want to be smart, disciplined, and play with a lot of heart,” Tillman said of his team’s mindset when enduring pressure from opponents.
Wisnauskas’ assist was the 115th of his career, enough to pass Roger Goss (1958-60) for 4th all-time at Maryland.
Cohen tallied his fourth goal of the game with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter after an assist from Zawada. Heading into the fourth quarter, Maryland boasted a seven-goal lead.
Fifth-year attacker Anthony DeMaio started the fourth quarter with a goal of his own, using his agility to spin free of a one-on-one matchup with his defender and creating an opening to shoot.
Michigan was called for an interference penalty with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter, and then head coach Kevin Conry was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after exchanging words with one of the officials. Maryland made sure to take advantage of the two-man advantage, with Khan finding Donville for a goal.
Aronson, a Maryland native, scored his third goal of the game to briefly make it 18-10, but Donville scored again with six minutes remaining.
Wisnauskas assisted Donville’s goal for his 287th career point, moving him just three shy of Jared Bernhardt’s Maryland record of 290.
Michigan senior defenseman Gavin Legg got on the board before Malever found sophomore midfielder Jack Koras for Maryland’s 20th goal of the game, marking the fifth time this season that the Terps have scored at least 20 goals.
Ten different Terps scored on Saturday, consistent with the selfless approach the team has preached all season.
“That’s what makes this group so much fun to be around,” Tillman said. “[They’re] always about everybody else and never about themselves.”
Boehm beat graduate goalie Drew Morris to cut the Maryland lead to 20-12, but the Terps cruised to an eight-goal victory from there.
Three things to know
1. Maryland had an abundance of unforced errors. Maryland was ultimately able to overcome its mistakes to get out of Ann Arbor, Michigan with a win, but it wasn’t its prettiest performance this season. The team had five failed clears as well as 12 turnovers. Credit should be given to Michigan’s hustle and pressure, but Maryland’s uncharacteristic mistakes could prove to be very dangerous as the intensity of the schedule continues to ramp up.
“I think some of the special team stuff we’ve got to be better at. We weren’t great on the man up today,” Tillman said. “There are things that I think we could have done a lot better today, [but I don’t] want that to get mistaken with [the team’s] effort. It was terrific.”
2. Maryland’s long poles made plays. As a long stick midfielder, Geppert scored two goals in quick succession that were key in putting distance between the Terps and the Wolverines. He wasn’t the only Maryland long pole making key plays, however. Maryland’s defensive unit was solid as a whole, including multiple forced turnovers by both sophomore Ajax Zappitello and senior Brett Makar. Zappitello also made an incredible diving stop on a Michigan shot into what appeared to be an open net.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’re a group that necessarily prides ourselves on [getting attention]... we appreciate the little things more,” Geppert said.
3. Three straight hat tricks for Keegan Khan. Khan had a multi-game scoring drought after the team’s win at Syracuse on Feb. 20, but he has scored at least three goals in Maryland’s last three games. Khan was key in the Terps’ offensive success early in the season, and his dynamic play as of late has made Maryland even more difficult to gameplan for. If the Terps want to make another deep run in the postseason, Khan’s production will be key.