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No. 1-seed Maryland men’s lacrosse cruises past No. 4-seed Johns Hopkins, 16-11, advances to Big Ten championship game

The Terps won their fifth game in a row against Hopkins and will play either Rutgers or Ohio State in the championship on Saturday.

Photo Courtesy of Twitter/Maryland Athletics
@TerpsMLax

No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse began the second quarter with a 4-2 lead and a man advantage, but promptly turned the ball over. After picking up the loose ball, Johns Hopkins sophomore midfielder Brett Martin didn’t let anyone get in his way. He spun past three Maryland players and passed to senior midfielder Garret Degnon for a goal, which put the Blue Jays a goal away from tying the game. Sophomore midfielder Johnathan Peshko then delivered that goal, evening the score at four with just over 13 minutes left in the first half.

“[They were] playing with house money, [it was] win or go home for them,” Maryland senior defenseman Brett Makar said. “We knew they were going to come out fighting and aggressive.”

The game was only tied for two minutes, though. The Terps finished the half on a 4-0 run, jumpstarted by a rocket off the stick of fifth-year midfielder Anthony DeMaio that blew past Johns Hopkins graduate goalie Josh Kirson with 11:09 on the second-quarter clock.

Graduate attacker Keegan Khan then added his second goal, and then sophomore Owen Murphy tallied his first with five minutes remaining until halftime. Murphy scored four goals and had an assist in his last outing against Johns Hopkins, his former team before transferring to Maryland.

Just a minute before the second quarter came to a close, sophomore attacker Eric Malever dished to a wide-open fifth-year attacker Logan Wisnauskas right on the goal’s doorstep, where he finished to register the 36th hat trick of his career. Maryland led 8-4 after 30 minutes of play, and never relinquished that lead.

That second quarter scoring barrage led to the No. 1-seed Terps advancing to their second consecutive Big Ten championship game, taking down fourth-seeded Johns Hopkins 16-11 in the Big Ten tournament semifinals on Thursday evening.

The Terps, who defeated Johns Hopkins 22-7 in their regular season finale, stayed undefeated and improved to 13-0 in 2022. The Blue Jays end their season with a 7-9 overall record.

“It’s hard to end the season, certainly losing to your rival,” Johns Hopkins head coach Peter Milliman said. “All the credit [goes] to Maryland. That’s as good of a team as I’ve seen in a while.”

In similar fashion to the team’s last matchup with Hopkins, Maryland scored just 31 seconds in after graduate midfielder Jonathan Donville found Wisnauskas, who scored his 41st goal of the season.

However, this time the Blue Jays didn’t fold. Degnon found the back of the net to even the game at one apiece just two minutes later.

Keegan Khan provided the game’s next goal with an impressive behind-the-back shot — his second this year — that beat Kirson to make it 2-1 with 8:41 left in the first quarter.

Khan then assisted Wisnauskas’ second goal, doubling the Terps’ lead.

Hopkins continued to fight. Peshko passed to junior midfielder Jacob Angelus for the Blue Jays’ second goal, cutting Maryland’s lead to one.

The first quarter ended with the Terps leading 4-2, as Malever scored after an assist by Wisnauskas with under a minute remaining.

The second half started with the Terps leading by four, and they showed their ability to run in transition right as it began.

Sophomore defenseman Ajax Zappitello found senior midfielder Kyle Long, who skillfully scored on a bounce shot. That assist was the first point of Zappitello’s young career, and also means that all three of Maryland’s starting close defensemen have registered a point in 2022.

“Ajax has been awesome, and that’s what we expect from him. I just continually tell him to be himself because he does all the right things,” Makar said of his fellow defenseman.

However, Zappitello was subsequently flagged for an illegal check to the head, and the Blue Jays capitalized. They whipped the ball around and graduate midfielder Jack Keogh eventually found Angelus for an extra-man goal.

The Malever-Wisnauskas connection showed itself again with 9:22 left in the third quarter, but this time the fifth-year passed to the sophomore to make it 10-5 Maryland.

Then, back-to-back goals from DeMaio extended the Terps’ lead to seven, and after a goal from Johns Hopkins senior faceoff specialist Matt Narewski, Murphy and Wisnauskas added goals to give Maryland an eight-goal lead heading into the final quarter of play.

“We kind of faded from the gameplan a little bit,” Hopkins graduate attacker Connor DeSimone said. “It gave them an opportunity to put their foot on the gas.”

The Terps scored the first goal of the fourth quarter after a failed clearance by Hopkins. Junior attacker Daniel Maltz was in the right spot at the right time and picked up a ground ball before easily converting a one-on-one opportunity.

Sophomore attacker Dylan Bauer and Degnon scored two straight goals only four seconds apart, but fewer than one minute later, junior midfielder Jack Brennan ripped a shot from the left side into the bottom corner to halt the Blue Jays’ brief attempt at a miraculous comeback.

Degnon registered his fourth goal of the game shortly after, but it wasn’t enough to match the highest-scoring offense in the country.

With the score stalling at 16-9, emotions not unusual in “The Rivalry” led to an altercation between the two teams. A scuffle included pushing and shoving led to multiple penalties being handed out to both teams.

“There was a little contact in the middle, guys pushing and shoving which happens all game,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said of the skirmish. “I thought their guy did a terrific job. He pushed our guy who pushed him back and he definitely embellished it. Smart play... that [gave them] a chance to maybe get back [in the game].”

The Terps let the score do the talking, however, finishing off a 16-11 win and advancing to the conference title game.

Maryland will play either No. 2-seed Rutgers or No. 3-seed Ohio State for the Big Ten title on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

Three things to know

1. Maryland has had unparalleled success against Hopkins as of late. Maryland has now won five consecutive games against Johns Hopkins, the longest winning streak the Terps have ever had against the Blue Jays. All five games have come in the last two seasons because of multiple postseason matchups and conference-only scheduling in 2021.

Over the course of his career, Maryland head coach John Tillman is now 11-7 against Maryland’s Baltimore-based rival, and Johns Hopkins head coach Peter Milliman is now 0-5 against the Terps. The Blue Jays still comfortably lead the all-time series, but recent Maryland success in “The Rivalry” is unmatched by any other five-game stretch in Terps history.

“Every time we play [Johns Hopkins], the emotions are going to be high,” Makar said. “There’s no love lost between us and them and that’s how it will always be. That’s what makes this rivalry so special.”

2. A season-high for McNaney. Maryland junior Logan McNaney was once again fantastic for the Terps, racking up a season-best 14 saves and only allowing nine goals. He faced a lot of pressure all game long, but a combination of a solid defensive effort from the whole team as well as a lot of clean looks at the ball put McNaney in a good position to shut down the Blue Jays all game long.

3. The Terps have a chance to repeat. As the reigning Big Ten champions, Maryland once again advanced to the conference’s championship game and will have to play either Rutgers or Ohio State to celebrate on Saturday night. Maryland is the only team in Big Ten men’s lacrosse history to win back-to-back conference championships, accomplishing that feat in 2016 and 2017.

“We knew we’d have a short turnaround, but we’re kind of lucky,” Tillman said of preparing for Saturday on short notice. “The last three teams in the league we played are the three teams here. Sometimes it works out that way.”