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No. 9 Maryland men’s lacrosse topples No. 3 Princeton, 11-5

The Terps controlled the Tigers from start to finish.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Twitter @TerpsMLax

No. 9 Maryland men’s lacrosse seemed to be breaking away from No. 3 Princeton as senior attackman Daniel Maltz scored his fourth goal of the game to give the Terps a 7-2 advantage.

The Tigers desperately needed a spark and seemed to get one when junior Tyler Sandoval won the face-off, soared through Maryland’s defense and finished off an incredible goal as he stumbled to the turf.

Scandoval celebrated with his teammates, but the referees decided to take an extra look at his stick. The three officials gathered at midfield and inspected Scandoval’s stick, ultimately deciding it was illegal. The penalty resulted in a three minute man-up opportunity for the Terps and erased Scandoval’s goal off the scoreboard.

“Our guys felt like they checked that stick and felt like they should have dislodged the ball, and they’re like, ‘Coach, I can’t believe it didn’t come out. There’s something not right about that stick,’” head coach John Tillman said. “So, I had mentioned something to the officials.”

Junior midfielder Jack Koras took advantage just under three minutes later, scoring his first goal of the game.

The violation proved to be a turning point as Princeton could not dig itself out of its deficit, falling to Maryland, 11-5, on Saturday.

Senior Luke Wierman continued his dominance to open up the game, winning the face-off for Maryland. Princeton stuffed the Terps on their first offensive possession, though, forcing a shot clock violation.

The Tigers’ offense did not have the ball for long, however, as defensemen Ajax Zapitello and Brett Makar caused back-to-back turnovers.

Makar scooped up the turnover with 12:49 on the clock and quickly pushed the ball ahead to senior Daniel Maltz. The attackman surveyed the field before lofting the ball over the defense. Junior attackman Daniel Kelly caught the pass in stride and finished off the play to give Maryland a 1-0 lead.

Neither team scored over the next 12 minutes as Maryland missed nine shots and Princeton missed five.

With Kelly pinned against the sideline by two Syracuse defenders, Tillman called his first timeout of the game and reasoned with his offense. Then, junior attackman Owen Murphy held the ball at midfield waiting for the play to unfold. With 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Kelly set a pick on Princeton midfielder Joeseph Juengerkes, freeing up Murphy to load up a shot from 17 yards out.

Murphy’s shot snuck right past Princeton senior goalie Griffen Rakower, giving Maryland a two-goal lead heading into the second quarter.

Princeton sophomore attackman Courtney Mackesy cut the deficit to one with 11:49 remaining in the first half, but it did not take long for the Terps to respond.

Senior attackman Daniel Maltz collected the ball about 18 yards away from the net, and without any pressure from the Tigers’ defense, he hopped forward and flung his stick towards Rakower.

Princeton’s goalie was unable to deflect the shot, giving the Terps a 3-1 lead.

Both teams continued to fire off shots in the final eight minutes of the second quarter, but none of which found the back of the net. Maryland outshot Princeton 24-20 in the first half, resulting in a 3-1 lead.

The third quarter was filled with scoring as the Terps stretched their lead to seven.

Kelly opened up the scoring with an easy goal from three-feet out, and then Maltz got hot. The senior scored three goals in five minutes, giving Maryland a comfortable five-goal lead.

After an illegal stick penalty against Princeton, this game seemed all but over as the Terps secured a 10-3 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers scored back-to-back goals early in the fourth, but Maryland’s defense hunkered down for the final 10 minutes of play, refusing to let Princeton get back into the game.

The Terps’ solid defense and third quarter scoring resulted in a 11-5 victory for their first road win of the season.

Three things to know

1. Is Brian Ruppel the answer? Graduate goalie Teddy Dolan received his first start of the season against Syracuse, and after an uninspiring performance, Tillman elected to go in another direction. Freshman Brian Ruppel got his first start in the cage and showed out. Ruppel saved 14 shots and allowed only five goals against one of the most prolific offenses in the nation.

“I think Brian proved that he was ready for the moment, and the moment wasn’t too big for him,” Tillman said. “We’ll see how it goes this week, but I don’t think he hurt his chances [to start], you know, for next week at all.”

2. Maryland’s defense was flawless. Princeton has arguably the best offense in the nation after returning five of its top six goals scorers from 2022 and averaging 18 goals per game to start the season. However, the Tigers offense was nonexistent on Saturday, scoring just one goal in the first half and five total. After allowing 12 goals in back-to-back outings, Maryland’s defense may have found its rhythm.

“Sure we’d like to score really fast, but, you know, when we didn’t I felt like we were trying to at least generate a good, long possession where we can work the ball and maybe soften them up a little bit,” Tillman said. “It’s much like, you know, football where, you know, if you have a long possession and score, it’s great because your defense is rested.”

3. Princeton was careless. One of the biggest takeaways from this game was the amount of penalties the Tigers committed. Princeton constantly played too physical, resulting in six man-down situations, compared to Maryland’s one. The Terps scored on three of the six opportunities and capitalized on the Tigers’ carelessness to pull off the upset.