With under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse held a comfortable 10-1 lead over No. 20 Richmond. As the Spiders moved the ball around the offensive zone, Maryland closed every possible scoring avenue, forcing Richmond into taking another difficult shot.
Graduate long-stick midfielder John Geppert then stripped Richmond midfielder Henry Alpaugh and sprinted down the field. After crossing the 30-yard line, Geppert dumped the ball off to junior attackman Owen Murphy, who instantly flung it at the net.
The shot blew past Richmond goalie Zach Vigue and into the net for Murphy’s fourth and final goal of the game.
The score gave Maryland a double-digit lead — which they would hold onto for the rest of the game — and embodied the Terps’ performance: great defense leading to even better offensive opportunities.
Maryland’s 15-4 win over Richmond on Saturday marked its 30th consecutive season-opening win.
“Excited to get the season started and to get it with a win is awesome against a really good team in Richmond,” head coach John Tillman said. “These guys have worked hard since August and [it’s] just great to see a lot of new faces involved and getting a good, team win.”
The Terps got off to a scorching-hot start, scoring three unanswered goals in the first five minutes. Each were scored by a different player, as Geppert got things started with a breakaway goal less than two minutes into the game.
Richmond was discombobulated on the offensive end to begin the quarter, but freshman midfielder Joe Sheridan smoothed things over when he finished through contact and scored the Spiders’ first goal.
Richmond maintained control of possession through the next eight minutes but could not break through Maryland’s defense. Senior goalie Logan McNaney stopped everything the Spiders threw at him, flexing toward Maryland’s sideline after his fifth save of the quarter.
The Terps finally regained possession with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter and made the most of it. Freshman attackman Braden Erksa roped around the net and attempted a pass to attackman Daniel Kelly. The ball was a bit too high for Kelly’s reach, but Murphy was in perfect possession to scoop it up and end the quarter with a bang.
Now holding a three-goal cushion, Maryland’s attackers went to work. Senior attackman Daniel Maltz scored the first goal of the second quarter with his back toward the net, and then Erksa scored his second goal of the half in which he went one-on-one against Richmond midfielder Joe Gooley.
Maryland scored two more goals before the period ended as its defense continued to stifle the Spiders. Richmond attempted 22 shots in the first half — six more than Maryland — with McNaney saving nine of them.
The Terps did not let up in second half, scoring five goals in the third quarter and two in the fourth.
Richmond tacked on three goals in the fourth, but it was too little, too late for the Spiders, who could not get things going all day, only converting on four of their 42 shot attempts.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s defense was unbreakable. The Terps’ biggest strength heading into the 2023 season was their defense, and it showed. Maryland returned three key defensive starters from last year in McNaney, graduate defenseman Brett Makar and junior defenseman Ajax Zappitello, who led the defense to a dominant performance. Richmond ranked 13th in the nation in goals per game (14.00) in 2022, but was held to just four on Saturday.
“We’ve all kind of bought in to having a team-oriented defense,” McNaney said. “I have a lot of trust in those guys in front of me and they have trust in me too.”
2. Owen Murphy took over. With the departure of multiple offensive stars, Murphy received his first start as a Terp and made the most of it. The junior carved up Richmond’s defense, scoring a game-high four goals on nine shot attempts. If Murphy can continue his phenomenal play throughout the rest of the season, he may be wearing the coveted No. 1 jersey in 2024.
“Murph just kind of has a knack for scoring and kind of getting in good spots,” Tillman said. “And I thought his teammates did a good job of finding him too.”
3. Maryland is still Maryland. After losing six of its 10 starters from the 2022 national championship team, question marks loomed over Maryland. That much change is enough to derail any program, however, Tillman has proved time and time again that you can never count out the Terps. Maryland looked as dominant as ever against Richmond, and while it was only the first game of the season, Saturday’s win proved that the Terps still belong among the nation’s best.
“There’s been a lot of change since August, you know, half our staff is gone. A lot of guys that have been here for a while are gone,” Tillman said. “But these guys [are a] pretty resilient group [and] didn’t flinch.”