No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse trailed, 11-8, to begin the fourth quarter against Michigan. The Terps seemed overwhelmed for much of the game, but anything could happen with a fresh 15 minutes on the clock.
Maryland began the quarter on a positive note. Senior attackman Daniel Maltz fired a rocket into the back of the net, taking advantage of the Terps’ man-up opportunity.
However, things took a turn for the worst in the coming minutes, as Michigan broke the seal of the Terps’ defense.
Michigan senior midfielder Jacob Jackson regained the Wolverines’ three-goal lead, and then junior attackman Michael Boehm scored on the doorstep of Maryland’s net and picked up a cross-check penalty against sophomore defenseman Colin Burlace, resulting in a man-up opportunity.
The Terps were completely deflated after Boehm’s goal and could not climb out of their four-goal deficit in the final nine minutes of play. Michigan came into College Park and knocked off the reigning national champions, 16-11, on Saturday, giving Maryland its third loss of the season and first conference defeat since May 2, 2019.
“Obviously [a] disappointing day, not the result we were hoping for, but hats off to our opponent,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “Just didn’t feel like we played great today, and obviously as a leader that’s something I got to take responsibility for. Didn’t feel like in any area we were great.”
Michigan won the opening faceoff, but a caused turnover from senior defensemen Brett Makar gave early life to the Terps’ offense. Maryland worked the ball around the attacking zone before finding junior attackman Daniel Kelly, who took one step up and flung the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards out.
Two of the Wolverines’ star attackmen, senior Josh Zawada and Boehm, were involved in Michigan’s first goal of the game, but the Terps quickly regained the lead as senior midfielder Kyle Long connected with freshman attackman Braden Erksa for an easy score.
The rest of the first quarter was dominated by the Wolverines, though. Maryland looked overwhelmed.
Michigan scored its second goal at the 9:49 mark, and its third at the 9:45 when junior Justin Wietfeldt won his first faceoff and immediately attacked the heart of Maryland’s defense.
The Wolverines scored three more goals before the quarter’s end, all of which resulted from impeccable ball and player movement.
Maryland started the second quarter rejuvenated, scoring two unassisted goals within 25 seconds.
Zawada then tacked on an unassisted goal of his own, but Maryland junior defenseman Ajax Zappitello responded with his first goal of the season and forced a timeout with 7:27 remaining in the quarter.
Freshman goalie Brain Ruppel scooped up a ground ball and advanced it to Zappitello, who was positioned just below midfield. The defenseman stormed into Michigan territory and had no intention of passing up a rare offensive opportunity.
Zappitello bounced the ball at Michigan junior goalie Shane Carr, who deflected it about 15 feet into the air. Zappitello surveyed the area, located the ball, gathered the rebound and canned the second-chance opportunity to cut Michigan’s lead to two.
“That’s definitely a momentum play for us,” Makar said. “Ajax made a big play there, and we expect those kinds of things from him.”
Long scored the final goal of the quarter, and Maryland entered halftime down one.
Michigan made some adjustments during the intermission and began the third quarter firing on all cylinders. The Wolverines scored on all of their first three shots and won three of the first four faceoffs.
“We were just not, maybe, in the right spot or we were just a step behind on a couple plays, and they canned those opportunities,” Tillman said.
Now down by four, Erksa took it upon himself to stop the bleeding. The freshman spun past two Michigan defenders, looped around the cage and then fired the ball into the net for his second goal of the day.
After an exciting start to the quarter, neither team scored over the next 10 minutes due to a flurry of missed shots and turnovers.
Boehm and Erksa tallied their third goal of the game before the quarter came to a close, as Maryland remained in a three-goal deficit heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
Maltz opened up the fourth quarter with his second goal of the day, but the rest of the period was dominated by Michigan, resulting in a 16-11 loss for the Terps.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s seniors showed up. It was senior day for four of Maryland’s 10 starters, and all of them made an impact. Maltz, Jack Brennan and Long energized the offense with a combined four goals and two assists, while Makar held it down on the defensive end, scooping up two ground balls and causing three turnovers. In a game where leadership and persistence was needed, the Terps seniors stepped up. Their contributions did not lead to a win, however, as the Terps could not sneak past Michigan.
2. The Terps played cleaner. Heading into Saturday’s game, the biggest weakness facing Maryland was its inefficiency. The Terps entered holding a .278 shot percentage and averaged 16.63 turnovers per game, but only committed nine turnovers against Michigan. While Maryland cleaned up some of its offensive mistakes, Michigan’s first and third quarter outbursts proved to be too much for the Terps to overcome.
3. Maryland dropped its first Big Ten game since 2019. The Terps losing in Big Ten play is an unusual sight, but Michigan looked like the better team on Saturday. The Wolverines’ defense smothered Maryland’s attackers and their offense came and went, but got the job done. This marks Michigan’s first Big Ten win since 2021, putting it one step closer to its first winning season in two years.
“I felt like we were fighting uphill all day,” Tillman said. “Whether we won this or lost this game, we have a big game in Ohio next week.”