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Maryland men’s lacrosse beats No. 1 Penn State on senior day, 15-11

The Terps ended the Nittany Lions’ perfect season.

NCAA Lacrosse: National Championship-North Carolina vs Maryland Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland’s senior class ended senior day with a lifelong memory, downing undefeated and No. 1-ranked Penn State, 15-11, for the team’s third straight win over a ranked opponent.

The seniors would not be denied a win in front of friends and families. Prior to the start of the game, head coach John Tillman honored the 14 seniors (and juniors graduating early) in an emotional ceremony that included roses, family members and a standing ovation from the entirety of Maryland Stadium.

Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock combined for seven goals and three assists, leading the senior class that finished with 15 points on the day.

The Terps came out of the gates looking more like the No. 1 team in the country. From the opening faceoff, the Terps played with a sense of urgency and aggression that’d been lost at times this season. Chalk it up to either Penn State’s top ranking or the emotion behind senior day: Maryland came into this game with a clear purpose.

Junior Connor Kelly bodied his way down low for the opening goal of the game, giving Maryland a 1-0 lead less than a minute in. Senior Matt Rambo then went on an offensive tear, scoring three straight unassisted goals in a matter of minutes to send the Maryland bench into a frenzy.

The Terps took 14 shots in the opening quarter, compared to three from the Nittany Lions. While Penn State converted on all three of their shots in the first quarter, the defense just couldn’t keep up with the pace Maryland was playing at. Every pass, every shot and every possession was calculated, and it made a difference.

Senior Colin Heacock, who’d been held in check to start the game, scored two consecutive unassisted goals to lead the Terps in the second quarter.

Maryland carried a 10-6 lead into halftime, having outshot Penn State 27-7 in the first half. Thanks to the dominance of Austin Henningsen at the faceoff, the Terps controlled the pace on both ends of the field and kept the Nittany Lions right where they wanted them.

Rambo and senior Ben Chisolm connected early in the third, giving Maryland a cushy and seemingly safe six-goal lead. Penn State’s defense started stick-checking the Terps’ attack, and the Nittany Lions’ offense went on a three goal run to cut the deficit in half.

Goalie Dan Morris, who had allowed nine goals so far on the game, made a crucial third-quarter save that would’ve given Penn State all the momentum.

Goals by Heacock and Kelly down the stretch put the game out of reach, and the Terps guaranteed that there will be a new No. 1 team in the country when the rankings get updated next week.

Penn State came into Saturday’s matchup boasting the fifth-highest scoring offense in the country, but was no match for Maryland’s swarming defense. Led by long-stick midfielder Matt Neufeldt, the unit finished with nine caused turnovers and contained an offense averaging more than 14 goals per contest.

The Terps’ defense will need to reset quickly, as they take on Albany this Wednesday. The Great Danes own the highest scoring offense in the country.

Three Things to Know

  1. Maryland set the tone early. The Terps controlled the tempo and pace of this game from the start, and might not have won had it been the other way around. Against a team like Penn State, Maryland had to be proactive rather than reactionary. The attack never let the defense settle, outshooting the Nittany Lions 40-27.
  2. Two straight losses seems to spark something for Maryland. Last year, Maryland dropped two straight in the beginning of the season against Notre Dame and Yale, but went on a 16-game win streak en route to the NCAA Championship game. This year, the Terps responded to a two-game losing streak with wins against No. 1 Penn State, No. 18 Michigan and the defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels.
  3. The program will really miss this senior class. The seniors had a game for the ages, beating the No. 1 team in the country in front of a roaring home crowd. During the senior day ceremony, which included juniors that are graduating early as well, head coach John Tillman was reminded he’ll eventually have to bid farewell to an entire starting attack in Maltz, Heacock and Rambo, starting goalie Dan Morris, All-American Isaiah Davis Allen, contributing goal-scorer Tim Rotanz, faceoff threat Jon Garino and injured defensive beast Mac Pons.