By the time the Albany Great Danes knew what hit them, it was already too late.
Maryland men’s lacrosse used an early eight-goal run to down Albany 18-9 in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, punching a ticket to next weekend’s Final Four in Foxborough.
Senior Matt Rambo was the star, totaling eight points behind four goals and four assists. Rambo is now tied for the program’s all-time lead with 153 career goals. Junior Connor Kelly led all scorers with five, and has come alive at the midfield since the start of the Big Ten Tournament.
Goalie Dan Morris stood tall against a lethal Great Danes’ offense, totaling ten saves in an outing which he couldn’t afford to have gone poorly.
If there were any questions about how the Terps might start this game, Rambo had the answer.
The senior completed a hat trick in the first quarter of play, with each goal more impressive than the last. On the Terps’ first possession with a defender draped on his back, Rambo executed a perfect turn and shoot to give Maryland an early 1-0 lead.
After two pole goals in transition by Bryce Young and Tim Muller, Rambo went back to work. He connected after a nasty spin move that left his defender in the dust, and bulldozed his way through contact to complete his hat trick with five minutes still to play in the first quarter.
The Terps’ dominant 6-2 lead by the end of the first quarter was as much a doing by the defense as it was the offense. Albany boasts the highest-scoring attack in the country, but Young and Muller’s hawking isolation defense never let Albany develop a rhythm.
Any hope of a competitive game was annihilated by the second quarter. Maryland’s offense exploded for four goals in the first five minutes of the quarter, extending a run of eight unanswered goals. In the blink of an eye, the Great Danes found themselves down 12-4 by halftime with no answer in sight.
Faceoff Austin Henningsen suffered a rocky 0-for-5 start at the draw, but he and Jon Garino Jr. went 10-for-13 as a duo to finish the half. Garino would stay the primary man at the X, dominating Albany’s TD Ierlan to finish 12-for-14 in the match.
Kelly picked up right where Maryland left off, with an unassisted run down broadway to extend the Terps’ lead to 13-4. Maryland never took its foot off the gas pedal, as the Terps’ lead would not dip below nine for the rest of the game.
With the win, the Terps are set to face Denver in a rematch of the 2015 national championship game. Two years ago, the Pioneers proved too skilled for the young Terps roster. Two years later, the two meet again in what should be a rematch of epic proportions, with the Terps looking to advance to end the 42-year championship drought.
Three things to know
1. Matt Rambo led by example, and the rest of the team responded. Rambo’s aggressiveness became infectious, setting the tone from the opening minute on. Against a tough Albany squad, the senior needed to step up and show his team what it would take to beat a program like the Great Danes.
2. The defense was every bit as important as the offense. There isn’t one part of Tillman’s team that under performed. The scoreboard will show that the game was an offensive clinic, but they couldn’t have gotten there without the defense. The Terps’ recovery defense was especially superb, restricting the Great Danes from capitalizing on any extra men left open. The unit finished with 28 ground balls and four caused turnovers.
3. Jon Garino Jr. dominated one of the best faceoffs in the country. After coming in relief of Austin Henningsen, the senior faceoff asserted his authority over freshman phenom TD Ierlan. Finishing 12-for-14 on the day, Garino was crucial in the possession game, and might have proven to be the most reliable faceoff specialist for the Terps heading into the Final Four.