Maryland senior Matt Rambo won the 2017 Tewaaraton Award on Thursday, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding college lacrosse player.
Rambo was of five finalists on the men’s side; the pool included Denver’s Trevor Baptiste, Albany’s Connor Fields, Yale’s Ben Reeves and Loyola’s Patrick Spencer. But Rambo’s leadership en route to the Terps’ first national championship in 42 years ended up being the difference.
The senior attackman is the only Maryland player to win the award since the award’s inception in 2001. Former Maryland legend Frank Urso won the Tewaaraton Legend award last year, given to a player in collegiate lacrosse history who would’ve won the Tewaaraton had it existed prior to 2001.
On the women’s side, senior midfielder Zoe Stukenberg beat out teammate Nadine Hadnagy to make it six years and counting that a Terp has won the women’s Tewaaraton Award.
Rambo finished his senior campaign at Maryland with 42 goals and 45 assists for a prodigious 87 points, capping what’s turned out to be an illustrious career at Maryland.
Rewriting the record books
Going into the regular season “Rivalry” matchup against Johns Hopkins, Rambo needed six points to surpass Bob Boneillo as the program’s all-time points leader.
He accomplished this in 17 minutes.
Against Albany in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, Rambo notched eight points and four goals to tie the school’s all-time goals record. He scored his record-breaking 154th goal in the semifinals against Penn State.
When the game clock struck zero at Gillette Stadium, Rambo finished his college lacrosse career with 257 points, 155 goals and a national championship.
Maryland’s all-time leaderboard
Rambo is the only player in Maryland history to tally triple-digit goal and assist totals. His 87 points also makes him the school’s all-time leader for a single season, and the only player in program history to record back-to-back 70 point seasons.
Right place, right time
Hailing from LaSalle College High School in Philadelphia, Rambo came to College Park clearly gifted enough offensively to be a starter right away.
“We graduated some attackmen and we needed somebody. We needed a few guys that could come in and play right away,” Tillman said in Monday’s postgame press conference. “Physically, just the way he's built, was ready to play basically the day he walked on campus. Just a little stronger than your typical freshman.”
He finished with 30 goals and six assists as a freshman, and looked like half of a star duo in the making alongside then-freshman Connor Cannizzaro. While Cannizzaro would leave for Denver, Rambo stayed put to bring Maryland men’s lacrosse to the mountain top.
Despite an impressive freshman campaign, Rambo still had much to learn. His primary role came as a finisher, and he relied on veterans like Michael Chanenchuk to show him the ropes.
Steadily, Rambo elevated his game to become a one-man offensive juggernaut.
|*Includes one national championship|
His goal output increased slightly, but the biggest difference is Rambo’s improved playmaking decisions. His ability to better find his teammates has allowed him to move off the ball and orchestrate the entire offense, rather than just be another cog in the system.
If the Terps needed him to go off to win, he dominated. If they needed him in a facilitator role, he knew how to defer and make others better.
“His passing, his riding, he’s picked up enormous ground balls for us this year,” Tillman said in a teleconference before national championship weekend. “His work ethic and dedication to becoming a complete player has been huge.”
Rambo has been the face of Maryland men’s lacrosse, and the most important player on a team that reached four Final Fours, three title games and one national championship. His presence alone elevated Maryland from a great team to one that could contend for a national championship on a yearly basis.
These last couple of weeks for Rambo must feel like a roller coaster that just doesn’t drop. He became the most prolific offensive player in school history, was selected with the third overall pick in the Major League Lacrosse draft by the Charlotte Hounds, won a national championship and was officially named the country’s most outstanding player. Those are some pretty great parting gifts, to say the least.