Maryland men’s lacrosse had faced a ranked opponent every weekend since Feb. 21 entering Saturday, only losing to then-ranked No. 1 Albany during the nation’s most difficult stretch of games. But when unranked Ohio State visited College Park, what looked like a week off from the country’s best competition became a heated rematch of the 2017 National Championship.
The Buckeyes (7-6), who fell at the hands of the Terps in both the Big Ten and NCAA title games a season ago, used fast starts to each half and a strong finish to beat Maryland, 12-10.
Maryland entered the game winning an abysmal 37.3 percent (28-of-75) of its faceoffs during Big Ten play, using a rotation of specialists in its 3-0 start to the conference schedule. While the Terps had continued to win despite the crux before Saturday, it’s been a weak area for Maryland.
The Buckeyes took advantage of their faceoff wins early, scoring three goals in the first four minutes before Maryland even earned an offensive possession. Junior Austin Henningsen started for the Terps, but was replaced in the first half after losing eight of his first 11 draws. Senior Will Bonaparte was given three opportunities at the X, but lost all of his chances. Freshman Justin Shockey didn’t play in the first half, but the third quarter was his chance to yield positive results on faceoffs. He, too, lost his first three as Ohio State scored three more consecutive times to take a 9-6 lead early in the second half.
Head coach John Tillman also used different combinations of wingers on faceoffs, utilizing Nick Brozowski, Matt Neufeldt, Adam DiMillo and Bryce Young at different points of the game to find a successful unit. Maryland finished winning just 9-of-26 faceoffs in the game.
In the first half, though, Maryland used aggressive defense to mitigate the effects of poor faceoff play. The Terps don’t pride themselves on forcing turnovers, ranking 60th in the nation with 5.3 turnovers per game. However, five different played forced a turnover in the first half alone.
Using Ohio State’s mistakes to generate offense on the other end of the field, the Terps were able to turn an early 3-0 deficit into a tie game later in the first quarter. Head coach John Tillman immediately called a timeout following the Buckeyes’ fast start, and the Terps then held the them scoreless for nearly the next 11 minutes.
Senior midfielder Connor Kelly and redshirt freshman attacker Logan Wisnauskas combined for five of Maryland’s six goals in the first half, as the Terps and Buckeyes went into halftime tied.
After Ohio State took its second three-goal lead of the game with 11:32 left in the third quarter, Maryland’s defense tightened again. The Buckeyes didn’t score for the rest of the period, allowing the Terps to get back to within one entering the final quarter. For the first time this season, Maryland entered the final 15 minutes trailing.
Redshirt freshman Anthony DeMaio tied the game less than two minute into the fourth quarter, but the Terps slowed down thereafter. Ohio State scored the next two goals, taking a multiple-score advantage with 6:09 left in regulation. Kelly, who had three goals and an assist at halftime, still had just the four points with his team trailing late.
Maryland couldn’t find enough offense late, losing for the second time at home this season. The Terps will conclude the regular season next weekend against Johns Hopkins.
Three things to know
- Justin Shockey gave Maryland a chance. With Henningsen and Bonaparte a combined 3-of-14 at halftime from the X, Shockey took every attempt in the second half. While he wasn’t dramatically successful, he went 6-of-12 and gave Maryland more of an opportunity to win.
- The goalies were unreal in the fourth quarter. Dan Morris and Josh Kirson traded big saves in the second half, but most notably in the final quarter. Morris held off the Buckeyes in the fourth quarter for a while, but the Terps’ offense faltered late.
- Maryland’s top goal-scorers were neutralized in the second half. Kelly and Wisnauskas combined for five goals in the first half, but were nearly held pointless in the second half. Kelly scored with 22 seconds left for his fourth goal of the day, while Jared Bernhardt finished with just one goal and an assist.