Maryland men’s lacrosse spent more time playing from behind Sunday night on the road against Penn State than it did in its first nine games of the season combined.
Trailing for 36:30 of the game—compared to just 4:19 in the team’s 8-1 start—the Terps struggled to contain No. 15 Penn State defensively, but midfielder Connor Kelly’s career-high six goals led Maryland to a 13-12 comeback victory. The Terps only led for eight minutes, but had the lead when time expired.
Just four minutes into the game, the Terps were faced with their first two-goal deficit of the season. Aside from a couple of 1-0 scores back in February, Maryland’s only other time playing from behind was against No. 1 Albany for the last 1:16 of the game.
Penn State (7-4, 1-1 Big Ten) came out fast and motivated, looking to avenge a 35-game losing streak against Maryland dating back to 1924. The Nittany Lions’ Nick Spillane and Mac O’Keefe scored before the Terps even had a chance to possess the ball long enough to to set up their offense.
When Maryland (9-1, 2-0) was finally able to gain control in an attacking position, Kelly took control of the offense, scoring goals on his first three shots for his sixth hat trick of the year.
Sophomore attacker Jared Bernhardt took advantage of a Penn State holding penalty with the Terps trailing 3-1 late in the first quarter, showcasing Maryland’s second-ranked man-up offense in the country. Logan Wisnauskas, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, evened the score with just a minute left in the first quarter.
Maryland’s quick run didn’t phase the Nittany Lions, though, as they scored the first two goals of the second quarter. Kelly’s two bounce-shot goals in the second kept the Terps close, keeping his team within one at halftime.
After a break to talk about second-half adjustments, Maryland didn’t wait long to tie the game for the second time. Will Snider—in his second start—scored his second goal of the season to even the score at six moments into the third quarter.
Again, Penn State wouldn’t let up. Dylan Foulds and Kevin Hill scored the game’s next two goals in yet another attempt to separate from the Terps, reclaiming an 8-6 lead. But Kelly continued to torment the Penn State defense. He scooped up a ground ball set up Bernhardt’s second goal of the game and then fired a laser past Penn State’s Colby Kneese to tie the game yet again.
After tying the game three times, Maryland finally took its first lead 44 minutes into the game on Snider’s second goal of the night. That lead, however, only lasted 43 seconds, as Penn State beat the buzzer to tie the game at nine with a second left in the third quarter.
But even after seeing three leads disappear and finally watching the Terps take a lead, Penn State wouldn’t let up. O’Keefe, on a man-up opportunity, scored his third goal of the game to put his Nittany Lions up 10-9 less than a minute into the final quarter.
The Terps, who have seen their own leads diminish in the fourth quarter several times this season, used the final 15 minutes to pull away for the win. Kelly scored his fifth goal of the game to tie it at 10, and Wisnauskas scored back-to-back goals to give Maryland a multiple-goal advantage with seven minutes left.
Kelly scored his sixth goal with three minutes left to successfully complete the comeback win. Penn State made one last effort—scoring with 18 seconds left—but came up one goal short.
The Terps return home for the first time in over a month, hosting Rutgers next Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. With Albany losing to UMBC this week, Maryland figures to take over the No. 1 ranking in the nation.
Three things to know
- Connor Kelly showed up to play. After being held scoreless a week ago in the Big Ten opener against Michigan, the senior midfielder scored six goals with one assist. Seemingly every time the Terps needed a goal when trailing, it was Kelly who converted on the offensive end.
- This was a vital experience for Maryland. For the first time this season, the Terps had to endure playing from behind for long stretches at a time. In their loss to Albany, the Terps only trailed for the last minute, so this game was really the first test of playing a game from behind.
- Dan Morris neutralized a poor night at the X. Maryland was dominated on faceoffs from start to finish, only winning nine of 28 against Penn State’s Gerard Arceri. But goalie Dan Morris came up with save after save to keep the Terps in the game. His 12 saves were the sixth time he finished in double-digits this season.