This story has been updated to reflect that Thursday’s game has been moved up to 4 p.m. ET due to an inclement weather forecast.
After a thrilling triple-overtime win over Johns Hopkins, Maryland men’s lacrosse must pivot quickly to the Big Ten Tournament.
The Terps will meet No. 11 Rutgers in the semifinals on Thursday in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since Maryland beat the Scarlet Knights, 11-10, almost three weeks ago, Rutgers has seen its postseason hopes continue to take a hit. It knocked off Penn State on April 22, only to lose to red-hot Ohio State last Saturday. Heading into Thursday’s matchup, the Scarlet Knights find themselves on the outside looking in for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. (For more on Rutgers, here’s the preview of the first game.)
Maryland is guaranteed a spot in the NCAAs, and the only thing it can influence this weekend is its path to the Final Four. The Terps are nearly a lock to be a top-four seed, and have a solid chance to be the No. 1 overall seed if they take home the title this weekend.
The game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ET (moved up an hour due to inclement weather in the forecast) and will be broadcast on BTN, followed by the second semifinal between No. 7 Johns Hopkins and No. 13 Ohio State.
What happened last time
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Maryland raced out to a 4-0 first quarter lead and looked like it was poised for a blowout win. Then in the second quarter, the Terps looked terrible. They recorded only one shot, lost every faceoff and committed numerous inexplicable turnovers on clear attempts and offensive sets. Rutgers tied the game in the second quarter, and led by one goal three different times in the second half before Maryland used a three-goal run to give itself breathing room late.
What’s happened since
Both teams split their matchups over the next two weeks, but it hurt Rutgers a lot more than it hurt Maryland. Rutgers almost certainly needs to beat Maryland just to make the NCAA Tournament, while the Terps will be safely in and likely play at Maryland Stadium next weekend even with a loss.
Three things to watch
- Which Maryland team do we see in this one? Odds are that John Tillman’s team won’t have as Jekyll and Hyde a performance as it did the first time against Rutgers. Maryland will probably be more consistent, but expect another close contest. The last two games between these teams have been decided by one goal.
- Does Maryland continue to get better? The Terps’ defense looked as good as it had in weeks against Johns Hopkins, and the Blue Jays did not have a lot of easy opportunities to score. Maryland’s offense looked off again last week, and Connor Kelly and Jared Bernhardt were both held scoreless for the first time all season.
- Can secondary scorers continue to produce? Even without Kelly and Bernhardt not scoring a goal, the Terps still won. Will Snider had two goals last week, and Anthony DeMaio scored in the two weeks before that. Even proven threats like Tim Rotanz can be more assertive, as he’s only taken 31 shots this year after scoring 33 goals last season.