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Premier Lacrosse League brings ‘The Rivalry’ into a new era in Baltimore

Saturday night’s game was the largest sellout in the history of professional lacrosse.

Premier Lacrosse League

BALTIMORE — The most storied rivalry in college lacrosse reached a new level at Homewood Field on a historic Saturday night.

The Premier Lacrosse League pitted the Whipsnakes, with 20 former Maryland players on the roster, against Atlas, a team led by Johns Hopkins great Paul Rabil (who started the league with his brother) and several other Blue Jays alums, for the first time in its inaugural season.

The Whipsnakes continued their dominance in the league, defeating Atlas 15-10 to bring their record on the season to a perfect 4-0.

“We got really excited,” former Terps midfielder Mike Chanenchuk (‘14) said of the Whipsnakes finding out the matchup was happening at Homewood. “It was such a big game for us in college and such an important aspect of our college careers. To relive that and bring that back just added an extra excitement ... that we never thought we’d have again.”

Simply called “The Rivalry,” the feud between Maryland and Johns Hopkins spans over a century and has only grown more competitive as the two teams battle for conference titles in the Big Ten era.

The PLL marketed the game as the next chapter between the two foes, and it certainly caught the attention of fans. With over 8,500 people in attendance, the game was the largest sellout in professional lacrosse history and the first-ever sold out PLL contest. Droves of fans even lined up for over an hour after the game to get autographs from players.

“We definitely knew going into our Baltimore weekend that we were going to pit Atlas against Whipsnakes,” Rabil said. “This rivalry doesn’t need any reigniting, it’s been ignited for over 100 years.”

Players from both teams showed up to Homewood in their old college jerseys, and the stands were full of fans sporting Maryland and Johns Hopkins gear. Former Terps goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr (‘16) said the memories of playing against the boys in blue flooded his brain as soon as he stepped onto the field. But it was also a new sense of rivalry as the Whipsnakes battled to keep their undefeated record intact.

It showed, as less than three minutes into the game, a brawl between the two teams broke out.

Though Atlas had a slight edge for most of the first half and a 5-4 lead going into the third quarter, the Whipsnakes dominated the rest of the game. They outscored their opponent 11-5 in the second half, scoring nine goals in the fourth quarter alone.

“We got hot and we kept taking that momentum,” attackman Matt Rambo (‘17) said. “When we went on that run, it was pretty rolling.”

Rambo, who broke Maryland’s all-time points record against Hopkins in 2017, had three goals and an assist to lead the Whipsnakes to victory. Chanenchuk had three goals, while fellow Terps Michael Ehrhardt (‘14) and Jeremy Sieverts (‘09) scored one apiece.

The Whipsnakes came into the week atop the league’s standings, and are now two games ahead of every other team with a 4-0 record. But more importantly, the fast-paced game and the huge crowd in attendance showed that this league is building a strong base of fans and is here to stay.

“It was pretty unbelievable to see the stands filled,” Rabil said. “You fill a stadium and you see what we’re doing and that the path we’re on is the right one.”