Midfielder Logan Wisnauskas intended to pass the ball off to fellow senior Anthony DeMaio to get one more shot in before the end of the first period, but instead found the ball deflecting off of a Michigan defender’s stick and down into the back of the net.
The score capped off an early four-goal run for No. 5 Maryland men’s lacrosse to extend its advantage to end the first frame. Almost everything came easy for the Terps’ offense against the Wolverines, and its success took plenty of weight off of the teams defense. The team dominated on both ends of the field for a full 60 minutes in what was seemingly the perfect season opener, with Maryland knocking off Michigan, 20-9.
“Going against our defense every single day made us that much better,” sophomore Daniel Maltz said. “And we were just looking forward to playing against a different team.”
From the start, Maryland had no trouble making do with its opportunities at goal. The Terrapin offense, still skilled and methodical, just as it had been in years past, allowed Wisnauskas and Maltz hat-tricks, absurdly long offensive possessions, and of course, 20 goals in a win.
“It’s only been four weeks but I think Coach Benson has done a great job,” head coach John Tillman said. “[Benson] has taken some of his experience and some things we’ve done here and is just maximizing what we have so far.”
The Terps comfortably terrorized Michigan, doing what they do best: pacing their opponent with a methodical brand of lacrosse on offense. However, for this contest, it took just 40 seconds for Maryland to strike on the Wolverines.
Kyle Long’s flick into the top right corner was a signifier for what was to come until Michigan’s Josh Zawada responded with a goal of his own.
With the score even once again, the Terps responded with urgency and never let up. In roughly five minutes, as the quarter neared an end, Maryland netted four goals, forging an impenetrable lead. Long began the run with his second goal of the afternoon from the same spot, this time from behind the net into the top left corner. Maltz scored just a minute later from deep, and his goal was followed by two unassisted Wisnauskas scores in just two minutes to close the first period.
“I think our offensive group is very talented and pretty deep,” senior Jack Higgins said, “It’s awesome seeing a bunch of guys who score the ball and share the ball, not just one guys scores. Everybody loves seeing everybody else.”
Zawada, Michigan’s best goal scorer, had the best afternoon in a contest characterized by Michigan’s nearly absent offensive display. Zawada ignited his team’s offense when he could, scoring timely goals to tie Maryland up early and late in the match. Scoring once to tie the contest and another early in the second period, providing the Wolverines with some hope. He scored four goals in total, and added three assists to the stat sheet.
Despite his best efforts, the focus of the game was primarily on Maryland’s offense and the Wolverines never really stood a chance. Maltz and Wisnauskas stole the show and combined for eight goals in the game. Jared Bernhardt and the other veterans, however, took some time to get going and failed to find any success in the second half. With a combined 12 shots, the veteran duo only managed to squeak out three total goals by the end of the match.
With a performance of this caliber, a high-level defensive showing seemed far from necessary for the home side, but a scoreless 17 minutes for Michigan after Zawada’s second goal, forced by Maryland’s defense, helped bolster the lead and make it insurmountable.
“I think collectively that chemistry has gotten better,” Tillman said. “If you feel like you have good competent guys [on the defense] it changes the way you play there.”
Maryland scored eight goals in that time and went on to score four more after Michigan’s Jack Whitney halted the drought, putting the Terps up 16-3.
After allowing them just three goals through three periods of play, the Terps let up six goals to the Wolverines in the fourth quarter, compared to five of their own. But Maryland, loaded with veterans and experience, ultimately outplayed its Big Ten foe and asserted its dominance all afternoon to open the season in winning fashion.
Three things to know
1. Logan McNaney got the job done in goal. After appearing in two games as a freshman, McNaney stepped in and opened the 2021 season with a confident display in net. With the help of the stellar defense, McNaney recored a save percentage of 40%, stopping six shots and allowing nine goals. His play early on helped the Terps jump out to a 15-3 lead after three quarters before six Wolverine goals poured in during the final frame.
2. Maryland’s defense looked the part. The Terps used a resounding defensive effort to keep the Wolverines at bay for the majority of this match, allowing just three goals in the first 45 minutes of action. Michigan was limited in its shots each quarter (9, 6, 7, 10) and the defense did a nice job of further limiting how many chances were on target (4, 2, 3, 6).
3. Daniel Maltz had a stellar performance. The sophomore attacker exploded in goal scoring department in his first action of 2021. His five goals paced the Terps’ scoring attack, further building on the hype following his impressive freshman campaign. Maltz also picked up two ground balls and caused two turnovers, showing his all-around versatility in the Terps’ victory.
“I just try to play off guys like Jared and Logan and Anthony,” Maltz said. “They draw so much attention.”