Anthony DeMaio knew exactly what was on the line Saturday afternoon.
With about two minutes left in the second quarter, he was looking to even up the score and earn his first hat-trick of the season before heading into halftime. The senior, who had been uncharacteristically inaccurate at Penn State, reminded viewers once again why he’s an All-American.
Goal number three for DeMaio was also shot number three, one that went straight between the legs of Johns Hopkins’ Josh Kirson after a behind the net an assist from Kyle Long. The shot prompted a knee jerk reaction by Kirson, whose awkwardly bent legs couldn’t impede the ball from reaching the back of the net. And with the tie, the Terps didn’t look back as the second half ensued.
Maryland used a 11-0 run of goals from the second to fourth quarter en route to a 18-10 rout of Johns Hopkins. The victory marked the fifth consecutive season that the Terps have started 3-0.
“I think you gotta give Hopkins credit. They played a good first half, they had some timely goals and made some plays.” head coach John Tillman said. “I feel like they really outplayed us early in this game — no doubt about it.”
Like every Big Ten contest, there was a sense of urgency for Maryland to come out on top. But the added pressure of ‘The Rivalry’ meant that the Terps entered this match with an extra level of intensity unlike any this year — as did the Blue Jays, who stuck close with Maryland for the first 30 minutes.
With the victory, Maryland earned its first win against a Peter Milliman-led Hopkins team and avoided falling to a four game skid against the Blue Jays. It was ultimately the offense that steered Maryland to a victory. But this time, it was the Terps’ three veteran attackmen at the driver’s seat.
The match started just like last week’s: with Maryland unable to get a foot forward, conceding the first faceoff but maintaining a solid defensive counter to an experienced attack. Maryland’s characteristic first quarter woes granted Hopkins an ample opportunity to get ahead — more than once — with two back-to-back man-up chances that materialized into two shots for Joey Epstein. The first was well over the target, but the second snuck right between the legs of goaltender Logan McNaney.
Seemingly reawakened by the deficit, the Terps immediately responded by capturing their first faceoff of the contest and scoring on the same possession — only for the Blue Jays to convert two consecutive shots with staggering efficiency.
Down their largest deficit of the season, 3-1, the Terps took notice of the situation and went on to score three more goals unanswered, with DeMaio leading the way, earning his second goal of the contest in front of an empty goal post. Logan Wisnauskas and Roman Puglise then closed out the 3-0 run to put the Terps up one, a lead they only managed to hold for about two minutes before Johns Hopkins long stick Conner Delaney evened things up with two seconds left in the frame.
Defense played a more crucial role in the following quarter as both sides seemed to stack up great defensive stands, the pressure of the Blue Jays offense quickly took hold of the match as more faceoffs went their way and Maryland’s defense grew increasingly porous. A three goal spurt thrusted the Blue Jays past the Terps once again, but thanks to a second quarter scoring effort by the veteran front three — DeMaio, Wisnauskas and Jared Bernhardt — things remained even after 30 minutes of play.
“It’s a fine line sometimes. We want out guys to be aggressive we want our guys try to play aggressively and fast,” Tillman said. “But sometimes you go really fast like that you have a really silly turnovers and you just have to let it go.”
Maryland was truly punished for its sloppiness for the first time this season, but even so, the team managed to hold on with a tie that allowed it to treat the following half as a clean slate to a concerning start to the match.
“The theme [coming out of halftime] was stick together stay positive,” Tillman said, “We need to to just reset, start fresh and don’t let some frustrating plays of the first half catch up to us.”
The third quarter saw Maryland come out screaming out the gates on both sides of the ball. In perhaps their best quarter of the season, the Terps went 8-for-15 shooting the ball, all while keeping the Hopkins offense scoreless for the entire 15 minutes.
Maryland’s veteran offense assuredly put the ugliness of the previous half behind it and treated the second as if it were a brand new game. In the third, Bernhardt managed to notch up a hat trick alongside DeMaio, with Wisnauskas posting four assists on his way to a career-best seven assist game.
“Everyone on offense, especially [Wisnauskas], they make awesome plays, they make us better,” said defenseman Nick Grill. “You just wanna keep giving him the ball because you know he’s gonna do the right thing with it.”
The firepower proved too overwhelming for the Blue Jays, who failed to match Maryland’s storming third quarter attack with just three goals in the final quarter. The leading attackmen; Bernhardt (five goals, one asssist), DeMaio (four goals) and Wisnauskas (two goals, seven assists) put on a concerted effort unlike any other this season. Fittingly, the Terps took the Crab Trophy for the first time in nearly three years riding off the success of the veterans who’ve seemingly been seeking a victory against Hopkins their entire careers.
“When you have guys that have been through it before, there is some confidence you get from that,” Tillman said. “Not only from the coaches but the players.”
Three things to Know
1. Justin Shockey improved in the faceoff circle. Ultimately the team with the most possessions gets the most opportunities to score, and while Shockey lost plenty faceoffs, when he won (17 total wins), the Terps’ offense managed to set up faster and manufacture the runs it needed to break the game up and capture its largest lead late in the contest. His efforts in the second quarter were also crucial in helping the Terps dig themselves out of their second two point hole.
“I loved [Shockey’s] grit today,” Tillman said. “There were times where he didn’t necessarily win the ball clean, he stayed in the fight, got some tough grounders, he navigated the pressure, found the right guys.”
2. DeMaio shined throughout the contest. Maryland was sloppy early, but DeMaio surely was not. The senior struggled to get going this season but chose the perfect time to have a ridiculous display of dominance. DeMaio’s first three shots found the back of the net but his success at converting wavered as the Blue Jays defense began focusing more on his scoring prowess. His efforts ultimately opened up more opportunities for the rest of the team to pepper the back of the net in the third quarter.
“[DeMaio] has been great. He’s taken another step in his game.” Wisnauskas said. “He’s getting extra reps, he’s watching more film and you can see it on the field.”
3. Maryland played its most competitive game of the season so far. Saturday’s contest was further evidence that the Hopkins vs Maryland rivalry is the best in the sport, with another nail-biting installation that neither team seemed to get a hold of in the first half. Of course, things went south for Johns Hopkins in the second half, but round one of ‘The Rivalry’ was an impressive display of resilience that Maryland, who had yet to be really challenged all season, achieved with resounding success.