With about seven minutes to go in the third quarter, the No. 3 Maryland men’s lacrosse team had not scored a goal in about 13 minutes as Vermont was slowly starting to shorten the Terps’ lead they built on a 5-0 run in the first half.
As the Maryland defense shut down the Catamounts, it forced a Vermont turnover on a shot clock violation, giving the Terps the spark they were searching for.
As they moved the ball up the field in transition, midfielder Joshua Coffman found attacker Jared Bernhardt in front of the crease. Swarmed by defenders, Bernhardt was pushed by a Catamount, but that didn’t matter as he found the back of the net for the fifth time this afternoon extending the Terps’ lead to 9-5.
Bernhardt’s goal sparked a 3-0 run for Maryland, allowing it to build on its momentum to secure the 17-11 victory and advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s just great to have another week,” head coach John Tillman said. “And obviously, a lot of work to do but I want them to enjoy tonight and tomorrow and make sure they get some time to enjoy and appreciate what everybody’s done to make this season work and then back to work against a really, really good team.”
The Terps struck first. With about 12 minutes to go in the first quarter, Bernhardt took the ball from behind the cage, rolled across the crease and got the shot off to give the Terps an early lead.
However, less than a minute later, the Catamounts respondedto knot the score up at 1-1.
For the next four minutes, the teams continued to trade shots and it was not until attacker Logan Wisnauskas broke through the Catamount defense with about seven and a half minutes to go to take the lead.
To set up Wisnauskas, the Maryland defense stood strong, holding Vermont’s offense scoreless for nearly the entirety of the shot clock. With just seconds left for the Catamounts to capitalize on the opportunity to take the lead, defender Roman Puglise caused the turnover to spark the clear.
Although Maryland’s defense continued to hold strong, long stick midfielder Justin Sherrer was penalized for an illegal body check putting Vermont a man up for one minute with about four minutes to go in the first quarter giving them the perfect opportunity to tie the game up again. With less than four minutes to go, the Catamounts did just that to even the score and stop any chance Maryland had of going on a run.
However, the Terps could not be corraled for too long.
After a big defensive play from defender John Geppert that allowed the Terps to clear the ball, Bernhardt fired his second successful shot of the day, regaining the lead with less than a minute and a half to go.
“We’re just trying to dictate tempo, play our game, play Maryland lacrosse and when you look back at the tape, Maryland lacrosse is, really comes down to, defense and chasing people around making them uncomfortable and I think we did a really good job doing that today,” Geppert said.
To close out the first quarter, the Terps went on a 3-0 run in less than a minute and a half and were up 5-2 headed into the second frame.
The momentum continued for the Terps as the defense continued to spark the offense by forcing turnovers.
The run was extended by a goal from Long with about 11 minutes to go in the first half and the Terps did not let off the gas as attacker Daniel Maltz scored his first goal of the afternoon.
Maryland’s defense continued to hold the Catamounts scoreless for 12 minutes, however, with one second left on the shot clock and about six minutes to go in the first half, Vermont broke through scoring its third goal of the day.
But Bernhardt, the nation’s top scorer in the country averaging 4.42 per game, was not going to let Vermont build on its momentum. As the Terps ran a play drawing the defenders to the sides of the goal, the ball ended up in Bernhardt’s stick as he hit his fourth goal of the afternoon.
Responding quickly around the crease, Vermont scored just a minute after Bernhardt’s fourth to close the Terps’ lead to 8-4 with four minutes to go in the half.
“Jared is such a good decision maker and if he’s feeling like we should press then he goes and makes a play and we can play at any tempo,” midfielder Kyle Long said. “I think that’s kind of what benefits our offense so well.”
The Terps closed out the first half with a four-goal lead.
In the second half, the Catamounts struck first with about 12 and a half minutes to go shortening Maryland’s lead. With less than 10 minutes left in the quarter, Vermont’s David Closterman received a penalty due to a cross-check resulting in a man-up opportunity for the Terps that they could not capitalize on.
However, after not scoring since there were five minutes left in the second quarter, with less than seven to go in the third, Bernhardt found the back of the net for the fifth time this afternoon to extending Maryland’s lead and sparking the 3-0 run to close out the third frame up, 11-5.
The Catamounts snapped Maryland’s unanswered scoring burst and continued to fight in the final frame of the game. With five and a half minutes to go, both teams had notched three goals in the fourth quarter.
However, the Terps could not be stopped as they continued to coast to victory, remain undefeated and secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
“It’s been a long year. It’s been a lot of sacrifices that we’ve made” Long said. “And I think you kind of set the timer on your phone for, you know, 12 hours and you really enjoy this and then you know Monday afternoon you’re thinking about Notre Dame and starting to get ready for the really talented team that they have and their well-coached group.”
Three things to know
1. Maryland had an uncharacteristically good day at X. Ahead of this game, it seemed that Vermont would have the clear advantage when it came to the faceoff. Catamount faceoff specialist Tommy Burke ranks third in faceoffs winning 72% of them. However, headed into the locker room at the half, Maryland won eight of the faceoffs while Vermont secured just six. Face-off specialist Justin Shockey finished the game taking 28 faceoffs and winning 19 of them while specialist Luke Wierman won one of the three he took.
“It‘s been an up and down year and [Shockey] was an absolute pro this week and an absolute pro today,” Tillman said.
2. Maryland’s defense was a turnover forcing machine. At the end of the first half, Maryland forced nine of Vermont’s 15 turnovers. For comparison, headed into the locker room at the half, the Terps committed just six turnovers, three of those forced by the Catamounts. Maryland finished the game forcing 12 Vermont turnovers.
3. The Terps advance to the quarterfinals for the 39th time in program history. Maryland has not missed a quarterfinal since 2013 meaning this is the seventh consecutive season, excluding last year, that the Terps advance.
“[The quarterfinals are] all I’m focused on right now,” Geppert said. “So, we got Notre Dame in South Bend, so I can’t be more excited for that game. The rest will come with time. So we got one job to do right now.”
Under head coach John Tillman, the Terps have missed the quarterfinals just once.