Kyle Long finally got the separation Maryland needed. After corralling a pass from attacker Jared Bernhardt, Long used a speedy first step to drift by a Blue Jay defender and fire from deep. He converted Maryland’s 10th score of the game and provided the Terps with a significant jolt of energy.
After facing a deficit for over 50 minutes of the contest, Maryland finally led with five minutes to go. From there, the Terps didn’t look back. And once again, in the two sides' second meeting in three weeks, Maryland converted when it mattered most. Eventually, the No. 1 Terps stood victorious on a 12-10 scoreline, orchestrating a second-half clinic that secured its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2017.
“After kind of falling behind, I really was impressed with the way we battled and and just kind of dug in defensively and then just kind of found our way,” head coach John Tillman said, “it wasn’t always pretty, but we found our way towards the end of the game.”
At the start, the Terps heated up fast with a quick goal from Bernhardt just two and a half minutes in but Johns Hopkins’ looked confident, showing its fortitude on the field as the first quarter continued. The Blue Jays relentlessly traded goals with their rival and wasted little time sizing up the Terps.
Following the opening goal, Casey McDermott whipped a left-handed shot in after a clear, sparking a 3-0 run for the Blue Jays. Fortunately, after a four-minute scoring drought for the Terps, attacker Anthony DeMaio found the back of the net for his first goal of the day and to bring Maryland back within one.
Back-to-back goals from attacker Logan Wisnauskas and attacker Daniel Maltz put the Terps up, 4-3, with about eight minutes to go in the first frame.
Through it all, the Blue Jays were resilient and Maryland’s seasoned defense struggled to contain Hopkins’ midfielders early, as seniors Roman Puglise and Alex Smith were sent to the turf in consecutive possessions where the Blue Jays converted goals.
It was a will to dominate from Johns Hopkins that was distinct on the stat sheet as well — particularly at the end of the first frame. Despite leading just 6-5, Hopkins converted six of its eight shots on goal and turned the ball over just twice to Maryland’s five turnovers.
Even though Maryland entered the game as favorites, they struggled to find the net until the final two minutes of the second period while Johns Hopkins’ attacker Joey Epstein had no problem at all.
As the game continued, the black Hopkins jerseys continued to swarm with a purpose, swallowing Maryland’s offense, forcing eight first-half turnovers, and terrorizing the defense, adding two more scores to its single-point advantage. Both goals were produced by Joey Epstein who stretched the lead to a game-high three points early in the second quarter. Maryland’s lone goal in the second quarter and its first in over 14 minutes came from Eric Holden at a tough angle. The Terps quelled the two-point run but still had a considerable mountain to climb.
The climb began quickly in the second half. The Terps defense grew stout and the Hopkins offense suffocated under their pressure. After outscoring the Terps in both quarters in the first half, Hopkins scored just once in the third and fourth quarter and allowed two Maryland scores in the final ten minutes of the period.
As the Terps inched closer to equalizing, the energy from the bench beamed and extended to the athletes on the field who continued to suppress the Hopkins offense.
“[The bench players] just bring a ton of energy, they do a great job,” DeMaio said, “And they do a great job just keeping us all together, when things aren’t going well, they’re always given us a pat on the back, making sure that we’re all right and kind of trying to just make the next play. And then when things are going good, [they’re making sure we’re] not getting content and just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Maryland’s offense returned the favor with a perfectly timed three-goal, fourth-quarter run.
First Maltz with the equalizer, then Long with the leading score from a similar distance, and, finally, a touch at the crease from Maltz again for Maryland’s first two-goal lead.
“We feed off the defense’s energy,” DeMaio said, “In the second half, Brett (Makar), (Nick) Grill, (Matt) Rahill, Roman (Puglise). All those guys digging in, down the stretch, just making tons of stops getting tough ground balls and it just speaks to how hard they’ve worked. And the sacrifices that they’ve made. And it definitely showed there in the second half.”
The Blue Jays answered the Maryland run with a goal just 13 seconds later, as Matt Narewski slotted home a key shot.
Maryland was able to take possession out of the next faceoff thanks to Wierman, and a cross-checking call resulted in a 1:00 man-up advantage for the Terps with 1:21 remaining. Smart offense from the Terps worked the ball around the offensive zone for the entire penalty, reluctant to give the ball back to the Blue Jays.
DeMaio sniped a shot from the right wing on a rope at the end of the possession with 21 seconds left in the game, putting a stamp on the victory for the Terps.
“We don’t want to let anybody down. So we’re going to continue to really bust our butt and play our butts off,” Tillman said, “and make sure we play a way that everybody can be proud of because this this program like lacrosse in our state and at our school just means so much.”
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s first Big Ten Tournament Championship since 2017. With the win over the Blue Jays, the Terps enter the NCAA Tournament as an undefeated team. The Terps are now in a position to hold the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The last time Maryland won the Big Ten tournament title, they went on to defeat Ohio State, 9-6, in Foxborough, Massachusetts to secure the National Championship.
2. Logan McNaney struggled. As the defense faltered throughout the contest, Logan McNaney’s production at goal suffered. At one point in the first quarter when Maryland allowed six goals, McNaney held just a 12% shooting percentage. For the majority of the contest, he saved goals at a rate below 40%. He finished with a 41% save percentage, a significant drop from his typical above-50% performances.
3. Maryland held strong at the faceoff. Justin Shockey provided Maryland with one vital advantage in the first half where it seemed its opponent controlled every facet of the competition. When Matt Narewski went on a string of wins, Luke Wierman entered and won three of eight and helped subdue an ensuing faceoff run.
“I thought Justin Shockey was terrific in the first quarter and I thought Luke Wierman was excellent in the fourth quarter,” Tillman said, “and I thought really the second and third you know, I tip my hat to their guy because he did a really good job and it caused us some problems.”