Connor Kelly scored his first goal of the season against Yale off a dime from Matt Rambo to kick off Saturday's cold-weathered matchup, and Maryland's offense appeared to be operating like a well-oiled machine.
With the score tied at 3 going into halftime of the Terps' 8-5 loss, two great defenses were battling hard and disrupting opposing offenses. Both teams were getting great looks, but the defenses were just too stingy. It appeared the game would have to be won on the defensive front with a final stand.
But Yale decided to rewrite that script, scoring five unanswered goals to take a cushy 8-3 lead. Colin Heacock and Rambo tried to make a late fourth quarter run with two quick goals, but the gap would prove too large and Maryland would drop its first road game of the season.
Sure, the reflex reaction would be to chalk up the loss to the defense, and why not? It's the defense that controls the opposition's score, so naturally five unanswered goals would indicate a lapse on their end.
Well, it's not as cut and dry as that.
Give credit to Yale's defense. The Bulldogs played the Terps' high-powered offense tight all game. However, that doesn't negate the fact they didn't score a single second-half goal until their late two-goal run. Had Maryland been able to consistently generate some offense, it would've at least taken pressure off the defense and given them a chance to rest.
"We haven't really found a [offensive] rhythm in practice," Maryland head coach John Tillman said. "That was one of my biggest concerns coming into this game."
Reminder: this performance came on the heels of a victory over High Point, when Maryland scored just four first-half goals. And granted, the Terps' defense let up some bad goals off unassisted drives and blown one-on-ones, but those are tolerable occurrences in any standard lacrosse game.
Going on a 22-minute scoring drought, however, is not.
No one is suggesting Maryland's offense isn't great, especially with a midfield and attack loaded with proven weapons like Rambo, Heacock, Dylan Maltz and Bryan Cole. As well, Tillman noted they haven't been at full strength either.
"We've had a lot of guys in an out in January, just haven't had a lot of consistency," the coach said. "As we get some guys back and get healthy, we'll get into a rhythm and really start looking at the things we do well."
Based off an extremely small sample size, the Terps still have some work to do before their offense plays to its capabilities. Their next test against No. 1 Notre Dame is as good a place as any to showcase a step in the right direction.