By Luke Gentile
The top-ranked Maryland men’s lacrosse team (10-2, 3-1 Big Ten) could not outlast unranked Ohio State (7-6, 2-2) on April 22, as the Terrapins lost 12-10.
Sunday marked the first time the Terrapins faced the Buckeyes since last year’s national championship game, which Maryland won 9-6. However, that Buckeyes’ team looked very different than the one they fielded this weekend.
With an inverted offense that bunched up the Terrapin long poles, Ohio State’s Colin Chell opened the scoring within the opening minute. Two more Buckeye goals followed in quick succession, and, from the get go, the Terps faced the unfamiliar challenge of playing from behind.
Maryland coach John Tillman said Ohio State was “ not an overly complicated group,” despite the loss.
“They didn’t give us anything different than we practiced,” he said. “We had some communication breakdowns.”
The Terps also broke down at the faceoff x, winning just 9 of 26. Maryland allowed Ohio State to maintain possession and have extended periods of offense. Even when Maryland tried to double long-pole the wings, the Terrapins couldn’t find an answer.
“They have a great faceoff guy,” said senior midfielder Connor Kelly. “We’ve got a great group, they continue to work each and every week, but credit to Ohio State. They are gritty off the wings, so they have great wing play.”
Kelly, despite his first-half injury, led the Terrapin attack, netting four goals. For one of his goals Kelly spun off a defender to place a shot in the bottom left corner, leaving all 6,395 fans cheering.
Maryland’s senior goalie Dan Morris registered 11 saves, including four big stops in the fourth, garnering praise from his coach.
“I thought he really kept us in there for a while,” Tillman said. “They were patient, they were waiting for the best look and best shot. So, when we needed him, he was there. He doesn’t get too many easy ones. So, with him, most of those saves are going to be quality.”
Yet Kelly’s and Morris’ heroics were not enough, as Maryland entered the final period from behind on the scoreboard for the first time this year.
“We were calm, because we’d been there before. We tried to stay composed in huddle and see what we can do coming out of the huddle, but credit to Ohio State, they have great defense,” Kelly said. “So, it was hard to find those skips, and we have to continue to get better and move the ball.”
A late empty net goal secured the 12-10 Buckeye victory, and the Terps must now regroup for a tough game against No. 7 Johns Hopkins on Saturday. If they win, the Terps could earn the No.1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
“We’re going to have to go back [to] learn, like we always do,” Tillman said. “We need to look where we can improve, stick together and get ready for a big challenge next week.”