By Todd Carton –
Here are the adjectives: inadequate, insufficient, missing, deficient, lacking. And here are the nouns: passion, focus, intensity, urgency, luster. Pair any of the adjectives with any of the nouns and you will have an adequate description of Maryland’s play Sunday in a 12-10 home loss to Ohio State on senior day for the Terrapins men’s lacrosse team.
It’s likely that by the time all of the announced crowd of 6,395 had passed through security and settled in their seats, Ohio State had raced out to a 3-0 lead. The visiting Buckeyes scored on their first three possessions and needed less than four minutes of game time to do so.
The quick start forced an early timeout by Maryland coach John Tillman and, with Austin Henningsen picking up his first face off win of the day, the Terps slowly climbed back into the contest. First, Logan Wisnauskas scored on an extra-man opportunity with an assist from Connor Kelly who would score Maryland’s second goal.
After the Terps tied the score on a dodge by Tim Rotanz and won the ensuing face off, it looked as though the Terps, despite being outplayed at the start, might finish the period with the lead. This wouldn’t be the case. Ohio State took possession after a Maryland turnover and found a hole in Maryland’s defense for an easy score – something the Buckeyes would do with dismaying regularity – with 13 seconds left and held a 4-3 lead at the end of one period.
Like the little girl with the little curl, when Maryland’s defense was good Sunday, it was very, very good but when it was bad, it was horrid. And for most of the second quarter, Maryland’s defense was very, very good. Despite losing all six face offs, Maryland was able to force four Ohio State turnovers that, combined with four saves by goalie Dan Morris, allowed the Terrapins’ offense to edge into a 6-5 lead behind a second goal from Wisnauskas and a pair of scores by Kelly.
Kelly’s score came with 1:56 remaining in the half but Ohio State won the ensuing face off and, as they had in the previous quarter, the Buckeyes found a gaping hole in Maryland’s defense and scored the tying goal with just nine seconds on the clock.
Ohio State capitalized on that late momentum and opened the second half much as they began the game. Justin Inacio won the first three face offs and the visitors scored three goals in succession using 23 fewer seconds than they did at the start of the game.
Once again, the Terps began to swim back. After seeing the combination of Henningsen and Will Bonaparte win only three of 14 first half face offs, Tillman elected to start the second half with Freshman Justin Shockey at the draw. When Shockey also lost the first three face offs, Tillman then moved two long poles – Curtis Corley and Matt Neufeldt – to the wings. This stabilized the face off situation allowing the Terps to win six of the last nine.
Success on the draw gave Maryland some success on the offensive end. Jared Bernhardt and Adam DiMillo each scored and the Terrapins trailed 9-8 at the end of the third period. When Anthony DeMaio banged home his fourth goal of the season, the game was again all square with just over 13 minutes remaining.
The ensuing 20 seconds returned all the momentum to Ohio State. Inacio won the face off but not quite cleanly and lost control of the ball as he headed toward the goal. Corley picked up the ground ball and headed up the sideline where he was boxed in by two OSU players. His errant pass fond the stick of Colin Chell who was able to feed Jackson Reid for a one on one chance against Morris that Reid converted. It was Chell’s lone assist on a day when he scored three times and the goal completed a hat trick for Reid.
Shockey won the ensuing face off but a rather inexplicable shot clock warning about a minute and 15 seconds into Maryland’s possession prompted a long distance shot by Kelly that netted an easy save for Ohio State goalie Josh Kirson that triggered a span of nearly seven minutes where the goalies took control of the game matching one another save for save. Morris’ contribution began when Ryan Terefenko took the outlet from Kirson off Kelly’s shot and raced down the field in another unsettled situation but Morris made a tremendous save on Terefenko’s low burner.
The play during this period clarified a pattern that began taking shape throughout the second half. Ohio State’s defense shaped itself to prevent any of Maryland’s “big three” – Kelly, Wisnauskas or Bernhardt – from beating them. They either effectively denied them the ball or forced them into positions where if they wanted to take a shot it would be a low percentage shot and Maryland didn’t adjust well to this defense.
The string of saves ended when Hank Bethke got a second chance after his first shot hit the post and Tre LeClaire ran down the ground ball giving Bethke a second chance that he converted. Bethke’s goal gave the Buckeyes an 11-9 lead with a tad more than six minutes to play.
Ohio State won the crucial ensuing face off but Morris was able to give Terps fans some hope making back to back saves the first coming after Ohio State had been issued a shot clock warning. Though he didn’t control the first save, he did control the second but Maryland’s long outlet pass on the attempted clear went awry and the Buckeyes were content to run the clock and turn the ball over after being issued a second shot clock warning.
After Kirson saved Will Snider’s rushed shot with just over a minute to play, Tillman pulled Morris out of goal and the empty net score boosted the lead to three with just over 30 seconds to play. Eleven seconds later, Kelly added his fourth of the game evoking memories of for some of the three goals in 30 seconds outburst at the end of Maryland’s win over Villanova. But the Terps would not be able to generate such magic and the horn sounded sealing the 12-10 win.
A win Sunday would have guaranteed Maryland at least a share of the Big Ten title. As I write this story, Rutgers leads Penn State 7-4 midway through the third period. If the Scarlet Knights hold on, Saturday’s game between Maryland and Johns Hopkins at Homewood will not only decide the owner of the “Crab” but the conference title as well.
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