COLLEGE PARK — When the final horn sounded, members of the Maryland men’s lacrosse team had the not-too-familiar task of congratulating the victors.
For only the fourth time in the past two seasons and the first time since April 22, 2017 — after 12 straight wins — the No. 2 Terps found themselves on the wrong end of a decision, absorbing an 11-10 loss to No. 1 Albany at Maryland Stadium on Saturday.
The highly anticipated game between the top two teams in the Maverik media poll did not disappoint the announced 7,475 who attended the game. Maryland (5-1) scored three of the game’s first four goals and maintained a lead for the first 55 minutes. But the Great Danes rallied from a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to remain perfect at 5-0 and collect their first win in four attempts against the Terps, who swept Albany in two games last spring en route to winning a national championship.
“A lot of respect to them coming back — being down but fighting and scrapping and outscoring us 5-0 and [sophomore] TD Ierlan doing a great job at the faceoff X in the fourth quarter,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “[Great Danes coach] Scotty [Marr] does a great job with that team. They were down, but they just kept battling. Disappointed for our guys.”
The outcome turned in the fourth quarter. The Terps controlled the scoreboard and the game’s tempo through the first three quarters. They scored the first two goals of the third to sprint to an 8-3 advantage and scored the quarter’s last two goals to take a 10-6 lead into the final 15 minutes of regulation.
But Ierlan and his teammates on the wings — who had lost 10 of 18 faceoffs through the first three frames — won all six draws in the fourth quarter, and the Albany offense took advantage by scoring all five goals. The run was capped by senior attackman Connor Fields dodging against junior defenseman Curtis Corley up top until he got free down the left alley and was able to slip a low shot past senior goalkeeper Dan Morris with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Marr said he and his assistant coaches encouraged the players on offense to accelerate the game’s tempo in the final quarter.
“I think the biggest thing in that fourth quarter … was our pace picked up,” said Marr, a former Terps assistant coach under Dick Edell. “Maryland is a great team. They’re obviously the defending national champions, and John does an unbelievable job of coaching his team, but they play a lot slower than we do, and sometimes you can get lulled into that mode.
“I thought we got lulled into a little bit of walking around and not running fast. I thought in the fourth quarter, my biggest message was pace. Pick up the pace, let’s start attacking, let’s start getting the game a little bit faster. And I thought we did a great job of that.”
Morris finished with 10 saves, including a stop on senior midfielder Kyle McClancy when he was alone from point-blank range and another on sophomore midfielder Jakob Patterson on a curl around the right post. But Morris blamed himself for not holding off the Great Danes in the last period.
“In the fourth quarter, I think we just had some breakdowns,” he said. “I think I didn’t do a good enough job communicating, and I missed some saves. We just didn’t execute to the level that we’re used to and that is our standard.”
When the Terps had the ball on offense, they were slow to attack and then took some ill-advised shots against redshirt senior goalie JD Colarusso, who made four of his 11 saves in the fourth quarter.
“I take full responsibility for today’s loss on the offensive end,” said senior midfielder Connor Kelly, who led Maryland with five points on two goals and three assists. “I think I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be more vocal. I don’t think we were organized for most of the game. So I put it on myself.”
For the second time in three games, Albany was forced to rally from a fourth-quarter deficit as it did in an 11-9 win against Cornell on March 4. While falling behind is certainly not the approach Marr would want his team to take, Fields acknowledged the significance of Saturday’s victory over Maryland.
“It’s huge for us, for our confidence coming back [against] a team like this, the defending champs, and coming back by four goals in the fourth quarter, I think it says a lot about our team and a lot about how we face adversity,” said Fields, who posted four goals and two assists. “We knew we were going to have to face the adversity sooner or later in the game, and we knew that when it happened, we would all have to stick together.”