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An overtime loss by the Ohio State men's lacrosse team Saturday afternoon opened the door for either Maryland or Johns Hopkins to capture the Big Ten regular-season championship and the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

The No. 5 Terps did not waste any time taking any mystery out of the debate, scoring the game's first eight goals en route to a 12-5 dismantling of the No. 8 Blue Jays on Saturday night before an announced attendance of 14,353 at Maryland Stadium.

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Maryland had claimed a share of the league crown in 2015, and have won outright titles each of the past two seasons after finishing 10-3 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten this spring. The team will hope to retain the tournament championship it captured last season when it meets Penn State (11-2, 2-2) in one of two semifinals Thursday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Terps beat the Nittany Lions, 15-11, on April 8.

Coming off an 11-10 overtime loss at the Buckeyes (12-3, 3-2) on April 22, Maryland could not have scripted a better opening, scoring all six goals of the first quarter. Junior midfielder Connor Kelly scored three of the team's first four goals to complete his hat trick with 2:38 left in the period, and Matt Rambo had one goal and three assists in the opening frame.

Junior goalkeeper Dan Morris made four saves to shut out Johns Hopkins in the opening period for the first time since the opener against Navy on Feb. 7. The fast start set the tone for the Terps.

"I thought we got off to a great start," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "We got 6-of-8 shooting in the first quarter. I thought Danny Morris was really seeing it early. So when you put those things together, it obviously allows us to get off to a good start, and I thought the guys really shared the ball. They were paying a lot of attention to Matt, and I thought Matt was super unselfish."

The Terps added two more goals in the second quarter to push their lead to 8-0. Rambo assisted on Kelly's fourth goal just 20 seconds into the period on an extra-man opportunity and then scored from about 10 yards away for his sixth point with 12:27 remaining.

That point gave Rambo 232 for his career and moved him past Bob Boneillo's 231-point total set in 1980 to become the program's all-time scoring leader. Rambo finished with three goals and four assists and ranks third in school history in goals with 146, trailing Joe Walters (153) and Matt Hahn (149).

"Guys were just in the right spots," Rambo said. "I saw a lot of attention drawn to me. … Connor Kelly was stepping down, and he was just shooting at the right spots."

Rambo's goal also chased junior goalkeeper Brock Turnbaugh (Hereford), who did not make a save. He was replaced by graduate student Gerald Logan, who finished with nine saves over the final 42:27.

The Blue Jays ended a 20:47 scoring drought when freshman attackman Cole Williams converted a centering pass from sophomore midfielder Alex Concannon, but the damage was already done. Redshirt junior midfielder Tim Rotanz scored on a feed from senior attackman Colin Heacock just before the buzzer to end the second quarter to give Maryland a 9-1 advantage at halftime.

Heacock, a Catonsville resident and Boys' Latin graduate, returned after sitting out the team's loss to the Buckeyes on April 22 because of a left ankle injury. He opened the third quarter with a goal off a pass from senior attackman Dylan Maltz with 9:12 left and finished with three goals and one assist.

Johns Hopkins welcomed back its own attackman in junior Shack Stanwick, who did not play in the second half of a 19-9 drubbing of Michigan on April 22 after appearing to injure his left foot. But the Baltimore resident and Boys' Latin graduate failed to make much of an impact on offense, registering one assist in the third quarter to extend his points streak to 46 consecutive games.

Morris made nine saves, and the defense limited the Blue Jays' top five scorers — Stanwick, sophomore attackman Kyle Marr, junior midfielder Joel Tinney, senior midfielder John Crawley and senior Wilkins Dismuke — to two goals on 13 shots and two assists.

Johns Hopkins fell to 8-5 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten. The team slid to the No. 3 seed and will face No. 2 seed Ohio State in the other semifinal. The Buckeyes defeated the Blue Jays, 13-9, on April 9.

Coach Dave Pietramala said the Blue Jays will have a lot to learn from this setback.

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"You can't spot a team like this an any-goal lead and think that you're going to survive it because they play too well defensively," he said. "I just thought we got beat. … When you look at it, they played tougher. I thought they played more committed lacrosse than we did."

Notes: Maryland has won its last three meetings with Johns Hopkins. … The attendance of 14,353 was the largest crowd to watch a regular-season game at Maryland Stadium since 1989. … New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a friend of Pietramala's, attended the game.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EdwardLeeSun

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