xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Maryland men's lacrosse claims Big Ten title with 14-8 win over Rutgers

The Maryland men's lacrosse team is two-thirds of the way toward what could be a magical season.

Using a trio of hat-trick scorers, the top-seeded Terps defeated No. 2 seed Rutgers, 14-8, in the Big Ten tournament final before an announced crowd of 2,219 at Homewood Field Saturday night.

Advertisement

Maryland, which is ranked No. 3 in the most recent media poll, improved to 14-2, extended its winning streak to 13 games, and swept conference regular-season and tournament crowns for only the third time in program history, joining the 1998 and 2004 teams. And with No. 1 Denver falling to No. 19 Marquette in the Big East tournament final Saturday night, the program is in a strong position to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the 18-team tournament when it is announced Sunday night, despite opening the season with two losses in its first three games.

"The 1-2 start was not what we were hoping for," coach John Tillman said, reflecting on the year. "But to their credit, they stuck together, everybody kind of stayed positive, and we just knew we were in a little bit of a hole, and we just kept digging one little bit at a time, not knowing what was going to happen. When you're 1-2 and not scoring goals, our offense, we were not playing very well, we just weren't. And instead of having an offense-versus-defense sort of thing, everybody just said we all need to do better. It's amazing how the year works."

Advertisement

The Terps reached double digits in goals for the 13th time thanks to a plethora of solid performances. Junior attackman Matt Rambo, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, led all scorers with six points on three goals and three assists, and senior midfielder Bryan Cole had two goals and two assists.

Sophomore midfielder Connor Kelly scored four goals for the second game in a row, and junior attackman Dylan Maltz added three goals.

"We have some new parts like [UMBC transfer and senior midfielder] Pat Young, and Connor Kelly's becoming an older guy and myself and Bryan Cole and [junior attackman Colin] Heacock are just veteran guys," Rambo said of the offense's improvement. "So we're just clicking more than we were because it takes time to mesh and click."

While the offense was finding the net, the defense was preventing the Scarlet Knights from doing the same. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr had a game-high 12 saves, sophomore defenseman Tim Muller limited sophomore attackman Jules Heningburg to one goal on five shots and one assist, and No. 17 Rutgers went 0-of-5 on extra-man chances.

"We had a few days to kind of look over them," said Bernlohr, who made seven saves in the second half. "The turnaround was quick, but me and Coach Tills always go through the shots and try to pick up on some things and the defense made adjustments. Above all, I think we just played like Terps. That was just a gritty, great win to be a part of."

After both sides traded a pair of goals in the first seven minutes of the game, the Terps began to flex their muscles. Armed with a 6-on-4 extra-man opportunity, Cole passed to Kelly alone on the left crease with 7:35 left in the first quarter.

Rambo got the 100th goal of his career with a shot from the right point that appeared to deflect off Rutgers senior goalie Kris Alleyne and under the crossbar with 5:33 remaining. Rambo extended Maryland's lead to 5-2 when he corralled a jump ball and fired a shot from a sharp angle left of the cage that rattled off Alleyne and into the net just before the horn for the end of the period sounded.

The teams exchanged a pair of goals in the second quarter before the Terps scored two of the last three tallies to enjoy a 9-5 lead at halftime. After the sides traded two goals each to open the third quarter, Maryland scored three straight goals spanning the final two quarters to put the game out of reach.

Senior attackman Scott Bieda paced Rutgers (11-5) withone goal and three assists, and redshirt freshman attackman Adam Charalambides scored three times. But coach Brian Brecht said the Scarlet Knights missed on their chances, while the Terps took advantage of theirs.

"All of their top players are seasoned, and they've been in big games before," he said. "They're skilled, their spacing is good, their timing is good, their patience is very good. I think you saw that today from them. There were some opportunities we had. Early on, I think we had some great looks offensively, and we maybe didn't capitalize on some of them and a few errors in other areas [gave] them more opportunities, and they certainly make their opportunities count."

twitter.com/EdwardLeeSun

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement