The Maryland lacrosse team had one of the more impressive regular seasons in program history.
After defeating Penn State in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Terrapins are just one win away from taking home some hardware. The only thing that stands in the way is a feisty Rutgers team.
Maryland has won 12 consecutive games dating back to March 5 when they fell to Notre Dame in the Pacific Coast Shootout. The 12-game winning streak matched the program record, which was set by the 1987 squad.
In the semifinals, the Terps jumped over the Nittany Lions as they began the game on a 6-0 run. Maryland peppered goalie Will Schreiner with shots in the early going as they held a 10-1 advantage in that department.
From scoring a goal despite nearly falling down to survey the defense and finding Dylan Maltz in front, attackman Matt Rambo was affecting the game in a multitude of ways. Rambo led the offensive attack with a five-point performance (three goals & two assists).
Attackman Colin Heacock and midfielder Connor Kelly combined to score seven of Maryland’s 16 goals, including four in the opening half. Heacock now has 35 goals on the season while Kelly continues to showcase his talent as one of the top midfielders in the Big Ten.
Maryland’s defense was also good when it had to be on Thursday evening. Whenever Penn State would start to close the gap, goalie Kyle Bernlohr would make a huge save or the Terps defense would force a turnover.
Maryland forced nine Penn State turnovers, including five in the second half.
Getting to know Rutgers
- After going just 5-10 in 2015, Rutgers underwent a complete transformation as they went 11-4 this season. The Scarlet Knights did fairly well in Big Ten play with their only losses coming against Maryland and Ohio State by just five combined goals. Both came on the road where Rutgers accumulated all four of their losses. Rutgers topped Johns Hopkins twice in the final month of the regular season.
- The Scarlet Knights possess one of the most lethal offensive attacks units around. Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Scott Bieda leads the charge for a group that scores 12.8 goals-per-game. Bieda is the quarterback for Rutgers, which is evident in his team-leading 35 assists. The star attackman is as dynamic a player as there is around. If you’re looking for a comparison, Rambo certainly comes to mind due to his ability to get whatever shot he wants while also not being afraid to give up the ball.
- With Bieda being a terrific table-setter, fellow attackmen Adam Charalambides and Jules Heningburg have had the chance to be offensive studs this season. The duo has combined to score 78 goals for the Scarlet Knights and Charalambides may have the most scorching shot in the Big Ten. In Rutgers’ semifinal win over Johns Hopkins, Charalambides scored a mind-numbing five goals on seven shot attempts. Maryland is going to have be mindful of each of these players of every trip down the field.
Keys to victory for Maryland
- Big saves down the stretch – Kyle Bernlohr and Kris Alleyne are two of the top goalies in the conference and even the nation. While Maryland’s win over Penn State ended up being quite comfortable, Bernlohr still had to respond with a strong game in net. Whenever the Nittany Lions went on a run, Bernlohr would answer with some huge saves. The story was very similar with Alleyne against the Blue Jays. Alleyne only allowed one goal in the fourth quarter and ended up stopping 14 shots when it was all said and done. Both goalies will be key in determining Saturday’s result. Whoever makes the most key saves down the stretch likely will secure a win for their team.
- Bieda vs. Rambo – While neither Bieda or Rambo leads their team in scoring, they are arguably the most versatile players for their squads. They can facilitate while also being able to take their shot when there isn’t a ton of room in which to do so. The pace of this game could be slowed down, which would be just fine for the Terps. It could come down to which player can be more methodical and pick and choose their spots.
- Maryland defense – Tillman’s teams have only been ones that thrives on tremendous defense and the 2016 group is no different. Despite losing defenseman Casey Ikeda from last year’s runner-up squad, Matt Dunn and company haven’t missed a beat. Tim Muller has been phenomenal all season, but is going to have to continue to be active against Rutgers due to their trio of dangerous attackmen. This group is going to have to make sure they’re sliding at the right time and not getting caught out of position. After all, the Terps will be facing a prolific offense that can score on a moment’s notice.