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Terps beat Buckeyes to clinch share of B1G title

Special Contribution to So Much Sports Baltimore
By: Ryan Baillargeon

Matt Rambo led Maryland to at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a five-point performance against Ohio State with two goals and three assists.

Matt Rambo led Maryland to at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a five-point performance against Ohio State with two goals and three assists.

Less than two minutes into the second quarter Sunday night, Maryland men’s lacrosse goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr allowed Ohio State to score its fifth goal. He had not stopped a single shot on goal.

But his teammates didn’t offer any critiques or words of encouragement. The fifth-year senior didn’t need it.

“I don’t even think anyone on our team thought twice about that,” midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen said.

Bernlohr and the Maryland defense kept Ohio State off the board for more than 24 straight minutes, putting the offense in a position to rattle off a game-changing 7-0 spurt. The seven unanswered goals spanning the second and third quarters propelled the No. 5 Terps to a 10-8 win over Ohio State.

The win, Maryland’s 10th straight, earns the program at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. The Terps can clinch the championship outright with a win at No. 10 Johns Hopkins on Saturday.

“This is why you come to Maryland,” coach John Tillman said. “You want to play your very best at this time of the year.”

The Terps have developed a knack for falling behind early this season and Sunday wasn’t an exception. Though they took a 1-0 and a 2-1 lead, neither advantage lasted longer than four minutes as Bernlohr struggled to stop Ohio State’s low shot attempts.

Just 17 minutes into the game, the Buckeyes had already scored five times on a stout Terps defense allowing less than eight goals per game.

“We were a little flat early on, especially defensively with our rotations,” Tillman said.

Maryland also took a hit in the opening quarter when midfielder Will Bonaparte, who had taken over the starting job at the faceoff X with specialist Austin Henningsen out, suffered what appeared to be an injury to his left hamstring. The freshman hobbled to the sideline in pain after the first faceoff and collapsed onto the ground as a trainer worked out his leg.

Bonaparte came back out for the ensuing faceoff after attackman Matt Rambo, who finished with two goals and three assists, opened the scoring. But Bonaparte didn’t look right, limping off after each of the next two draws until he seemed to be in serious pain again after the fourth.

Senior faceoff specialist Andrew Walsh came on to take the final 15 faceoffs. Though he only won six of them, Tillman commended the senior’s performance.

“Just real, real big for us was Andrew Walsh today. Just did a great job,” Tillman said. “Andrew has done a great job — and just like last year when we played Ohio State — he really stepped up.”

Even with the Terps trailing 5-3 early in the second quarter and without their main faceoff starter, Rambo said Maryland wasn’t concerned. The Terps knew they had the reigning Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. award winner, given to the nation’s top goalie, in the cage.

“I know our defense is so prepared from our scout guys that they were going to make a stop,” Rambo said. “We weren’t really pressured or anything. We just needed to play our game.”

They did.

Midfielder Henry West ripped a bounce shot past goalkeeper Tom Carey with 5:36 left in the second quarter. Less than three minutes later, midfielder Bryan Cole whipped a rising shot into the right portion of the netting. And before the halftime buzzer, Cole scored again.

Intermission didn’t halt the momentum. Maryland scored three more times in the opening three minutes of the third quarter before attackman Colin Heacock capped the 7-0 spurt by redirecting a feed from Rambo.

“I don’t think we ever really relaxed,” Rambo said.

While the offense continued to apply pressure, Heacock’s goal marked Maryland’s final score of the night. So as the offense went cold for the final 20 minutes, the defense was forced to preserve the five-goal lead.

Ohio State cut the deficit to two goals with more than nine minutes still left, but then Bernlohr seemed to dial in. The netminder stopped Ohio State’s final three shots on goal in the contest, marking more saves than he had in the first 50 minutes of the game.

“It speaks volume to Kyle’s character, his extra work he puts in off the field,” Davis-Allen said.

Bernlohr’s ability to rebound from his early woes helped Maryland secure another comeback victory. And as the final buzzer sounded on their 10th straight win, the bench sprinted onto the field to celebrate with their senior goalkeeper.

“I think all of us would say that the job is not done,” Tillman said.

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