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No. 2 Terps cruise past High point, 19-5

Terps faceoff specialists Austin Henningsen had a big bounce-back performance at the X, going 13-for-17 against High Point.

Special contribution to So Much Sports
By: James Crabtree-Hannigan

Things were a little bit easier for the Maryland Terrapins men’s lacrosse team this year than they were last year. Last year against High Point the Terps struggled to pull away before eventually using a flurry of late goals to pick up a 15-10 win after trailing at halftime and being tied late in the third quarter.

Saturday, the No. 2 Terps again welcomed High Point to Maryland Stadium for the team’s first home game of the season. This time, the Panthers could only stick around for about one quarter before Maryland took over, using goals from 11 different players to dominate its way to a 19-5 victory.

“[There’s] nothing better than playing in Maryland Stadium, it’s awesome,” Dylan Maltz said. “We pride ourselves at home. When we’re on the home field we want to come out with a victory.”

Maltz was one of three Terps to score hat tricks. Matt Rambo also had three goals and three assists, giving him a hat trick in all three of Maryland’s games this year and moving him to sixth place on Maryland’s career goals list. Midfielder Connor Kelly had the other.

Rambo opened the scoring just seven seconds into the game. Austin Henningsen won the opening faceoff for the Terps and quickly charged down the middle of the field before dishing to Rambo on his right. Rambo finished from close-range, putting the Terps up 1-0. It was the start of a big day for both he and Henningsen, who went 13-for-17 from the X.

After High Point cut Maryland’s lead to 4-2 late in the first quarter, Henningsen again cleanly won a faceoff and immediately sprinted upfield. This time, rather than passing, Henningsen scored for himself with a low shot into the bottom-right corner. It was the faceoff specialist’s third goal of his career. After entering the game with three career points, Henningsen added another assist in the second quarter to finish with three points against High Point.

“Austin and the rest of the [faceoff unit] have done a good job of trying to develop their offensive skills,” Terps head coach John Tillman said. “All year long they’ve worked on faceoff technique but they’ve been doing their shooting, their stick work.

“Those plays are big momentum plays if you can get a goal off a faceoff … They count as one, but the momentum you get is huge.”

Maryland led 5-2 after the first quarter and separated themselves over the next two periods, outscoring the Panthers 11-1 to enter the fourth quarter with a 12-goal lead, 16-4.

The Panthers didn’t score in the third quarter, part of a nearly 22-minute scoreless stretch. Maryland’s defense was strong all game, allowing High Point just four shots in the first quarter. The Terps limited High Point’s possessions by securing a 16-2 groundball advantage in the quarter, and finishing with 45 groundballs, more than doubling High Point’s total of 19.

“When you play good defense and you slide and recover and sometimes when you create some double teams you can get the [ballcarrier’s] hands, the ball will get on the ground,” Tillman said. “So that leads to a lot of loose balls, and loose balls will turn into transition opportunities.”

Henningsen’s career day was evidence of Maryland, traditionally a slow-paced offense, playing with a bit more pace Saturday than in previous years. That’s a deliberate choice Tillman explained.

“When you have three seniors out there … the game is just a little slower for them, so it allows you to play faster,” he said. “We’ve been trying to do that for a while. I just think the team plays based on the parts they have, and with this group that fits.”

Rambo, Maltz and Colin Heacock, the Terps’ trio of senior attackmen, combined for seven goals and four assists against High Point.

The Terps have scored 50 goals in the first three games, scoring 15 and 16 goals in road games against Navy and Saint Joseph’s, respectively. The team hadn’t scored 19 goals in a game since 2014 before Saturday’s home-opener.

Last year, High Point took a two-goal lead at halftime and stayed within striking distance into the fourth quarter. This year, the Terps took their biggest win since the first game of the 2013 season, when they beat Mount St. Mary’s 23-6.

Some of High Point’s unorthodox defensive schemes caused problems for Maryland in 2016, but Tillman’s team was more prepared Saturday.

“We kind of went back watched the film. [Offensive coordinator J.L. Reppert] did a really good job of getting the guys organized with a couple of different plans,” Tillman said. “Today, they did jump into a couple of different defenses and give us some looks we hadn’t seen.”

Tillman was happy with the way his team handled the Panthers’ defensive puzzles this time and thinks the experience gained from facing them early in the year will pay dividends in the future.

“Maybe there’s a game down the road and [opponents] do something similar,” Tillman said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, remember High Point? This is what they showed us,’ and then the kids have a little bit of a mental picture of what it was like.”

Kelly helped the Terps unlock High Point’s defense, earning his hat trick with a third-quarter goal.

Not much went wrong for Maryland in its first two games, but Saturday’s win was a step up from even those performances. Henningsen seems to have bounced back from a 7-for-22 performance in the season-opener, and goalkeeper Dan Morris earned praise from Tillman as well, saying he took another step forward in his third game as a starter.

Maryland will remain at home to host Yale on Saturday, Feb. 25 at noon.

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