Breaking News:

So Much Sports Baltimore has officially shut down on August 7, 2017, but would like to thank all of our readers, writers and everybody who helped make this website possible.

Rambo’s career-game puts Terps past Bryant

Special Contribution to So Much Sports Baltimore
By: James Crabtree-Hannigan

Over the next week, the top-seeded University of Maryland men’s lacrosse team is going to spend most of their time watching film focused on one eight-minute stretch of its 13-10 first-round NCAA Tournament win over Bryant.

With eight minutes left, Terps midfielder Adam DiMillo scored a goal from point-blank range immediately off a pass from attackman Matt Rambo, giving Rambo his sixth assist of the day and extending Maryland’s lead to 13-6. Bryant, though, scored four goals over the next six minutes, closing the gap to 13-10 with two minutes to play.

Maryland held on from there.

“We just kind of got away from some things [we were doing early in the game],” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “[Bryant] wasn’t going to come in here and back down. You gotta give their seniors credit, like, they were not going to go down without a real big fight.”

Bryant senior attackman Tucker James — who Tillman said has had a great career — had a team-high four goals, but it wasn’t enough to beat a balanced Maryland scoring attack, and the Terps advanced to next week’s quarterfinal against Albany, hosted at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

The eighth-seed Great Danes knocked off defending champion North Carolina, 15-12, in the first round. Earlier this year, Maryland beat Albany, 12-11 in upstate New York.

Rambo had a career-high six assists and eight points and midfielder Tim Rotanz scored a career-best five goals, leading all scorers. No other Terp had more than two scores.

“No one cares who scores; people aren’t really concerned with statistics,” Tillman said. “Rambo’s probably just as happy [Rotanz] got five goals. I’m sure [attackman Colin Heacock’s] the same way.”

Rambo’s assists — and Rotanz’s goals — were a result of Bryant’s defense focusing intensely on Rambo, the team’s leading scorer that Bulldogs coach Mike Pressler called “the best offensive player in college lacrosse.”

“[The attackmen] had a lot of the eyes on them today, especially [Rambo],” Rotanz said. “For me, it was really pretty easy. Stepping in 10 to 12 yards away, getting my hands free and just shooting.”

Rotanz had his hat trick in the first half, scoring half of Maryland’s six goals before intermission.

He also made a big play on defense, causing a turnover when he bowled through Bryant midfielder Tom Kennedy as he took the ball in Maryland’s defensive zone.

Terps midfielder Nick Manis picked the ball up and started the counter-attack, passing to Rambo who dished to attacker Dylan Maltz for a quick score, pushing Maryland to a 5-2 lead.

The Bulldogs hung around in the first half, however, never falling more than three goals behind and entering the break trailing just 6-4.

“For the first half, I thought the game couldn’t have gone better for us,” Pressler said. “Halfway through the third it’s still 6-4, [but] give Maryland credit, they had that spurt.”

Still leading 6-4 with seven minutes left in the third quarter, Rambo scored his first of two goals, and three minutes later, Maryland led 9-4. That burst was helped by an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave Maryland an extra possession. Attackman Jared Bernhardt was shoved as he scored to put Maryland up 8-4, and Rotanz took advantage of the extra man opportunity with about nine seconds left on the minute-long penalty.

“We just really wanted to … take a deep breath and really get the ball moving and get into our sets, because we were trying to just go so fast, so hectic, and we weren’t really getting our looks, the right looks we really wanted,” Rotanz said. “So once we started getting those looks and settling ourselves and getting good clean shots, we knew we could get those goals.”

Those scores helped Maryland build its lead, but Bryant refused to go quietly, and their late scoring run caused concern for Tillman.

“Gotta play 60 minutes at this time of year or you run the risk of going home,” the seventh-year coach said. “And certainly, if we don’t play 60 good minutes next week, we will be going home.”

Throughout the week leading up to Saturday’s game, Tillman was not subtle about reminding his team the stakes of the NCAA tournament. He texted them a screenshot of the final score from Bryant’s 10-9 upset of No. 2-seed Syracuse in the first round of the 2014 tournament. Maryland beat the Bulldogs, 16-8, in that second round, but he didn’t want his team to forget what Bryant did to get there.

Plus, with classes ending this week and final exams beginning, the team’s routine was off, Tillman said.

“There’s a lot going on. And then you’re getting ready for the tournament, we don’t know who we’re playing until Wednesday, and then guys are getting graduation pictures yesterday, guys were taking exams,” Tillman said. “You’re kind of just not in a great place. You’re thankful you’re playing and you’re thankful you got the No. 1-seed so there’s no complaints. You just, as a coach, you love routine.”

And most of Maryland’s win over Bryant looked routine. Tillman was happy with how his team played in many areas. He pointed to the relatively even shot count — Bryant outshot the Terps 35-28 — and an improvement in the faceoff category — a 16-15 Maryland win — as promising going forward.

But the closing eight minutes, not the previous 52, will be what Maryland gives most attention to before the quarterfinal.

“I don’t think, for us, we focus on the good too much. We want to focus on the bad,” defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen said.

“To be a team that plays in late May,” Tillman said, “I feel like you constantly have to be looking for little ways to improve.”

The following two tabs change content below.
So Much Sports Baltimore is one of the leading providers of college sports coverage in Baltimore, dedicated to telling the stories of both men's and women's programs, while also providing commentary for Ravens, Orioles and just about everything else. So Much Sports Baltimore was started in 2012 by Corey Johns upon his graduation from UMBC. Hard work, dedication, and not very much sleep have helped him built it to what it's become and continues to grow to be. So Much Sports Baltimore is a part of national So Much Sports network.

Comments are closed.