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Terps slow OSU to win National Championship

Special Contribution to So Much Sports Baltimore
By: Kathryn Leeber

Finally, the drought is over. After 42 years, the Maryland Terrapins men’s lacrosse team are national champions again.

In front of a crowd of 28,971 at Gillette Stadium, Maryland was able to keep Ohio State from scoring for over 20 minutes in the middle of the game and went on a key four-goal run to power their way to a 9-6 victory that put their name in the history books as the 2017 national champions.

“Obviously very proud of our team,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “It hasn’t really sunk in but given where we were last year, having been in this spot and losing a heart-breaker there are a couple of different ways we could go. We could have let last year’s loss impact this year and I think it speaks to the leadership of this group and their ability to put things behind them and move forward to give us a chance to win. I’m proud of their efforts. It was a team win. It wasn’t pretty but I’m proud of how hard they played.”

When Ohio State scored first and then scored again to take a 2-1 lead, Maryland did not allow that to put any doubt in their minds that they could win.

USILA Defensive Player of the Year Tim Muller ended up being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, largely because of his continued dominance in this game. He anchored the Terps defense that shut Ohio State out for the next 23 minutes, into the third quarter, while the offense scored four straight to take a 5-2 lead at halftime.

“We don’t try to go out there and make plays happen, they just happen if we play our fundamental defense,” Muller said. “Nick Brozowski had a great game. He had a lot of ground balls and some caused turnovers. Curtis Corley and Bryce Young, they all played fundamental defense. They didn’t try to do anything special and I think that’s just how Maryland always is and that’s what we try to keep up here.”

Junior midfielder Tim Rotanz led the Maryland offense with three goals while senior attackman Dylan Maltz matched his three points with two goals and one assist in the game.

After a few shots early in the game, Austin Shanks gave Ohio State the first goal of the game. Maryland responded with some continuous and quick passing that eventually allowed Rotanz to run into an opening and level the score with 5:53 left in the first quarter, but Colin Chell added a goal to put the Buckeyes back ahead less than a minute later.

But the defense, anchored by Muller, saw Dan Morris also make four saves in the first quarter to prevent the Buckeyes from scoring again. And with that defense going strong, Maryland scored four straight to end the first half.

Adam DeMillo charged right at the net and sent the ball into the corner of the goal to tie the game just two minutes after Chell’s goal. Connor Kelly put Maryland ahead 3-2 with a goal in the final minute of the first quarter.

The Terps built on that momentum with two more goals from Maltz and DeMillo, respectively, to build their lead.

Ohio State was shutout in the second quarter and was limited to only four shots. The Terps’ ability to shut down top Buckeye scorers Eric Fannell and Tre Leclaire was huge in preventing them from building any momentum. Leclaire and Fannell were both shutout in the first half. Leclaire ended up with one goal and one assist, both scored late in the fourth quarter, but he got going probably when it was too late for the Buckeyes to truly make a comeback.

“We just did what we always go, just played fundamental Maryland defense,” Muller said. “You have Isaiah [Davis-Allen] and Nick [Manis] controlling the defensive mid spot. We didn’t try to do anything we wouldn’t normally try to do. [Jon] Garino and Austin [Henningsen] giving us a lot of possession time was definitely helpful, allowing us to stay fresh when the ball came down.”

Jon Garino, Jr. and Austin Henningsen combined to win the faceoff battle. This time it was Garino leading the way and capping off the team’s run through college lacrosse’s murderer’s row at the X, after success against both UAlbany’s TD Irelan and Denver’s Trevor Baptiste. Jake Withers won five of the six faceoffs taken in the first quarter before the Terps made the switch to Garino. The senior Garino finished the game 10-for-14 as the Terps ended up winning the overall battle with 11 victories on the 19 tries in the game.

He won all three taken in the third quarter and was 5-for-7 in the fourth.

But Buckeyes goalkeeper Tom Carey continued to prove to be a tough one to break against Maryland. Maryland won the first faceoff of the second half and looked to score right away, but Carey made two saves to keep the Terps out of the goal. The second save gave Ohio State the ball and Logan Maccani ended the Buckeyes’ 23-plus minute scoring drought.

But that would be it for them for another 15 minutes.

Maryland scored another three in a row. Rotanz opened himself up for a pass from Maltz and gave the Terps a 6-3 lead with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter. Maryland continued to outshoot Ohio State and was able to keep their momentum going for the win.

Maltz scored his second goal of the game for Maryland and Rambo had an impressive behind-the-back shot in front of the Buckeyes goal to extend Maryland’s lead to five goals at 8-3 with 10:36 left.

The Terps certainly were not in the clear yet, however. Just 12 seconds after Rambo’s goal, Withers won a faceoff and sprinted right down the field and scored. Nearly five and a half minutes later Leclaire got his first point of the game on an unassisted goal. He gave the Buckeyes hope, especially when he assisted a third-straight Ohio State goal, feeding Johnny Pearson with 2:25 left.

That kept Ohio State in the game, but Maryland was able to hold the Buckeyes off while running some clock down. Rotanz completed his hat-trick in the final minute of the game on a very long distance bomb against an open net, with the shot clock on, to put a bow on Maryland’s national championship. Ohio State did get one final play on the ball, but the clock ran out on them as Maryland stormed the field as national champions.

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