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Terps blow out Albany to return to semifinals

By: Jesse Baird

Matt Rambo scored a career-high eight points on four goals and four assists to power Maryland last Albany in blowout fashion.

When the Maryland Terrapins men’s lacrosse team went up to Albany to face the Great Danes they pulled out a win but were really pushed by their high-powered offense.

But not this time. Maryland pulled away in the first half and just continued to build their lead throughout the game on their way to a dominant 18-9 victory in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, hosted at the University of Delaware.

The Terps advanced to the championship weekend for a fourth straight season with their lopsided victory.

“I’m very proud of our team. I’m really excited to have another week with them,” Terps head coach John Tillman said. “This group has been a great group all year. Having played Albany once before and knowing how good they were and watching their first half last week (against North Carolina) we knew what their potential was. I’m really proud of our seniors this week and felt them really got us organizes and focused the last couple of days.”

Maryland’s seniors combined for half of Maryland’s goals with Matt Rambo leading the way with a career-high eight points on four goals and four assists. The Tewaaraton Award finalists and possible favorite scored three times in the first quarter alone as the Terps took a 6-2 lead out of the first 15 minutes.

Rambo scored the game’s first goal just over a minute and a half into the game before classmate Isaiah Davis-Allen fed Bryce Young to put the Terps ahead 2-0.

It didn’t take long after that for Albany to tie the game, however. Adam Osika and Great Dane Tewaaraton finalist Connor Fields scored just 46 seconds apart to make it a 2-2 game. Right then it seemed like the two teams were headed for another classic that would go down to the very end, but Maryland put their foot back on the gas and left the Great Danes in the dust.

Maryland scored four straight goals to end the first quarter and continued on to make it an eight-goal run to go ahead 10-2 midway through the second quarter.

This was against an Albany team that not only scared the Terps just one month ago, but that also held a 14-3 lead over the defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels at halftime of their first-round game last week.

“We just felt more familiar with them,” Tillman said. “We watched the last game and some other games and they did some things different. … There were some difference defensive looks they had so we were prepared for that.”

The other big difference was at the faceoff X. Albany faceoff specialists TD Irelan has had a remarkable freshman campaign, winning 72.5-percent of his challenges in the center of the field heading into the game. That mark ranks second in the nation. Against the Terps on April 12, Irelan won 16-of-27 faceoffs. But this time, once again, things were different.

Another Terps senior, John Garino Jr., was huge in making that battle even. Garino went 12-for-14 from the X to help the team actually win the close battle. Maryland overall beat the Great Danes 16-14 on faceoffs.

“TD has been crushing it at the X and certainly beat us up pretty good last time,” Tillman said. “We wanted to prepare for what we had seen on film, but then in the week we wanted to see what else they could do and prepare for that.”

Great preparation was the routine answer given for what was so different this time compared to just one month ago.

Rambo, who usually does like to give credit to the scout team, once again said they were what made the Terps so much better this time.

“I thought our scout team did a great job getting us ready,” he said. “They don’t get the credit they deserve, but they put their blood, sweat, and tears into practice and we’re very fortunate for that.”

While of course against a team as dangerous as Albany is, Maryland wasn’t officially safe with their 12-4 lead at halftime, but they completely closed the door with another big third quarter that stretched their advantage out to a 17-5 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Great Danes were finally able to see some success offensively in the fourth quarter, but only after the Terps started to unload their bench. Albany outscored the Terps 4-1 in the fourth quarter and scored the game’s final three goals, but the Terps were in no danger of giving up the comeback.

Connor Kelly led Maryland with five goals while Dylan Maltz and Tim Rotanz both had a pair of goals and three total points. Nine Maryland players scored in the game. Terps defenders Tim Muller and Bryce Young both showed their scoring ability with goals in the game. The Terps held a 41-29 shot advantage over Albany and beat them on ground balls 28-14. Garino led Maryland with eight ground balls while Matt Neufeldt had six in the game.

The defense held Albany seven goals below their season average and the nation’s leading scorer, Fields, to just four points.

Rambo became the first Maryland player in history to have 40 goals and 40 assists in a season. He also scored his 153rd career goal, tying Joe Walters for the most in the program’s history.

While Maryland will certainly feel like they have unfinished business as they head to their fourth straight Final Four and will look to snap Maryland’s 41-year-title drought, Tillman still won’t take the achievement of being in a fourth straight semifinals game and the only team from last year’s Final Four to return this year.

“Having coached for a long time before coming here and having only been to one Final Four I never take that for granted. I know how hard that is and how special that is,” Tillman said. “For these guys to go four straight years speaks to the talent that we have, how hard these guys work and how dedicated they are. We have good coaches but good coaches can only do so much, you need real dedicated players.”

Maryland will face Denver on Saturday, May 27 at Gillette Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts in their semifinal game. The Pioneers have the only faceoff specialists in the country better than Albany, but Tillman also said he felt confident considering how his team battled Irelan.

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