Just like they have hundreds of times in their careers at Maryland (14-0, B1G), Anthony DeMaio dished off to Logan Wisnauskas. However, this connection was extra special with DeMaio cutting backdoor executing a give and go with Wisnauskas.
Catching the pass in stride towards the cage, DeMaio buried the game-winner past Liam Entenmann sending the Terps to Championship Weekend for the first time since 2018.
Notching the game-winner in the 14-13 overtime thriller, DeMaio ripped his helmet off and was mobbed by a sea of teammates waving goodbye to the Notre Dame (8-4) faithful. DeMaio’s finish put the finishing touches on a gutsy comeback effort from Maryland who trailed by three early in the fourth quarter.
“I think those guys have great chemistry,” head coach John Tillman said of Wisnauskas and DeMaio. “When it comes to making decisions, I’ll take those two guys any day of the week. There’s a lot of trust built up there.”
In what was a back-and-forth affair throughout, Maryland stepped up in all three areas of the field down the stretch. Despite only winning 10 of 30 faceoffs as a team, Luke Wierman won the most pivotal one to start overtime, giving the Terps possession. Before overtime with less than a minute remaining in regulation, it was the Terps defense who shut the door on the Fighting Irish, not allowing their offense any space for a potential game winner.
Offensively, Jared Bernhardt led the way with five goals, while Wisnauskas (3G, 1A) and DeMaio (1G, 3A) showcased their poise each with four points respectively. Half of their points came in the fourth quarter and overtime, helping the Terps mount the fourth quarter comeback.
“It’s just making sure that we have poise in the moment, having good body language, staying positive and staying neutral,” Tillman said. “We talked about having a next play mentality all game. We talked about not getting frustrated.”
Logan McNaney finished with 10 saves, mounting several critical stops and contested ground balls in the second half, while the Terps defense locked down as the pressure intensified in the ladder stages of the fourth quarter.
The first half was defined by runs with each team executing a five-goal spurt. After Wheaton Jackoboice opened the scoring 1:26 into the game, the Terps responded with five consecutive goals to close out the opening quarter.
Bernhardt and Griffin Brown catalyzed the early offense each with a pair of goals, while the Terps defense forced several shot clock violations, giving the Terps a 5-1 lead after 15 minutes.
However, the second quarter was vastly different with Notre Dame finding its stride on both ends off the field. Jackoboice and Sean Leahey sparked the Fighting Irish comeback with three of their five unanswered goals, taking a 6-5 lead with 5:47 remaining in the first half.
The Terps lost eight of nine faceoffs during the second quarter unable to generate consistent possessions to stop the run. As he has all season, Bernhardt stepped up with consecutive goals putting Maryland back on top 7-6 shortly before the half. Less than a minute later, Jackoboice tied things up for the Fighting Irish sending the game into halftime even at seven.
Similar to the first half, the third quarter was a physical back and forth affair throughout. Building on his terrific first half, Bernhardt scored the first goal of the second half putting Maryland back on top 8-7. After that, the Fighting Irish found their stride.
They scored five of the next six goals fueled by selfless offense and terrific saves from Entenmann. He notched six saves in the third quarter stifling the Terps shooters from all angles, sparking energy for the Fighting Irish and their fans.
Eric Dobson started the run with a pair of goals, while Pat Kavanagh, David Lipka and Will Yorke each added goals. Yorke’s finish extended Notre Dame’s lead to 12-9 with 12:01 remaining and it appeared the Terps were in serious trouble.
Facing its largest fourth quarter deficit of the season, Maryland responded with high effort plays and quick offense. Wisnauskas started the run with a perfectly placed bounce shot on the feed from DeMaio. 28 seconds later, Kyle Long brought the Terps to within one showcasing a burst of speed down the alley for the finish.
The tying goal was a perfect example of Maryland’s effectiveness in transition as Wierman found Daniel Maltz on the fastbreak coming off a forced turnover and contested ground ball pickup.
“That’s something that this team prides itself on, we all believe in each other,” DeMaio said. “We have faith in each other the whole game, everyone had belief and trust in each other.”
Now surging with all of the momentum, Wisnauskas completed his second half hat-trick with a rifle side-arm shot past Entenmann. That finish put the Terps back on top 13-12 with 6:52 remaining as the Maryland faithful became louder.
Now trailing, Jackoboice tied the game at 13 with 4:24 remaining on a terrific offensive set, as Maryland’s defense struggled to recover. The final 4:24 of regulation showcased a defensive clinic, highlighted by exquisitely timed checks from Nick Grill suffocating Kavanagh and Arden Cohen smothering Bernhardt.
Then, 39 seconds into overtime, the combination of DeMaio’s veteran vision and Wisnauskas’ anticipation sent the elated Terps into Championship Weekend with a matchup against No. 2 seed Duke awaiting next weekend.