Behind fourth quarter onslaught No. 3 Maryland men’s lacrosse dispatches No. 4 Rutgers 19-12

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Shielding his stick in his left hand Kyle Long sprinted from the shallow part of the endzone picking up speed the closer he got to goal. Long then shifted to his right hand firing the shot past Colin Kirst, giving the Terps an 11-10 lead with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

After that goal, Maryland (4-0 B1G) blitzed Rutgers (3-1 B1G), outscoring them 8-2 in a dominant fourth quarter display, including six consecutive unanswered goals in the 19-12 victory.

“It wasn’t always pretty at times, but I love the competitiveness and the fight of the guys,” head coach John Tillman said. “Just a really big win in so many ways in our conference.”

Jared Bernhardt headlined the tremendous offensive firepower with seven points (6G, 1A) posting a new career-high six goals. Daniel Maltz (4G) and Long (3G, 1A) also were pivotal components of the Terps’ diverse offensive attack.

Logan Wisnauskas (2G, 2A) and Eric Malever (1G, 3A) impressed as Malever scored his first career goal in College Park. For the first time this season, the Terps finished with under ten turnovers not allowing the Scarlet Knights to run in transition off of their mistakes.

“We talked about complementary lacrosse all week, bad shots, silly turnovers, lead to runouts and that’s when Rutgers is at their best,” Tillman said. “Huge when you’re not turning the ball over and we have a great group down there. Those guys take pride in their stick work, they’re really unselfish with the ball.”

Maryland’s defense also delivered a strong performance limiting the highest scoring offense in the Big Ten six goals below their season average. Nick Grill shadowed 6-foot-3 230-pound midfielder Connor Kirst all-game long limiting him to just two assists and no goals. 

Rutgers’ prolific offense struggled in the second half with just three goals in the final 30 minutes. The attackmen tandem of Adam Charalambides (4G) and Kieran Mullins (3G, 2A) plus midfielder David Sprock (2G, 2A) led Rutgers, but were unable to find a rhythm in the second half.

Despite Rutgers’ struggles in the second half, both teams found success offensively in the opening 30 minutes combining for 18 goals. Maltz opened the scoring 32 seconds into the contest, the recipient of a tic-tac-toe passing play that started with Anthony DeMaio feeding Logan Wisnauskas and then ended with Maltz’s finish. 

However, known for its quick-strike offense, Rutgers responded 54 seconds later as Charalambides was all alone in front of Logan McNaney for the easy finish. Then, Bernhardt took over for the Terps with three consecutive goals. 

His first goal was an example of Bernhardt’s strength dodging from X as he fired the wrap-around shot past Rutgers goalie Colin Kirst. Shortly after, he was the beneficiary of a Bubba Fairman feed as the Scarlet Knights slid to help, but didn’t recover. On Bernhardt’s third goal he caught the defense sleeping on a man-up opportunity faking a pass, instead taking the shot for himself.

With Maryland seemingly gaining momentum, Rutgers mounted a response of its own with consecutive goals from Charalambides and Sprock. Charalambides’ goal came in transition on the man-down opportunity, while Sprock’s goal came after he utilized a rocker step to create separation.

As Rutgers trimmed the deficit, Long responded for the Terps showcasing his quick burst dodging around goal-line extended. That goal gave the Terps a 5-3 lead at the conclusion of one quarter.

To start the second quarter, the Scarlet Knights offense struck first, mounting a three-goal run to take their first lead of the game. Attackman Ryan Gallagher and Sprock converted back-to-back tallies with Gallagher on the quick stick and Sprock with time and room. Mullins closed out the run with a goal from a tight-angle on the man-up opportunity.

In need of a spark, Wisnauskas executed an off-ball cut on the left side and was the recipient of Malever’s feed for the finish that ended the Terps’ 11:57 scoring drought.

The final 6:05 of the first half each team converted a trio of goals, completing what was an offensive shootout the first 30 minutes with 12 different lead changes. Mullins, Charalambides and midfielder Shane Knobloch scored for Rutgers, while Bernhardt, Joshua Coffman and Maltz each converted for Maryland.

However, the third quarter was much more defensive oriented as the team’s only combined for three goals unable to replicate the first half’s offensive firepower. Maltz opened the second-half scoring just outside the crease on the feed from Bernhardt.

Attackman Ross Scott responded for the Scarlet Knights with excellent individual effort tying the score at 10 with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter. From that point on, Maryland dominated outsourcing Rutgers 9-2 the remainder of the game with Long’s aforementioned goal giving the Terps a one-goal advantage entering the final quarter.

Starting the fourth, the Terps quickly extended the lead with Bernhardt and Griffin Brown scoring a pair of goals as Justin Shockey continued to earn the Terps possessions at the faceoff X. Mullins responded with a brief answer for the Scarlet Knights, but Maryland’s offense continued hitting its stride as the fourth quarter progressed.

“I think guys were just settling in,” Bernhardt said. “They weren’t sliding too much, if they’re not sliding we just gotta beat our matchups and score.”

After Mullins goal, five different Terps found the back of the net extending the lead to 18-11 with 5:47 remaining. Malever, the freshman, highlighted that run with a beautiful precise assist to Maltz on the doorstep. 

He and Bernhardt scored the final two goals for Maryland capping off an impressive offensive performance and another shining example of the team’s depth this season. 

“Guys are just so selfless, it’s been great,” Bernhardt said of the depth offensively.