By: Cody Wilcox
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Over 24 minutes had elapsed, including a scoreless second quarter, before attackman Joey Epstein found his teammate Kyle Marr for the first goal of the second half, and Marr’s first of the game, as they both exploded with first pumps.
With their reactions, it almost appeared if they knew that their struggles on offense were over. After only two goals in the first half, Johns Hopkins offense erupted in the the third quarter to erase a four-goal Maryland lead and win 12-7 to advance to the Big Ten tournament championship.
“That [goal] was huge,” said Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala. “I felt getting the first goal was huge for momentum and confidence.”
Tonight’s matchup not only marked the first time in the long series history that the two teams have met in back-to-back games, but also the second straight week that Maryland has surrendered a four-goal lead to Johns Hopkins.
Last week Maryland gained a 5-1 lead in College Park before Johns Hopkins reeled off a five-goal second quarter. But Thursday, it was the third quarter when Johns Hopkins rattled off three goals in a span of a minute and a half as it finished with five answered goals in the quarter.
“You knew they were going to make a run,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “We just didn’t do enough in that third quarter to kind of stave that off.”
After being held to only two goals in the first half, and scoreless for nearly 24 minutes, Johns Hopkins offense found five different offensive players to score in that third quarter. The Blue Jays were led by Epstein and attackman Cole Williams as both finished with hat tricks.
While Johns Hopkins’ offense could not find much success in the first half, Maryland’s offense was connecting to allow them to build an early lead. They received contributions from midfielder Anthony DeMaio, who finished with one goal and one assist, and attackman Louis Dubick, who contributed one goal and two assists. Jared Bernhardt led the way for the Terps as he completed his 19th career hat trick.
But Maryland’s offense would not have been able to build their lead if it hadn’t been for their goalie Danny Dolan, who finished with 15 saves on the night. Nine of Dolan’s saves came in the first half, allowing the Terps’ offense to put together successful possessions and relieve some pressure on the defensive end.
“I think he was great, especially after Saturday, I know he was really disappointed,” Tillman said. “…he can only do so much.”
After allowing 16 goals, the most they had given up since 2013, Maryland’s defense entered the game more in-sync and with better communication in the first half. And Justin Shockey, who took the opening faceoff for the second game all season, was winning the Terps faceoffs. He went 14-23 from the faceoff X, including his 200th career faceoff win.
“I really felt like in the first half we got good goalie play, we got good faceoff play,” Tillman said. “We should have been up more than 6-2.”
In Saturday’s regular season matchup, Maryland was only able to get off 21 shots. Thursday, the Terps were able to surpass that with 28 shots, but were still decisively outshot in comparison to Johns Hopkins 44 attempts.
Maryland also committed 18 turnovers, more than doubling the Blue Jays’ eight turnovers. But once again the Terps’ offense could find no answers in the second half as Ryan Darby made five saves in final 30 minutes and only allowed one goal.
“I think they just got momentum,” Bernhardt said. “I think in sports you see that everywhere but I think they got a– I mean we had our run in the beginning and they started to get theres. And was obviously able to put it on us.”