Much like most of Maryland’s games this season, the Big Ten Championship Game was a complete Terp takeover.
For the second time in less than a month, Maryland men’s lacrosse didn’t give Rutgers much of a chance as it coasted to a, 17-7, victory.
The win marked Maryland’s second straight conference championship victory and fourth ever Big Ten title. Their first came in 2016, when Maryland and Rutgers met as one and two seeds, respectively, for the first time.
“Lacrosse means so much in this area,” head coach John Tillman said. “We have [a] great tradition here and so many people that care so much. We take a lot of pride, and try to go out, make sure we represent well.”
Although it was May, the weather was more akin to early-season lacrosse. It was windy, misty, and chilly. The intense weather heightened the intensity of the matchup between the two top teams in the conference.
Thanks to Tillman’s philosophy of practicing in the elements, the Terps seemed prepared.
“The guys stop asking if we’re ever going inside, regardless of the weather,” Tillman said.
The weather was indeed rough, but that didn’t stop both sides from shooting out of the gate early offensively. In just under six minutes, the score was tied at two apiece.
Maryland was the first side to go on a run. Attacker Logan Wisnauskas scored his second goal of the game, then midfielder Anthony DeMaio hit the next two to give Maryland a three-point lead.
After several minutes of scoreless lacrosse, Wisnauskas bounced the ball between the goalie’s legs, solidifying a hat trick with less than 19 minutes played.
The Terps were starting to pull away – a familiar sight.
Long stick John Geppert was next in line when he launched his fifth goal of the season from 10 yards out. The ball, perfectly placed at the bottom right corner of the net, encapsulated Maryland’s momentum.
Midfielder Jonathan Donville closed out the half with his first goal of the game with ten seconds remaining. The game was looking to be a rerun of their last matchup – one where the Scarlet Knights couldn’t find any answers to the Terps’ offensive torment.
Only three goals were scored the entire second quarter. All three were from Maryland.
Maryland also dominated the face-off game, winning nine out of 12 attempts in the first half.
FOGO Luke Wierman avenged his disappointing performance against Johns Hopkins, one where he lost more faceoffs than he won – a rarity for him this season.
“Last year, we were trying to get to 50 percent,” TIllman said. “Now, if we are 50 percent, we’re disappointed.”
The Big Ten Specialist of the Year bounced back in a big way, finishing the game winning 20 out of his 26 attempts at the X.
“We walked out of Thursday, Luke was not having it,” Tillman said. “He turned that into – we talk about chip on your shoulder – he was displeased and he was super motivated.”
Much as the story has been for most of the season, Maryland had a commanding lead after three quarters. That lead was not only maintained in the fourth quarter, but expanded upon. The Terps finished the fourth scoring four more while only allowing two. Eventually, the final horn sounded, cementing the Terps as tournament champions.
Despite the strong, 10-point victory, the players still had gripes.
“We didn’t play our best game today,” Wisnauskas said. “We all know that. We’re going to watch the film. We’re going to fix some stuff moving forward.”
To Wisnauskas, the Big Ten trophy is nice, but a larger goal – to be national champions – awaits.
“This was just a box we checked,” Wisnauskas said. “We want, ultimately, to get the main thing.”