There was no big game hangover for No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse, as they scored 13 straight goals en route to a, 18-7, victory on a chilly night at Penn State.
On Sunday night, in another masterclass of Maryland lacrosse, Keegan Khan continued his midseason resurgence, scoring four goals for the second straight week after four consecutive scoreless outings, Maryland shared the ball and furthered its perennial domination over Penn State and the Terps remained undefeated and now stand as the only perfect team in Division One lacrosse.
But before the two sides faced off, Maryland enjoyed the highs of toppling a reigning champ, while Penn State, eagerly searching for a crucial win in Big Ten play, had almost two weeks to prepare for the best team in the nation. The Terps had just a week to prepare for their Big Ten debut.
“With that much time, you can tinker with your lineup,” head coach John Tillman said. “You can move some guys around, maybe install some new looks.”
Additionally, the weather was a concern as the field temperature at Penn State dropped below freezing.
“I joke with the guys, this is why we rarely go inside,” Tillman said. “Because there’s always a couple games like this. These games – like being able to execute in cold weather, bad conditions, things like that – it’s really important.”
The outside practices paid off, because when the whistle blew, Maryland was still as dominant as ever, scoring the first four goals of the game, including two from Kyle Long.
However, following a timeout, an uncharacteristic Maryland turnover right in front of the goal allowed Penn State’s Will Peden to swiftly send the ball through the open net.
By the end of the first quarter, Maryland had a three-goal lead, but Penn State shortened the gap to two, thanks to a Peden over the shoulder strike that whipped past the head of McNaney.
In spite of the mishaps, Maryland finished out the half scoring six goals in a little over four minutes and led 11-3 at the break.
“We were just getting on each other,” Luke Wierman said about the team during their run. “We were just really excited for each other.”
Wierman had considerable reason to be excited for himself, too, winning faceoffs at the same staggering rate he has all season. By the half, he had won 14 out of his 16 duels. He ended the night 16-5.
“It feels good, just like, guys having my back … and trusting me,” Wierman said.
The game only got worse for Penn State at the start of the second half. The Nittany Lions couldn’t score for the whole third quarter, extending their drought to over 22.5 minutes without a goal, while Maryland went on a streak of 13-straight goals – scored by nine different players.
Maryland’s success had been the benefit of unselfish ball movement.
“When you have guys like that, that are selfless – guys that are willing to kind of just do whatever the team needs, it sure makes it better as a coach,” Tillman said.
By that point, the two-goal lead was a distant memory, and the game was no longer in doubt.
With the game all but confirmed in the fourth quarter, Maryland exercised their backups. Penn State took the opportunity to net some late goals, and the Terps finished the final quarter scoreless, but Maryland still handily won.