For one snowy morning, the Terps had a roof to blow off.
From the start, Maryland men’s lacrosse controlled the game from the comfort of its own state-of-the-art practice facility, winning easily over Albany, 24-6.
The game against Albany, originally scheduled for noon, was pushed back at 10 a.m. due to an upcoming winter storm. When the storm came quicker than anticipated, the location of the contest was frantically moved across the street, indoors for the first time in Maryland men’s lacrosse history.
“It just seemed like the weather was – every time we tried to navigate it – we moved up and then it moved up,” Coach John Tillman said.
Despite Tillman’s preference to play in the elements, the team knew that it would be far too dangerous to play outside.
“Kind of looking at all of it, I think we would have kicked ourselves if anybody on either team, maybe on a slick surface, got hurt,” Tillman said. “Kind of looking back, [we knew] we have a great facility like this as a fallback.”
In addition to all other craziness, it was also senior day, the first one since the COVID-19 pandemic restricted considerable access.
“I think gratitude was probably the biggest thing,” said graduate midfielder Jonathan Donville. “I didn’t have that experience last year. I didn’t get to play. So, to have my parents here, it was pretty special.”
Although the circumstances made for a rather unique senior say, the players were grateful to celebrate with their loved ones.
“It’s really great to see guys with some of their families,” said graduate midfielder Alex Smith, who played for the first time all year after being sidelined with an injury for the first five games.
With only loved ones and families in attendance, the Terps showed out. The game itself was a blowout from the start. The Terps got off to a fiery 5-0 lead in the first eight minutes, which included two goals from senior Jonathan Donville and was capped off by a strike from outside the hash marks by Logan Wisnauskas.
Albany called an early timeout to regroup, but the onslaught continued. Maryland found their sweet spot as goals five, six, seven, and nine came from a similar area – right side, outside the hash marks, from distance.
Then, the contest quickly got out of reach.
By the end of the first quarter, Maryland had shut out Albany while putting up 11 on their own, which was the most goals they had scored in a quarter all season.
“They played very maturely, sharing the ball,” Tillman said about the team’s early performance. “I thought we shot incredibly well, [we] put the ball in really good spots against a quick goalie, which created some momentum.”
The start of the second was already better for Albany, as it finally got on the board two minutes in thanks to a Joey Pezzimenti strike.
Still, the game was in Maryland’s control. A strong second quarter in which it outscored Albany 7-2 gave them a frightening 16-point lead at halftime.
Part of the success by halftime came from face-offs won. Maryland was able to win 16 of them and only give up six.
“To get all that momentum started, I thought our guys were able to stay focused and dialed in instead of relaxing,” Tillman said. “It’s a credit to our leadership and our guys.”
By the third quarter, the Terps were just showing off, playing to its No. 1 billing. Justin Sherrer picked up a ground ball and ran across the middle of the field with plenty of room around him, launching a shot perfectly in the bottom left corner of the net for goal number 20. A few moments later, a goal from Eric Malever meant that they had already reached the team’s season high in points – with 25 minutes to go.
At that point, Albany was working to make it to the final whistle, while the Terps were able to coast for the rest of the game to earn their sixth victory of the year, and their most dominant one yet.
With the early dominance, some of the players who wouldn’t often play also got minutes. It was a career day for Daniel Kelly, who not only scored his first career goal, but he finished with four, which lead the team.
As the clock hit zero, the seniors celebrated on the field with their families once more. The last minute change of scenery was nothing if not hectic, but, for the players and coaches, it was a day they will likely never forget.
“Given the circumstances, the weather, I can’t say how thankful I am for so many people in our department that really pitched in to make the game happen,” Tillman said.