When Maryland and Johns Hopkins face off in “The Rivalry” it’s always important, however, Saturday’s matchup carries extra meaning.
At the epicenter of college lacrosse Homewood Field in Baltimore, Maryland will look to complete an undefeated regular season, while Johns Hopkins is looking to squash the Terps’ bid for regular season perfection.
The Terps are coming off a dominant 18-8 win over then-No. 12 Ohio State, while the Blue Jays have lost five consecutive games. However, records and momentum go by the wayside when these two team’s face-off in the greatest rivalry in college lacrosse.
Despite their success this season, head coach John Tillman and the Terps’ staff have preached the importance of avoiding complacency. They’ve also maintained focus on putting together a complete 60-minute effort.
“Right now, people are probably throwing a lot of compliments your way, but if you lose the next one, you’re going to get a lot of criticism,” Tillman said. “That’s just how it works at a place like Maryland, so keep your guard up, stay focused, don’t be satisfied. I think most of the older guys have taken that approach. A lot of that came from Jared, he said it early and we’ve used that line all-year long ‘don’t be satisfied’. We’ve just got to keep getting better, keep following the mantra of ‘be your best’.”
The first meeting it was Johns Hopkins who struck first, blitzing Maryland with three of the first four goals of the game. Building on their strong start, the Blue Jays offense continued to find success building a 7-5 lead in the latter stages of the first half.
From that point on, it was all Maryland as the Terps’ executed one of their patented goal-scoring runs with 11 in a row in the 18-10 victory. Seven different Terps scored during that stretch as the Blue Jays offense also went dormant without a goal for 22:40.
Those prolonged scoring runs also offer an added glimpse into Maryland’s depth and completeness at all three levels. They require sustained stops defensively, success at the faceoff X and opportunistic offense, all of which the Terps have blended together on several occasions this season.
“I think our faceoff guys and our wing guys have done a great job of neutralizing the X,” Anthony DeMaio said.” I think that our defense has done a great job of getting stops when we need it, Logan has been making some great saves. I think that reflects all their hard work and when we get that many more possessions because of their hard work it gives us more opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Those extended scoring runs are a nice luxury, but the Terps know they need to start out of the gates faster on the road. Each of Maryland’s previous two road games, the Terps dropped into an early hole, trailing 5-0 to Michigan and 3-0 to Rutgers.
One of the keys to a strong start is playing with great energy early on, which Maryland did in its most recent victory against Ohio State. They’ll look to replicate that against the Blue Jays who figure to have plenty of energy playing at home on Senior Day against their biggest rival.
Despite the porous record, Johns Hopkins still has several talented weapons offensively, including the attack tandem of Joey Epstein and Connor DeSimone as well as midfielder Cole Williams. That trio combined for seven of the team’s 10 goals in the first meeting, as Maryland’s defense will look to limit their offensive production.
First face-off will be at 2 p.m. from Homewood Field and the game will air on ESPNU.
With a win, Maryland will join rarified air as the first team in 34 years to finish the regular season undefeated.
“It would definitely mean a lot,” Brett Makar said.