After three convincing wins and a week as the top ranked team in the nation, No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse has advanced beyond winning to prove its prowess. Instead, Maryland seeks wins to defend its established post as the premier college lacrosse team in the nation, imposing its will offensively with its attack.
Even with the physicality at its highest all season and the No. 20 Princeton proving resilient on several fronts, Maryland’s tireless attack was enough to sustain a considerable lead and remain undefeated on a, 15-10, scoreline.
“Happy to get a win,” head coach John Tillman said, “Certainly a lot to work on but a lot to be proud of with this group. Just continuing to share the ball on offense and play together defensively.”
Indeed, Maryland played unselfishly, but some of Maryland’s most meaningful goals in its most recent contested affair all seemed to be of the unassisted variety.
The tone-setter of the afternoon was an unassisted drive at the crease by Jon Donville just 34 seconds into the match. The former Ivy Leaguer beat his assignment in a foot-race and beat the opposing goaltender, Erik Peters, with his flick at the doorstep to score — his first of a game-high four goals, three of which came unassisted.
The opening two scores of the runaway fourth quarter came with individual efforts as well. First, with a Kyle Long bounce shot between the legs of Peters, a goal that was followed by a faceoff win and immediate strike by Luke Wierman just seconds later.
“We usually are sharing the ball but I think there are some guys that are just naturally going to find good seams and have good instincts for cutting at the right time,” Tillman said.
Occasionally, however, Maryland referred back to it’s unselfish identity, as it did with its final two scores to officially solidify the win. Logan Wisnauskas was the feeder on both.
But with the style of play the Tigers introduced — physical and quick — there grew a necessity to divert from the norm. A stalwart of a goalie for Princeton, who corralled a career-high 19 saves, also contributed to the style alteration.
Bodies flew early in the second quarter. Wisnauskas, who stands at 6-foot-3, found himself toppled after two defenders barreled him over early in the second quarter. And though the statistics would indicate otherwise, the battle for ground balls and clearing efforts were scrappy.
The Terps brought a less than measured response defensively that led to two men down and a subsequent goal and 4-5 Maryland scoreline, but tightened up as the game went on. Princeton never tied.
The single point deficit was the closest Princeton would get as Maryland dominated in every aspect of the contest. And by the end, Maryland had double Princeton’s shots (50 to 23) and ground balls (42 to 22) to go along with a strong lead in the faceoff battle (19 of 27 attempts.)
“We kind of, at times, gave away,” Tillman said. “We felt like there were a few that if we just scooped the ball, but better, we could have turned those into possession. So all stuff that early in the year. Some stuff is just going to happen and we’re big on just learning from experience and not dwelling on it.”
The Tigers crept close to Maryland’s shallow lead, at some points closing it to two and oftentimes three points, but Maryland’s timely runs and unassisted goals came handy in its third straight ranked match.
To help recapture the multiple possession lead the Terps lost early in the second frame, two consecutive unassisted efforts by Wisnauskas and Donville put Maryland in prime winning position.
Wisnauskas ended with four goals and a game-high two assists. The pair ended with a combined 10 points.
Donville dodged and dove his way to score the first at the edge of the crease and Wisnauskas extended the run with a rebound and sidearm strike to set the multi-possession lead the Terps took to the final whistle, protecting its No. 1 rank.
“It’s fun to be a part of this offense,” Donville said, “On any given day the offense looks a little different .. on any given day anyone can have a big day and today I was lucky enough for it to be my day.”