The opening horn blew, the hype music faded into silence and after a pregame handshake at midfield, both teams’ players rushed to their positions. And seemingly just as fast as the Terps and the Scarlet Knights scattered into formation, Maryland gained ample ground.
The floodgates opened with a Keegan Khan goal that sent the bench into a frenzy. The run ended — along with the same vigor and excitement from the bench and from the crowd — with Maryland leading 5-0 thanks to a pair of record-tying goals by Logan Wisnauskas, who had eyes on a win first before snapping a coveted record.
“It’s awesome.” Wisnauskas said of his history-making night.
Merely five minutes of game time had passed in the opening minutes of the game and the Terps had made a profound statement through their play.
In No. 4 Rutgers, No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse had speed to contain, but it had respectable pace of its own.
On Sunday, Maryland maintained its national lacrosse supremacy and likely cemented it’s spot atop the Big Ten rankings with a 17-9 win over Rutgers. And In front of its most recent championship winning peers, the 2017 national title winners, Maryland got the job done handily — as it has all season, with blistering pace. Wisnauskas topped the record books, too, surpassing Jared Bernhardt for the most points in Maryland men’s lacrosse history.
“You never know how things are gonna go,” head coach John Tillman said. “To get out to that fast start was great.”
Unlike the rest of his high-powered offense, Wisnauskas waited patiently before sending the Scarlet Knights into a practically inescapable deficit. And when he found space, he was able to tie the program’s all-time record in points in 22 seconds of game time.
Wisnauskas’ first and the Terps fourth goal, a nimble side-step leading into a left-handed strike, prompted a Rutgers timeout — only for the offensive captain to use the same move to score again out of the break.
The speed permeated at each level of the field. Both platoons of the midfield out-worked and out-played the similarly stout build of the Scarlet Knights midfield group. They helped set Wisnauskas up to tie the points record and netted some goals of their own while also muddying the efficiency of Rutgers’ quick offense.
“We wanted more movement than what we had seen,” Tillman said. “Because I feel like [the Scarlet Knights] are very experienced. Most of their guys are fourth, fifth year type guys and their goalie is terrific.”
On offense, Kyle Long and Jon Donville combined for eight points and six assists, while Roman Puglise and Bubba Fairman highlighted the midfield defensive effort with seven total ground balls and complementary work in clears (19-22).
The defense held its ground, too, holding Rutgers top two scorers to nine shots and just two goals. The work of defenseman Ajax Zappitello quieted the Scarlet Knights’ leading scorer Ross Scott to one point and forced errant shots and passes aplenty in one-on-one battles. In the few opportunities Scott had with the ball, he tried maneuvering and shifting past the rookie starter and whatever help came with him — to no avail.
“[Zappitello]’s been terrific this year,” Tillman said. “But knowing that you go into a game and you have a couple of really good attackmen [to face] … it’s a great luxury [to have a player like Zappitello].”
To begin the scoring of the second half and establish a game-breaking run, Wisnauskas quickly took his place atop the program record book. A no-look pass on the run for an easy Eric Malever dump-off goal gave the Terps’ number one 291 points.
Though Wisnauskas spent little time reveling in the accomplishment during and after the game, the weight of the moment was felt by every onlooker. And his team used the momentum to take it to the final horn.
After the night’s proceedings, however, Tillman made sure to remark on Wisnauskas’ often jarring ability to remain even-keeled and focused.
“He never brings up how many points [he’s scored], he doesn’t play any different whether scores or he doesn’t score. He just loves playing,” Tillman said. “He’s got a standard that he sets for himself. But it’s never about himself. And to have that ability to be pushing yourself yet being in a team concept and always being selfless — it’s not easy.”
Over 20 minutes of game time remained, but the Terp’s speed did all the work, the rest was just a matter of keeping the game under control. They, of course, did exactly that.