No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse uses dominant second-half to defeat No. 13 Penn State

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Jared Bernhardt calmly caught the feed from Logan Wisnauskas, took several steps to his right and fired a top shelf shot past Colby Kneese, cementing his status in elite company as just the sixth Terp ever to score 200 career points.

That play came off a terrific effort by Bubba Fairman who stuck with the play on the ride, dislodging the stick and ball from Penn State defender Gerald Firaldi Jr. Once again, the Terps’ ride and ability to cause turnovers on both ends of the field played a key part in the 13-7 victory. 

Maryland (2-0 B1G) caused 14 of Penn State’s (0-2 B1G) 23 turnovers playing with a relentless persistence on both ends of the field. However, Maryland struggled with turnovers as well finishing with 15 as it also lost 17 of 24 faceoffs.

Penn State’s prolific offense was held largely in check as Mac O’Keefe, one of the best goal scorers in the nation, finished with just one goal on five shots. He was unable to get his hands free on most possessions as he was hounded on each attack, primarily by Nick Grill.

“Hats off to the defensive guys and obviously Logan played arguably his best game,” head coach John Tillman said. “I loved how coordinated the guys were. I thought coach [Jesse Bernhardt] did a great job preparing for Penn State. I thought the guys played well together.”

Logan McNaney was excellent, finishing with a career-high 16 saves, leaving the Nittany Lions with minimal space to shoot. McNaney’s positioning was spot-on all night, as he squared up to shooters and diminished their angles to shoot.

“I felt like he was pretty locked in all week,” Tillman said of McNaney. “He’s awesome to work with, he takes everything in stride. I know he was pretty excited about this week just because he knows how good Penn State is. He knew we really need him to play him well.”

Bernhardt paced the Terps offensively with seven points (3G, 4A), displaying tremendous field vision and footwork all-night long. Daniel Maltz tacked on five points (4G, 1A), while Wisnauskas also added five points (3G, 2A) of his own.

The opening 30 minutes revealed some early season rust as both teams combined for 20 turnovers, with some poor passes and missed ground balls in the open field. Penn State came out firing with the first seven shots of the contest, and midfielder Dan Reaume opened the scoring with a high shot top-shelf.

However, Maryland responded with a trio of goals, one by Kyle Long and two by Wisnauskas. The third goal of that run was the most impressive as it was a prime example of Maryland converting defense into offense. 

After a McNaney save on TJ Malone, defender Brett Makar cleared the ball into the offensive zone, baiting the defense like he was going to shoot. He drew the slide, fed Bernhardt who dished to Maltz. Then Wisnauskas completed the tic-tac-toe passing for his second goal.

Penn State responded with three consecutive goals to take the lead 4-3, and O’Keefe capped off the run by making the Terps pay for a failed clear. Goals by Fairman and Bernhardt gave the Terps a narrow 5-4 lead entering the break.

In the third quarter, Maryland seized all momentum headlined by Bernhardt, Maltz and Long. Maltz and Long connected on the first two goals of the third quarter, with Long showing precision passing and Maltz executing exquisitely timed cuts. Both goals put Maryland up by three once again.

“The third quarter was huge for us, just got into a little bit of rhythm,” Tillman said. “Started spinning the ball a little bit more, which was great.”

Then, it was Bernhardt’s time to take over with consecutive goals. The first came on tremendous individual effort taking advantage of the space inside on the defender and then tip-toeing around the crease for an in-tight finish. The second came on the aforementioned feed from Wisnauskas, placing him in rarified air.

“I thought he did a little bit of everything today,” Tillman said of Bernhardt. “He’s got a very complete game. He can play with the ball, he can play without the ball.”

Penn State briefly found momentum with back-to-back goals from Malone and Jack Kelly, which cut the deficit to 9-6 with 14:07 remaining. After nearly seven minutes of scoreless action, featuring three saves by McNaney, the Terps offense found its rhythm once again. 

Then, Maryland responded with four goals in a 1:48 span, taking the life out of the Nittany Lions’ comeback hopes. Maltz scored a pair of goals, continuing to find holes in Penn State’s defense, while Wisnauskas and Anthony DeMaio each found the back of the net as well.

Maryland is now set to return to College Park as it hosts in-state rival Johns Hopkins next Saturday at Maryland Stadium.