Fourth quarter comeback propels Maryland lacrosse over No. 4 Penn State

With six and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Maryland’s Ryan Siracusa accelerated past the midfield line, then slowed to organize the Terps’ set offense – searching for a gap in the Penn State defense.

Finally, he found one.

In a flash, Siracusa fired a pass inside to Daniel Kelly, who spun around before aiming a power shot that whizzed into the back of the net, clearing the top post by just inches.

Kelly’s goal served as the exclamation point to a wild Terps’ comeback blitz, as a six-goal fourth quarter led No. 12 Maryland to a thrilling 13-11 victory over No. 4 Penn State in an instant classic.

Penn State set a blistering-fast pace early – courtesy of a laser pass from TJ Malone and power shot to follow by Jake Morin, cashing into the net after just 40 seconds of play.

Maryland answered just minutes later. After forcing a Nittany Lions’ turnover off of a ground ball pickup, the Terps accelerated into transition. In a flash, Owen Murphy fired a pass across the field to Eric Malever. Triple teamed just outside the circle, Malever caught the ball on the back of his stick, then pivoted around to knock in a quick shot – providing the early equalizer.

But an offsides against Maryland then translated to a mismatch advantage, making way for another Nittany Lions’ goal – this time, a score from Mac Costin. The goal sparked a 5-1 Penn State scoring run – providing the home team with some much-needed momentum to close out the first quarter.

Penn State’s TJ Malone entered the day ranked second on the team in total goals scored (17), having scored a goal in every game played this season. The graduate student continued that trend in dominant fashion, collecting two quick goals before the first quarter buzzer sounded – then another score to open the second period, notching a hat trick after just 16 minutes of play to single-handedly put the Nittany Lions up five.

With the first half clock running down, Maryland came alive. Two of the squad’s primary starters – and goal scorers – in Jack Koras and Braden Erksa found the back of the net, narrowing the lead to four heading into the break.

The Terps didn’t stop there, as a 3-1 Maryland scoring run ensued to open the second half – continuing the streaky comeback.

Maryland blitzed the Nittany Lions on both sides of play – retreating back to swarm the ball carriers with pressuring defense and utilizing key passes in transition to get good looks offensively, effectively exploiting the Penn State defense. 

Another impressive goal by Koras, along with two more timely scores from Ryan Siracusa and Nick Redd, cut the deficit to just two near the middle of the third quarter.

Both teams were held scoreless for the next four minutes, until Costin finally broke the silence – notching his second goal of the game and extending the Nittany Lions’ lead once more.

Finding themselves in the driver’s seat down the stretch, the Nittany Lions’ defense fell back – and the Terps took full advantage.

In a thrilling 30-second sequence to open the fourth quarter, Koras proceeded to single-handedly bring the Terps back – stunning Penn State by finding the back of the net in consecutive tries to notch his third and fourth goals of the game, reducing the deficit to just one.

Then, with 11 minutes – and counting – on the game clock, Daniel Maltz took over. The veteran stepped up when it mattered most, utilizing his clutch gene to score two straight goals in a matter of eight seconds – giving Maryland the lead and sending a wave of silence over the Penn State crowd.

More offense followed – in the form of late goals from Erksa and Kelly – to capitalize a dominant Terps’ 6-1 fourth-quarter scoring run and effectively seal it.

With the victory, Maryland improves to 6-3 on the season (1-1 record in conference play) – extending its near-perfect all-time series record over Penn State to 41-1. 

The Terps now head back home to College Park, where they’ll look to win a second straight next Saturday in a matinee match against Ohio State (6-5) at noon.