Trailing by four at halftime and looking out of sync on both ends, the Terps came together in the second half to send it to overtime, and freshman Braden Erksa picked up his first great moment as a Terrapin, scoring on Maryland’s first possession of the fifth frame, topping Ohio State, 12-11.
The Terps came into last week’s game against then-unranked Michigan riding a three-game win streak, and many felt that the young group had finally found their footing. The Wolverines walked into College Park and stomped all over Maryland, winning 16-11 and playing better in almost every facet.
Following the loss, the Terps had to quickly turn their attention to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are 5-5 on the season, but ranked No. 19 in the country.
Maryland got off to a slow start, and with a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes from their defense, the Buckeyes capitalized.
After two goals within the first two minutes for Ohio State to jump out to an early lead, Dan Kelly responded with two of his own to tie things up. The two sides went the next nine minutes without a goal, until Ed Shean scored with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter to regain the lead; one of four first half goals for the sophomore.
Shean’s first of the day started a five goal run for the Buckeyes, who kept the Terps scoreless until the 4:40 mark of the half when Zach Whittier stopped the bleeding for Maryland.
After trading goals and cutting the lead to three following back-to-back tallies from Owen Murphy and Ryan Siracusa, Ohio State scored another in the final seconds of the quarter to take a 9-5 lead into the locker room.
After a poor first half that featured bad communication on defense and lack of chances on offense, Ajax Zappitello scored on the fastbreak for his second of the year, bringing life to Maryland’s bench and a new feel to the game with practically the whole second half remaining.
“I loved what we did at halftime, just catching our breath and the guys sticking together,” said Head Coach John Tillman. “A little better second half defensively, which was good. I just loved our fight.”
Eric Spanos – who now has goals in four straight games – scored the next to cut the lead to two with an inside roll on the crease, but Jack Meyers responded for the Buckeyes to get the gap back to three, 10-7.
Whittier responded with a big time goal for his second of the day – his first career multi-goal game – but for the third time in as many quarters, Shean scored a late goal for Ohio State to take the life out of Maryland’s sails.
Luke Wierman kept the Terps in it all game, finishing 19/26 from the faceoff spot after starting one of five.
One of those wins led to Kelly’s third of the day with 12:58 remaining in the game to close the lead to two. Brett Makar and co. tightened up in the defensive end down the stretch, only allowing two goals in the second half.
A stretch of seven scoreless minutes left the Terps needing goals in a hurry, and a right place-right time goal for Spanos on the crease brought Maryland within one with 5:50 left.
Another faceoff win for Wierman gave his offense possession, but a costly turnover from Erksa left Ohio State with a chance to seal it on the other end.
A big save from freshman goalie Brian Ruppel gave Erksa a chance to redeem himself, and he did just that, making a great individual play from behind the net before finding Kelly for his fourth of the day to tie it up.
An equipment violation against an Ohio State player following the goal awarded Maryland the ball and the first chance to win it late, but after failing to convert, Ohio State had a chance of their own. With time winding down, a big time check from LSM John Geppert led to a turnover to force overtime.
“All I did was ask the question,” said Tillman when asked about what he said to the referees prior to the violation. “I’m always going to have those conversations [with the referees], all coaches do.”
Wierman won the opening faceoff of overtime, and Erska did the rest, making a great move from behind and finishing a shot running away from the net to win it for Maryland.
The Terps improve to 7-3 overall, 2-1 in the Big Ten Conference, and will travel to New Jersey to take on Rutgers next Sunday night.