The Michigan Wolverines spoiled Maryland’s quest for three-straight Big Ten titles after a dominant 14-5 win at Homewood Field in Baltimore, MD on Saturday.
The Terps came into the 2023 season with lots of new faces after losing their top six-point scorers from last year. Struck with injuries from the start, head coach John Tillman and the Maryland Terrapins had overcome every obstacle they faced on their way to a sixth title game in eight years.
“Thankful for the support we get at Maryland. Obviously credit to guys like Brett [Makar] and some of the great players we’ve had for getting us there,” said Tillman. “They’re the guys that really make it happen.”
The Wolverines topped the Terps 16-11 on April 1st for their first-ever program win over the perennial powerhouse. After No. 3-seeded Maryland and No. 4-seeded Michigan both won their semifinal matchups as underdogs on Thursday, the stage was set for a star-studded championship game.
Michigan’s three-headed monster in Michael Boehm, Josh Zawada, and Ryan Cohen scored a combined 14 points in the first matchup between the two teams; the first half was no different. After 30 minutes of action, the trio put five goals and five assists on the board to propel the Wolverines to a 10-4 lead at half.
“Credit to those three,” said two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Brett Makar. “I told the guys before, I think that’s one of the most talented groups we’d see all year.”
The Terps held their own through the first frame, including two goals from Eric Spanos en route to a first half hat trick, but a 4-0 run by the Wolverines to end the second quarter had every Michigan fan in attendance on their feet.
“The support was unbelievable,” said Boehm. “Everybody in the community and the whole program dating back to the club days is so bought in with this program and that support was definitely felt.”
Looking to weather the storm, Braden Erksa opened up the scoring for the Terps to start the third quarter after a sluggish first-half performance. Following the goal, Maryland failed to score for the remainder of the game (28:33). It’s Tillman’s lowest goal total since 2017 when his group lost to Notre Dame, 5-4.
“What’s hard with this group is that we’re just young. In years past, we could go to Logan [Wisnauskas], before that it was Jared [Bernhardt], before that it was Connor Kelly and before that it was Matt Rambo,” said Tillman. “We just don’t really have that alpha male down there.”
The Terrapins will look to shake this off with an NCAA tournament birth on the horizon. After posting a 10-5 record this season, including nine wins against ranked opponents, the defending national champions are expecting one last home game in the first round of the tournament.
“When we’ve been a good team, we’ve been as good as just about anybody. When we’ve been the bad team we’ve been pretty darn bad. Again, that’s on me,” said Tillman. “We will be better because I believe in our guys and I believe in our coaches… I apologize to Terp nation, we obviously didn’t put a great product out there today.”