Maryland’s defense stepped up massively, while freshman goalie Brian Ruppel proved he could be the next starting goalie for the Terps in an 11-5 win over the Tigers.
After losing their first regular season game in nearly three years and seeing All-American goalie Logan McNaney go down for the season due to injury, the Terps heaved a sigh of relief after getting back into the win column last Saturday against then No. 16 Syracuse.
10 players found the scoresheet for Maryland against the Orange; an offense that finally found some rhythm after moving Owen Murphy to the midfield and starting freshman Braden Erska at attack.
But the Terps couldn’t celebrate for long.
Maryland came in looking for their first road win of the season against the No. 3 ranked Princeton Tigers. The two sides last faced off in the 2022 NCAA Semifinal, where the Terps were victorious en route to the program’s fourth national championship.
Head Coach John Tillman decided to go with Ruppel in between the pipes after a mediocre performance from Binghamton transfer Teddy Dolan against Syracuse. Tillman was hoping to find a consistent piece in net and might have found his rock.
“We have total confidence in both those guys,” said Tillman. “I think we had to make a decision last week, he [Dolan] had the experience. I thought he did enough for us to win last week but we also feel really good about Brian. I think Brian proved that he was ready for the moment.”
Ruppel allowed only five goals and made 14 saves in his collegiate debut. The Catonsville, MD native stepped up big against a Princeton offense that returned 5/6 of their starters from last season’s final four run.
“Shout out to Brian who started in his first game. I thought he played incredibly well for a young guy,” said Tillman. “Good decisions in the clearing game, and obviously timely saves when we needed them; that was huge.”
Princeton went 4/8 on clears in the first half – three of those turnovers coming in the first quarter – giving Maryland possession for much of the first 15 minutes. Luke Weirman went 4/6 from the spot for the Terrapins in the first half as well, but the Tigers were only four shots short of the Terps through the first half.
“I thought we had our possessions where, sure we’d like to score really fast, but when we didn’t, we were trying to at least generate a good long possession where we could work the ball around and maybe soften them up a bit,” said Tillman.
After an early man-up goal from Daniel Kelly in the first frame, it took 12 minutes for another player to find the net, when Owen Murphy added to Maryland’s lead with 0:50 seconds to go in the quarter.
The second quarter was more of the same, with Coulter Mackesy and Daniel Maltz scoring one apiece through the first seven minutes to make it 3-1, but both sides failed to capitalize on any of their chances and went into half with the same score.
Maryland started the third quarter off strong after Weirman won the draw and found midfielder Kyle Long streaking to the net. Long drew in a defender and dumped it off to Kelly for his second of the day. Minutes later, Maltz added another to open it up for the Terps.
Sam English got one back for Princeton, but Maltz tallied two more in the following four minutes to keep Maryland up. Jack Koras added two quick ones shortly after to give the Terps some more breathing room.
Maryland took control in the third quarter and went into the final frame up seven after Ryan Siracusa scored his second of the season with 4.5 seconds to go in the quarter.
Princeton got off to a hot start in the fourth, starting with Weston Carpenter’s first of the day. Just 46 seconds later, Mackesy got his third to get within five at the 12:04 mark.
Maryland’s defense stood strong, and the only other goal came from Koras with 2:15 left in the game to finish Princeton off. The junior has now posted six goals in the last two games.
The Terps get their first road win of the season in dominant fashion after beating Princeton, 11-5.
Kelly, Maryland’s leading scorer this season, finished with two goals, while Maltz put up four in possibly his best game this season.
“Our recipe for success is Luke [Weirman] winning face-offs, playing good, solid defense. Offensively, trying to maximize what we have,” said Tillman. “I don’t know if we have a Logan Wisnauskas or a Jared Bernhardt, but I think the identity is for everyone to play well together.”
The Terps went 3/6 on the man-up after converting only 30 percent last week, and Weirman continued to impress, going 13/20 from the face-off spot.
“I thought the guys had a good sense of what we wanted to try to do on man-up,” said Tillman. “It wasn’t always pretty, but those goals were pretty timely.”
Maryland posted another great game on the defensive side of the ball as well. Brett Makar and co. held the Tigers to just 19 shots on target; a season-low for Princeton.
The Terps will stay at home next weekend to face Notre Dame.