No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse opens the Big Ten Tournament with a rivalry rematch

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

All season long, even the best teams didn’t stand much of a chance against the top-ranked Terps. No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse ended the regular season with an undefeated record for the second straight time. 

However, things look to get more intense as the squad enters tournament play.

It begins with a rematch against the Terps’ bitter rival, Johns Hopkins – the same team they just defeated, 22-7.

With the Terps riding high off the win — which was the largest margin of victory in rivalry history — head coach John Tillman doesn’t see lightning striking twice.

“[I] just don’t see that same result kind of being what it was,” Tillman said. “I think anybody that is expecting this to not be a battle … It’s going to be a battle.”

Tillman later brought up the story of the 2007 New England Patriots, who ended their regular season with the NFL’s first ever 16-0 record with their victory against the New York Giants. However, when the two met once again in the Super Bowl, the Giants were able to find answers and dethrone the perfect Patriots. 

Tillman saw similarities between the undefeated Patriots and his own team, and he expressed concern.

“Teams have a blueprint once they play you,” Tillman said. “They can make those adjustments. Things can get hard. We just have to make sure that we’re focused and ready.”

Last year, the Terps won their third Big Ten Tournament title against Johns Hopkins in the championship game. However, their dreams of a perfect 2021 season were ruined with a loss to Virginia in the NCAA Title Game. 

So, although Maryland enjoyed much success during the regular season, the theme around the locker room — much like last season — is that the job is not finished.

“I think we have 50 guys that aren’t satisfied,” midfielder Anthony DeMaio said. “A lot of guys that were on the team last year.”

This year, the Terps have the luxury of hosting the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2015.

“[It is] definitely going to be a great atmosphere,” DeMaio said. “I think ever since I’ve been here, we’ve been on the road for every Big Ten Tournament … I think it’s going to be a little bit different of an experience. You’re not in the hotel the whole time. You’re in College Park.”

Maryland enters the tournament as conference regular season champions who took home four of the five yearly conference awards. Logan Wisnauskas won Offensive Player of the Year, Brett Makar won Defensive Player of the Year, Luke Wierman won Specialist of the Year, and John Tillman unanimously won Coach of the Year.

The sky’s the limit for the talented Terps.

“It’s something we talk about with our team,” Tillman said. “You put that hard work in — we want you to dream big. We want you to have high goals … Don’t limit yourself.”