Owen Murphy’s 2OT winner helps Terps Escape Spiders in Richmond

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

With the play clock nearing 15 seconds, Maryland’s Jack Brennan made his move, accelerating down near the left corner of the field. In a flash, Brennan fired a cross-field pass past two lunging defenders – right on target for Jack Koras, who caught the ball and connected for an early score.

The early goal broke a near-five minute scoreless period to open for the Terps – igniting momentum en route to an exciting offensive battle and eventual 12-11 double-overtime victory for No. 6 Maryland over No. 20 Richmond in its first game of the season.

The Terps would go on streaky scoring runs throughout, but it was the Spiders who got on the board first – courtesy of a cross-field assist from Luke Grayum, and a well-placed power shot to follow by Henry Alpaugh. Then, just minutes after Koras’ equalizer, the Spiders went on attack yet again, extending their lead on a straight shot by Jeff Nugent, set up off of a ground ball pickup from Grayum.

The remainder of the first quarter was filled with scoring, scoring, and more scoring. An offensive blitz ensued to end the period, with a combined five goals – scores from Daniel Maltz (UMD), Daniel Kelly (UMD), Lance Madonna (RIC), Charlie Packard (RIC), and Dalton Young (RIC) – in a four-minute span, contributing to eight total goals between both teams in the opening 15 minutes alone.

Entering the second quarter down 5-3, Terps’ head coach John Tillman searched for an answer. He didn’t have to wait long, as a trio of timely Maryland goals put the road team in front for the first time.

Just 11 seconds into the quarter, reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Braden Erksa cashed in on a straightaway shot, cutting the Spiders’ lead to just one. 

Then, a minute later, the Terps showed off expert ball movement, looking like the 2014 Spurs with a five-pass possession stretching across the field – culminating in a goal from Eric Spanos that whizzed into the back of the net.

Finally, less than a minute later, a long fast-break transition play followed, featuring numerous passes up field and an eventual score at the net by Ajax Zappitello.

Suddenly, the momentum switched, as Maryland found itself with a one-score lead that would hold into the break and throughout the remainder of the second half.

Erksa led the Terps into the third quarter, picking up a hat trick with a line drive shot to notch his third goal of the game – taking advantage of a man-up situation and capitalizing a dominant 6-1 Maryland scoring run.

In the minutes following Erksa’s third-quarter goal, Terps’ goalkeeper Logan McNaney excelled, picking up three huge stops to bring his total to an impressive 10 saves on the day. 

But near the end of the third quarter, Spiders’ midfielder Lance Madonna ran towards the left side of the net, forcing McNaney to briefly step out of the cage for a split second. Madonna took advantage, executing a tricky right-handed shot that grazed the outstretched stick of McNaney before falling into the back of the net – narrowing the Terps’ lead to just one.

Then, just three minutes later, disaster struck once more, as Richmond’s Gavin Creo sliced in a score off of a ground ball pickup – evening the score at 8 apiece.

But Maryland’s veteran players stepped up big in the remaining third-quarter minutes. Two much-needed goals – from graduate student Ryan Siracusa and redshirt junior Eric Malever, respectively – extended the Terps’ lead back up to two, providing the team with some breathing room heading into the final stretch

But the back-and-forth play continued, as once more, Richmond kept pace, staying right on Maryland’s heels. A late Dalton Young goal followed, bringing the Spiders to within one. Then, to begin the fourth quarter, Aidan O’Neil knocked in another score for Richmond, tying things up yet again.

The Terps and the Spiders proceeded to power a variety of shots towards the goal, but to no avail – as both teams headed to overtime gridlocked at 11 apiece. More of the same followed all throughout the first sudden-death overtime period, and so another four-minute overtime period followed.

It was déjà vu all over again to end the game, as the Terps regained the lead – this time for good in double-overtime, as Owen Murphy sniped a clutch power shot that served as the game-winner, clinching a dramatic Terps’ victory.

Maryland has now won 31 consecutive season openers (95-3-1 in opening matches, dating back to 1924), a showing of continued program dominance. The victory gives the Terps an early and undefeated 1-0 record to begin the 2024 season.

But with 11 regular season games now remaining, there’s still lots of lacrosse to be played. The next of those games comes next Saturday at noon, as Maryland returns to College Park to play its home opener against a solid 1-0 Loyola (MD) team.