Featured photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The 115th meeting between Maryland and Johns Hopkins is a top-ten matchup in the Big Ten regular season finale to decide the conference’s regular season champion.
This isn’t just any game. This is the rivalry. This game is the greatest rivalry in college lacrosse in the eyes of many and it means so much more to the players.
“It’s always special,” senior defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen said. “It’s a tradition that’s been going on for a long time and it’s really important to the team and to all who have played here before.”
Maryland is 42-64-1 all-time against Johns Hopkins, but they have won that last two meetings.
While this game means a lot to the team and its alumnus, Davis-Allen said nothing changes in the team’s preparation for Saturday’s game.
“We always try to take it week by week and it doesn’t change that much,” Davis-Allen said. “It is important for us to try and clean up what we messed up last game and play a full 60 minutes of lacrosse.”
No. 5 Maryland is coming off a loss against No. 4 Ohio State in overtime last week in Columbus but that doesn’t matter to the team. They are only trying to focus on things they can control. Whether or not Ohio State wins this week against Rutgers doesn’t matter to the Terps.
“It’s important to focus on the things we can control right now,” head coach John Tillman said. “We just have to bring a lot of positive energy into practice this week.”
With a win against No. 8 Johns Hopkins and an Ohio State loss at No. 13 against Rutgers Saturday, Maryland would win the Big Ten regular season title and be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. If both teams win, Ohio State would be the No. 1 seed and the Terps would fall to No. 2.
If Maryland loses and both Ohio State and Penn State win, the Terps would fall to the No. 3 seed.
All the talk about seeding does not bother Tillman and the Terps; they just want to play the best they can.
“We’re not concerned about seeding, everyone else is really good and the seeding is just the seeding,” Tillman said. “We’re most concerned about playing well.”
Attackman Colin Heacock’s status for Saturday is still uncertain but even if he does not play, Tillman does not expect much to change with attackman Louis Dubick stepping in for Heacock.
Tillman said Heacock is progressing well but it felt like the right thing for him to not play last week.
“Everyone needs to step up, but not try to do too much,” Tillman said. “Everyone has to play cleaner and better but he [Dubick] is a smart player and I think he will do fine.”
Johns Hopkins has the twelfth-ranked scoring offense in the country, recording 12.5 goals per game, largely due to their very strong attack unit.
Kyle Marr and Shack Stanwick lead the way for the Blue Jays and both have scored over 20 goals this season for the Hopkins attack. Marr also has 17 assists and Stanwick has 18 on the season, allowing some of their teammates get involved.
Johns Hopkins’ midfield unit is as strong as their attack. They are led by Tewaaraton Award nominee Joel Tinney who has scored 17 goals this season along with scooping a team-high 30 ground balls. Tinney can play both sides of the field and he is definitely Hopkins’ catalyst in the midfield.
The Blue Jays’ defense is allowing 10.5 goals per game this season and Maryland is 9-2 when scoring at least 10. Don’t let that fool you though because their defense won’t roll over at the sight of Maryland’s top-ten offense.
Senior defenseman Nick Fields is also a Tewaaraton Award nominee and is the anchor of the Johns Hopkins defense. Fields leads the team in caused turnovers with 13 and will have the task of shutting down the Big Ten’s leader in points per game, Matt Rambo, who averages 4.7.
Rambo and Heacock are also among the top 25 nominees for the Tewaaraton Award list.
Tomorrow’s primetime clash is set to begin at 8 p.m. at Maryland Stadium.
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