When senior midfielder Connor Kelly found an open Tim Rotanz at the top left wing, his shot rifled past Albany goalkeeper JD Colarusso with just seven seconds left in the third quarter.
That goal halted any and all momentum Albany was hoping to push into the final quarter. However, Maryland did not find the back of the net again.
The No. 2-ranked Terps (5-1) hadn’t felt the sting of a loss in its last 12 games dating back to an overtime loss to Ohio State on April 22, 2017. That changed when the No. 1 Albany Great Danes (5-0) overcame a four-goal fourth quarter deficit to win 11-10.
“There’s so many things you can learn,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “Obviously managing the fourth quarter a little bit better … After six games to be 5-1, there’s a lot of new parts and a lot to build on and certainly a lot to be proud of.”
Albany faceoff specialist TD Ierlan lost only seven faceoffs through four games, but freshman Justin Shockey gave him the toughest test of the year so far.
Ierlan lost seven faceoffs in the first half alone as Maryland built itself a comfortable 6-3 lead. Yet, at the start of the fourth quarter Ierlan figured out Shockey’s playing style and rattled off the final six faceoff wins to spur a five-goal run for the Great Danes to close out the game.
“My wings did a great job of getting me space and contesting those groundballs when they’re 50-50s,” Ierlan said regarding what helped him win every fourth quarter faceoff. “Earlier in the game we just weren’t coming up with those groundballs that were 50-50s and that was on me.”
Kelly scored five points on the day, a number that Albany’s defense had an objective to hold him to, Albany head coach Scott Marr said. Jared Bernhardt, Bubba Fairman and Logan Wisnauskas all scored two goals.
“I think it makes it a little bit harder knowing we were up 8-3 and we didn’t close it out,” Tillman said. “But, hopefully we’re in that situation again and we can learn from that, reflect on it and grow from it.”
Other than Albany’s faceoff success in the fourth quarter, Marr said the key to the fourth quarter run was an increase in the offensive pace.
“Maryland is a great team, obviously defending national champions and John does a great job with his team,” Marr said. “But they play a lot slower than we do and sometimes you get lulled into that mode.
Marr, who was an assistant coach at Maryland from 1995-1999, said the victory over his former team meant a lot more than just another win. His players presented him with the game ball after the game, something that hasn’t happened since he earned his 150th win.
“In the fourth quarter I think we had some breakdowns that I didn’t do a good enough of a job communicating,” Morris said. “I missed some saves, but we didn’t execute to the level that we are used to.”
The goal was almost a carbon copy of two of his previous goals, backing down junior defenseman Curtis Corley before exploding down the left alley before converting a bounce shot past Morris.
“I actually think Curtis [Corley] did a really nice job on him,” Tillman saind. “With the way they play, he was going to get dodged a lot. If you help too much, he’s going to open up and make some plays. You saw him do that against UMass, I think he had 12 points.”
Fields said it was coach Marr that allowed the team to stay loose despite being down four goals in the fourth quarter.
“It’s definitely physically exhausting, he’s a great defender and a very big kid,” Fields said. “My teammates helped a lot there and took a lot of pressure off me.”
Fields’ teammates proved to be vital to the outcome. While Bryce Young held the No. 1 recruit Tehoka Nanticoke scoreless, freshman attackman Jakob Patterson picked up the slack with four goals of his own. Senior midfielder Kyle McClancy also took advantage of the short stick defensive matchups whenever he could, notching a hat trick of his own.
“That’s the beauty of their offense and a team like Albany, that can beat you so many different ways,” Tillman said.
Justin Shockey got the momentum going for the Terps, winning the first two faceoffs cleanly. Bernhardt capitalized from the first possession with a quick dodge to get topside to score the first goal of the game. Shockey went 7-of-11 from the faceoff X in the first half.
Fields quickly answered with an assist to freshman attackman Jakob Patterson. Kelly answered with two assists of his own, already surpassing his career assists (16) total through six games (19).
Fields then scored his first goal of the game to open the scoring in the second quarter. A 3-0 run by the Terps canceled those efforts with goals from Adam DiMillo, Kelly and Bernhardt. Kyle McClancy’s inside roll got him in position to cut the lead to 6-3 before the end of the first half.
Rotanz lengthened his team-high streak for games with a point to 20 games with an assist on the man-up to Wisnauskas before Fields and Fairman each scored their second goals of the game.That Fields goal started a 3-0 run by Albany in the third quarter, with Patterson and McClancy scoring the other two to make the score 8-6.
With all the momentum on Albany’s side, Shockey won the faceoff to himself and fed Kelly on the fast break to immediately anwer. Kelly dished his third assist of the game and fifth point overall, finding Rotanz with seven seconds left in the third quarter.
That goal put the Terps in prime position to see out the rest of the game with a 10-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. However, due to Ierlan’s standout faceoff play, Maryland’s offense was faced with limited possessions and could not answer Albany’s 5-0 scoring run.
“I take full responsibility for today’s loss on the offensive end,” Kelly said. “I have to be more vocal, I don’t think we were organized for most of the game.”
With 7,475 fans in attendance, the college lacrosse world was put on notice that this may finally be the year that Albany can get over the quarterfinal hump.
“This has been the best team in the for the last five years in college lacrosse,” Marr said. “They’ve been to four national championship games, they won one. If we can compete and play with them like that, then I feel like we can go out there and compete with anybody.”
While the win serves as a huge confidence boost for Albany, the Terps will have to regroup. Maryland will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season at Villanova next Saturday at 1 p.m.
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