With 15 minutes remaining, the Maryland men’s lacrosse team was on its way to eclipsing No. 1 Albany for the top spot in the national rankings, but then Connor Fields and TD Irelan happened.
Albany’s (5-0) only lead in its 11-10 win against Maryland (5-1) came with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter through Fields’ fourth goal of the game. Fields’ game-winner capped a 5-0 Great Danes run to lead them past the Terps.
Stretching out to what looked like to be an insurmountable third quarter 8-3 lead, Albany quickly came back within two to make it 8-6. Then, Justin Shockey sparked a break off the face off and dished it to Connor Kelly at the point for a time and room that stopped all momentum. Tim Rotanz’ goal with seven seconds left to make it 10-6 seemed like the dagger.
With their backs against the wall, the Terps did not find the answers against the talented Great Danes. Let’s take a closer look at the tape to find some reasons for Maryland’s unusual fourth quarter collapse.
Lack of help defense
After the game, both coaches mentioned Maryland’s lack of sliding as a reason for Albany’s late offensive surge. Tillman said it was pick your poison between helping too much to Fields and leaving shooters open and Fields wearing down junior defenseman Curtis Corley.
“That’s the beauty of their offense and a team like Albany, that can beat you so many different ways,” Tillman said.
The latter was exactly what happened, with three of Fields’ four goals on the day coming from long, drawn-out dodges. While Corley was able to wear him down during several possessions, having no help for over thirty seconds of one-on-one defense isn’t exactly a recipe for success. That’s exactly what happened during the final goal, as Fields gets the ball with 1:45 left in the game.
Watch as Albany clears the left alley so Fields can be by himself.
However, that final goal was not the only defensive play in question. When Maryland did help defensively, there was a lack of commitment to the slide. That left defenders in “no man’s land” and Albany capitalized.
These goals came mostly from the short stick defensive midfield matchups, which has become a growing concern since the graduations of Isaiah Davis-Allen and Nick Manis. Great Dane senior midfielder Kyle McClancy notched a hat trick, all from inverts (dodges against shorties behind the goal), and two against usual offensive midfielder Rotanz. Help was either too late or nonexistent.
Sophomore attackman Jakob Patterson scored four goals, also mostly matched up against a short stick defensive midfielder. Take a look at senior captain Adam DiMillo’s effort to stop Patterson en route to tying the game at 10 goals apiece.
It didn’t help that senior goalie Dan Morris barely failed to keep out two Albany goals in that final quarter, a dribbler past the line for Patterson and shot that just bounced over the line for Fields.
Albany played make-it-take-it
It’s quite difficult to answer Albany’s offensive firepower without the ball. Sophomore faceoff specialist made sure of that winning all six faceoffs in the final quarter. Shockey held Irelan in check for most of the game, going 10-for-18 from the X headed into the fourth quarter. However, Shockey almost earned one faceoff win before falling to the ground, as Big Ten color commentator Mark Dixon called it an Oscar-worthy acting performance.
Still, the Terps got possession on the ride but were unable to do anything with it offensively.
Little offensive conviction
Historically, the Terps have been known to slow things down. The thirty second shot clock when called for stalling was practically invented to combat Maryland’s keep away offense of years past, especially known under former head coach Dave Cottle.
Things were no different during the final frame for Maryland. When given the choice of whether to try to extend the lead or hold the ball, in hindsight Maryland probably made the wrong decision. There were too many dodgers that, instead of going towards the goal, worried about turning the ball over to the dangerous Albany defense. They chose to keep the ball moving around the perimeter.
“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.”
Yet, when the Terps did get shots on goal, senior goalie JD Colarusso had an easy task at hand. Sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt had two of his shots easily saved and got the ball dislodged from his stick down the stretch, but too much of Maryland’s fourth quarter offense can be characterized by this long range Bubba Fairman shot attempt, in which Logan Wisnauskas was wide open on the crease. His shot didn’t stand a chance as the Terps ran out of ideas.
Colarusso’s save count compared to Morris, perhaps not coincidentally, matched the final score of the game 11-10.
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