The No. 2 Maryland Terrapins will look to honor former legendary coach Dick Edell’s memory with a Big Ten Tournament semifinal win against Rutgers on Thursday.
Dick Edell, fondly known as “Big Man,” died early Wednesday from pneumonia. Edell coached the Maryland men’s lacrosse program for 18 years and finished as the second-winningest coach in program history.
The Terps (11-2, 4-1) will have to rally behind head coach John Tillman to turn their attention to the No. 11 Scarlet Knights. Tillman was named the Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year on Tuesday, having picked up his 100th win at the helm earlier this season.
Senior midfielder Connor Kelly also received recognition for his outstanding statistical season with 66 points through 13 games, becoming the second straight Terrapin to pick up Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors. Matt Rambo garnered the award last season.
Kelly and company come into the game off one of the most exhilarating lacrosse games of the season in an 8-7 win in triple overtime against Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field. Offensive weapons Will Snider, Logan Wisnauskas and Tim Rotanz all stepped up when it mattered most while Kelly and sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt were held scoreless on 0-24 shooting.
That offensive production picked up the slack from the team’s usual preferred scorers, showing a depth for the offensive midfielders fans hadn’t seen. With Snider hitting two clutch shots to seal Maryland’s Big Ten regular season title triumph, Tillman stressed his development from the scout team.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Will. Two years of development from the scout team and he continues to work,” Tillman said after the Hopkins game. “And he helped us win a lot of games that he never played in his first two years.”
Similar to Snider, junior midfielder Christian Zawadzki worked his way onto the field through quick spurts on the second-line midfield alongside Adam DiMillo and Anthony DeMaio. Tillman said reserve midfielders like Jack Wilson, Kyle Brickerd and Ethan Mintzer are among players that have impressed in practice that could earn playing time despite injuries earlier in the season.
“We have some guys giving some good efforts, I’m just not sure they’re there yet,” Tillman said. “Christian [Zawadzki] is a guy, while it was a tough moment to put him in, we kind of felt like we owed him the opportunity.”
Rutgers (9-5, 2-3) currently reside on the bubble for postseason play and will be trying to avoid getting overlooked with a tournament bid from the committee for a second straight season. The winner of the Big Ten Tournament earns an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament.
From its three conference losses, Rutgers has lost by a combined four goals. The Scarlet Knights will be looking to avenge those close losses as the fourth seed in the tournament.
The Scarlet Knights are led by a strong senior class that have built up the foundation of the program since joining the Big Ten. Three of the senior captains – Jules Heningburg, Christian Mazzone and Michael Rexrode – were selected in the top three rounds of the 2018 Major League Lacrosse Draft. Five Maryland seniors were selected overall.
The last time these two teams met, the Terps squealed out with a 11-10 win in College Park through a three-goal run in the final minutes having trailed 9-8 with less than five minutes to go. Kelly scored a balanced eight points (four goals, four assists) to lead Maryland, countered by Heningburg’s four points (two goals, two assists).
Still, Kelly has been visibly uncomfortable over the past two games with an apparent leg injury. While Tillman said he wouldn’t reveal whether or not resting Kelly would be of the team’s best interest heading into the postseason, he didn’t rule it out.
“If there was a situation where we had to not play him, and that would help us and help him be more successful, then we would have to consider that,” said Tillman. “I don’t think we’re at a point right now where anyone feels like that’s a thing we need to do.”
Junior faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen’s roller coaster of a season continued last week in “The Rivalry”. Henningsen went 7-of-11 from the faceoff X overall, and won 4-of-5 in the fourth quarter. He won 4-of-6 fourth quarter faceoffs in the regular season meeting with the Scarlet Knights.
Opening faceoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday in Ann Arbor, Michigan and can be watched live on the Big Ten Network.
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