The No. 2 Maryland Terrapins will be looking for their third straight Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday.
The top-seeded Terps (12-2, 5-1) overcame the No. 11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-6, 2-4) Thursday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Redshirt freshman attackman Logan Wisnauskas led all scorers with five points and hat tricks from freshman midfielder Bubba Fairman and sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt led the offense while senior goalie Dan Morris made 12 stops to propel Maryland to the title game.
In a game that highlighted two of the conference’s best offensive stars, senior midfielder Connor Kelly and Rutgers senior attackman Jules Heningburg went at it from the very beginning. Both scored identical jump shot goals coming around the right side of the crease to open the scoring for both squads within the first four minutes.
Redshirt junior midfielder Casey Rose took the lead with a lefty crank from outside before Wisnauskas answered with a right-handed score off the question mark dodge.
The Scarlet Knights got some production from their second-line midfield group as junior midfielder Brian Eletti scored down the left alley. Kelly responded with a carbon copy of his first goal, this time to tie the game at two with 37 seconds remaining the first quarter.
Fairman picked things up in the second quarter with an explosive dodge past the left alley. Freshman midfielder Ryan Gallagher picked up his second assist on the day to find redshirt senior midfielder Christian Mazzone for the game’s fourth equalizer. Mazzone fired home a low shot on the extra man opportunity after junior midfielder Thomas O’Connell’s slashing penalty.
The back-and-forth continued between the conference rivals as redshirt junior Connor Vercruysse found himself open thanks to good off-ball movement and Heningburg found him with a well-timed assist.
The Terps then ended the half on a 3-0 run to take the first multiple-goal lead for either team, stretching out to a 7-5 scoreline from three assisted goals. First, Wisnauskas faked out the Rutgers man down defense before finding junior attackman Louis Dubick for the quick stick goal on the crease. Maryland converted that extra man opportunity after failing to score the first chance, as both Scarlet Knight penalties came from faceoff violations.
Fairman then scored the goal of the day with a brilliant backhand goal after senior midfielder Tim Rotanz had his shot saved and Kelly found the Utah native in front.
A minute later, senior long stick midfielder Matt Neufeldt led the fast break from the caused turnover, dished to Wisnauskas who found Bernhardt for the goal. Both Bernhardt and Kelly had erased their memories of their respective scoreless outings against Johns Hopkins last Saturday with first half goals.
Senior midfielder Austin Divitcos caused a turnover at one end before scoring himself on the offensive end from Heningburg’s second assist. After nine turnovers in the first half, both teams combined for eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter .
Bernhardt took matters into his own hands with a speed dodge from the endline after that slew of turnovers. The Florida native completed the hat trick and his own personal 3-0 run less than a minute later.
Junior defenseman Curtis Corley continued to amp up the physicality of the game with a big hit with a loose groundball late in the third and was called for an illegal bodycheck. The hit came moments after junior LSM Nick Brozowski was the recipient of a brutally tough hit that went uncalled.
Maryland’s ninth-ranked man down unit killed the penalty that carried over into the fourth quarter. Morris made 7 second half saves.
Wisnauskas’ second goal of the day was sandwiched in between two Vercruysse shots from outside. Wisnauskas was wide open on the crease when Rotanz drew the double. Wisnauskas then returned the favor with just over four minutes remaining with an assist to Rotanz on the EMO to stretch the lead to 12-9.
That goal would be the last for either team, as faceoff specialists Justin Shockey and Austin Henningsen won the faceoff battle for the first time in over a month. Shockey and Henningsen combined to go 14-of-24 from the X.
Opening faceoff between Maryland and the winner of the other Big Ten semifinal, between Johns Hopkins and Ohio State, is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m.
Latest posts by Kevin Brown (see all)
- Maryland loses in close battle with Central Michigan - December 9, 2018
- Package deal: Di Rosa twins use brotherly bond to elevate game - November 7, 2018
- Riley Donnelly transitioning to college game, new position with No. 3 Terps - September 26, 2018