For the first time in both of these programs’ illustrious histories, Maryland and Johns Hopkins will square off with a conference championship on the line.
College lacrosse’s oldest rivalry will have another first this weekend. This Saturday will be the first time Maryland and Hopkins will compete for the Big Ten Tournament title. Despite playing 115 times already, the two teams had never played to three overtimes until last Saturday when junior midfielder Will Snider scored the winner to give the Terps an 8-7 win.
The Blue Jays (10-4, 3-2) were independent of any conference before joining the Big Ten in 2015, and this will be their second Big Ten final appearance after they left it late to grab the winner in a low scoring affair against Ohio State, ultimately squeaked out a 6-5 win. Hopkins won the Big Ten Tournament against the Buckeyes in 2015.
While this will be the second Big Ten final for Hopkins, having won the postseason tournament in 2015 against Ohio State, Maryland on the other hand will be looking for its third consecutive Big Ten championship.
The No. 2 Terps (12-2, 4-1) are coming off a hard-earned 12-9 semifinal triumph over Rutgers on Thursday.
For Maryland, redshirt freshman attackman Logan Wisnauskas has been vital to the offensive success. Wisnauskas matched his career high with five points (two goals, three assists) one game after scoring a hat trick to go with the game-winning assist.
Play at the center X has been huge as well, as junior faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen has ramped up his play along with freshman Justin Shockey. Henningsen won 11-of-18 faceoffs and 7-of-11 against Hopkins’ Hunter Moreland last weekend.
One game after Hopkins shut down both senior midfielder Connor Kelly and sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt, the pair combined for five goals against the Scarlet Knights. The Hopkins defense will look for similar success against the dynamic duo come Saturday.
Senior goalie Brock Turnbaugh matched his career high with 16 saves, including 11 second half saves, while allowing just one goal in that second half. While Turnbaugh was a major factor in the Blue Jays victory, a hat trick from junior attackman Kyle Marr also propelled Hopkins to the title game.
The bracket seedings will be decided one day after the Big Ten final, on Selection Sunday, and both teams are seemingly looking like locks to host playoff games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
A marquee win over the conference’s top seed could possibly push Hopkins up towards a few spots in the bracket, while a third straight Big Ten Tournament win for the Terps would poisethem for the No. 1 seed for postseason action.
While the regular season game set some pretty high standards, the higher stakes promises to make this yet another instant classic. “The Rivalry” starts back up at 7 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Michigan and can be watched live on the Big Ten Network.
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