Maryland’s senior class had never experienced a semifinal loss. That changed Saturday afternoon against Duke in Gillette Stadium.
The fourth-seeded Blue Devils utilized a fast start that the defending champions couldn’t recover from and three hat trick performances from freshmen Nakeie Montgomery and Joe Robertson and senior Justin Guterding.
The two Tewaaraton finalists, Duke’s Guterding and Maryland’s Connor Kelly, had contrasting performances. Guterding produced six points on a balanced three scores and three assists while Kelly struggled, shooting 1-10 on the day with three turnovers despite finishing with three assists.
“They’re very athletic, their poles and shorties, they’re a handful. I know Yale is going to have a tough time beating them,” Kelly said. “I’ll take a lot of the blame, I had some costly turnovers and costly shots, and that’s on me.”
Both redshirt senior goalies were spectacular, as Maryland’s Dan Morris made 14 stops compared to Danny Fowler’s 12.
Duke jumped out of the gate with a 6-0 outburst through the first 18 minutes of the contest.
The Blue Devils took advantage of short stick defensive midfield matchups early, scoring the game’s first two goals with unassisted dodges. Freshman midfielder Nakeie Montgomery scored the opener and shortly thereafter fellow middie Sean Lowrie ripped it past a passive Thomas O’Connell. Montgomery continued to terrorize the defense with speedy dodges, getting a hockey assist to graduate senior Peter Conley.
Guterding then found Kevin Quigley for another outside rip to stretch the lead to four. Morris finished the quarter with five saves, but the Terps committed three turnovers and lost three of five faceoffs in the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, Montgomery scored his second after a speed dodge saw no help defense. Less than a minute later, a Maryland turnover allowed for a Joe Robertson fast break goal to make it 6-0.
The Terps responded with a 5-2 run to end the first half, as sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt used the two-man game from behind to end a 18:24 scoring drought. Redshirt freshman attackman Logan Wisnauskas was then involved in the next three Maryland scores.
From there, the second-line midfield stepped up, as senior Adam DiMillo initiated, got it to Wisnauskas, who found redshirt freshman Adam DeMaio for the backside dunk. Montgomery answered to complete his first half hat trick with a outside lower-corner finish off great Duke ball movement. Kelly found the passing lane and got it to Wisnauskas, who faked out Blue Devil goalie Danny Fowler to make it 7-3.
Guterding then scored an unassisted goal, improving his all-time NCAA leading goalscoring record to 210 on the day, before redshirt senior midfielder Tim Rotanz found Wisnauskas as the teams traded goals.
“We were thinking about following the Teat plan,” Tillman said, regarding the gameplan to not shut off Guterding. “But with all of their motion offense we figured that would have been difficult.”
After Kelly’s time-and-room shot was saved, the Tewaaraton finalist found Rotanz for an outside rip to end the half 8-6 as Morris made 9 first half stops.
“When we were down 6-0, I knew we were never out,” Kelly said. “I knew we were going to go on a run. I trusted every single one of those guys.”
Maryland was getting into a flow on offense in the second and third quarters, as the faceoff group went 10-15 during that stretch. Kelly opened the second half with an unorthodox dodge and score with the Duke defender draped all over him. Then, this happened.
That Rotanz feed to freshman midfielder Bubba Fairman cut the lead to 8-7 during Maryland’s 4-0 run, but the momentum did not last long.
The Blue Devils scored the next four goals as Reilly Walsh’s lone goal was sandwiched in between two Robertson goals. Then, Guterding scored the dagger. A low shot sizzled past Morris to stretch the lead to an insurmountable 12-7 lead with 6:48 left in the semifinal.
Kelly notched his third point of the day with a skip pass on the man-up as Bernhardt converted a consolation goal from the right wing.
Guterding completed his hat trick with an open-netter when the game was already a foregone conclusion to make it 13-8.
The Blue Devils will play Yale in a No. 3 versus No. 4 matchup after the Bulldogs crushed Albany. After making three straight finals appearances, the Terps lose in the semifinals for the first time since 2014.
“We really rallied around everybody not giving us a chance,” Tillman said. “And certainly getting here is a tremendous accomplishment. For those guys, four Final Fours, for Danny [Morris] and Timmy [Rotanz] five Final Fours…I’m proud to have done it the right way.”
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