Under the lights at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins men’s lacrosse team was fired up to test its talents against their most dominant opponent in 2019: The No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions. This fire from the Terps was short-lived, as the team dropped an important home game 13-10.
“Proud of our guys,” head coach John Tillman said. “Felt like Penn State probably returned the most [upperclassmen] coming back this year and knowing that we were still plugging in some parts I thought this game would be very important to find out how close we were. We were right there.”
The game began as lopsided as possible in favor of the visiting Nittany Lions. While dominating every facet of the game and riding the momentum of their away fans, Penn State’s offense scored eight goals in the first 12 minutes of play.
Penn State junior attackman Mac O’Keefe provided two goals and two assists in the first quarter to propel Penn State to an early seven-goal lead. O’Keefe, the Syosset, New York native, has been paving the way for one of the most explosive and quick offenses in the entire NCAA.
Maryland’s lone goal from the period came off the stick of Will Snider, who scored his seventh goal on the entire year. Snider’s lone goal was followed by seven straight Penn State goals, leaving the Terps desperate for some sort of spark in the second quarter.
Following the nightmarish start for the Terps, they turned their attention to responding in the second half from the early Nittany Lion barrage. However, Maryland only mustered two goals in the second quarter heading into halftime still trailing by five scores.
Coming out of the half with John Tillman’s adjustments in the back of their minds, the Terps looked to swing the early momentum of the first half. A goal from sophomore midfielder Bubba Fairman sparked life back into the Terps in the third quarter.
The goal from Fairman was quickly complemented by Roman Puglise and Bernhardt to bring the lead within two goals. Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni quickly called time to temporarily halt the Maryland offensive burst.
Roman Puglise continued his contributions to the game scoring yet again with over eight minutes left in the second half. The sophomore midfielder’s two goals were a career high. Penn State’s Cole Willard ended the six-goal run for Maryland adding an insurance goal to their lead. Penn State closed out the period with a three-goal lead after Dan Reaume added to the scoring.
“There were some opportunities and we just didn’t can them,” Tillman said. “You know they are going to make a little bit of a push and they just made some plays.”
In the fourth quarter, the Terrapins were never able to claw their way back into the game. Penn State’s Jack Kelly scored to open the fourth frame, but Jared Bernhardt tallied his 30th goal of the season shortly after keeping the Penn State lead at three.
The two teams would go back-and-forth the remainder of the quarter with Maryland ultimately unable to close the gap. The Terps never recovered from the early first quarter scoring from Penn State, losing 13-10.
“I think [Penn State] just came out fast and they didn’t slow down,” Puglise said. “We can look at the film tomorrow and the rest of the week and we will get better from it. I think there’s going to be a chip on a lot of our shoulders. You will see a better performance next week.”
Maryland (8-2) will now look for that better performance as Puglise notes, next week against Michigan Wolverines on Saturday.