Rutgers conference run halted at hands of No. 4 Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, MD. — Riding high after opening Big Ten Conference play 2-0, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team was dealt a dose of reality Saturday afternoon, as No. 4 Maryland called a halt to the Scarlet Knights' winning streak.
The Terrapins (9-2, 3-0) mounted a 7-goal run in the second half to man-handle the Knights (9-3, 2-1) down the stretch for an 11-8 win at Capital One Field, showing Rutgers what it will take to go toe-to-toe with the likes of last year’s NCAA Tournament runner-up.
“Obviously, the stats weren’t in our favor as far as groundballs, shots, turnovers or faceoffs,” said Knights head coach Brian Brecht, whose squad entered the matchup atop the Big Ten in groundballs, shots and goals per game. “It’s hard to beat a good team like Maryland when you’re not as sharp as you need to be."
For a team that has dominated opponents statistically, even considering the competition, that is an understatement.
Rutgers came to College Park having scooped 91 more groundballs than its opponents and 94 more than any other team in the conference through 11 games. The Knights were averaging 34.5 groundballs per contest.
On Saturday, they managed only 19 to the Terps 32, turning it over 12 times for the game, including seven second half turnovers to allow Maryland to maintain possession for long stretches, slowly wearing down the visiting defense.
“We got away from who we are,” said senior midfielder Zack Sikora. “We’re gonna come back, this wasn’t a bad loss. We know we can be better and we’re gonna be better. We just gonna come out next week and be ready to go.”
Rutgers rushed in front to start when sophomore attacker Jules Heningburg found fellow sophomore Christian Mazzone all alone in from of the Terrapins net. The midfielder scooped a shot over the shoulder of Terps goaltender Kyle Bernlohr, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead at the 10:27 mark of the first quarter.
The game remained 1-0 until Maryland answered to tie it with 3:52 left in the first.
Heningburg scored with 2:23 left in the opening period to retake the lead and hang onto the one-goal advantage after 15 minutes.
Matt Rambo and Dylan Maltz scored back-to-back goals to give the Terps their first lead at 3-2 with 8:17 left in the half.
But Heningburg refused to be upstaged, roaring back with a pair of goals to close the half with 3 tallies and a 4-3 lead for the Knights.
Rutgers would rally for two more goals to extend the lead to 6-3 before Colin Heacock netted his first goal to make it a two-goal game with 10:31 left in the third period.
Over the next 18:04 of game time, the Terps would score six more times absent an answer from the Knights, including another goal for Heacock, two more from Rambo and three more for Maltz.
“They did a great job that first half,” Brecht said. “Going up 4-3 at halftime and then in the third quarter to go up 6-3 and then, you know, maybe a few mistakes. You make a few mistakes and you’re not winning the groundball battle, you make a few mistakes and you’re not winning faceoffs and those things start to compound each other.”
Heningburg notched his fourth goal of the day with 6:25 left in the third, but the damage had already been done.
Despite the less-than-appealing result for Rutgers, Heningburg has proven he is burning white hot.
The junior has scored 9 goals in his last two games pushing him into a tie for the team lead in goals scored with redshirt freshman Adam Charalambides. Together, the pair of attackers currently sit atop the Big Ten scoring list, averaging 2.58 tallies for each time out on the field.
But for Heningburg, personal performance takes a backseat to the overall play of the team.
“Even if I do have a good game, at the end of the day, if we lose it means nothing,” Heningburg said. “They were just dominating at the offensive end in general. We had some stops, but we got the ball back on offense and just couldn’t put the ball in the net and they just kept pumping them in. Then it kinda just got away from us.”
Maltz finished the game with 4 goals, seemingly forever able to find holes within the Knights defensive alignment.
The letdown was a blow for Sikora, who serves as a two-way player at long-stick midfielder.
“I feel like it wasn’t that he was so difficult to handle,” Sikora said of Maltz. “It’s just that our team defense itself wasn’t working as well as it could have.”
Asked how long the senior midfielder thought the loss would take to wash off, Sikora answered before the question was completed.
“Tomorrow," he said. "We’ll be ready to go. Ready to move on to the next one.”