No. 19 Rutgers outpaced by No. 3 Maryland

When the Rutgers men's lacrosse team came onto the field at Stadium to take on No. 3 Maryland, it had chips on its shoulders, looking to prove once again that it can hang with the best in college lacrosse. 

But, the No. 19 Scarlet Knights (6-6, 1-2) couldn’t go the distance, falling to the Terrapins (10-2, 2-1) 16-13 last night in an inconsistent performance that served as a microcosm of the season.

“We gotta give credit to Maryland. They had a few good plays tonight,” said sophomore attack Adam Charalambides. "There’s mistakes and plays all over the field, and we just gotta tighten things up.”

Going into halftime, it looked as if Rutgers was primed for an upset. The first 3 goals of the game went the Knights’ way, as midfielders sophomore Ryan Gallagher and junior Owen Mead joined Charalambides on the board within the opening 6 minutes. 

A big part of this was an uncharacteristic dominance of Rutgers' faceoff unit in the first period. Fifth-year senior faceoff specialist Connor Harryman started off 7 of 9 in the first period, allowing the Knights' offense to have consecutive possessions and control the flow of the game.

The second period saw Rutgers expand the lead to five, as true freshman midfielder David Sprock and junior attack Kieran Mullins added to the lead in the opening 5 minutes. Maryland would score 3 of the last 4 goals of the first half, but the Knights held on to a 9-6 lead.

Coming out of the half, the Terrapins looked much more like the dominant team that college lacrosse fans had grown accustomed to watching all year, outscoring Rutgers 5-1 in the third period. Jared Bernhardt had 2 goals, with Logan Wisnauskas and Anthony DeMaio. An unassisted score from Kyle Long with 3 seconds remaining got the Terrapins their first lead of the game.

The Knights started off strong in the fourth period, getting 2 early goals from fifth-year senior midfielder Casey Rose and Charalambides within the opening 4 minutes to retake the lead. Maryland would take over the game in the final 10 minutes, with Louis Dubick getting two goals in 45 seconds to put the Terrapins back in front. Bernhardt, DeMaio and Bubba Fairman added on goals to put the game out of reach.

This loss puts Rutgers in the position of needing to defeat Michigan next Saturday in order to keep its Big Ten Tournament hopes alive. If the Knights don’t, they’ll find themselves in a must-win game on the road against No. 1 Penn State in the season finale. 

For the second straight game, it just seemed that Rutgers had it all figured out one half, and looked completely lost in the other. The theme coming out of Big Ten play so far for the Knights is an inability to both start and finish strong, and that’s going to be the key to watch as Big Ten play comes to a close.

“I think we’re gonna focus on playing a full 60 minutes,” Charalambides said. “We played a good first half, we came out strong, really brought the energy and came out a little bit flat in the third.”

For updates on the Rutgers men's lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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