COLLEGE PARK – The University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse teams wrote the 118th chapter in the storied rivalry on April 27.
The Blue Jays came to the contest leading the all-time series between the two teams with a record of 72-44-1. Even though Maryland (11-3) claimed an early lead in the first quarter, Johns Hopkins’ defense stymied the Terps’ offense down the stretch as their Baltimore rivals took home the 16-11 victory.
The game marked the eighth time Johns Hopkins (7-6) won in the past 10 games at Maryland Stadium, and it has been over six years since any team dropped 16 goals on the Terps. Maryland sophomore midfielder Bubba Fairman tallied a game-high five goals in a losing effort whereas Johns Hopkins freshman attacker and Landon School alumnus Joey Epstein followed with four goals and two assists.
At first, it appeared that the Terps would cruise to a victory as Fairman and junior attacker Jared Bernhardt combined for four goals in the first quarter alone. Maryland registered its first man-down goal of the season as sophomore midfielder Roman Puglise slammed the ball into the net while teammate Austin Henningsen served his 60-second penalty.
The tide turned in the Blue Jays’ favor in the second quarter, however. While Maryland senior goalie Danny Dolan saved several Johns Hopkins goals from hitting their mark, even going to his knees to stop the onslaught, the Blue Jays remained relentless and delivered six goals in the second quarter. Three of those goals came within forty seconds of each other.
Meanwhile, Maryland’s lead faded away as the Johns Hopkins defenders held the Terps to just one goal in the second quarter. The Blue Jays made sure Maryland couldn’t find an open shot. Meanwhile, on offense, Johns Hopkins more than doubled Maryland’s shot attempts with 43, compared to just 21 for the Terps.
“It was a good, solid job by our defense in a game they needed to step up and stand tall,” said Johns Hopkins Head Coach Dave Pietramala. “We started to play, and defensively, we stopped being selfish. That’s been our Achilles heel all year long. In the first 12 minutes, we were selfish.”
“You’re not going to win a lot of games with 21 shots,” said Maryland Head Coach John Tillman. “Everything works together. We had seven shots in the first, and that was by far our best. I felt like that was a period where we had better possessions, but I think some of those were self-inflicted wounds. A lot of turnovers, just kind of stopping ourselves at times.”
Epstein was instrumental in putting the Blue Jays in the lead, as he finished with three first-half points composed of two goals and one assist.
Fairman ended Maryland’s nearly 13-minute scoring drought when he completed a hat trick and tossed in his third goal unassisted to open the third quarter. However, another 13 minutes ticked off the clock before the Terps scored again. This time, junior midfielder Russell Masci heaved his stick over his head with a Hopkins defender in his face and fired in a goal. A minute later, Fairman raced down the field in celebration after bouncing in his fourth goal.
“I think that Jared [Bernhardt,] Logan [Wisnauskas,] all the guys on offense really put me in a good spot to succeed,” said Fairman. “Those guys are phenomenal players, and they’re drawing so much attention that sometimes [Hopkins] just forgot about a guy on the back side. And so tonight it just so happened to be me.”
In the 13 minutes that passed between Maryland’s first two goals of the third quarter, the Blue Jays showed off their multiple scoring threats. Epstein registered the third of his four goals, while his teammates Brett Baskin and Connor DeSimone, both sophomores, landed their first successful shots of the game.
Fairman and sophomore attacker Anthony DeMaio were the only Terps to score in the fourth quarter: as in the two previous periods, the two goals arrived more than 10 minutes apart.
However, it was not enough to stop the visitors. Due to the proximity between the two schools, many of the 12,405 fans in attendance were Blue Jays fans. A “Let’s go, Hopkins” chant broke out late in the fourth quarter when the Blue Jays led by four points. Following the game, Johns Hopkins was presented with the Rivalry Trophy at midfield.
“Personally, it’s pretty surreal. I’ve been dreaming of playing in this rivalry,” said Epstein about holding the trophy after the game. “It’s surreal to finally get it. It’s pretty special, walking out there with our guys, knowing the tradition, all the alums that have played in this game and what it means to college lacrosse. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
“I just think we kind of needed to reset. Obviously, we’re really frustrated with tonight, but coach always talks about the next-game mentality,” said Fairman, giving the Maryland point of view. “We’re going to have a little chip on our shoulder coming into this game.”