The 1,000th men’s lacrosse game in Maryland history, against Johns Hopkins on Saturday, featured the largest regular season crowd at Byrd Stadium since 1995, a brief fireworks display before the game and a halftime show that honored the 1973 national title team.
For Maryland fans, however, the game itself was not very memorable.
Johns Hopkins defeated the top-ranked Terrapins, 7-4, before 10,223 at Byrd Stadium. The Blue Jays (7-4) entered with their season on the line. They had only one win over a team with a winning record and a loss in any of their final four games likely would mean they would miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1971.
Yet senior John Ranagan scored two goals in the first 9 minutes 26 seconds and the Blue Jays didn’t trail against Maryland (8-2).
“Johns Hopkins played terrific defense. Congratulations to them,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said. “In terms of us . . . we made some poor decisions and that reflects on the things I’m telling them.”
An important stretch came late in the first half. Maryland trailed 4-2 but had possession for the final 3:27, including an extra-man opportunity. Yet the Terrapins came away with no goals and as the half ended, the Blue Jays bounded off the field.
Maryland’s chance to close to one ended after Johns Hopkins won the opening faceoff of the third quarter and senior John Kaestner scored after 37 seconds.
The Terrapins closed to 6-4 and had a one-on-one fast break with senior defensive midfielder Landon Carr with 9:51 to play. But his shot was saved by senior goalie Pierce Bassett (12 saves). It was the first of six consecutive scoreless possessions to end the game for Maryland.
The teams had played twice last year and Maryland won both, including an 11-5 win in the NCAA quarterfinals. Those games were marked by frustrating efforts by Johns Hopkins’s Zach Palmer, a three-year starting attackman who’s now a senior; in the two games he was defended by now-sophomore Goran Murray and scored one goal.
Yet on Wednesday, Palmer was injured in practice, so he did not make the trip. Kaestner (two goals) started in his place. The Blue Jays had another move up their sleeve. Junior Rob Guida, a starting midfielder, eschewed a redshirt and played his first game since Feb 16 after missing eight with an unspecified injury. Guida finished with one goal.
Yet it was the return to form of Ranagan that paced the Blue Jays. He played offense, defense, man-down defense and as a wing on faceoffs. The Johns Hopkins midfielders were asked not only to play offense but to limit Maryland’s fast breaks and thus Ranagan played a lot of defense.
Starting in the second quarter, to conserve energy, when Ranagan went to the sideline he sat on the bench rather than standing with his teammates to watch the action. And it paid off when Ranagan assisted junior Brandon Benn for the final goal with 2:18 to play.
“I was really pleased for John,” Blue Jays Coach Dave Pietramala said. “This was an important game against the team we think is the best in the country right now and we needed our seniors to answer.”