A long line of cars still was trying to enter the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium parking lots when senior John Haus scored for top-ranked Maryland 43 seconds into the men’s lacrosse game against Navy on Friday night.
Given that the Terrapins are in their fifth week of being ranked No. 1 and Navy has virtually been eliminated from postseason contention, few would have blamed those drivers if they had turned around.
Instead, the Terrapins trailed in the second half and needed a five-goal run to pull away from the Midshipmen, 11-8, before 6,691.
Navy (3-8) trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was much different.
An early goal by Navy junior Tucker Hull — his first point in 227 minutes, dating from a loss to Towson on March 12 — gave the team a huge jolt.
Navy’s next four shots also went in and when the flurry ended, it led 5-3 on a goal by freshman T.J. Hanzsche with 8 minutes 34 seconds left in the first half.
In the spurt, junior Sam Jones had two goals and an assist.
“Our sideline was going nuts. We were all really into it, having a lot of fun and playing with controlled emotion,” Jones said. “Until that final whistle blew, we all felt like we were winning that game.”
But two trends began to emerge in the first half. The Midshipmen were using almost every defense imaginable — including zone, man-to-man, a zone-man hybrid and a matchup zone — to slow Maryland’s balanced offense. At halftime, Maryland caught its breath on offense.
And the Terrapins were controlling possession thanks to sophomore faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa (seven groundballs) and senior wing Jesse Bernhardt (six groundballs). They helped Maryland win 12 of 18 faceoffs after the first quarter.
The discrepancy led to the Midshipmen being outshot 40-18; in no quarter did they take more than five shots.
“Unfortunately for our offense, we never had the ball after it was 5-3,” Navy Coach Rick Sowell said.
The Midshipmen took their last lead at 6-5 following a goal by senior Bryce Dabbs early in the third quarter.
The Terrapins answered with a 5-0 run; five players scored one goal each and the run ended with a goal by senior Kevin Cooper with 7:30 to play.
Haus, junior Mike Chanenchuk and Cooper each had two goals for Maryland.
Haus was particularly impressive; of Maryland’s 26 settled offensive possessions, Haus was in the game for 21.
Overall, the Terrapins (8-1) are off to their best start since 2004.
“Maryland, you can go down the roster and consider everybody a threat,” said Navy senior defenseman Austin Miller, who had four caused turnovers.
Jones, Hanzsche and Dabbs each had two goals and senior Nolan Hickey had 15 saves for Navy.
“We knew they were going to fight and be determined for all 60 minutes,” Haus said of the Midshipmen. “For them to hit a few goals and make a few good plays, it didn’t really surprise us. We knew they would be there the whole 60 minutes.”
Said Sowell: “Losing is never fun. But I got to tell you, I’ve never been so proud of a team and how they performed given the odds against us. I’m sure most people out there thought we were going to lose by how many goals, more than a few. But it goes to show I think a lot about our team and the pride they have.”
It will be Maryland’s 1,000th all-time game.
Meantime, Navy hosts Army before a crowd that is expected to include the Brigade of Midshipmen. No one on Navy’s current roster has beaten Army in lacrosse, though shortstick defender Brye French has done so as a starting linebacker in football.