Maryland men’s lacrosse attack Matt Rambo entered Saturday night’s regular season finale against Johns Hopkins needing six points to shatter the Terrapins’ all-time points mark, but he didn’t need the entire game to achieve the milestone. Rambo didn’t even need the entire first half. He needed less than 18 minutes to score two goals and notch a career-high four assists to set the record, helping Maryland cruise to a 12-5 win and capture the top seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
Rambo had a hand in six of Maryland’s first eight goals, all of which were unanswered, on a night when the No. 5 Terrapins (10-3, 4-1 Big Ten) quickly turned the 115th edition in the sport’s greatest rivalry into a lopsided affair. The stakes were high — both teams needed a win to secure the outright Big Ten regular season title — but Maryland dictated the pace from the onset to beat the No. 8 Blue Jays (8-5, 3-2) for the first time at home since 2001. That all came in front of 14,353 fans, the most at a Maryland regular season home game since 1989.
“I think our crowd tonight, that’s as good as it gets. We got a lot of energy from them,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said.
Saturday night’s game marked the first time Maryland has won three straight against Johns Hopkins since a four-game winning streak from 1961 to 1964. That decoration was complemented by the performance of Rambo, who tied a career high with seven points and surpassed Bob Boneillo’s previous all-time points record of 231 set in 1980.
“It’s special to me, but I have to thank all my teammates that I played with over the past four years, the scout guys, my coaches, who developed me as a player, just pushing me,” Rambo said. “It is special.”
Maryland killed off an early Johns Hopkins extra-man opportunity and used suffocating defense throughout the night — junior goalie Dan Morris finished with nine saves — which only fueled one of its best offensive performances of the season.
Rambo fell into rhythm with two pinpoint skip passes within the first 10 minutes — first to set up the game’s first goal to Connor Kelly and then to senior Collin Heacock, who rifled in a goal past Blue Jays goalie Brock Turnbaugh. Kelly followed with two more goals within the next three minutes, including one off another assist from Rambo. Junior Adam DiMillo — who had scored just one goal all season — added another to make it 5-0 with 2:03 remaining in the first quarter.
That’s when Rambo used an impressive string of plays to claim the record — including an unassisted goal off a roll dodge with 13 seconds left to make it 6-0. That play was made all the more impressive given that the burly Rambo had been slashed by a Johns Hopkins defender during his shot, forced to roll to the ground as his teammates rushed to celebrate yet more wizardry from the senior. This was far from new. Rambo scored six points in his college debut against Mount St. Mary’s back in 2014, and for much of the next three seasons, he has developed a reputation for delivering outstanding performances on the brightest of stages.
“That’s what he does. . . . We were so concerned with Rambo that we went when we shouldn’t have gone. We made poor decisions,” Johns Hopkins Coach Dave Pietramala said. “He’s the most unsung player in the country, in my opinion.”
He did it again on Saturday night against his rivals, again helping Maryland use a strong first quarter to build the foundation for a win. The Terrapins have outscored opponents by 28 goals during the first quarter this season, and they didn’t let up with 47 seconds of extra-man time at their disposal to start the second quarter.
Kelly tied his career high with a fourth goal 20 seconds into the quarter — Rambo had set it up by tying his career high with his fourth assist — and Rambo set the record two minutes later off another unassisted rocket that bounced past Turnbaugh. Johns Hopkins pulled Turnbaugh and replaced him with backup goalie Gerald Logan as Maryland’s players mugged Rambo near the crease, celebrating a milestone that had given the Terrapins an 8-0 lead. Johns Hopkins wouldn’t score until the 9:13 mark of the second quarter and trailed 9-1 at halftime after Maryland junior midfielder Tim Rotanz beat the buzzer with an unassisted goal.
Rambo’s final goal of the night came with 15 seconds left in the third quarter, which gave him a hat trick and tied his career high with seven points in a game.
“Obviously, it says that Matt has been doing a good job for all four years and has been very consistent,” Tillman said of Rambo’s record. “But I think Matt would be the first one to tell you, a big part of what has made this program successful is that guys don’t really talk about or focus on records.”