After struggling to produce early in the season, Maryland men’s lacrosse midfielder Tim Rotanz entered Saturday’s tilt at No. 7 Ohio State with back-to-back hat tricks and goals in six straight contests.
Since attackman Colin Heacock was sidelined by an ankle injury he suffered last Sunday, Rotanz’s role in the showdown with the Buckeyes expanded.
But while he provided an explosive display, No. 2 Maryland wasn’t able to overcome the absence of its third-leading points scorer, losing, 11-10, in overtime. The Terps squandered a five-goal first half lead.
“Losing close games is tough,” coach John Tillman said. “We didn’t play clean. We had some looks [late in the game], and give their goalie credit, he made some saves. Then we had turnovers and that just puts a lot of pressure on you.”
Rotanz finished with three goals and an assist. Attackman Matt Rambo, meanwhile, registered a team-high five points.
Rotanz notched two quick first-quarter goals, propelling Maryland (9-3, 3-1 Big Ten) to a 3-1 lead in the opening 11 minutes. Then, after Rambo forced a turnover with a check in the midfield, Rotanz picked up the loose ball, burst upfield and delivered a no-look assist to attackman Dylan Maltz just outside the crease.
In the second quarter, Rotanz completed his third straight hat trick to give the Terps a 6-1 advantage. Running toward goal as if he planned to shoot with his right hand, the midfielder switched to his left at the last moment before unleashing a low effort past Buckeyes goalkeeper Tom Carey.
“He was very crafty today,” Tillman said. “He made great decisions. He’s dodging aggressively and then … he seemed to really know when to try to be aggressive and then at other times when to back off a little bit.”
But Ohio State (12-2, 3-1) cut Maryland’s lead to 7-4 at intermission, setting up its second-half comeback.
The Terps endured a scoring drought for more than 20 minutes, which lasted from the waning minutes of the second frame until the fourth quarter, allowing the Buckeyes to tie the contest with a transition long shot from defender Jeff Henrick and take the lead with an attempt from midfielder Tyler Pfister.
Rambo ended Maryland’s goalless stretch — and leveled the score — with an off-balance left-handed shot about five minutes into the fourth period. It seemed midfielder Jared Bernhardt would give the Terps the lead again after receiving a pass in space, but Carey blocked his wide-open effort near the net.
On the ensuing counter-attack, the Buckeyes scored to take a 9-8 lead. One minute later, they scored again, extending their advantage to two with about six minutes remaining.
However, following a Rambo finish, Bernhardt made up for his previous miss by tying the game at 10 with just under three minutes to go in regulation.
“Our kids could have quit,” Tillman said. “I love the fact that they came back.”
Just one minute into overtime, though, Ohio State scored the winning goal.
After Buckeyes attackman Eric Fannell struck the outside of the post, the ball bounced to Johnny Pearson, who converted his effort through goalkeeper Dan Morris’ legs to complete the come-from-behind upset. When the shot hit the back of the net, Ohio State celebrated by forming a dog-pile on Pearson while the Terps trudged off the field.
“They did a good job of slowly, methodically coming back one goal at a time,” Tillman said. “There’s a lot we can build on here. … But we went toe-to-toe with a really good team.”