After Maryland men’s lacrosse midfielder Connor Kelly caught a second-quarter pass, spun inside and scored with a right-handed rocket in the Big Ten tournament final against Ohio State, he didn’t celebrate. Instead, he stood in place until his teammates met him with hugs.
It was the third of the career-high five goals Kelly recorded against the Buckeyes. Since the start of Big Ten competition, no conference player has notched more than his 20 finishes, and he passed attackman Matt Rambo for the team scoring lead with his most recent display.
Midfield production powered No. 1-seed Maryland to a 10-9 win over No. 2-seed Ohio State, claiming its second straight conference tournament title.
In addition to Kelly’s five goals, midfielder Tim Rotanz and midfielder Jared Bernhardt added scores, helping the Terps overcome the Buckeyes.
After Maryland (12-3) was held to fewer than 10 goals for the second time this campaign by Penn State on Thursday, the Terps notched just four scores in the first half against Ohio State, with none of those finishes coming from attackmen.
Kelly cashed in on a couple of catch-and-shoot efforts before completing a hat trick three minutes into the second quarter with his unassisted spinning shot. Plus, Rotanz delivered his 22nd goal of the season.
Despite the limited offensive effort in the early going, the Terps entered the break tied, 4-4, with Ohio State (13-4).
Bernhardt continued Maryland’s streak of midfield goals with a jumping bounce-shot fewer than three minutes into the second half. But for the remainder of the third period, the Terps failed to score.
In the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, both sides converted two strikes, evening the score at seven. Then, Rambo provided the first Terps attackman goal of the contest, using a pick to break free. He pumped his fist after finding the back of the net for the go-ahead score.
Later, when Kelly delivered his fifth goal of the showdown to break an 8-8 deadlock, he showed similar emotion, staring down Buckeyes defenders.
With Maryland up, 10-9, following a go-ahead score from attackman Colin Heacock, and just over a minute remaining, Ohio State defender Jeff Henrick was penalized for losing his glove on the field. That 30-second man advantage helped the Terps hang on to win the Big Ten tournament crown.