With about two minutes remaining in the No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse team’s win against No. 15 Michigan on Saturday, midfielder Bubba Fairman drove toward the net with Michigan midfielder PJ Bogle and goalkeeper Tommy Heidt between him and scoring.
Fairman had already posted consecutive scores, but remained aggressive, sneaking the ball past Bogle and Heidt for his hat trick, a bounceback performance after not scoring in the team’s win over North Carolina last weekend.
He jogged to the end of the field and pumped his right fist into the air in celebration. The goal helped the Terps end the game on a 7-0 run and win the fourth quarter, 5-0, their most complete final period in more than a month.
“We talked a lot even this week about where we are,” coach John Tillman said. “Bubba’s been quiet for a while. Last week, he was close to home. There was a lot of emotion. We talked about getting that back to center.”
Tillman’s team had been outscored in the final quarter of every game since its 13-6 win against Penn on Feb. 21. Fourth-quarter struggles led to the team’s only loss, when No. 1 Albany scored five unanswered goals in the final frame to win, 11-10.
Though it didn’t cost Maryland a win, the trend continued in the next two contests. Villanova scored three times in the final minute to come within two goals, outscoring the Terps, 5-2, in the fourth. The Tar Heels boasted a 3-2 scoring advantage in the final quarter last week. But the skid ended against the Wolverines.
Fairman scored his second goal about two minutes into a fourth quarter that Maryland dominated. Even faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen, called upon to relieve Justin Shockey, scored in the game’s final minutes, just his second goal of the season.
Maryland capitalized on Michigan’s six turnovers in the fourth quarter as midfielder Connor Kelly orchestrated the team’s attack.
“In the second half, when he dodged, he kept throwing it back and got [his teammates] really good looks,” Tillman said of Kelly, who didn’t score but recorded two assists. “He’s such a good leader and team guy. It really helped us out.”
With Maryland’s attack firing on all cylinders, defensemen Bryce Young and Curtis Corley helped contain Michigan’s offense. The Wolverines’ leading scorer, attackman Brent Noseworthy, recorded two goals, one of which came in the second half.
Michigan entered the matchup scoring about 12 goals per game but didn’t reach half that average total, failing to score in the final 15 minutes. Corley credited Maryland’s deliberate tempo, as the squad held the Wolverines to the second-fewest goals allowed this season.
After giving up three goals in the final minute against Villanova, Tillman said he organized situational drills to help the Terps improve their play late in games. In their first conference game, they did just that.
“[Defensive coordinator Jesse Bernhardt] the entire week was talking about how we need a good team defensive win,” Corley said. “We came together as a team and made the right steps.”