With two minutes remaining in a game No. 3 Maryland men’s lacrosse had once controlled with a six-goal lead, face-off specialist Austin Henningsen stepped up to the X for a crucial draw.
Henningsen hadn’t lost a face-off to that point, and after the Terps watched Richmond strike time and again in the fourth quarter to climb within one goal, his final attempt would prove most pivotal Saturday.
Off the draw, the ball rolled out to midfielder Wesley Janeck to secure possession for Maryland. After midfielder Bubba Fairman’s shot hit the post with 45 seconds left, Maryland recovered the ball once more and ran out the clock to escape Richmond’s fourth quarter comeback effort, 10-9, at Maryland Stadium.
Maryland entered the final 15 minutes leading 10-4, and had control of the game with 15 more shots than Richmond through three quarters. Then, Richmond found a way to control possession in the fourth quarter and make the most of their chances.
“We had some [defensive] breakdowns,” coach John Tillman said. “They gave us problems on the perimeter, we didn’t do a great job with some of our approaches and guys were getting to places where we don’t want them to get to.”
While the defensive breakdowns were most glaring in the fourth quarter, Tillman said the defense encountered issues all game. But the lack of possessions in the first 45 minutes limited Richmond’s ability to make Maryland pay.
That possession discrepancy in the first three quarters was due in large part to the dominance Maryland displayed at the face-off X. Henningsen led the charge in that facet of the game with a perfect 15-of-15 day.
Thirteen of Henningsen’s 15 face-off wins came in the first half when he handled those responsibilities.
Those extra possessions in the first half allowed Maryland’s attack to essentially play make it, take it, and seek another goal immediately after their previous score. Led by attackman Jared Bernhardt and his five goals, Maryland’s attack took advantage of those extra possessions to build a healthy lead.
Bernhardt scored in a multitude of ways for Maryland in the first half. He dodged from the top and scored on a diving goal. The junior also dove while contourting his body and found the back of the net and made multiple cuts from the X position — behind the net — to open areas, where teammates found him for close-in opportunities.
“I just felt like I could play some X games with that guy, kind of get him moving,” Bernhardt said. “He was kind of watching the ball a lot, so I felt like that was going to be my strength.”
In the second half, face-off man Justin Shockey entered the game as the Terps looked to get both he and Henningsen work in that area early in the season.
Shockey won five of his eight opportunities in the second half, but with the game suddenly closely contested, Tillman turned back to the hot hand in Henningsen.
“The hard part is if a guy’s [13-for-13] in the first half, if you lose one it seems like it’s been a downgrade,” Tillman said. “[Shockey] was still 5-for-8, which most guys would take, but the fact that Austin didn’t lose one, it changes your perceptions a little bit.”
Richmond also made a halftime adjustment, dedicating more defensive attention to Bernhardt, who tied a career-high for goals. In the final 30 minutes, though, he was limited to just one shot and did not record a point.
As the Spiders were staging their fourth-quarter comeback, Bernhardt said the Terps’ attack was more hesitant to shoot than in the first half as they wanted to work the ball around for better opportunities.
In its one-sided fourth quarter, Richmond scored five unanswered goals, led by attackman Ryan Lanchbury’s four consecutive scores. Maryland also committed two penalties that led to extra-man goals for the visitors.
And while Richmond staged its comeback, the Terps rang three shots off the post in the final 15 minutes alone.
“It’s tough,” Fairman said. “But at the end of the day, if we get the ball back, the pipe’s not such a bad thing. [The shot clock] resets, we get another 80 seconds.”
After the shot clock reset with 45 seconds to play, Maryland ran out the clock and survived Richmond’s decisive fourth quarter to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Terps will go on the road next weekend to face a ranked Penn team.
“We played a decent 45 minutes and not a very good 15,” Tillman said. “But we didn’t die. We found a way to win and I think if we’re willing to grow and learn from it, there’s a lot of things that can help us going forward.”