Maryland men’s lacrosse attackman Jared Bernhardt had been held in check nearly all of Saturday’s duel with Ohio State. But with the game tied at nine headed into overtime, the Terps’ leading scorer’s instincts kicked in.
In the sudden-victory session, Bernhardt received the ball with an eye toward the net. The junior sprinted past his defender at the top, cut to the middle and dove across the crease to score the goal before being mobbed by his teammates in the corner of the field.
The overtime heroics helped the No. 2 Terps fend off No. 9 Ohio State’s comeback bid after coach John Tillman’s team had raced out to a 6-2 halftime lead. Long after that initial sprint out of the gate, Maryland players sprinted off the sideline to celebrate a 10-9 conference win over Ohio State on the road Saturday.
“All game long [Ohio State defender] Matt Borges did a really good job [on me], so I think they were kinda trusting him,” Bernhardt said. “Obviously no slide came, so I just took that.”
Bernhardt’s game-winning goal was made possible because of attackman Logan Wisnauskas’ goal with 23 seconds to force overtime, as the team’s top-two attackmen stepped up in those two high-pressure situations.
Well before forcing the overtime, Wisnauskas broke the scoreless draw nearly midway through the first quarter. The redshirt sophomore made an off-ball cut to the middle of the field, and midfielder Will Snider connected on an assist to the lefty shooter.
Wisnauskas’ score opened the floodgates for a 4-0 Terps run, capped by midfielder Russell Masci’s second-career goal. The burst was exactly what coach John Tillman wanted to see after emphasizing the need to start faster in the practices leading up to the road bout with Ohio State.
“That’s something that Coach has been harping on the past couple weeks. That’s something we’ve kind of struggled with lately,” defender Matt Rahill said. “It was good to get out to a fast start today and give ourselves a lead.”
The Buckeyes utilized a transition opportunity to break their drought with less than 30 seconds left in the quarter to make it a 4-1 game. Borges scooped a ground ball and helped initiate the fastbreak, which attackman Jackson Reid finished off along the crease.
Masci helped the Terps take a 6-2 lead into halftime, dishing a long skip pass from goal-line extended to midfielder Christian Zawadzki at the top. Zawadzki unleashed a shot from 12 yards out to beat goalie Josh Kirson and provide a jolt of momentum into the break.
With the halftime deficit, the Buckeyes found themselves trailing for the fifth straight game. And out of the break, they looked like a team comfortable playing from behind, scoring the first three goals of the third quarter to pull within one, at 6-5.
“We knew they were a tough third quarter team,” Rahill said. “They’ve made a lot of runs in against a lot of good teams in the third quarter.”
Maryland was held without a goal for nearly the entire third period, seeing Kirson stave off six shots. But the Terps finally broke through with seven seconds remaining. Midfielder Roman Puglise worked himself open in front, and Dubick connected with him from behind the net for the score.
In the fourth quarter, with just over four minutes remaining, Ohio State’s attack found itself facing a dwindling shot clock. With one second left before it expired, midfielder Jack Jasinski heaved a zero-angle shot toward the goal mouth and received a fortunate bounce off goalie Danny Dolan and into the net to level the score at 8-8.
Maryland’s downward spiral continued.
On the ensuing faceoff, the Terps were whistled for a procedure penalty, giving the Buckeyes an extra-man opportunity. Ohio State capitalized with a Reid Jackson score for its first lead of the game with 3:40 left in regulation.
But with 53 seconds left, Maryland was afforded a chance to even the game after Ohio State committed a crease violation. On the possession, midfielder Anthony DeMaio found Wisnauskas open on the wing for a lefty shot to tie the score at nine with 23 seconds to play.
In the extra period, it was Ohio State which paid for a mistake at the faceoff X. Faceoff specialist Justin Inacio committed a false start to give Maryland possession, and Bernhardt received the ball at the top of the attack, worked himself to the heart of the defense and put away the game-winner to clinch an appearance in the Big Ten tournament.
“Those two guys, they’re always ready for the moment,” Rahill said. “It was no surprise that Logan had the game-tying [goal] and Jared ended it.”