Maryland men’s lacrosse and Notre Dame have a history with one another. The programs had met 13 times prior to Saturday’s battle at SECU Stadium, and all but one of the last six matchups were decided by two goals or fewer.
So when the No. 4 Terps and No. 2 Fighting Irish were stuck in a triple-overtime thriller Saturday — with nine lead changes and nine ties prior to Notre Dame’s game-winner — it came as no surprise to coach John Tillman.
“It’s just typical Maryland-Notre Dame,” Tillman said.
It became apparent early that the game would become a back-and-forth affair. Junior attacker Owen Murphy got the scoring started less than four minutes in, but the Fighting Irish responded with three goals in a two-minute span to take an early 3-1 lead.
The Terps matched Notre Dame’s run with one of their own, scoring the final three goals of the first quarter — including two from Murphy as he recorded his 10th career hat trick — to re-take the lead, 4-3 entering the second quarter.
But Notre Dame scored twice within the first two minutes of the quarter, going up 5-4.
In the first half alone, there were three lead changes, as another chapter of the rivalry was starting to brew in College Park.
The start of the second half was the same story as the first. A two-goal Maryland run was followed up by a Notre Dame three-goal sprint as the Fighting Irish led by two midway through the third quarter.
The Terps responded, rattling off the final three scores of the quarter to enter the fourth up 9-8.
Senior attacker Daniel Maltz’ mindset as the back-and-forth battle went on was to not get complacent, to “keep playing” no matter the score.
“A team like that — Notre Dame — they’re really good,” Maltz said.
[No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse falls to No. 2 Notre Dame in triple overtime, 13-12]
Like it did in the second quarter, Notre Dame struck twice to open the scoring in the fourth to go back in front. But then Maltz and sophomore attacker Eric Spanos scored shortly after to put Maryland ahead, 11-10 with 8:48 left in regulation.
Maltz added his second score of the day at the 3:50 mark as he sent a shot on the run from about seven yards out from the left side of the cage past the outstretched leg of senior Liam Entenmann, putting the Terps up two.
All Maryland needed to secure the win was less than four solid defensive minutes.
But the Terps allowed two goals in the next two minutes — including the third of the day from sophomore attacker Chris Kavanagh — as Notre Dame tied the game at 12, sending the bout to overtime.
Over the final 3:50 of regulation, Notre Dame went 3-0 in face-offs, went 2-4 in its shots and scooped up five more ground balls than Maryland.
“Sometimes face-offs and goal saves are like that, it’s the ones you get in the important moments and I give Notre Dame credit, they won a few face-offs late,” Tillman said. “If we could get one of those last ones, that changes things a little bit … give credit where credit’s due.”
Sixty minutes of action saw a combined 85 shots, 23 saves and 28 turnovers, but that wasn’t enough to determine a winner. A sudden-victory overtime ensued, with the stakes as high as any regular season game could be.
The first overtime period saw the Terps able to get off just one shot, turning it over twice. Meanwhile, Notre Dame got off two shots, but freshman Brian Ruppel registered two massive stops in just his second career game.
[Inaugural PLL championship series featured four recent Maryland men’s lacrosse alumni]
Maryland got off four shots in the second overtime period, but none were on goal. On the other end, Ruppel saved the lone Fighting Irish shot to once again step up in a big moment.
“I thought [Ruppel] played well again, his second start to play two top-five teams,” Tillman said. “To lose a guy like Logan, it would have been really easy for our guys to say, ‘Well let’s lower the expectations,’ … we have confidence in Rup and in my opinion, he’s only going to get better and more experienced.”
But halfway into the third overtime period, senior attacker Pat Kavanagh ended the back-and-forth bout as Ruppel couldn’t bail Maryland out again.
The Terps didn’t get it done when it mattered most, as the Fighting Irish had just enough firepower to secure their first win over Maryland in four years.
“It’s been a great series for us, some we’ve won, some we’ve lost, but that’s the nature of having good rivalries,” Tillman said.