RICHMOND, Va. — Four quarters couldn’t decide a victor. A Logan McNaney save on the final play of the first overtime period forced another sudden death situation.
Luke Wierman won the ensuing face-off. Maryland got into its offensive set and went to work deep into the shot clock.
Ryan Siracusa found Owen Murphy from behind the cage. Murphy set his feet and fired a low strike into the back of the net before throwing his stick into the air in celebration.
The entire Terps bench ran into the field and mobbed Murphy. No. 6 Maryland men’s lacrosse celebrated in jubilation as it prevailed over No. 20 Richmond in double overtime in its season opener, 12-11.
“It’s early season, so you’re hoping you kind of survive some of these games,” coach John Tillman said. “… Trying to get a win on the road early against a team like this is never easy.”
The Terps’ attacking unit struggled with a lack of offensive efficiency last season, a trend that continued early in its season opener. The return of Eric Malever, healthy after recovering from leg injuries that kept him out of the entirety of the 2023 season, didn’t provide Maryland’s offense with an early boost as it drilled just three of its 10 first-quarter shots.
Then Braden Erksa stepped up. The 2023 Big Ten freshman of the year provided a needed spark for Maryland’s offense last season, and did so again against Richmond (0-1).
Erksa didn’t make an impact in the first quarter — failing to attempt a shot — as the Terps (1-0) struggled through the first 15 minutes and trailed after the first frame. But he struck just 11 seconds into the second period, capitalizing immediately after a victory at the faceoff X from Wierman, Maryland’s All-American faceoff specialist.
Erksa added a second goal in the frame to pace the Terps’ first-half offense, which totaled seven scores. The Georgia native continued his excellent play in the second half, firing a 10-yard low rocket into the back of the net less than two minutes into the third quarter for his fifth career hat trick, which grew Maryland’s advantage to 8-6.
“When we got into the flow and we got going a little bit, the game plan worked and that showed,” Erksa said.
Malever scored for the first time in 614 days with a snipe after wrapping around the back of the cage to extend the Terps’ lead late in the third quarter. But Maryland’s offense lulled for most of the frame and a mere one-goal fourth quarter resulted in overtime.
The attack was held scoreless in the first overtime. But Murphy’s strike in double-overtime ended the game, securing a win in the return to action of two of Maryland’s previously injured stars.
McNaney returned to the cage in meaningful game action for the first time since he suffered a torn ACL last February. The graduate student looked shaky early on in his return, reacting a second too late to many of Richmond’s looks against him in the opening frame — the Spiders converted on five of their nine first-quarter shots on goal.
But the preseason second team All-American looked sharper in the second quarter. McNaney’s timing greatly improved, saving three of the four shots against him in the period to settle his defense and allow Maryland to lead at halftime.
The Spiders then found success against McNaney again — nailing five of their first nine shots on goal in the second half — to keep pace with the Terps. The latter, Aidan O’Neil’s second score of the fourth quarter, tied the game at 11 with 7:32 left. But a save and a block down the stretch from McNaney forced overtime.
“He’s had a couple scrimmages but [Saturday] was the first time he’s played in 12 months” Tillman said. “… There’s some things that he can work on but he’s been great, we have so much confidence in him. As the season goes on I just think he’s going to get better and better and more comfortable.”
After neither team scored in the first overtime period, Wierman won the faceoff at the start of the second overtime that eventually led to Murphy’s game-winning goal. He broke program history in the win on his faceoff victory late in the third quarter, as Vermont transfer Nick Alviti scooped up the ground ball to secure the record.
Wierman passed Andy Claxton’s record for total faceoff wins that had stood for three decades .
The victory continued Maryland’s season-opener dominance, marking its 31st consecutive win to start a campaign. The Terps will look to move to 2-0 next Saturday in their home-opener against Loyola — the team that handed them their first loss of last season in Baltimore.