No. 5 Maryland men’s lacrosse scored six goals entering the fourth quarter against Ohio State on Saturday. Eric Spanos accounted for two of the goals to pace the uninspiring unit.

With the Terps laboring on offense, the midfielder kept leading the way for Maryland. Spanos added two more scores in the final frame — accounting for half of his team’s total goals — to seal a narrow and crucial win for the Terps.

Spanos began his career on the second midfield line in 2023 after not touching the field during his first year in College Park. This season, he’s started every game for Maryland with the first midfield group, growing into one of the Terps’ most dynamic offensive weapons.

“He always has the green light,” coach John Tillman said. “We have a lot of confidence in Eric.”

Spanos, a five-star recruit and the Inside Lacrosse’s No. 12 overall player in the class of 2021, didn’t play during his freshman season. Spanos lost a year of college action due to an injury in high school. That year off allowed him to get bigger, faster and stronger, Tillman said.

Spanos displayed the talent that made him a five-star recruit in his first collegiate game against Richmond in 2023. He received a pass from Jack Koras near the cage, evaded a defender with his quickness and fired a rocket into the net from close range for his first career goal.

[Defensive excellence has kept Maryland men’s lacrosse afloat in Big Ten play]

The Pennsylvania native broke out a few weeks later against then-No. 2 Notre Dame. He struck three times — twice unassisted — for his first career hat trick. Spanos skillfully turned his body left, despite running to his right, to beat the goalkeeper from a narrow angle on his final goal.

Spanos started to produce consistently for the Terps after his breakout against the Fighting Irish. He scored in 10 of Maryland’s final 12 games in 2023, including four more multi-goal outings and another hat trick. He ended his first season of collegiate action as one of six Terps with at least 18 goals.

Spanos especially excelled in individual matchups. More than 66 percent of his goals were unassisted.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound midfielder has only gotten better with his increased role this season.

Spanos is one goal shy of his 2023 total through six fewer games. His shooting percentage is 11 points higher and his shot-on-goal rate has increased by more than eight percent — a sign that the type of shots he’s taking has improved.

“I think his confidence just keeps growing,” Tillman said. “Watching some film from last year and then looking to this year, his confidence level is certainly through the roof.”

The speed and strength that Spanos improved during his freshman season has shown up this year. That was especially evident in his four-goal outing against No. 13 Princeton in February.

[No. 6 Maryland men’s lacrosse prevails in low-scoring affair against Ohio State, 8-7]

Spanos’ physicality was on display in his first score. He backed down a Tigers defender and turned to his left to momentarily get free. The former high school All-American faced contact from behind but remained upright to find the back of the net.

Spanos’ quickness and finesse were also exhibited on his next two goals against Princeton. First, he slowly lulled his defender behind the cage before racing to his right to free himself up for a score. On the next goal, he evaded two defenders and dove around the goal crease to score.

All four of Spanos’ goals in that game were unassisted. He’s reached another level in his ability to win one-on-one matchups this season — 13 of his 17 goals have been unassisted.

Spanos ranks third on Maryland in goals scored this year, leaving Tillman open to playing him at attack more often.

“We’re always open to moving some pieces around,” Tillman said. “Maybe shifting some guys would make sense. We kind of play an offense where we really don’t refrain from guys going to any part of the field to dodge.”

Spanos’ growth has been key for an offense that sits in the bottom half of scoring among all Division I teams.

The Terps are nearing postseason play, with two regular season games left before the start of the Big Ten tournament. Spanos’ production will need to remain or continue to improve for them to close the campaign strong.