The last time No. 5 Maryland men’s lacrosse lost to Rutgers was 1980. The Terps entered their Saturday clash with the Scarlet Knights winners of the last 18 matchups.

That dominance continued on Saturday.

A week after topping Ohio State in a low-scoring bout, Maryland defeated Rutgers in another defensive showcase, 11-6. The win secured a top-two seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Terps’ defense led the way, limiting the Scarlet Knights’ leading goal-scorer, Shane Knobloch, to just one goal on five shots. Jack Aimone, second on Rutgers (7-5, 1-3 Big Ten) in goals, failed to score. The Scarlet Knights suffered a pair of one-goal quarters.
“These guys executed the plan and communicated well,” coach John Tillman said. “If you can get 15 saves, obviously that helps. I thought, Logan [McNaney], that was his best game so far.”

Maryland’s (8-3, 3-1 Big Ten) offense was inconsistent. The highlight was a five-goal second period, featuring goals from four different players. The unit scored six goals over the other three quarters.

Tillman wanted Maryland’s offense to be cleaner following its worst performance of the season season last weekend. The unit was anything but that early on.

The Terps, fresh off a 19-turnover performance against Ohio State, recorded three turnovers on each of their first three possessions on Saturday.

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The first possession ended in a shot clock violation. They failed to clear the ball on the second. Owen Murphy lost control of the ball after Donnie Howard bumped him on the third possession.

Maryland finally struck just over eight minutes in when Eric Malever fed Daniel Kelly for a short-range goal. Kelly started in place of the injured Daniel Maltz for a second straight game.

Kelly’s goal was the lone Terps score of the first quarter. They surpassed that mark less than five minutes into the second.

The senior added another goal just over two minutes into the period. Ryan Siracusa pushed Maryland ahead 3-2 at the 10:19 mark on another Malever assist. Siracusa fired a near-15 yard rocket into the top of the net, continuing his streak of scoring in each game this season.

The Terps’ offensive efficiency spiked in the second quarter. The unit shot 50 percent and only suffered three turnovers in the frame. Two goals from Jack Koras and another from Braden Erksa aided a 6-4 lead at halftime.

Kelly struck for Maryland’s lone score of the third period after reaching the interior of the Rutgers defense. The goal marked Kelly’s first hat trick of the season. The attacker took advantage of the increased playing time due to Maltz’ injury. He had a quartet of four-goal outings last year in a consistent starting role.

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Knobloch’s lone goal less than two minutes into the fourth quarter trimmed the Terps’ advantage to one. Then, a flurry of scores from Siracusa, Luke Wierman and Zach Whittier pushed the advantage to an insurmountable lead.

“We feed off of momentum and energy,” Kelly said. “For us, also spacing is huge. At times we’re not spaced properly and it makes it hard. When we get our spacing down, we seem to be clicking.”

Going into the contest, Tillman emphasized his defensive unit knowing their personnel throughout the night, especially Knobloch, who scored in every game this season entering Saturday.

The Terps succeeded on that front in the first half. Knobloch and Aimone were held scoreless on seven shots during the first two quarters. The Scarlet Knights only scored four goals over the first 30 minutes, with one coming from long-stick midfielder Ryan Splaine.

Rutgers connected on just four of its 20 looks in the first half. Logan McNaney saved 63.6 percent of the shots-on-goal to protect the cage. Wierman’s control at the X — winning seven of 12 faceoffs — limited the Scarlet Knights’ first-half offensive opportunities to aid the strong defensive showing.

Rutgers scored just two goals in the second half, its offensive woes remaining after the break. McNaney ended with a 71.4 save percentage, his second outing this season with a save rate over 60 percent.

“It’s the best thing ever having a goalie that can make saves like that,” Jackson Canfield said. “It really builds confidence for everyone knowing that we can give up the shots we’re trying to. He’s going to make those saves.”

The victory clinched Maryland a bye in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. Another win next weekend at No. 3 Johns Hopkins would secure the Terps at least a share of the conference regular season title.