Maryland's Simple Approach on Offense, Stout Defense Fueled the Title Game Win


Maryland's Dylan Maltz (25) had two goals in the Terps' national title game win over Ohio State.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Forget the big-name players, of which Maryland has many. Forget the pressure of losing nine straight national title games, from which nerves didn’t surface. Forget about familiarity with Ohio State, a side the Terrapins had already played twice in 2017.

None of that mattered on Memorial Day at Gillette Stadium, as coach John Tillman’s side endured its way to a 9-6 win and its third NCAA championship (12th overall).

“It was certainly a team win,” Tillman said. “Wasn’t pretty, but I’m proud of how hard they played. That’s been a staple. I’m happy for our state, our school, our students, our alums, especially the alums having waited so long.”

What was the dominant reason, then? It turns out, a simple approach of attacking Ohio State from behind the cage.

It was a strategy absent of trickery or intricacies, rather a collection of dodges and cuts from X that diminished 13 saves from Ohio State’s Tom Carey.

With Matt Rambo, a Tewaaraton finalist, demanding a pole and extra attention, Dylan Maltz and Tim Rotanz often found themselves isolated at X against a short stick. That mismatch proved fruitful for the upperclassmen, as they combined for five goals and an assist.

“A kid who quietly had a real big game for us was Dylan Maltz,” Tillman said. “That son of a gun, thank God he’s graduated because I can tell you this, I’ve been on him about shooting left-handed for three years. He’s been fighting me on it at times, and even his dad’s been chiming in. The son of a gun scores a couple left-handed ones this weekend. It’s funny how that happens.”

Altogether, it was a typical Maryland offensive showing with a twist, but arguably as impressive was the Terrapins’ defense.

The last 10 minutes, admittedly, featured a three-goal resurgence by the Buckeyes, but Ohio State also endured scoreless stretches of 24:15 and 15:29 at various points.

Even when there was a breakthrough, Tim Muller, the weekend’s Most Outstanding Player, was often there, shutting down his mark. On Monday, it was Ohio State’s freshman star, Tre Leclaire, while in Maryland’s semifinal, he limited Connor Cannizzaro, a Second Team All-American honoree.

“I think we just did what we always do,” Muller said. “We just played fundamental Maryland defense. You have these two guys, Isaiah [Davis-Allen] and Nick [Manis] controlling the D-mid spot. We didn’t really try to do anything we don’t normally try to do.”

Altogether, it was hardly a pretty formula for Maryland, but the proverbial monkey is off a program’s back that last won a national title in 1975. Plus, it was a special weekend for Terrapin lacrosse, as the women’s side downed Boston College, 16-13, one day prior to capture its 13th national title.

The moment, however, belonged to Tillman’s group on Monday, a collection of 50 players who got the last laugh against their Big Ten rival.

And, at least until next year, the college lacrosse world centers belongs along to the men of College Park.

“We’re a close group,” Muller said. “We do everything with each other. I don’t know if there’s a weekend where we’re not spending time with each other, times in the locker room. That’s what we wanted to do here, we wanted to build unity.

“Honestly, past years have been rough, but we know as seniors that we were going to come together and bring it together for us to get this national championship.”

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