staff, April 21, 2015

Things are really starting to come into focus as the inaugural Big Ten lacrosse season enters its final week.

[ MORE: View the latest Big Ten men's lacrosse standings ]

Here's what we know:

  • Maryland, which has claimed at least a share of the Big Ten crown, can take the Big Ten outright with a win over Johns Hopkins on Saturday night.
  • Ohio State and Johns Hopkins can earn a share of the Big Ten title with wins at Rutgers and at Maryland, respectively.
  • In beating Michigan, Johns Hopkins joined Maryland and Ohio State in the four-team Big Ten tourney field.
  • The winner of the Penn State-Michigan game Saturday night will claim the fourth and final Big Ten tourney spot.


And now, it's time for what you need to know about Big Ten lacrosse.

Maryland comes back to beat Ohio State
The Showdown in the Shoe was the 2nd marquee matchup played in Columbus, Ohio this season. The first took place on Easter Sunday, when the Buckeyes outlasted Hopkins, 15-12. This time around, the opponent was Maryland. At stake was a share of the Big Ten regular season title and inside track to the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The setting was majestic; beautiful spring day, huge crowd of 21,064, and a national television audience. For 3 ½ quarters, it looked like it was going to be Ohio State claiming victory, as the Buckeyes scrapped to a 9-5 lead with 10:16 to play. Everything seemed to be going OSU?s way.

Enter the energized Maryland offense. A week ago against Rutgers, it was Matt Rambo to the rescue, and he started the Terp rally off with a goal with just over four minutes to play. The next three were scored by different Terps, the last and game-tying by Colin Heacock with just 1:09 left. In the matter of three minutes, Maryland had four goals. I haven?t seen a Terrapin offense that can erase deficits like this in a long time. Jay Carlson beat his defender around the cage and whipped home the game winner with 0:49 left in overtime. Game. Set. Maryland.

[ MORE: Watch Johns Hopkins-Maryland at 8 ET Saturday on BTN2Go ]


Penn State stays alive
It took a few weeks, but the Nittany Lions won their first Big Ten game by downing Rutgers, 11-6. Faceoff man Drake Kreinz has been a difference-maker, not so much by the number of faceoffs he wins, but rather when he wins them. His toughness and hustle have made the faceoffs much more of a scrum. In the early stages of the season, it was much more of a defensive situation.

And how about ?attackman? Nick Aponte? The natural midfielder has assumed the role of QB attackman for the Nittany Lions, something that was sorely needed in State College. In two games, Aponte has one goal and four assists. But, like Kreinz, it?s not as much about the numbers as it is the leadership and poise; his play makes those around him better. Both will need to be at their best as Penn State battles Michigan in Ann Arbor for the fourth and final spot in the Big Ten Conference Tournament.


Hopkins clinches spot in Big Ten Tournament
With a 16-9 win over Michigan, Johns Hopkins clinched at least the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tourney. Hopkins did so in convincing fashion. FO man Drew Kennedy was 18-24. Goalie Eric Schneider relieved starter Will Ryan late in the first quarter and made 13 saves on the day. Offensively, the Jays had five players with two goals or more. Unlike their previous Big Ten wins, Hopkins didn?t allow the Wolverines to make a second-half push. This game may have been the Blue Jays best effort as a team to date. This comes at a good time since it is now Maryland week, with the Blue Jays battling the Terrapins Saturday night 8 p.m. on BTN (watch on BTN2Go).


Mark Dixon, a former Johns Hopkins lacrosse player, contributes to Inside Lacrosse and calls Big Ten men's lacrosse games on BTN. Follow him on Twitter (@DixonLacrosse).